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Dunkirk is a city in Chautauqua County, New York, in the United States. It was settled around 1805 and officially incorporated in 1880. The population was 12,563 as of the 2010 census, with an estimated population of 12,328 in 2013. Dunkirk is bordered on the north by Lake Erie. It shares a border with the village of Fredonia to the south, and with the town of Dunkirk to the east and west. Dunkirk is the westernmost city in the state of New York.
The Iroquoian languages-speaking Erie people occupied this area of the forested lakefront along the southern shore of Lake Erie well into the 1600s, when Europeans, mostly French, started trading around the Great Lakes. They were pushed out by the Seneca people, one of the Five Nations of the powerful Iroquois League, based here and further east in New York. The European-American demarcation and settlement of Chadwick Bay and subsequent naming of Dunkirk - after Dunkirk in France - began in earnest in 1826.
The Dunkirk Lighthouse at Point Gratiot was built soon after and still stands. Dunkirk served as a minor railroad hub and steamship port on Lake Erie into the early 1900s. Both freight and passenger ships traveled the lakes.
The city thrived as a steel town for Roebling and others through the 1950s.
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