Scenic Hamilton Bay is a natural harbor, and a canal built in 1827 helped new industries get started in the area. In 1840, Hamilton officially became a city, and by the early 1900s, the "Ambitious City" became important as an iron and steel city. Soon the city expanded onto "The Mountain", which is the name that Hamiltonians give to the land on top of the Niagara Escarpment.
In the 1980s Hamilton has entered the economic downturn common to most steel towns in the developed world. Since then, considerable effort has been put into diversifying the economy and revitalizing the moribund city centre. Recent efforts have been concentrating on emphasizing Hamilton's impressive natural landscape, and moving the waterfront away from the heavy industry represented by the two main steel corporations, Stelco and Dofasco.
Tourist attractions include Dundurn Castle, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.