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Present-day Scranton and its surrounding area had been long inhabited by the native Lenape tribe, from whose language "Lackawanna" (or lac-a-wa-na, meaning "stream that forks") is derived. In 1778, Isaac Tripp, the area's first known white settler, built his home here; it still stands in North Scranton, formerly a separate town known as Providence. More settlers from Connecticut came to the area in the late 18th and early 19th centuries after the American Revolutionary War, as their state claimed this area as part of their colonial charter.
They gradually established mills and other small businesses in a village that became known as Slocum Hollow. People in the village during this time carried the traits and accent of their New England settlers, which were somewhat different from most of Pennsylvania. Some area settlers from Connecticut participated in what was known as the Pennamite Wars, where settlers competed for control of the territory which had been included in royal colonial land grants to both states. (This claim between Connecticut and Pennsylvania was settled by negotiation with the federal government after independence.)
Though anthracite coal was being mined in Carbondale to the north and Wilkes-Barre to the south, the industries that precipitated the city's early rapid growth were iron and steel. In the 1840s, brothers Selden T. and George W. Scranton, who had worked at Oxford Furnace in Oxford, New Jersey, founded what became Lackawanna Iron & Coal, later developing as the Lackawanna Steel Company. It initially started producing iron nails, but that venture failed due to low-quality iron. The Erie Railroad's construction in New York State was delayed by its having to acquire iron rails as imports from England. The Scrantons' firm decided to switch its focus to producing T-rails for the Erie; the company soon became a major producer of rails for the rapidly expanding railroads.
In 1851, the Scrantons built the Lackawanna and Western Railroad (L&W) northward, with recent Irish immigrants supplying most of the labor, to meet the Erie Railroad in Great Bend, Pennsylvania. Thus they could transport manufactured rails from the Lackawanna Valley to New York and the Midwest. They also invested in coal mining operations in the city to fuel their steel operations, and to market it to businesses. In 1856, they expanded the railroad eastward as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W), in order to tap into the New York City metropolitan market. This railroad, with its hub in Scranton, was Scranton's largest employer for almost one hundred years.
The Pennsylvania Coal Company built a gravity railroad in the 1850s through the city for the purpose of transporting coal. The gravity railroad was replaced by a steam railroad built in 1886 by the Erie and Wyoming Valley Railroad (later absorbed by the Erie Railroad). The Delaware and Hudson (D&H) Canal Company, which had its own gravity railroad from Carbondale to Honesdale, built a steam railroad that entered Scranton in 1863.
During this short period of time, the city rapidly transformed from a small, agrarian-based village of people with New England roots to a multicultural, industrial-based city. From 1860 to 1900, the city's population increased more than tenfold. Most new immigrants, such as the Irish, Italians, and south Germans and Polish, were Catholic, a contrast to the majority-Protestant early settlers of colonial descent. National, ethnic, religious and class differences were wrapped into political affiliations, with many new immigrants joining the Democratic Party (and, for a time in the late 1870s, the Greenbacker-Labor Party.)
In 1856, the Borough of Scranton was officially incorporated. It was incorporated as a city of 35,000 in 1866 in Luzerne County, when the surrounding boroughs of Hyde Park (now part of the city's West Side) and Providence (now part of North Scranton) were merged with Scranton. Twelve years later in 1878, the state passed a law enabling creation of new counties where a county's population surpassed 150,000, as did Luzerne's. The law appeared to enable the creation of Lackawanna County, and there was considerable political agitation around the authorizing process. Scranton was designated by the state legislature as the county seat of the newly-formed county, which was also established as a separate judicial district, with state judges moving over from Luzerne County after courts were organized in October 1878. This was the last county in the state to be organized.
Creation of the new county, which enabled both more local control and political patronage, helped begin the Scranton General Strike of 1877. This was in part due to the larger Great Railroad Strike, in which railroad workers began to organize and participate in walkouts after wage cuts in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The national economy had lagged since the Panic of 1873, and workers in many industries struggled with low wages and intermittent work. In Scranton, mineworkers followed the railroad men off the job, as did others. A protest of 5,000 strikers ended in violence, with a total of four men killed, and 20 to 50 injured, including the mayor. He had established a militia, but called for help from the governor and state militia. Governor John Hartranft eventually brought in federal troops to quell the strike. The workers gained nothing in wages, but began to organize more purposefully into labor unions that could wield more power.
