|Chester County, Pennsylvania|
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
|Largest city||West Chester|
760 sq mi (1,968 km²)
756 sq mi (1,958 km²)
4 sq mi (10 km²), 0.51%
660/sq mi (254.7/km²)
Chester County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 498,886, with an estimated population of 500,182 in 2011. The county seat is West Chester. It is the highest-income county in Pennsylvania and 24th highest in the nation as measured by median household income (as of 2010). Eastern Chester County is home to many communities that comprise the Main Line western suburbs of Philadelphia, while part of its southernmost portion is considered suburban Wilmington, Delaware, along with southwest Delaware County.
Chester County was one of the three original Pennsylvania counties created by William Penn in 1682. It was named for Chester, England. It is part of the Delaware Valley region and is the only county in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs that does not border Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, Bucks, and Chester were the three Pennsylvania counties initially created by William Penn on August 24, 1682. At that time, Chester County's borders were Philadelphia County to the north, the ill-defined western edge of the colony (approximately the Susquehanna River) to the west, the Delaware River to the east, and Delaware and Maryland to the south. Chester County replaced the Pennsylvania portion of New Netherland/New York’s Upland, which was officially eliminated when Pennsylvania was chartered on March 4, 1681, but did not cease to exist until June of that year. Much of the Welsh Tract was in eastern Chester County, and Welsh place names, given by early settlers, continue to predominate there.
The fourth county in the state, Lancaster County, was formed from Chester County on May 10, 1729. On March 11, 1752, Berks County was formed from the northern section of Chester County, as well as parts of Lancaster and Philadelphia counties.
The original Chester County seat was the city of Chester, a center of naval shipbuilding, at the eastern edge of the county. In an effort to accommodate the increased population of the western part of the county, the county seat was moved to a more central location in 1788; in order to mollify the eastern portion of the county, the village, known as Turk's Head, was renamed West Chester. Apparently, this did not work: the eastern portion of the county separated from Chester County on September 26, 1789, becoming Delaware County. West Chester remained the seat of the reduced Chester County, and still is.
Much of the history of Chester County arises from its location between Philadelphia and the Susquehanna River. The first road to "the West" (meaning Lancaster County) passed through the central part of Chester County; with some re-alignments, it became the Lincoln Highway and later U.S. Route 30. This road is still named Lancaster Avenue in most of the Chester county towns it runs through. The first railroad (which became the Pennsylvania Railroad) followed much the same route, and the Reading Railroad progressed up the Schuylkill River to Reading. Industry tended to concentrate along the rail lines. Easy transportation allowed workers to commute to urban jobs, and the rise of the suburbs followed. To this day, the developed areas form "fingers" extending along major lines of transportation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 762 square miles (1,973.6 km2), of which 758 square miles (1,963.2 km2) is land and 4 square miles (10.4 km2) (0.51%) is water. The topography consists of rolling hills and valleys and it is part of the region known as the Piedmont.
Watersheds that serve Chester County include the Octoraro, the Brandywine, and Chester creeks, and the Schuylkill River. Many of the soils are fertile, rich loam as much as twenty-four inches thick; together with the temperate climate, this was long a major agricultural area. Because of its proximity to Philadelphia, Chester County has had large "waves" of development due to suburbanization. Although development in Chester County has increased, agriculture is still a major part of the county's economy. The number of horse farms is increasing in the county. Mushroom growing is a specialty in the southern portion of the county.
- Berks County (north)
- Montgomery County (northeast)
- Delaware County (east)
- New Castle County, Delaware (southeast)
- Cecil County, Maryland (south)
- Lancaster County (west)
||Berks County||Montgomery County|
|Lancaster County||Delaware County|
|Cecil County, Maryland||New Castle County, Delaware|
National protected area
Major roads and highways
As of the 2010 census, the county was 82.1% White Non-Hispanic, 6.1% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaskan Native, 3.9% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian, 1.8% were two or more races, and 2.4% were some other race. 6.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino.
