The earlist evidence of Thane appears in the works of the Greek geographer, Ptolemy, who, in his writings (135-150 AD) refers to a place called Chersonesus, which, according to researches, is the area around Thane creek.
Slabs and copper plates dating back to the middle ages have also been discovered in Thane.
Venetian traveller Marco Polo also visited Thane in 1290 AD. He describes the city as a great kingdom, which apparently had a well-developed port, for he mentions a continuous traffic of ships, and merchants trading and exporting leather, buckram, cotton, and importing horses.
The Marathas, who conquered Bassein and Thane in 1737 and 1739, held sway over the region till 1784, when the British captured the Fort and ruled Thane, then also called Tana. They made it the headquarters of the district administration with a district collector stationed in Thane. The Thane Muncipal Council was formed in 1863 when the city had a population of 9000.
The first railway train in India ran from Bombay VT (Now Mumbai CST, See Mumbai) to Thana in 1853. Thane (or Thana) literally means "station" in Marathi the local language. It was the only railway station besides Victoria Terminus.
After India's independence, Thane grew slowly and became an industrial town in the 60's and 70's. There was also a corresponding growth in trade, transport and construction activities, which picked up tremendously in the 80's. Today, while it is developing fast, this city, formerly known as the City of Lakes, is still plagued with problems such as population explosion and inadequate infrasturcture.