Throughout recorded history the city has left its mark under various names. However, it's present-day name is said to be derived from Sthan or Sthanaka, the capital of the Shilahara kings of Konkan.
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.
The city crops up again in the Middle Ages and slabs and copper plates dating back to the period have been discovered in Thane. One of them, dug up from the foundations of Thane Fort in 1787, dated 1078 AD, is apparently a land grant from Arikesara Devaraja, sovereign of the city of Tagara, wherein he address the inhabitants of a city called Sri Sthanaka.
The great Venetian traveller Macro Polo too, in the course of his wandering set foot in Thane in 1290 AD. He describes the city as a greatkingdom, which apparently had a well-developed port, for he mentions a continous traffic of ships, and merchants trading and exporting leather, buckram, cotton, and importing horses.In fact, the present day Ghodbunder is said to be the site where horses were unloaded from ships.
Friar Jordanus, a great traveller, who visited the city between AD 1321 and 1324, describes it as being under a Muslim governer. He leaves a detailed sketch of early Christians in Thane and refers to the martyrdom of four Christian priests in the region, more than 200 years before the Portuguese ever set foot in India.
The celebrated Ibn Batuta and Abul Feda, contemporaries of Friar Jordanus, also came here. They refer to Thane as Kukin Tana and speak of its fame as a port from which ships sailed to the gulf carrying a kind of cloth called 'Tanasi' which was produced in Thane. Duarte Barbosa, a noted traveller, described Thane by the name Tana Mayambu 25 years before the portuguese conquest.
He paints a vivid picture of the town as one of Moorish mosques and temples, with many pleasant gardens.
The portuguese came to Thane about 1530 and ruled for over 200 years till 1739. Thane was then known as Cacabe de Tana. Work on the Thane Fort began in 1730.
The Marathas, who conquered Bassein and Thane in 1737 and 1739, held sway over the region till 1784, when the British captured thr 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 souls.
After independence, Thane grew slowly and attained the status of 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. The 90's has seen the city burgeoning ahead, with great stride in construction and housing. The population has also increased manifold and Thane now occupies pride of place as a prime suburb and is all set to make its mark in the next millennium.