The nation's first successful, continuously-operating electrified streetcar (trolley) system was established in the city in 1886, inspiring the nickname "The Electric City". In 1896, the city's various streetcar companies were consolidated into the Scranton Railway Company, which ran trolleys until 1954. By 1890, three other railroads had built lines to tap into the rich supply of coal in and around the city, including the Erie Railroad, the Central Railroad of New Jersey and finally the New York, Ontario and Western Railway (NYO&W).
As the vast rail network spread above ground, an even larger network of railways served the rapidly expanding system of coal veins underground. Miners, who in the early years were typically Welsh and Irish, were hired as cheaply as possible by the coal barons. The workers endured low pay, long hours and unsafe working conditions. Children as young as eight or nine worked 14-hour days separating slate from coal in the breakers. Often, the workers were forced to use company-provided housing and purchase food and other goods from stores owned by the coal companies. With hundreds of thousands of immigrants arriving in the industrial cities, mine owners did not have to search for labor and workers struggled to keep their positions. Later miners came from Italy and eastern Europe, which people fled because of poverty and lack of jobs.
Business was booming at the end of the 19th century. The tonnage of coal mined increased virtually every year, as did the steel manufactured by the Lackawanna Steel Company. At one point the company had the largest steel plant in the United States, and it was still the second-largest producer at the turn of the 20th century. By 1900, the city had a population of more than 100,000.
In the late 1890s, Scranton was home to a series of early International League baseball teams.
Given its industrial basis, Scranton has had a notable labor history; various coal worker unions struggled throughout the coal-mining era to improve working conditions, raise wages, and guarantee fair treatment for workers. The Panic of 1873 and other economic difficulties caused a national recession and loss of business. As the economy contracted, the railroad companies reduced wages of workers in most classes (while sometimes reserving raises for their top management). A major strike of railroad workers in August 1877, part of the Great Railroad Strike, attracted workers from the steel industry and mining as well, and developed as the Scranton General Strike. Four rioters were killed during unrest during the strike, after the mayor mustered a militia. With violence suppressed by militia and federal troops, workers finally returned to their jobs, not able to gain any economic relief. William Walker Scranton, from the prominent family, was then general manager of Lackawanna Iron and Coal. He later founded Scranton Steel Company.
The labor issues and growth of industry in Scranton contributed to Lackawanna County being established by the state legislature in 1878, with territory taken from Luzerne County. Scranton was designated as the county seat. This strengthened its local government.
The unions failed to gain higher wages that year, but in 1878 they elected labor leader Terence V. Powderly of the Knights of Labor as mayor of Scranton. After that, he became national leader of the KoL, a predominately[dubious ] Catholic organization that had a peak membership of 700,000 circa 1880. While the Catholic Church had prohibited membership in secret organizations since the mid-18th century, by the late 1880s with the influence of Archbishop James Gibbons of Baltimore, Maryland, it supported the Knights of Labor as representing workingmen and union organizing.
The landmark Coal strike of 1902, was called by anthracite miners across the region and led by the United Mine Workers under John Mitchell. The strike was settled by a compromise brokered by President Theodore Roosevelt. A statue of John Mitchell was installed in his honor on the grounds of the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton, "the site of the Coal Strike of 1902 negotiations in which President Roosevelt participated. Because of the significance of these negotiations, the statue and the Courthouse were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. John Mitchell is buried in Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton."
By the United States Census of 1900, the population of Scranton was about 102,026, making it the third-largest city in Pennsylvania and 38th-largest U.S. city. At the turn of the 20th century, wealthy businessmen and industrialists built impressive Victorian mansions in the Hill and Green Ridge sections of the city. Most were descended from colonists and belonged to the Republican Party. The industrial workers, who tended to be later immigrants from Ireland and southern and eastern Europe, were predominately Catholic. With a flood of immigrants in the market, they suffered poor working conditions and wages.
