About Wilkes-Barre

Community Profile

Wilkes-Barre City Demographic Information

Wilkes-Barre is an industrial city in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The seat of Luzerne County, the City is located on the Susquehanna River, 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia. According to the 2000 Census, its population was 43,123. Wilkes-Barre was settled in 1769 and during the Revolutionary War was a frontier town burned by the British. The Wyoming Valley Area, where Wilkes-Barre is located, was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Connecticut, which led to the Yankee-Pennamite War. After the U.S. Congress favored Pennsylvania's claim to the region, Connecticut settlers burned Wilkes-Barre for the second time in 1784. The Wyoming Valley held the largest anthracite coal field in the United States. Now the City manufactures a variety of products including, clothing, metal products, electronics, perfume, and leather goods.

Conveniently situated in the tri-state area, Wilkes-Barre offers easy access to highways and airports. Wilkes-Barre is only hours away from major cities like New York and Philadelphia. If you prefer nature to the bustle of an urban setting, Wilkes-Barre is a short drive from the beautiful Pocono Mountains and boasts a number of natural park lands.

Through partnerships with both public and private organizations, the City of Wilkes-Barre has been a key player in many economic development projects that have shaped the future for Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding community. Downtown Wilkes-Barre is this home to the $31 million R/C Theatres Wilkes-Barre Movies 14 at Northampton and Main, which welcomes 10,000 people per week on average. Our Barnes & Noble serves as the bookstore for neighboring Wilkes University and King's College, as well as a community retail store and cafe. The $7.3 million Downtown Streetlight and Streetscape Enhancement Project has brightened downtown Wilkes-Barre with 213 streetlights and 116 more will be added in the coming year. The $25 million Intermodal Transportation Center will add 752 parking spots to the downtown and centralize public transportation to South Main Street, making the businesses along Public Square more accessible to patrons.

Luzerne County nearly completed the renovation to the River Common area, located along the Susquehanna River. The project now features two portals, which bring views of the river to the street level, an amphitheater for outdoor performances, walking corridors, a boat launch and more amenities. Not since the construction of the Luzerne County Courthouse in 1909 has the City of Wilkes-Barre seen such a grand development of public space.

Organizations like the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry and its Innovation Center @ Wilkes-Barre help serve as economic development engines by promoting new venture development in the Luzerne County area. For example, Pepperjam.com, located in the Innovation Center, is recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation's fastest-growing private businesses. The city is also home to the regional headquarters of many large organizations. Projects and organizations like these have reenergized downtown Wilkes-Barre, bringing growth and innovation into the heart of Wilkes-Barre.

Wilkes-Barre offers a wide variety of dining and shopping options for residents and visitors. Both locally-owned and nationally recognized restaurants, such as Rodano's Pizza, are within walking distance from Public Square and the movie theater. Retail shops, including Butler Eyecare and Donn Michaels Salon, are anchored by Boscov's and Barnes & Noble along South Main Street.

Downtown living will soon too become a reality as loft space at Northampton & Main is developed, and projects like the conversion of the historic Stegmaier Bottling Building on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard are completed. Investors recognize the potential for success in the City of Wilkes-Barre and private development is occurring throughout the city, in areas such as the Parsons section.

Housing options in Wilkes-Barre are diverse, including historic corridors, new developments and single family homes. For example, the city's Pine Ridge Estates is an expanding development of modern middle-income homes ready to welcome newcomers to Wilkes-Barre.

The city is strengthened by its quality educational programs. Two of Wilkes-Barre Area's three high schools are featured on US News and World Report's Best High Schools list. Over 5,000 college students are within walking distance to our downtown and the city's administration has made great strides to connect these colleges with the greater community. Nearly 1,400 college students attended the 2008 Downtown Collegetown Party on the Square event, showing the student population's renewed interest in Wilkes-Barre.

The city, under the leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Leighton and Wilkes-Barre City Council, is well on its way to achieving a social and economic renaissance, encouraged by business growth and increased optimism in its future.

Population, 2000 43,123
Persons under 5 years old, percent, 2000 4.9%
Persons under 18 years old, percent, 2000 19.9%
Persons 65 years old and over, percent, 2000 20.6%
Female persons, percent, 2000 51.8%
White persons, percent, 2000 92.3%
Black or African American persons, percent, 2000 5.1%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2000 0.1%
Asian persons, percent, 2000 0.8%
Persons reporting some other race, percent, 2000 0.5%
Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2000 1.2%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2000 1.6%
Living in same house in 1995 and 2000, pct age 5+, 2000 62.8%
Foreign born persons, percent, 2000 2.3%
Language other than English spoken at home, pct age 5+,2000 6.0%
High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, 2000 76.8%
Bachelor's degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+, 2000 12.8%
Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16+, 2000 17.7
Housing units, 2000 20,294
Homeownership rate, 2000 53.5%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2000 $64,700

Households, 2000 17,961
Persons per household, 2000 2.20
Median household income, 1999 $26,711
Per capita money income, 1999 $15,050
Persons below poverty, percent, 1999 17.8%

Manufacturers shipments, 1997 ($1000) 422,363
Wholesale trade sales, 1997 ($1000) 417,784
Retail sales, 1997 ($1000) 894,007
Retail sales per capita, 1997 $20,520
Accommodation and food services sales, 1997 ($1000) 73,705
Total number of firms, 1997 2,819
Minority-owned firms, percent of total, 1997 (fewer than 100)
Women-owned firms, percent of total, 1997 19.9%

Land area, 2000 (square miles) 7
Persons per square mile, 2000 6,296.3
FIPS Code 85152

All statistics are from:Pennsylvania QuickFacts found at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/42/4285152.html