Alliance was founded in 1854 by the merger of three smaller communities called Williamsport (formed in 1827), Freedom (formed in 1838), and Liberty (formed in 1850). A fourth community, Mount Union, was added in 1888. Alliance was incorporated as a city in 1889.
There are two popular theories regarding the origin of the city's name. One holds that it was chosen because of the "alliance" of three small settlements into a larger entity. The other theory says the name reflects the fact that two major railroad lines, the Cleveland and Wellsville Railroad and the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad, intersected at Alliance, once known as "The Crossing".
Alliance is a town where Main Street was originally laid out to bring traffic to the train station, the heart of the city's transportation hub. The railroads were central to industry and personal transportation, bringing in raw materials for factories and sending out finished goods. Due to this, Alliance is sometimes referred to as "The town where Main Street is a dead end."