Tourism started in the early 19th century and has been a vital part of the local economy since that time. The falls became known as a natural wonder, in part to their being featured in paintings by prominent American artists of the 19th century such as Albert Bierstadt. Such works were reproduced as lithographs, becoming widely distributed. In addition, Niagara Falls markets itself as a honeymoon destination; it is the self-proclaimed “honeymoon capital of the world.”
In 1856, the Town of Clifton was incorporated. The name of the town was changed to Niagara Falls in 1881. In 1882, the community of Drummondville (located near the present-day corner of Lundy’s Lane and Main Street) was incorporated as the village of Niagara Falls. The village was referred to as Niagara Falls South to differentiate it from the town. In 1904, the town and village amalgamated to form the City of Niagara Falls.
In 1882, Irish author Oscar Wilde visited Niagara Falls after lecturing in Buffalo, New York, during a lecture tour of North America. He stayed at the Prospect House.
An Internment camp was set up at The Armoury in Niagara Falls from December 1914 to August 1918.
In 1953, the American actress Marilyn Monroe filmed Niagara here. This was a major event for the city.
In 1962, the city amalgamated with the surrounding Stamford Township, resulting in a doubling of population.
With the creation of a Niagara regional government in 1970, the city absorbed the village of Chippawa, Willoughby Township and part of Crowland Township, creating the present-day municipal boundaries.
The city’s official historian is Sherman Zavitz, who gives regular radio broadcasts on many aspects of Niagara’s history.