In 1902, the dwindling local iron ore supply, labor issues, and an aging plant cost the city the industry on which it was founded. The Lackawanna Steel Company and many of its workers were moved to Lackawanna, New York, developed on Lake Erie just south of Buffalo. With a port on the lake, the company could receive iron ore shipped from the Mesabi Range in Minnesota, which was being newly mined.
Scranton forged ahead as the capital of the anthracite coal industry. Attracting the thousands of workers needed to mine coal, the city developed new neighborhoods dominated by Italian and Eastern European immigrants, who brought their foods, cultures and religions. Many of the immigrants joined the Democratic Party. Their national churches and neighborhoods were part of the history of the city. Several Catholic and Orthodox churches were founded and built during this period. A substantial Jewish community was also established, with most members coming from the Russian Empire and eastern Europe. Working conditions for miners were improved by the efforts of labor leaders such as John Mitchell, who led the United Mine Workers.
The sub-surface mining weakened whole neighborhoods, however, damaging homes, schools, and businesses when the land collapsed. In 1913 the state passed the Davis Act to establish the Bureau of Surface Support in Scranton. Because of the difficulty in dealing with the coal companies, citizens organized the Scranton Surface Protection Association, chartered by the Court of Common Pleas on November 24, 1913 "to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the City of Scranton and the streets of said city from injury, loss and damage caused by mining and mine caves."
In 1915 and 1917, the city and Commonwealth sought injunctions to prevent coal companies from undermining city streets but lost their cases. North Main Avenue and Boulevard Avenue, "both entitled to surface support, caved in as a result" of court decisions that went against civil authorities and allowed the coal companies to continue their operations.
"The case of Penman v. Jones came out differently. The Lackawanna Iron & Coal Co. had leased coal lands to the Lackawanna Iron & Steel Co., an allied interest, which passed the leases on to the Scranton Coal Co. Areas of central Scranton, the Hill Section, South Side, Pine Brook, Green Ridge and Hyde Park were affected by their mining activities. Mr. Penman was the private property owner in the case. The coal operators were defeated in this case."
The public transportation system began to expand beyond the trolley lines pioneered by predecessors of the Scranton Railways system. The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad, commonly referred to as the Laurel Line, was built as an interurban passenger and freight carrier to Wilkes-Barre. Its Scranton station, offices, powerhouse and maintenance facility were built on the former grounds of the Lackawanna Steel Company, and operations started in 1903. Beginning in 1907, Scrantonians could also ride trolley cars to the northern suburbs of Clarks Summit and Dalton. They could travel to Lake Winola and Montrose using the Northern Electric Railroad. After the 1920s, no new trolley lines were built, but bus operations were started and expanded to meet service needs. In 1934, Scranton Railways was re-incorporated as the Scranton Transit Company, reflecting that shift in transportation modes.
Starting in the early 1920s, the Scranton Button Company (founded in 1885 and a major maker of shellac buttons) became one of the primary makers of phonograph records. They pressed records for Emerson (whom they bought in 1924), as well as Regal, Cameo, Romeo, Banner, Domino, Conqueror. In July 1929, the company merged with Regal, Cameo, Banner, and the U.S. branch of Pathé (makers of Pathé and Perfect) to become the American Record Corporation. By 1938, the Scranton company was also pressing records for Brunswick, Melotone, and Vocalion. In 1946, the company was acquired by Capitol Records, which continued to produce phonograph records through the end of the vinyl era.
By the mid-1930s, the city population had swelled beyond 140,000 due to growth in the mining and silk textile industries. World War II created a great demand for energy, which led to the highest production from mining in the area since World War I.
After World War II, coal lost favor to oil and natural gas as a heating fuel, largely because the latter types were more convenient to use. While some U.S. cities prospered in the post-war boom, the fortunes and population of Scranton (and the rest of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties) began to diminish. Coal production and rail traffic declined rapidly throughout the 1950s, causing a loss of jobs.
The Knox Mine Disaster of January 1959 virtually ended the mining industry in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The waters of the Susquehanna River flooded the mines. The DL&W Railroad, nearly bankrupted by the drop in coal traffic and the effects of Hurricane Diane, merged in 1960 with the Erie Railroad. Demand for public transportation also declined as new highways were built by federal subsidies and people purchased automobiles. In 1952, the Laurel Line ceased passenger service. The Scranton Transit Company, whose trolleys had given the city its nickname, transferred all operations to buses as the 1954 holiday season approached; by the end of 1971, it ceased all operations. The city was left without any public transportation system for almost a year until the Lackawanna County government formed COLTS, which began operations in late 1972 with 1950s-era GM busses from New Jersey.
