New Castle, Pennsylvania

New Castle, Pennsylvania
New Castle
Kennedy Square in downtown New Castle
Nickname: Fireworks Capital of World, Little New York City
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Lawrence
Coordinates 40°59′50″N 80°20′40″W / 40.99722°N 80.34444°W / 40.99722; -80.34444
Area 8.6 sq mi (22 km2)
 - land 8.5 sq mi (22 km2)
 - water 0.1 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 26,309 (2000)
Density 3,082.0 / sq mi (1,190 / km2)
Established April 1798
 - Incorporated (borough) 1802
 - Incorporated (city) 1869
Mayor Anthony G. Mastrangelo (D)
Timezone EST (UTC-4)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-5)
Area code 724, 878
Location of New Castle in Lawrence County
Location of New Castle in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States

New Castle is a city in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, United States, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Pittsburgh and near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border just 18 miles (29 km) east of Youngstown, Ohio; in 1910, the total population was 36,280; in 1920, 44,938; and in 1940, 47,638. The population has fallen to 26,309 according to the 2000 census, and continues to decline with a Census Bureau estimate of 24,060 for 2009. It is the county seat of Lawrence County[1]. New Castle is the principal city of the New Castle micropolitan area and a part of the Pittsburgh-New Castle Combined Statistical Area, which is the 18th largest in the United States. It is the commercial center of a fertile agricultural region.



In 1798, John Carlysle Stewart, a civil engineer, traveled to western Pennsylvania to resurvey the "donation lands" resurveyed lands, which had been reserved for veterans of the Revolutionary War. He discovered that the original survey had neglected to stake out approximately 50 acres (200,000 m2) at the confluence of the Shenango River and the Neshannock Creek, at that time a part of Allegheny County. Claiming the land for himself, he laid out what was to become the town of New Castle. Stewart laid out the town of New Castle in April of 1798. It comprised approximately 50 acres (200,000 m2), in what was then part of Allegheny County. New Castle became a borough in 1825, having a population of about 300. The city later became a part of Mercer County. On April 5, 1849 the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania signed an act creating Lawrence County named in honor of U.S. Navy Captain James Lawrence. New Castle became a city in 1869 and was headed by its first Mayor, Thomas B. Morgan. At that time, the population had increased to about 6,000.

In 1849, a group of Old Order Amish by families from Mifflin County, Pennsylvania settled just north of New Castle in New Wilmington. Later migrations from Holmes County, Ohio would make this Amish community one of the largest in Pennsylvania. Approximately 2,000 Amish live and work presently in the townships north of New Castle.

Business in New Castle began to flourish in the early 19th century with the construction of the canal system, which made its way through the city. Numerous manufacturing plants became located in New Castle because of the availability of transportation facilities and ready access to raw material markets. The canal system was later supplemented and then replaced by the railroad system which offered greater speed and capacity for freight, as well as year round service.

In the 1870s, the city became a major hub of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. New Castle's population swelled from 11,600 in 1890 to 28,339 in 1900, and to 38,280 in 1910, as immigrants flocked to the city to work in the mills and nearby limestone quarries, particularly from Italy.[2] Italian laborers of the era were frequent victims of the Black Hand society, which employed blackmail and extortion to rob the workers of their pay. In 1907 the headquarters of the Black Hand for the entire region was discovered in the village of Hillville a few miles west of New Castle.[2] By this time New Castle was one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and with the construction of the largest tin plate mill in America, the city became the tin plate capital of the world. The tin plate industry marked a new increase the city's prosperity.

In 1908 New Castle was linked to Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway, an interurban trolley line. Steel and paper mills, foundries, a bronze bushing factory, and car-construction plants contributed to the economy. In addition, the Shenango China produced commercial china and created fine china for the White House, including dinnerware for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson. Other ceramic factories produced bathroom fixtures and industrial refractory materials.

In the 1920s, New Castle enjoyed its greatest prosperity. The landscape of the city was transformed with the building of many beautiful structures, some of which still stand, such as The Cathedral, St. Mary's Church, and the Castleton Hotel. The city also established its identity. New Castle is known both as the "hot dog capital of the world" and the "fireworks capital of America." Its chili dogs are the product of Greek immigrants who came to New Castle in the early 20th century and established restaurants along with their homes. The notoriety for fireworks is credited to two local fireworks companies of international stature, S.Vitale Pyrotechnic Industries, Inc. (Pyrotecnico) and Zambelli Internationale.

