Vantaa has a rich history that dates back to the Stone Age. Before Swedish colonisation of the area and after the so-called second crusade to Finland in the 13th century, the area was inhabited by Tavastians and Finns proper.
Prior to the name Vantaa being taken into use in 1974, the area was known as Helsingin Pitäjä. The earliest record of the area is as Helsinge in 1351 when king Magnus II of Sweden granted salmon fishing rights on the river Vantaa to the Estonian Padise monastery. The rapids of river Vantaa were known as Helsingfors, from which the current Swedish name of Helsinki derives. Early settlement in Vantaa was centered around the river, and from it the city's current coat of arms derived its imagery.
Since the 14th century, the road between Turku and Vyborg, King`s Road, has run through Vantaa. The road brought significant attention to the city, and its location on the salmon rich river led to a permanent population.
In 1862, the railway between Helsinki and Hameelinna was constructed, and one of its 7 stations was built in Tikkurila, on its intersection with King's Road. The Swedish architect Carl Albert Edelfelt designed a Renaissance styled station building, which is the oldest extant station building in Finland and (as of 1978) has been adapted into the Vantaa City Museum. The railway brought industry and induced population growth.
Helsingin Pitäjä gained municipality rights in 1865, after which it was named Helsingin maalaiskunta ("Rural Municipality of Helsinki").
In 1952, the new international airport of Helsinki opened in Vantaa for the 1952 Summer Olympics.
In 1972, the municipality was renamed Vantaa. In 1974, the town got full city rights as Vantaan kaupunki/Vanda stad or "City of Vantaa".
The city grew rapidly starting from 1960's and a railway line was built to the western side of the city in 1970's.
In 2015, an extension to the existing railway line, the Ring Rail Line opened, providing service to the airport and new residential and working districts.