Scranton had been the hub of its operations until the Erie Lackawanna merger, after which it no longer served in this capacity. This was another severe blow to the local labor market. The NYO&W Railroad, which depended heavily on its Scranton branch for freight traffic, was abandoned in 1957. Mine subsidence was a spreading problem in the city as pillar supports in abandoned mines began to fail; cave-ins sometimes consumed entire blocks of homes. The area was left scarred by abandoned coal mining structures, strip mines, and massive culm dumps, some of which caught fire and burned for many years until they were extinguished through government efforts. In 1970, the Secretary of Mines for Pennsylvania suggested that so many underground voids had been left by mining underneath Scranton that it would be "more economical" to abandon the city than make them safe. In 1973, the last mine operations in Lackawanna County (which were in what is now McDade Park, and another on the Scranton/Dickson City line) were closed. During the 1960s and 1970s, the silk and other textile industries shrank as jobs were moved to the South or overseas.
In 1962, businessman Alex Grass opened his first "Thrif D Discount Center" drugstore on Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton. The 17-by-75-foot (5 by 23 m) store, an immediate success, was the progenitor of the Rite Aid national drugstore chain.
During the 1970s and 1980s, many downtown storefronts and theaters became vacant. Suburban development followed the highways and suburban shopping malls became the dominant venues for shopping and entertainment.
Since the mid-1980s, the city has emphasized revitalization. Local government and much of the community at large have adopted a renewed interest in the city's buildings and history. Some historic properties have been renovated and marketed as tourist attractions. The Steamtown National Historic Site captures the area's once-prominent position in the railroad industry. The former DL&W train station was restored as the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel. The Electric City Trolley Museum was created next to the DL&W yards that the Steamtown NHS occupies.
Since the mid-1980s the Scranton Cultural Center has operated the architecturally significant Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral, designed by Raymond Hood, as the region's performing arts center. The Houdini Museum was opened in Scranton in 1990 by nationally known magician Dorothy Dietrich.
In 2003, Hilton Hotels & Resorts opened the Hilton Scranton Hotel & Conference Center at the corner of Adams Avenue & Lackawanna Avenue in the heart of downtown Scranton. Due to the rage for paranormal-themed televisions shows, a popular downtown historic Scranton Ghost Walk has been expanded to operate 365 days a year. Other attractions include the Montage Mountain ski resort (formerly Snö Mountain), the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins; the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (formerly the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees and, before that, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons), AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees; and their PNC Field, and the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain concert venue.
According to The Guardian, the city was close to bankruptcy in July 2012, with the wages of all municipal officials, including the mayor and fire chief, being cut to $7.25/hour. Financial consultant Gary Lewis, who lives in Scranton, was quoted as estimating that "on 5 July the city had just $5,000 cash in hand."
Since the revitalization began, many coffee shops, restaurants, and bars have opened in the downtown, creating a vibrant night-life. The low cost of living, pedestrian-friendly downtown, and the construction of loft-style apartments in older, architecturally significant buildings have attracted young professionals and artists. Many are individuals who grew up in Scranton, moved to big cities after high school and college, and decided to return to the area to take advantage of its amenities. Many buildings around the city that were once empty are currently being restored. Many of the restored buildings will be used to entice new business into the city. Some of the newly renovated buildings are already being used.
As of the 2010 census, there were 76,089 people, 30,069 households, and 18,124 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,006/mi2 (1,161/km2). There were 33,853 housing units at an average density of 1,342/mi2 (518/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.11% White, 5.45% African American, 0.23% Native American, 2.98% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.69% from other races, and 2.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race make up 9.90% of the population. The largest ancestry in the city is Irish, making up 26.5% of the population.
There were 30,069 households, out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.1% were non-families. The city had 36.7% of its households with single occupancy and 18.1% whose individuals was aged at least 65. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 3.01.