In the 1930s the city, along with most cities of America, suffered tremendously during the Great Depression. As many businesses closed, members of the community lost their jobs and homes. During this trying time, the federal government established the Works Project Program (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). These programs offered jobs to many displaced workers. Many of the stone walls built by the WPA and the CCC still stand as a reminder of the historic demise of our economy.

During World Wars I and II, and the Korean War, industry enjoyed a temporary reprieve. In 1950, the population peaked at 48,834, but rapidly dwindled with the fall of the industrial age to 28,334 by 1990. The present population is about the same. New Castle is the County Seat of Lawrence County which has a population of approximately 100,000.

In 1998, the City of New Castle was a host city for the History Channel Great Race. Over 15,000 spectators gathered downtown for the festivities. The city also proudly celebrated its 200th birthday in 1998 with a downtown fireworks festival that attracted over 30,000 people.

Despite recent economic challenges, the city continues to serve as the headquarters of Pyrotecnico Fireworks, the winner of the 2008 Gold Jupiter, awarded at the world’s most prestigious fireworks venue: LaRonde in Montreal, Canada. Started by Constantino Vitale in Italy in 1889, Constantino immigrated to New Castle continuing his business there in the 1920s. Five generations of the Vitale family have transformed the company. In the 1990s the company's name was changed to Pyrotecnico and has grown to be a world leader in the industry. Also located in New Castle is Zambelli Fireworks, which was founded in New Castle. Zambelli Fireworks is one of the world's leading fireworks and pyrotechnics companies. These fireworks companies have been featured in venues such as presidential celebrations and Super Bowls. Pyrotecnico and Zambelli Fireworks have changed the face of the fireworks industry. This has gained the city the highly-earned nickname, "Fireworks Capital of America." New Castle has recently opened Zambelli Plaza (actually a park with a light-up fireworks display) catty-corner from the Cascade Center in 2007 in honor of the Zambelli family's accomplishments.

Over the past 40 years, New Castle has been transformed from its primary reliance on industry to a well balanced economic base consisting of manufacturing, retail, and service related business establishments. Many buildings and old stately homes are being restored by developers and families.

The Lawrence County Historical Society, chartered in 1938, has its purpose to preserve the history of Lawrence County and to educate the public. The historical society is located in the elegant 19 room Joseph A. Clavelli mansion, which overlooks the City of New Castle. Several exhibits are displayed for public view in the mansion.


New Castle is located at 40°58′50″N 80°20′40″W / 40.98056°N 80.34444°W / 40.98056; -80.34444 (40.997325, -80.344556)[3], along the Shenango River at the mouth of Neshannock Creek.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22 km2), of which, 8.5 square miles (22 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.47%) is water.


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 26,309 people, 10,727 households, and 6,725 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,082.0 people per square mile (1,189.5/km²). There were 11,709 housing units at an average density of 1,371.6 per square mile (529.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.77% White, 20.79% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 1.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.76% of the population. 33.4% were of Italian, 15.0% German, 8.1% Irish and 5.9% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 10,727 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.3% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.8% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 20.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,598, and the median income for a family was $32,539. Males had a median income of $30,112 versus $20,754 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,730. About 17.1% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.8% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.


The Pier I Complex Building in downtown New Castle.

Downtown New Castle is currently undergoing a redevelopment centered around the Cascade Center. (see below) The downtown streets and sidewalks were completely rebuilt in the early 21st century to resemble the style at the turn of the 19th century, and local businesses are beginning to move into the downtown area. The revitalization of downtown also saw two major routes into the city, Pennsylvania Route 65 and U.S. Route 224, which have both had their terminus extended into downtown since the start of 2007.

InfoCision, a telemarketing services company, restored the old New Castle Dry Goods Co. building, where it moved its offices into from the Cascade Galleria. The building had been vacant since the late 1980s when the Troutman's department store closed and became registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is now known as the Pier I Complex Building.

The downtown area has also become the home of several bank offices, hosting the regional headquarters of Huntington, FirstMerit, and First Commonwealth (all descended from banks formerly based in the city but later acquired) as well as branches for PNC Bank and First National Bank. Mellon Bank also had offices across the street from the current Zambelli Plaza before selling off its New Castle-area branches to First National Bank, which closed the office building since it already had the aforementioned branch in downtown. Mellon's former parking lot was restored and is now the parking lot for the Cascade Center and other downtown businesses. Although the downtown has grown, many buildings and houses within the city limits are still abandoned.

