Dale sat on the threshold of the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor, while Esgaroth/Lake-town was located a bit further south, on the lake.
In the movies, I haven't read the books yet, both are described as centers of commerce and rich towns profiting from the riches mined by the Dwarves and pouring out of the mountain, until Smaug came and put an end to that.
Dale is destroyed and abandoned, and Esgaroth/Lake-town becomes a shadow of its former glory.
Both towns seem to be very close together, and it feels strange to have two commerce towns side by side and both profiting from the same source of wealth.
What is the relation between both towns? Were they partners in commerce before Smaug? Or was Esgaroth/Laketown founded by survivors fleeing Dale when Smaug destroyed it (which would seem unwise)?