The age distribution of the population included 20.8% under 18, 12.3% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 20.1% at least 65. The median age was 39. For every 100 females, there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females aged at least 18, there were 83.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,805, and the median income for a family was $41,642. Males had a median income of $30,829 versus $21,858 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,174. Found below the poverty line are 15.0% of the population, 10.7% of families, 18.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those at least age 65.
As of the 2006 American Community Survey, the average family size is 2.95. Of the population that's 25 years old and over, 83.3% of them have graduated from high school. 18.7% of them have a Bachelor's degree or higher. In labor force (population 16 years and over), 57.6% of them work. The per capita income (in 2006 inflation-adjusted dollars) is $17,187.
The state of Pennsylvania is a prominent southern, Midwestern state located along the northeast coast of the United States. Pennsylvania is governed by a hybrid political party that is called the Democratic Republicans. Pennsylvania is home to more than 35 million people - the largest population in the Eastern States. Pennsylvania's economy is highly diversified with a large number of industries based in its central region. The city of Philadelphia attracts a large number of residents who commute to New York City.
The state capital of Harrisburg is the state's largest. The city of Pittsburgh is Pennsylvania's biggest city. In terms of culture and ethnic diversity, Pennsylvania is best known for its German, Irish, and Dutch heritage. The state has one of the largest populations of Roman Catholics.
Pennsylvania's demography is older than the United States at about half a century. The last quarter of a century has seen a dramatic change in the state's demography. There are now more elderly people in this country than any other age group. Many immigrants have been to the state for generations but there has been an influx of recently arriving Hispanic immigrants in large numbers.
The ethnic diversity of Pennsylvania is reflected in its demography as well. The state has many ethnic groups including German Americans, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Polish Americans, Russian Americans, and Latin American Americans. The state has many diverse ethnic identities and many different ethnic backgrounds.
Because of its long history and the diversity of its ethnic demographics, Pennsylvania is a state with lots of historical interest for historians and genealogists. Beginning in the seventh century, the state has been a key player in the expansion of Europe and the western world. Throughout European history, many battles have been fought between the native British population and the invaders from other tribes. Many of these invasions have taken place along the Pennsylvania border.
Over the years, many cultures have made their home in Pennsylvania. One of these cultures is the German community that settled in the Lackawinkle area over a century ago. Over the years, the German immigrants built many of the structures that are still standing today including historical townships, schools, churches, roads, and neighborhoods. They also left behind many language and dialectal symbols that are still used today by the German Americans in Pennsylvania.
Another significant ethnic group to arrive in Pennsylvania were Irish immigrants. In fact, there were so many of these immigrants that they all contributed to the state's economy and culture. This ancient population migrated to the state in large numbers during the latter part of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many Irish immigrants settled near what is now the city of Philadelphia, where they established many of the early city's buildings.
Historically, African Americans have also made significant contributions to the state. In fact, the state was home to some of the most powerful slave societies in the country prior to the Civil War. Throughout their history, these groups helped shape the society that exists today. In addition, the Black population has always been an important element in Pennsylvania's culture and heritage. This population has always played an important role in Pennsylvania history and culture.
Historically, Italian immigrants have also made a significant impact on the state. These immigrants brought a new perspective and way of life to the nation. In addition, they built a number of the cities and towns that are familiar to us today such as York, Lancaster, and Scranton. Their vast amount of experience in building and managing constructions has resulted in some of the most beautiful and unique structures anywhere.
Yet another group of immigrants that have made a positive impact on Pennsylvania culture and society are the Gypsies. Originating from southern Italy, these unique people brought a sense of elegance and style to the people of Pennsylvania. In addition to their building and architecture, Gypsies were also well known for their kindness and hospitality. They showed a willingness to share their culture with newcomers and helped to ensure that those who came to America would be able to fully adapt to the unique customs and way of life of Pennsylvania.
The immigrants from Europe and other countries have shaped the history and culture of Pennsylvania just as much as the native population has. Because of this, it is imperative that we continue to learn more about the people who came before us. In addition, the Pennsylvania Dutch people were also an important part of the history of Pennsylvania. While the Dutch language was more related to French than Italian, they were an important part of the overall French influence in Pennsylvania.