New Castle and the nearby "Iron City" (Pittsburgh) are both centered in the Rust Belt.

The revitalization of downtown has improved economic activity. While most shopping malls have actually seen an increase in tenants in the past couple of years, many of them had seen several empty storefronts from the late 1990s until very recently. For instance, Lawrence Village Plaza, a 300,000 sq ft (28,000 m2) shopping center in Shenango Township, struggled to place a supermarket in after Sparkle closed in the late 1990s, though it still is home to a Kmart that is not officially part of the plaza. Dunham's Sports, Aaron's, and a Do It Best hardware store currently serve the plaza as anchor stores.

The Cascade Galleria, a more conventional mall located within the city near downtown, once home to Sears and G. C. Murphy, faced market competition in the mid-1990s when Wal-Mart opened its first supercenter in Pennsylvania in 1995 in Union Township west of the city. (Previously, Wal-Mart only operated standard discount stores in Pennsylvania.) Shortly after Wal-Mart opened, Sears moved across U.S. Route 224 from Wal-Mart while Lowe's, Hills, and Peebles all opened up locations in the area. Meanwhile McCrory Stores (owner of the G. C. Murphy brand) closed all of the company's stores by 2001, though the New Castle G. C. Murphy closed shortly after Wal-Mart opened.

AT&T has offices in the former G. C. Murphy side of the mall, while the former Sears portion has been subdivided into several other service-related businesses as well as a Family Dollar location and a Revol Wireless store. The United States Postal Service, in fact, currently uses the former Sears Auto Center building as a service garage for its mail trucks, while the Post Office itself has a branch inside the main portion of the mall, which it moved into after the loss of its two anchors. Hills later became Ames, which also closed its doors, and the building remains vacant. Peebles closed and is now Tractor Supply Company. Around the same time Tractor Supply Company opened, though, Peebles later reopened in another location in Neshannock Township in parts of the former Kmart section of the Field Club Commons plaza after Kmart reduced itself to one location in the New Castle area after it filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002, with Tuesday Morning taking up the other half.


Public schools

The city itself is served by the New Castle Area School District, with several areas also served by their respective school districts. New Castle Area, or "Ne Ca Hi" as it is called by locals, also serves nearby West Pittsburgh. The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center is also located in the city.

Post-secondary education

New Castle proper is primarily served by four post-secondary education facilities: the New Castle Beauty School for cosmetology students in downtown, the New Castle School of Trades for technical trades in Pulaski Township, the Jameson School of Nursing (owned & operated by Jameson Health System) within the city, and the Lawrence County branch of Butler County Community College, which opened in 2008 in Union Township and serves as a de-facto community college to Lawrence County, which doesn't have its own community college. The city is a short drive from the main BC3 campus in Butler as well as the Community College of Beaver County in Center Township.

Among more traditional four-year universities within short driving distance includes Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Grove City College in Grove City, Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Westminster College in New Wilmington, and Youngstown State University in Youngstown just outside of downtown. Penn State also has two branches within driving distance: the Beaver campus in Monaca and the Shenango campus in Sharon.

St.Vitus School

This is a unique school because it is the only Catholic school left in the town. The school consists of roughly 150 children and the amount of students continues to drop almost every year. The school was founded by Father DeMita in the early 20th century and is funded by St. Vitus Church. The school has many extra curricular activites, such as a basketball team, track team, and also stage productions. It also serves as host for an old style Italian festival every summer.


New Castle has public transportation in the form of the New Castle Transit Authority, which provides bus service to patrons around the city and makes three daily trips to Pittsburgh.

Among local routes, Interstate 376, Pennsylvania Route 18, and U.S. Route 422 are the major routes running through the city, while two more major routes — Pennsylvania Route 65 and U.S. Route 224 — both terminate in the city. Pennsylvania Route 108 and Pennsylvania Route 168 also run through the city. U.S. 422 Business, a former alignment of U.S. 422, runs through the city, ending on each side of the city when the main 422 leaves the New Castle Bypass. I-376 and U.S. 422 are briefly concurrent with each other on the New Castle Bypass, though south of New Castle until Chippewa Township near Beaver Falls, I-376 is tolled by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The area is located a short drive from Interstate 79, Interstate 80, and Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The closest airport is the New Castle Municipal Airport which is a purely municipal airport with no commercial service. Most residents of New Castle use Pittsburgh International Airport which is about 42 miles (68 km) from downtown. Also, Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, Akron-Canton Airport, and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport are all within driving distance of the city center.


