- Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
official_name = Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
nickname = The Diamond City, Flood City
motto = Pattern After Us
imagesize = 250px
image_caption = Downtown skyline seen from Giants Despair Mountain
pushpin_label_position = left
pushpin_map_caption =Location in Luzerne County,
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Luzerne
Thomas M. Leighton(D)
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1769
area_total_sq_mi = 7.2
area_total_km2 = 18.6
area_land_sq_mi = 6.9
area_land_km2 = 17.7
area_water_sq_mi = 0.3
area_water_km2 = 0.9
population_as_of = 2000
population_total = 43123
population_metro = 624776
population_density_km2 = 2430.6
timezone = EST
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd=41 |latm=14 |lats=40 |latNS=N
longd=75 |longm=52 |longs=41 |longEW=W
website = http://www.wilkes-barre.pa.us
Wilkes-Barre (IPAEng|ˈwɪlksbɛrə or IPA|/-bɛri/) is the central city of the
Wyoming Valleyand county seatof Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania. Founded in 1769and formally incorporated in 1806, the city has an estimated population of 43,123, according to the 2000 census.
The city and
valleyare framed by the Pocono Mountains to the east, the Endless Mountainsto the west and the Lehigh Valleyto the south. The Susquehanna Riverflows through the center of the valley and defines the northwestern border of the city.
The Wyoming Valley was first inhabited by the
Shawaneseand Delaware Indian tribes in the early 1700s. By 1769, a group, led by John Durkee, became the first Europeans to reach the area. The settlement was named Wilkes-Barre, after John Wilkesand Isaac Barré, two British members of Parliament who supported colonial America.
The initial settlers were aligned with
Connecticut, which had a claim on the land that rivaled Pennsylvania's. Armed men loyal to Pennsylvania twice attempted to evict the residents of Wilkes-Barre in what came to be known as the Pennamite Wars. After the American Revolution, the conflict was resolved so that the settlers retained title to their lands but transferred their allegiance to Pennsylvania.
Industrial foundations: manufacturing, coal and railroads
Wilkes-Barre's population exploded due to the discovery of
anthracite coalin the 1800s, which gave the city the nickname of "The Diamond City." Hundreds of thousands of immigrants flocked to the city, seeking jobs in the numerous mines and collieries that sprung up.
The coal industry survived several disasters, including an explosion at the Baltimore Colliery in 1919 that killed 92 miners, but it could not survive the gradual switch to other energy sources. Most coal operations left Wilkes-Barre by the end of
World War II, and the 1959 Knox Mine Disastermarked the end of King Coal's heyday. The city entered into a decades-long decline, hastened by Hurricane Agnesin 1972.
Manufacturing and retail remained Wilkes-Barre's strongest industries, but the city's economy took a major blow from Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. The storm pushed the
Susquehanna Riverto a height of nearly 41 feet, four feet above the city's levees, flooding downtown with nine feet of water. Six people were killed, 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed, and damages were estimated to be $1 billion, with President Richard Nixonsending aid to the area.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Wilkes-Barre attempted to repair the damage from Agnes by building a levee system that rises 41 feet; it has successfully battled less threatening floods of 1996, 2004, and 2006, and the
Army Corps of Engineershas praised the quality of the levees.
June 9, 2005, Mayor Thomas M. Leightonunveiled his "I believe..." campaign for Wilkes-Barre, which was intended to boost the city's spirits. Construction began on a planned downtown theatre complex which had a grand opening on June 30, 2006, and renovation of the landmark Hotel Sterlingwas being pursued by CityVest, a nonprofit developer. The expansion of Wilkes Universityand King's College has taken place. Also, the canopy and matching street lights in Public Square and across downtown were removed; the replacements are new green lampposts.
In 2006, the City of Wilkes-Barre celebrated its 200th anniversary. There were several events which were scheduled to commemorate this occasion over the July 4 weekend, including a free concert with the
Beach Boysin the City's Kirby Park. However, due to extremely heavy rains, the Susquehanna River crested high enough that most of the City had to be evacuated on June 28, 2006, forcing the cancellation of the events. Afterwards, the City rescheduled their BicentennialBlastoff, their Bicentennial Parade and the Bicentennial Gala to different dates throughout August. The Beach Boys graciously rescheduled their concert and played a Kirby Parkconcert on Labor DayWeekend, Sunday September 3, 2006, attended by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
The city is headed by a
mayor, elected to a four-year term. The current mayor is Tom Leighton, a Democrat who was elected in 2003.
The legislative branch of Wilkes-Barre is the
City Council, comprising five members who are elected by district to four-year terms. Current members of Council are: Chairperson Kathryn Kane; Vice Chairperson Tony Thomas Jr.; Bill Barrett (former Wilkes-Barre police chief); Rick Cronauer; and Michael Merritt.
The City of Wilkes-Barre is served by two City Attorneys, Timothy Henry, Esquire and William E. Vinsko, Jr., Esquire, who advise both the Mayor and City Council.
The Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas is the trial court of general jurisdiction for Wilkes-Barre. Its
probationsystem is divided into two divisions; one for adults, and one for juveniles.
U.S. Bankruptcy Courtfor the Middle District of Pennsylvania sits at the Max Rosenn United States Courthousein downtown Wilkes-Barre on South Main Street. The Chief Judge of the Bankruptcy Court, John J. Thomas, is son of Thomas C. Thomas, a prominent produce dealer whose terminal remains a prominent part of the Wilkes-Barre skyline.
estimate=41069As of the
censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 43,123 people, 17,961 households, and 9,878 families residing in the city. The population densitywas 6,296.3 people per square mile (2,430.6/km²). There were 20,294 housing units at an average density of 2,963.1/sq mi (1,143.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.30% White, 5.09% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.58% of the population.
The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 12.6% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
The local accent of
American Englishis Northeast Pennsylvania English.
Wilkes-Barre is located at coor dms|41|14|40|N|75|52|41|W|city (41.244581, -75.877918)GR|1.
According to the
United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (18.6 km²).6.8 square miles (17.7 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.9 km²) of it is water. The total area is 4.60% water.
Roads, railways and transportation
Public transportation is provided by the Luzerne County Transportation Authority. In addition to servicing the main arteries of the city, it provides transportation for the northern half of the county, as well as a connecting bus to
Scrantonvia an interchange at Pittstonwith COLTS, the public transit authority of Lackawanna County.
The city was at one time served by the
Lehigh Valley Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad(later Erie Lackawanna Railway), Delaware and Hudson Railway, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad, and the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad(known as the Laurel Line). The Wilkes-Barre Traction Company formed a streetcar line from Georgetown to Nanticoke and over the river into Plymouth ceasing operations in the mid 1940s. At present, the Canadian Pacific Railway(successor to the Delaware and Hudson) and the Luzerne & Susquehanna Railroad (designated-operator of a county-owned shortline) provide freight service within the city.
Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza(In nearby Wilkes-Barre Township)
* [http://www.kirbycenter.org/ F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts]
* [http://www.stegmaiermansion.com/ The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion]
* [http://www.ltwb.org/ Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre]
* [http://www.luzernecountyhistory.com/ Luzerne County Museum]
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs", Pennsylvania's first slots casino.
Wyoming Monument(In nearby Wyoming Borough)
Wyoming (Valley) Historical and Geological Societynow known as the Luzerne County Historical Society
* R/C Wilkes Barre Movies 14
PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees(in Moosic, Pennsylvania)
Cafe Metropolis, live music venue located on South Main Street
Arts YOUniverse, located at 156 South Franklin Street
Colleges and universities
Wilkes University, located on River Street in Center City
* King's College, located along River Street in Center City
Misericordia University, located on Lake Street in nearby Dallas, Pennsylvania
Luzerne County Community College, located on South Prospect Street in nearby Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Penn State Wilkes-Barre, located on Old Route 115 in nearby Lehman Township, Pennsylvania
*James M. Coughlin High School
Elmer L. Meyers High School
*G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Memorial High School
Holy Redeemer High School
Local media outlets
* Wilkes-Barre's radio market is ranked #69 by
Arbitron's ranking system. The following box contains the list of all radio stations receivable in the area.
* [http://www.magic93fm.com/ WMGS-Magic 93]
* [http://www.97bht.com/ WBHT-97BHT-Hit Radio]
* [http://www.jr937.us/ WSJR-JR 93.7 Country Radio]
* [http://www.979x.com/ WBSX-97.9X Active Rock]
* [http://www.froggy101.com/ WGGY-Radio Country]
* [http://www.wilknetwork.com/ WILK News Radio Station]
* [http://www.wkrz.com/ WKRZ - 98.5 popular music ]
* [http://www.rock107.com/ WEZX-106.9 Rock 107 Classic Rock]
HBOrecognizes Wilkes-Barre as the birthplace of modern cable programming. In November 1972, coincidentally the autumn that followed Hurricane Agnes, 365 subscribers of Service Electric Cable were the first to receive HBO's service.
* Wilkes-Barre was a stop on the
Underground Railroadbefore the Civil War.
* Louis Philippe, the King of France from 1830 to 1840, stayed in Wilkes-Barre while traveling en route to the French Asylum settlement in 1797.
* Wilkes-Barre has been a popular stop for many presidential candidates: U.S. presidents
Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clintonand George W. Bush.
*Described by many today as one of America's more "historical cities", Wilkes-Barre has gained considerable bad press (although it is not a major nationally recognized location) since the
Knox Mine Disaster. In the 1960 presidential campaign, it garnered attention for its high levels of poverty. In 1972, the damage done by the Agnes flood made international headlines. In the 1990s, the city became known for the poor leadership of Mayor McGroarty. In 2001, a Washington Postcolumnist described Wilkes-Barre as "awful" and "next-door" Scranton as "awfuler", describing the area as one of the worst metropolitan areas in the United States[http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A31628-2001Nov28] . In 2006, the city made the front page of national newspapers when 200,000 residents were told to evacuate in the wake of flooding that was forecast to reach levels near that of '72 but fell short of predictions.
