The name Vitry is of Gallo-Roman origin: During the Roman occupation of Lutetia, a Roman colonist named Victorius occupied the fertile area now known as Vitry. The name may have derived successively from Victorius to Victoriacum, then Vitriacum, the Latin name for Vitry. At the end of the 14th century the town is known as "Vitry près Paris" (Vitry near Paris) and in the 16th century the name "Vitry-sur-Seine" appears on official documents. In the 17th century the town is known mostly for its tree nurseries then its lilac.
Being close to the capital, Vitry has often become implicated in the main events of French History. During the Roman conquest of Gaul, a battle is believed to have taken place in 52 B.C.E. between the Roman legions of Labienus and the Gallic forces of Camulogène. The defeat of the latter may have allowed Caesar to occupy Lutetia. In 1358 the town was the scene of a bloody battle between the troops of the future Charles V and those of Charles II of Navarre, then again in 1434 during the Civil War opposing Armagnacs and Bourguignons. In 1572 the crossing of the Seine is blocked at Vitry, thus allowing the killing of Protestants fleeing Paris during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. In 1652 during the Fronde a battle takes place for the posession of a boat-bridge. During the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, the fortified Moulin de Saquet is taken by the Prussians but recovered three days later. It is later occupied by the Federate forces during the Paris Commune
After World War II the town undergoes modernization. The old neighborhoods are replaced by high-rise buildings. Following the creation of an industrial zone, the population increases from 9,894 in 1901 to 86,00 in 1975. Later Vitry will undergo the social problems typical of cities in the Paris periphery.