As of the census of 2000, there were 433,501 people, 157,905 households, and 113,375 families residing in the county. The population density was 573 people per square mile (221/km²). There were 163,773 housing units at an average density of 217 per square mile (84/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.21% White, 6.24% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.95% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.35% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. 3.72% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.0% were of Irish, 17.3% German, 13.1% Italian, 10.1% English and 5.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 91.4% spoke English and 3.7% Spanish as their first language.
There were 157,905 households out of which 35.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 8.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 22.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the county, the population was spread out with 26.20% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $65,295, and the median income for a family was $76,916 (these figures had risen to $80,818 and $97,894 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $51,223 versus $34,854 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,627. About 3.10% of families and 5.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.10% of those under age 18 and 5.50% of those age 65 or over.
The region was originally occupied by the Lenni Lenape people who greeted European settlers in the seventeenth century with amity and kindness. British settlers were mostly English, Scotch-Irish and Welsh in ethnicity. As time passed, the region has had large influxes of Germans, Africans, Eastern Europeans, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and, more recently, Mexicans.
Chester County is the fastest growing county in the Delaware Valley and one of the fastest growing in the entire Northeastern section of the United States.
As of November 2011, there are 337,793 registered voters in Chester County.
- Republican: 150,692 (44.61%)
- Democratic: 128,308 (37.98%)
- Independent: 24,260 (7.18%)
- Other Political parties: 34,533 (10.22%)
Chester County has been, and remains, very reliably Republican at the county level. In recent federal elections, however, it has been trending Democratic. In 2000 Al Gore lost it by almost 10 percent but in 2004 George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by a much smaller margin of only 4.5 percent. Bob Casey Jr. carried it by 10% when he unseated incumbent Republican US Senator Rick Santorum in 2006. In 2008, Chester County sided with the rest of Pennsylvania and voted for Barack Obama by a much larger margin of 9%, making him the first Democrat to carry it in a Presidential election since 1964. However, the trend was broken in 2009, when the Republican candidates swept all county row offices winning with an average margin of 20%. Also, in 2012 the county voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney by a margin of about 500 votes.
Democrats have also made gains in Chester County state legislative seats in recent elections. Democrat Andy Dinniman picked up the 19th Senate District in May 2006 in the special election to replace the late Robert Thompson. Democrat Barbara McIlvaine Smith picked up the open 156th House district in November 2006, winning by only 28 votes and tipping the State-House majority to the Democrats. This was the first time that a Democrat had served part of Chester County as State Representative since Jim Gerlach (now serving the majority of the county in Congress) unseated Sam Morris in 1990. In 2008, two more open House seats in the county went Democratic—to Tom Houghton in the 13th and Paul Drucker in the 157th. In 2010, however, Chester County swung back to the GOP, with Republicans Dan Truitt (who defeated McIlvaine Smith), Warren Kampf (who defeated Drucker), and John Lawrence (who defeated Houghton) all elected to the State House.
- Election results
|Year||Republican Party||Democratic Party||Libertarian Party||Green Party||Independent||Reform Party||Independent Party||Other/Write-ins|
|2012||49.43% 124,840||49.22% 124,311||0.82% 2,082||0.29% 740||0.24% 603|
|2008||45.0% 124,840||54.2% 135,150||0.34% 870||0.48% 1,230||0.35% 898|
|2004||52.0% 120,306||47.5% 109,708||0.27% 632||0.19% 447|
