In 1853 construction began to build an international suspension bridge over the Niagara Gorge. This brought work and prosperity to the north end of Stamford Township. A shanty-town development was erected to house workers at the base of the bridge. Over the years this became the Village of Elgin. Amalgamation of the Village of Elgin with the Town of Clifton was caused by the Great Western, Erie and Ontario Railways and their economic impact. The prosperous town boasted fifteen grocery stores and twenty saloons and hotels. However the Elgin community still remained the focal point of commercial activity.
Majority of the early downtown businesses were located on the lower part of Bridge Street, Erie Avenue and River Road, with a few businesses on Clifton Avenue (now Zimmerman) and Park Street.
At the turn of the century, retail activity slowly started to shift to Queen Street where to date some of these firms are still operating. The residences of Queen Street have given way to stores and offices that form the Downtown core we see today.
From its origin in the 1850's, the downtown core remains the City's financial hub. The major Canadian chartered banks still make Queen Street their home. The medical, legal and accounting professions are well represented in the downtown core. Municipal government services are provided through the City Hall. The Federal Government is also represented in the downtown at 4500 Queen Street (Post Office). Along with these activities, downtown offers a wide range of entertainment and personal services for all to enjoy.