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.
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.
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.
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).