Norristown

Norristown

[nawr-is-toun, nor-]
Norristown, borough (1990 pop. 30,749), seat of Montgomery co., SE Pa., on the Schuylkill River; settled c.1712, laid out 1784, inc. 1812. Among its manufactures are textiles, medical equipment, machinery, metal and petroleum products, explosives, furniture, foods, consumer goods, and windows and doors. The borough is named for Isaac Norris (1671-1735), a Quaker merchant and a mayor of Philadelphia, who in 1704 bought a large tract of land there from his friend William Penn. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, a commander during the Civil War and Democratic candidate for president in 1880, was born in Norristown and is buried there. The County Historical Society is noted for its collection of local folk art. Nearby is Valley Forge.

Norristown is a home rule municipality in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 6 miles (10 km) northwest of the city limits of Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River. It is the county seat of Montgomery County . Norristown is in a rich agricultural region; in the past, it had extensive manufactures of cigars, tacks, wire, screws, boilers, bolts, silos, tanks, iron, hosiery, knitting machines, underwear, shirts, lumber and milling machinery, paper boxes, rugs, carpets, etc.

Its official name is "Municipality of Norristown", though it was formerly a borough operating under Pennsylvania's Borough Code and is frequently referred to as "the borough" even in statements by its officials. However, since 1986, Norristown has been governed under home rule charters, not under Pennsylvania's Borough Code. The 1986 charter was properly forwarded to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Code The succeeding 2004 home rule charter has not been so published, but may be read at the municipal website Some areas outside the municipality, in the surrounding townships, also have "Norristown, PA" mailing addresses. The entire Municipality of Norristown is within the 19401 ZIP code.

Norristown was incorporated as a borough in 1812, its population then being about 500. It was enlarged in 1853. In 1900, 22,265 people lived here; in 1910, 27,875; in 1920, 32,319; and in 1940, 38,181, making Norristown the most populous borough in Pennsylvania. As of the 2004 census, Norristown population was 30,873.

History

Norristown was one of the largest communities under Pennsylvania's borough form of government. The borough form of government permitted the city to be protected by volunteer fire departments,as does a Home Rule Charter, for example. Located on the Schuylkill River, it was established as a mill town and as a seat of county government.

At one time Norristown was a retail center for the rural areas outside of Philadelphia. With the growth of suburban communities and large shopping malls including the Plaza at King of Prussia and the Plymouth Meeting Mall in the outlying townships, Norristown’s retail sector steadily declined and eventually collapsed.

Today the city’s economy is powered by Montgomery County government jobs, the legal profession, and health care. Montgomery Hospital and Norristown State Hospital are located there. While the downtown has suffered in recent years, the residential areas of Norristown remain largely well-maintained. The housing stock in Norristown is unique and remains affordable. Row homes and twin homes are more numerous than single family residences.

The city is a transit center and the Norristown Transportation Center is the terminus of the Norristown High Speed rail line and a stop on the former Reading Railroad Norristown train to Center City Philadelphia (both now are part of the regional transit system called the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority).

The Norristown Times Herald is the city's daily newspaper, printing Monday through Saturday and serving most of Montgomery County. A Sunday edition is also published. Norristown is steeped in and surrounded by history. Valley Forge National Historical Park is nearby. The city is named for Isaac Norris, a member of the colonial Pennsylvania legislature who ordered the casting of the state house bell that became known as the Liberty Bell. Norris was given a grant of land, then called Williamstadt (William's Town), in honor of one of its founders William Trent who sold the land and went on to help found Trenton, NJ. The Municipality of Norristown and the adjacent Townships of East and West Norriton now occupy this former estate.

Norristown has a rich musical tradition as it was the home to several famous jazz musicians. Bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius and keyboard legend Jimmy Smith were both born in Norristown.

Geography

Norristown is located at (40.119884, -75.341701).

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 31,282 people, 12,028 households, and 7,144 families residing in Norristown. The population density was 8,871.6 people per square mile (3,421.5/km²). There were 13,531 housing units at an average density of 3,837.4/sq mi (1,480.0/km²). The racial makeup was 54.32 % White, 34.80 % Black or African American, 0.20 % Native American, 2.96 % Asian, 0.03 % Pacific Islander, 4.61 % from other races, and 3.07 % from two or more races. 10.49 % of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 12,028 households, 28.7 % include children under the age of 18 living, 33.7 % were married couples living together, 19.8 % have a female householder with no spouse present, and 40.6 % consist of individuals who are not related to one another. The census reports 32.7 % of all households made up of individuals and 9.2 % have someone living alone who is age 65 or older. Norristown’s average household size is 2.52 and the average family size was 3.22.

In the municipality° the population covers a broad range of ages with 25.1 % younger than 18 years of age, 10.5 % from 18 to 24 years, 32.6 % from 25 to 44 years, 20.1 % from 45 to 64 years, and 11.8 % who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

The median income for a household was $35,714, and the median income for a family was $42,357. Males had a median income of $32,113 versus $26,746 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $17,977. Norristown’s population includes 17.2 % living below the poverty line. Of the families, 13.5 % have incomes that are below the poverty line. 23.6 % of those under the age of 18 and 13.8 % of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Politics and government

Norristown has been a home rule municipality since 1986 when a Home Rule Charter with a manager/council form of government and a seven-member municipal council went into effect. The office of mayor was abolished in July 2004 after a public referendum amended the municipal charter.

The municipality is part of the Sixth Congressional District (represented by Rep. Jim Gerlach), the 149th and 150th State House Districts (represented by Rep. Jay Moyer and Rep. Mike Vereb) and the 17th State Senate District (represented by Sen. Constance Williams).

Ethnic Communities

The census count of Hispanics in Norristown is thought to be a vast understatement because of the increasing number of illegal immigrants, many of whom are fearful of deportation should they participate in government surveys. Mexican workers from the state of Puebla have found residence in the borough for its affordable housing stock and proximity to construction, service sector, and landscaping jobs in the wealthy suburbs that surround it. Norristown enjoys a mix of many cultures along with African Americans, Mexican Americans, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, and Dominican Americans that can be seen in its ethnic neighborhoods. There is also a visible Jamaican-American community. Norristown had been in population decline for much of the second half of the 20th century; many look to immigrants as vital to the borough's revitalization. The local government accepts Mexican Matrícula Consular cards as valid identification, in an effort to prevent immigrants from being marginalized in the community or becoming the victim of criminals who know that the undocumented have no legal recourses.

Points of Interest

Notable Individuals from Norristown

Books with References to Norristown

See also

References

Sources

Publications

  • Theodore Heysham, Norristown, 1812-1912 (Norristown, 1913)



External links

Search another word or see Norristownon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;