|2000||53.4% 100,080||43.7% 82,047||0.38% 716||2.29% 4,302||0.28% 531|
|1996||48.7% 77,029||41.0% 64,783||8.9% 14,067||1.6% 2,487|
|1992||43.7% 74,002||35.2% 59,643||20.4% 34,536||0.6% 1,027|
|1988||67.0% 93,522||32.1% 44,853||0.9% 1,210|
|1984||70.1% 92,221||29.6% 38,870||0.3% 440|
|1980||60.9% 73,046||28.6% 34,307||9.1% 10,911||1.4% 1,632|
|1976||60.4% 67,686||38.1% 42,712||1.5% 1,628|
|1972||68.4% 72,726||29.3% 31,118||2.3% 2,415|
|1968||57.2% 56,073||33.3% 32,606||9.3% 9,142||0.2%% 230|
|1964||45.5% 40,280||54.1% 47,940||0.4% 390|
|1960||63.6% 53,059||36.2% 30,167||0.2% 147|
|Year||Republican Party||Democratic Party||Libertarian Party||Constitution Party||Reform Party|
|2012||47.80% 119,296||50.36% 125,671||1.84% 4,598|
|2010||53.44% 92,667||46.56% 80,738|
|2006||44.99% 77,948||55.01% 95,293|
|2004||59.28% 133,329||36.71% 82,551||1.28% 2,887||2.73% 6,129|
|2000||52.5% 117,092||34.17% 63,259||1.85% 3,417||0.25% 462||0.48%% 889|
|Year||Republican Party||Democratic Party||Libertarian Party||Green Party||Other|
|2010||55.96% 97,112||44.04% 76,440|
|2006||34.85% 60,437||65.15% 112,960|
|2002||41.08% 58,669||57.41% 81,996||0.81% 1,159||0.69% 990|
|1998||67.6% 68,572||21% 21,337||11.3% 11,500|
|1994||53.1% 61,890||29.7% 34,652||17.2% 20,019|
|1990||47.5% 44,262||52.5% 48,935|
Chester County is administered by a three-person Board of Commissioners, who serve four-year terms. Elections occur in the odd-numbered years that precede U.S. Presidential elections, with the next election falling in 2015. The Commissioners have selective policy-making authority to provide certain local services and facilities on a county-wide basis. Accordingly, the commissioners are responsible for the management of the fiscal and administrative functions of the county.
|County Commissioner||Ryan A. Costello, Esq.||Republican|
|County Commissioner||Terence Farrell||Republican|
|County Commissioner||Kathi Cozzone||Democratic|
Other elected officials
|Clerk of Courts||Frank McElwaine||Republican|
|Controller||Valentino F. DiGiorgio, III||Republican|
|Coroner||Dr. Steven Dickter, M.D.||Republican|
|District Attorney||Tom Hogan, Esq.||Republican|
|Jury Commissioner||Martha S. Smith||Democratic|
|Jury Commissioner||Mimi H. Sack||Republican|
|Recorder of Deeds||Rick Loughery||Republican|
|Register of Wills||Terri Clark||Republican|
|Sheriff||Carolyn Bunny Welsh||Republican|
|Treasurer||Ann Duke, Esq.||Republican|
United States House of Representatives
United States Senate
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Pennsylvania State Senate
|9||Dominic F. Pileggi||Republican|
|44||John C. Rafferty, Jr.||Republican|
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. The post office uses community names and boundaries that usually do not correspond to the townships, and usually only have the same names as the municipalities for the cities and boroughs. The names used by the post office are generally used by residents to describe where they live. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Chester County:
Colleges and universities
- Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (partially in Delaware County)
- Delaware County Community College (locations in Exton, Downingtown, Phoenixville and West Grove)
- Immaculata University
- Lincoln University
- Penn State Great Valley
- Valley Forge Christian College
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Public school districts
- Avon Grove School District
- Coatesville Area School District
- Downingtown Area School District
- Great Valley School District
- Kennett Consolidated School District
- Octorara Area School District
- Owen J. Roberts School District
- Oxford Area School District
- Phoenixville Area School District
- Spring-Ford Area School District
- Tredyffrin-Easttown School District
- Twin Valley School District
- Unionville-Chadds Ford School District
- West Chester Area School District
- Achievement House Charter School grades 9-12, Exton
- Avon Grove Charter School grades K-12, West Grove
- Chester County Family Academy Charter School grades K-2, West Chester
- Collegium Charter School grades K-12, Exton
- Graystone Academy Charter School grades K-8, Coatesville
- Pennsylvania Leadership Cyber Charter School PreK-12, West Chester
- Renaissance Academy Charter School grades K-12, Phoenixville
- Sankofa Academy Charter School grades 5-8, West Chester
- 21st Century Cyber Charter School grades 6-12. Downingtown.
