You are standing at the site of Tonawanda's Grand Island Ferry Landing. For nearly a century access to Grand Island was provided by ferry service. The Grand Island Ferry consisted of a tug and scow carrying horses, wagons, automobiles, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians back and forth between this landing and a similar landing on the far side of the river (see image upper right of Grand Island Landing at Niagara View). The ferry also provided residents of the Island critical access to the schools, shops, and entertainment of the Tonawandas. On the Grand Island side of the river, Tonawandans found an escape from the hectic life of the bustling industrial hub of the Tonawandas. Along the Island's twenty-plus miles of undeveloped shoreline, many Tonawanda residents kept camp sites or summer cottages amidst the bucolic setting where they could swim, raft, pick mushrooms and wild strawberries, listen and dance to the music of a cranked-up Victrola, and basically let the rest of the world go by. A Grand Bridge As early as the 1880, proposals arose to build a bridge across the Niagara River to Grand Island. Stiff opposition from the maritime commerce industries to build a bridge anywhere upstream of Tonawanda Harbor stopped any progress on the idea for over fifty years. However in 1934 the WPA
was responsible for building the first bridge at the current site about a mile west of the Tonawanda City line. The completion of the bridge opened a new era of transportation between Tonawanda and the Island. At the same time a similar span was built on the north side of the island. In the early 1960s twin spans were built adjacent to the originals to accommodate the Niagara Thruway and the ever-increasing flow of traffic.