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twin industrial cities, in Erie and Niagara counties, western New York, U.S. They lie at the junction of the New York State Canal System and the Niagara River and form part of the Buffalo urban complex. Permanent settlement began in 1823, when labourers arrived to work on the Erie Canal. In 1836 Tonawanda Township was set off from Buffalo; Tonawanda was separated as a village in 1854 and received a city charter in 1903. North Tonawanda, originally a ward of Tonawanda village, was separately incorporated (1865) and became a city in 1897.