- Bishop Shanahan High School (Archdiocese of Philadelphia)
- Center for Arts and Technology (Administered by Chester County Intermediate Unit
- Church Farm School (now called CFS the School at Church Farm)
- Delaware Valley Friends School
- Devon Preparatory School
- Goshen Friends School (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
- Kimberton Waldorf School (Kimberton, Pennsylvania)
- London Grove Friends Kindergarten (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania)
- Malvern Preparatory School
- The Concept School - 6th through 12th Grade
- Upattinas School and Resource Center (Glenmoore, Pennsylvania)
- Villa Maria Academy (Malvern, Pennsylvania)
- West Fallowfield Christian School
- West Chester Friends School
- Westtown School
- Windsor Christian Academy - K through 6th Grade
- Windsor Christian Preschool
- Upland Country Day School (UCDS) - Pre-K through 9th Grade
Chester County is home to a number of historic Quaker buildings, including Birmingham, Birmingham Orthodox, Bradford, Caln, Old Kennett, Parkersville, and Uwchlan meeting houses. Other historic religious buildings include St. Malachi Church, southeastern Pennsylvania's oldest active Catholic mission church, and the Episcopalian St. Mary's, St. Paul's, St. Peter's churches, and Washington Memorial Chapel. Also found in Chester County are the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester, and Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County, a Conservative synagogue.
The Chester County Library System in southeastern Pennsylvania was organized in 1965. It is a federated system composed of a District Center Library in Exton and seventeen member libraries. The system provides materials and information for life, work and pleasure.
- James Smith (1719-1806), signer to the United States Declaration of Independence
- Thomas Wharton Jr. (1735-1778), served as the first President of Pennsylvania (an office akin to Governor) following the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain
- William (Amos) Wilson (1762-1821), famous folklore figure known as "The Pennsylvania Hermit"
- Rebecca Webb Lukens (1794-1854) first female owner and manager of the company that became the Lukens Steel Mill
- Jesse B. Aikin (1808-1900), first to produce a song book with a seven-shape note system
- Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-1872), poet and portrait painter
- Isaac Israel Hayes (1832-1881), Arctic explorer and physician
- Franklin MacVeagh (1837-1934), banker and Secretary of the US Treasury
- Mifflin E. Bell (1847-1904), architect who served from 1883 to 1886 as Supervising Architect of the US Treasury Department
- Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909), one of the most prominent American Beaux-Arts architects of the late nineteenth century
- William Thomas Smedley (1858-1920), artist; member of the National Academy of Design
- N.C. Wyeth (1882–1945), artist
- Herb Pennock (1894–1948), Hall of Fame baseball pitcher also known as the Squire of Kennett Square.
- Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009), artist, son of N.C. Wyeth
- Jamie Wyeth (1946- ), artist, son of Andrew Wyeth
- Scott Brunner (1957- ), NFL quarterback during the 1980s
- Bam Margera (1979- ), professional skateboarder, television and radio personality, and daredevil
- M. Night Shyamalan (1970 - ), film director
- List of municipal authorities in Chester County, Pennsylvania
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Chester County, Pennsylvania
- Kaolin Mushroom Farms
- "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Chester County, Pennsylvania". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1852—1935). Pennsylvania Archives. 9 Series, 109 Volumes. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. pp. Series 2, Volume 5: 739–744.
- Futhey, John and Cope, Gilbert (1881). History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with genealogical and biographical sketches. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts.
- Armstrong, Edward; Editor (1860). Record of the Court at Upland, in Pennsylvania, 1676 to 1681. Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Volume 7. p. 196.
- Swindler, William F., Editor (1973-1979). Sources and Documents of United States Constitutions. 10 Volumes. Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana Publications. pp. Vol. 8: 243.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State. "Voter Registration Statistics" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- Pennsylvania Department of Education. "Charter Schools in Pennsylvania". Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- Chester County Home Page
- Chester County Government Meeting Minutes and local news at TownWatcher
- Chester County Press Newspapers & Magazines
- Chester County Fire and EMS
- Chester County Police Departments
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Chester County, Pennsylvania|
A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.