The local community is served by the New Castle News, a newspaper published in the afternoon Monday-Friday. On the weekends, the paper publishes the New Castle News Weekend, which is published on Saturday mornings and serves the entire weekend, giving the coupons normally seen in Sunday newspapers a day early since the paper doesn't publish on Sundays. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and The Vindicator also have large distributions in the area.

The area is served by both the Pittsburgh and Youngstown television stations, with regular news coverage in the area from both. Despite being considerably closer to Youngstown, New Castle is part of the Pittsburgh DMA by Nielsen Media Research. It is, however, part of the Youngstown radio market according to Arbitron ratings, even though most Pittsburgh-area radio stations can easily be heard within the area.

New Castle was home to the first ABC television affiliate in Western Pennsylvania when WKST-TV signed on in 1953, as WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh didn't sign on until 1958 and WJET-TV didn't sign on in Erie until 1966. The station moved its license to Youngstown in 1964, moved to channel 33, and changed its call sign to WYTV. WYTV remains an ABC affiliate today, while the channel 45 allocation is now used by PBS member station WNEO in Alliance, Ohio. Currently, the only TV station in New Castle is WPCP-LP 56, a low-powered satellite station of Pittsburgh low-powered independent station WBGN-LP, although it is currently off-air due to the channel 56 allocation needing to be freed up and is expected to be back on the air in digital on channel 27. WPXI did recently apply to the FCC for a repeater station on channel 33 in the city.[5]

As far as radio goes, New Castle is home to two AM stations: talk station WKST 1200 and sports talk station WJST AM 1280, the latter being a Fox Sports Radio affiliate. On the FM side of the dial, WKPL FM 92.1, an oldies station, was licensed in New Castle before its license was moved to Ellwood City in 2004, though it still includes New Castle as one of its local communities as part of its FCC-mandated station identification. The AM stations are owned by Altoona-based Forever Broadcasting, LLC while WKPL is owned by Froggy parent Keymarket Communications of Pittsburgh.


Zambelli Plaza at night

The city was the site of an important development in the history of Warner Bros. studios, given that the first Warner Bros. theater, the Cascade, opened there in 1907. (The Warners, most of whom were Polish Jewish immigrants, resided in Youngstown.) The theater was restored and reopened in 2006. The building was nearly condemned ten years earlier after a wall fell on the sidewalk near East Washington Street (one of the city's main thoroughfares) before its historical significance was discovered, saving the building. Municipal officials have planned recent revitalization efforts around the former theater, which is now known as Cascade Center. The facility currently features two restaurants and a local stage theater, and plans are in progress to turn the complex into New Castle's version of Station Square in Pittsburgh. This revitalization plan, however, will focus on motion pictures rather than trains.

The Cascade Center itself is named after Cascade Park, located on the outskirts of the city's East Side in Shenango Township along Pennsylvania Route 65. A former trolley park, it was restored and converted into a regular outdoor park in the 1980s with a few historical buildings as well as the park's entrance sign restored, avoiding the fate of nearby Idora Park in Youngstown. The park hosts the annual Back to the 50s Weekend classic car show, and previously hosted the similarly themed Thunder in the Cascades motorcycle show until concerns about nudity and alcohol use at the event as opposed to the more family-friendly Back to the 50's Weekend had the event moved to the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in nearby Hickory Township in the early 21st century.

The New Castle Playhouse, a community theatre, is located along Long Avenue and puts on several shows a year, and is one of the only such theatres between Youngstown and theatre-rich Pittsburgh.

The Old Princeton School, located nearby, has been the venue for rock concerts.

New Castle is also a short drive from McConnells Mill State Park in Slippery Rock Township and neighboring Moraine State Park in Muddy Creek Township in Butler County.

In the 2011 movie, Super 8, New Castle, Pennsylvania is referenced as the "fireworks capital of the world."[citation needed]

Notable people


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b Watkins, John, The Big Stunts of Great Detectives: The Scrapbook, Vol. 4, No. 6, New York: Frank A. Munsey (December 1907), p. 1098
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th edition ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8. 

External links

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