Lockport is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. The population was 21,165 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from a set of Erie canal locks within the city. Lockport is the county seat of Niagara County and is surrounded by the town of Lockport. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The construction of the Erie Canal was authorized by the New York State Legislature in April 1816. The route proposed by surveyors was to traverse an area in central Niagara County, New York, which was then "uncivilized" and free of White settlers. At the time, the nearest settlers were located in nearby Cold Springs, New York. As it became known where the proposed canal was to be built, land speculators began to buy large plots along and near the proposed route of the canal. By December 1820, when the exact location of the step locks had been determined, the whole area of what would eventually become Lockport was owned by only fifteen men, many of whom were Quakers.
The canal reached Lockport in 1824, but the locks were not completed until 1825. By 1829, Lockport had become an established village. The community was centered on the locks, and consisted mainly of immigrant Scottish and Irish canal workers, brought in as labor. The workers remained in Lockport after the completion of the locks, giving the city a heavy Celtic influence still discernible today, especially in the neighborhoods of Lowertown and North Lockport.
The city of Lockport was officially incorporated in 1865.
The Erie Canal was supplanted by the larger New York State Barge Canal in 1918, and the famous south "flight of five" locks was replaced by two much larger locks E34 and E35. The north "flight of five" lock chambers still remains as a spill way.
In recent years public officials and private businesses have made an effort to incorporate Lockport history into regional if not a national tourist attraction. This includes the completion of the Canal Discovery Center, The Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride tour, and The Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises. Currently, local officials are seeking state grants to reconstruct the historic "flight of five" and make it a living history site complete with boat rides and reenactors. Published reports state that a living history site in Lockport marketed as a day trip from Niagara Falls could draw thousands to Lockport yearly.
The city has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lockport's largest employer is General Motors Components, the former Harrison Radiator Corporation, which was founded locally in 1912 and which became a division of General Motors Corporation in 1918. Following 10 years of ownership by Delphi Corporation as Delphi Thermal Systems, it returned to General Motors in October 2009.
In 1948, the Lockport Chief of Police denied a permit for a Jehovah's Witnesses minister to preach in a public park using a sound truck. In Saia v. New York, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city ordinance as a violation of the First Amendment.
On Friday, June 28, 2013 Lockport had a flash flood. A storm sat over the city and deposited over 5 inches of rain. The majority of that 5 inches fell in a 1 hour period during the afternoon. Low lying areas and many streets flooded. Mayor Michael Tucker enacted a driving ban. On Tuesday, July 2 Governor Andrew Cuomo declared Niagara County a disaster zone as a result of the flooding. Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer toured the City of Lockport to survey the estimated $7 million in damage.