* Wilkes-Barre is the birthplace of the Planters Peanuts Company, which was founded in 1906 by Italian immigrant Amedo Obici and partner Mario Peruzzi.
*It is said that one of the longest
home runsin history was hit in Wilkes-Barre. This statement is quoted right from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton YankeesNews page:"On October 12, 1926, Babe Ruthvisited Wilkes-Barre's Artillery Park to play in an exhibition game between Hughestownand Larksville. Suiting up for Hughestown, the Yankee slugger challenged Larksville's hurler Ernie Corkranto throw him his "best stuff" -- a fastball right down the heart of the plate. Corkran obliged and Ruth crushed the pitch into deep right field. When the ball cleared the fence, a good 400 feet away from home plate, it was still rising. It finally landed in Kirby Park on the far side of a high school running track. Ruth himself was so impressed by the feat that he asked that his homer be measured. Originally estimated at 650 feet, the prodigious blast is considered to be the longest home run in baseball's storied history. [http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070702&content_id=269068&vkey=news_t531&fext=.jsp&sid=t531 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Yankees]
*The Wilkes-Barre variation (or Traxler variation, as it is more commonly known) of the Two Knights' Defense is named for the Wilkes-Barre
chessclub, see [http://www.uschess.org/cc/dunne/alex_9805.html| this article by Alex Dunne] .
* Bingo was popularized after a Wilkes-Barre church preacher approached the game's developer complaining that the original game was not random enough in its potential picks to limit winners. The resulting improvements, in response to that complaint, led directly to the cultural success of the game. [http://www.strangelife.com/bingodoc/bingohist.html See history of Bingo] .
Notable natives and residents
Albert Mudrian- author and magazine editor
Alexis Toth— (St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre) a Saint in the Russian Orthodox Church
David Bohm— quantum physicist
Colleen Corby— Sixties fashion model[Kahn, S. [http://groups.msn.com/ColleenCorby/colleenarticles.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=571 "Modeling: Money and Madness!"] , "Teen", December 1963. (Accessed August 9, 2008.)]
George Catlin— artist
Benjamin Burnley— lead singer and guitarist for alternative metalband Breaking Benjamin
Jesse Fell— early experimenter with anthracite coal
Pat Finn— game show host whose shows include PAX's " Shop 'Til You Drop"
Ham Fisher— cartoonist
Florence Foster Jenkins— unconventional operatic soprano of the early 20th century with enduring popularity
George Washington Helme— businessman and founder of Helmetta, New Jersey
Qadry Ismail— former NFLplayer who played wide receiver on the 2001 Super Bowlchampion team Baltimore Ravens
Raghib Ismail— former NFLplayer and Heisman Trophyrunner-up
Candy Jones(1925-1990), fashion model, writerand radio talk showhost. [Flint, Peter B. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE3D61739F93AA25752C0A966958260 "Candy Jones Dies; Ex-Model, Teacher, And Writer Was 64"] , " The New York Times", January 19, 1990. Accessed December 20, 2007.]
Mike Konnick— former MLBplayer
Dorothy Andrews Elston Kabis— 33rd Treasurer of the United States, 1969- 1971
James Karen— actor
Harley Jane Kozak— actress and author
Matthew Lesko— infomercial personality
Edward B. Lewis— Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prizein Physiology and Medicine.
Mary McDonnell— actress twice nominated for Academy Award
Jozef Murgas— radio pioneer
Amadeo Obici— founder of Planters Peanuts
Jerry Orbach— Tony award-winning actor best known for his portrayal of Detective Lennie Briscoeon NBC's hit series, " Law & Order".
William Daniel Phillips— winner of the 2001 Nobel Prizein Physics.
Mendy Rudolph— former NBAreferee from 1953 to 1975
Michael Schoeffling— actor who played Jake Ryan in 80s classic film Sixteen Candles
Jonathan Slavin, character actorbest remembered as the neurotic Byron Togler on " Andy Richter Controls The Universe"
Bob Sura— professional basketball player, Houston Rockets
*Louis Teicher, pianist, member of the duo Ferrante & Teicher
Ed WalshHall of Fame pitcher; Major League Baseball's all time ERA champion
Ira W. Wood(1856-1931), represented ushr|New Jersey|4 from 1904 to 1913. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000695 Ira Wells Wood] , " Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed September 6, 2007.]
Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania
* [http://www.wilkes-barre.pa.us Official City of Wilkes-Barre Web site]
* [http://www.wilkes-barre200.org Wilkes-Barre Bicentennial Web site]
* [http://www.wilkes-barrepreservation.org Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society Web site]
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