Although known primarily as an attraction because of its proximity to the Gettysburg Battlefield, site of the Battle of Gettysburg, the town is also known for its institutions of higher learning, namely the Lutheran Theological Seminary, founded in 1826, and Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College), which began operating in 1832. Harrisburg Area Community College also has a campus.
Many roads radiate from Gettysburg, providing hub-like access to Baltimore (52 miles/84 kilometers), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (38 miles/61kilometers), Carlisle (30 miles/48 kilometers), Frederick and Hagerstown, Maryland (25 and 30 miles, or 40 and 48 kilometers, respectively), and Washington, D.C. (90 miles/145 kilometers). Chambersburg is west on the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30), the first transcontinental U.S. highway. Today the borough is a 2½ hour drive from Philadelphia and a 3½ hour drive from Pittsburgh via the Pennsylvania Turnpike and U.S. Route 15. Gettysburg Regional Airport, a small general aviation airport, is located 2 miles (4 km) west of Gettysburg.
There were 2,541 households out of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.6% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 42.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the borough the population was spread out with 16.2% under the age of 18, 36.2% from 18 to 24, 19.1% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $29,840, and the median income for a family was $40,489. Males had a median income of $30,341 versus $21,111 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $14,157. About 13.2% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 17 and 5.2% of those age 77 or over.