Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Wilkes-Barre (pronounced wilkes-berry or wilkes-bear, and most often by non-natives as wilkes-bar) is a city located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It gained prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries as an active coal mining city, but has struggled economically since the 1960s. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 43,123. Wilkes-Barre is the county seat of Luzerne County.
Wilkes-Barre is named for British colonial politicians John Wilkes and Isaac Barre. The city was founded in 1768 by John Durkee and a group of European settlers, and sustained several attacks by area Native American tribes.
The discovery of anthracite coal in the 1800s brought hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the area, and also brought numerous entrepreneurs. By the turn of the 20th century, Wilkes-Barre was home to numerous stores, breweries, mills, and factories. During this time, it was nicknamed "The Diamond City," due to the abundance of coal.
After the stock market crash of 1929, Wilkes-Barre began to economically suffer, as the coal industry attempted to survive the crash. The movement from coal to oil, gas, and electricity for heat had a negative effect on the area's economy, causing many mines to shut down. After World War II, Wilkes-Barre had an unemployment rate as high as 12%.
The Knox Mine Disaster was the final nail in the local coal industry's coffin. In January 1959, the Susquehanna River broke through into a mine shaft , flooding every mine in the area. The collapse was caused by a shaft that was dug too close to the river bed. Twelve miners drowned in the flood.
Hayna Valley English, otherwise known as "Wyoming Valley English", is a dialect of American English that is frequently spoken in Wilkes-Barre and its surrounding communities.
The legislative branch of Wilkes-Barre is the City Council. It is comprised of a chairman and six members.
The Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas is the trial court of general jurisdiction for Wilkes-Barre. The court also has two separate divisions to handle matters of probation; one for adults and one for juveniles.
Wilkes-Barre is located at 41°14'40" North, 75°52'41" West (41.244581, -75.877918).
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 43,123 people, 17,961 households, and 9,878 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,430.6/km² (6,296.3/mi²). There are 20,294 housing units at an average density of 1,143.9/km² (2,963.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 1.58% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 17,961 households out of which 23.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.5% are married couples living together, 14.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.0% are non-families. 39.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 18.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.20 and the average family size is 2.96.
In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.7 males.
Professional Sports Teams
- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (International League) (plays its home games in nearby Moosic)
- Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (American Hockey League)
- Wilkes-Barre Pioneers (Arena Football League)
Colleges and universities
- Wilkes University
- King's College
- College Misericordia
- Penn State Wilkes-Barre
- Luzerne County Community College
Sites of Interest
- Public Square
- F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
- Pocono Downs
- Pocono Raceway
- Kirby Park
- Montage Mountain
Famous Wilkes-Barre Residents
- Amadeo Obici - founder of Planters Peanuts
- Ham Fisher - cartoonist
- Rev. Joseph Murgas - radio pioneer
- Walt Michaels - former coach of the New York Jets
- Hugo Winterhalter - musician
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