Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania
Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania
Andalusia a NRHP site in Bensalem
Location of Bensalem Township in Bucks County
|• Mayor||Joseph DiGirolamo (R)|
|• Total||21.0 sq mi (54.21 km2)|
|• Land||20.0 sq mi (51.37 km2)|
|• Water||1.0 sq mi (1.0 km2)|
|Elevation||102 ft (31 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||3,041.54/sq mi (1,174.35/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||215 and 267|
Bensalem Township is a township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States and borders the northeast section of Philadelphia. The township is composed of many communities, including Andalusia, Bensalem, Bridgewater, Cornwells Heights, Eddington, Flushing, Oakford, Siles, Trappe, and Trevose; as of the 2010 census, the township had a total population of 60,427, which makes it the largest municipality in Bucks County, and the ninth largest in Pennsylvania. The township, which was founded in 1692, is almost as old as Pennsylvania itself, which was founded in 1682.
The origin of the name Bensalem likely comes from references made by settler Joseph Growden, who named his estate Manor of Bensalem in honor of William Penn and the Semitic term for peace, Salem, it was originally named Salem; the first syllable Ben was added in 1701.
The area of Bensalem Township was likely distinct by 1682 as it appears on the Holme Map, thought not yet with a name. By 2 January 1685, the boundary was fixed between Bensalem and Philadelphia County along the Poquessing Creek. At the September session in 1692 of the Court of Bucks County, a jury of thirteen men was formed to define boundaries of divisions that had been created up to that time; the report submitted in December states that "All the lands between Neshamineh and Poquessin, and so to the upper side of Joseph Growden's land in one and to be called 'Salem.'" It thus appears that the first name of the township was 'Salem'. The minutes of the Board of Property of the Province on 19 November 1701 at Philadelphia noted the name of the area as 'Bensalem'; the population of the area was first a few Dutch and Swedes, then later a larger influx of English, and then additional Dutch settled the area.
Bensalem is the southernmost township in Bucks County and is bordered by Philadelphia to the west and south, Croydon and the rest of Bristol Township to the east and northeast, Hulmeville and Middletown Township to the north, and Feasterville, Trevose, and Oakford in Lower Southampton Township to the northwest. Across the Delaware River in Burlington County, New Jersey to the southeast, there are Beverly, Delanco Township, and Edgewater Park Township.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 21.0 square miles (54 km2), of which, 20.0 square miles (52 km2) of it is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) of it (4.77%) is water.
The Fall Line, which separates the Atlantic Coastal Plain region from the Piedmont region, runs through Bensalem, and is visible around the Neshaminy Mall area; the Neshaminy Creek forms the natural eastern boundary and Poquessing Creek forms the natural western boundary of the township.
Natural features include Barnsleys Ford, Mill Creek, Neshaminy Creek, Neshaminy Falls, Partridge Point, Poquessing Creek, and White Sheet Bay.
According to the Köppen climate classification system, Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). Cfa climates are characterized by all months having an average mean temperature > 32.0 °F (> 0.0 °C), at least four months with an average mean temperature ≥ 50.0 °F (≥ 10.0 °C), at least one month with an average mean temperature ≥ 71.6 °F (≥ 22.0 °C), no significant precipitation difference between seasons and no dry months in the summer. Episodes of extreme heat and humidity can occur during the summer months with heat index values ≥ 100 °F (≥ 38 °C). On average the wettest month of the year is July which corresponds with the annual peak in thunderstorm activity. Episodes of extreme cold and wind can occur during the winter months with wind chill values ≤ 0 °F (≤ -18 °C); the plant hardiness zone is 7a with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of 1.9 °F (-16.7 °C). The average seasonal (Nov-Apr) snowfall total is between 24 and 30 inches (61 and 76 cm), and the average snowiest month is February which corresponds with the annual peak in nor'easter activity.
|Climate data for Bensalem Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (1981 – 2010 averages)|
|Average high °F (°C)||40.6
|Daily mean °F (°C)||32.5
|Average low °F (°C)||24.3
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.56
|Average relative humidity (%)||65.2||61.8||57.6||57.3||61.9||65.0||66.0||68.2||68.8||68.1||66.7||67.1||64.5|
|Average dew point °F (°C)||22.1
|Source: PRISM Climate Group|
According to the A. W. Kuchler U.S. Potential natural vegetation Types, Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania would have an Appalachian Oak (104) vegetation type with an Eastern Hardwood Forest (25) vegetation form.
As of the 2010 census, the township was 72.1% Non-Hispanic White, 7.3% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 10.2% Asian, and 2.6% of the population were of two or more races. 8.4% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,434 people, 22,627 households, and 15,114 families residing in the township; the population density was 2,926.7 people per square mile (1,129.8/km²). There were 23,535 housing units at an average density of 1,178.8/sq mi (455.0/km²).
There are 22,627 households, of which 30.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the township the population was spread out, with 23.1% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.0 males. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 96.9 men.
The median income for a household in the township was $49,737, and the median income for a family was $58,771. Men had a median income of $39,914 versus $30,926 for women; the per capita income for the township was $22,517. 7.4% of the population and 6.0% of families were below the poverty line. Of the total population, 6.8% of those under the age of 18 and 10.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
- The Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center, an Orthodox Judaism outreach institution with associated synagogue Kehillas B'nai Shalom.
- Congregation Tifereth Israel, a Conservative synagogue.
Landmarks and attractions
Bensalem is home to Parx Casino and Racing, a 1-mile (1.6 km) thoroughbred horse racing track and casino. This facility opened in November 1974 as Keystone Racetrack; the name was changed to Philadelphia Park in 1984. The track became notable as the original home of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion Smarty Jones, who placed second in the Belmont Stakes, narrowly missing the Triple Crown. In 2006, a slots parlor casino opened at Philadelphia Park and the facility was renamed to Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino. A permanent standalone casino structure opened in December 2009 and was renamed Parx Casino; the facility boasts 260,000 square feet (24,000 m2) including gaming, dining, entertainment, and banquet space. Parx Casino contains the Xcite Center, which hosts concerts, entertainment performances, comedy acts, and boxing and MMA matches.
The Mission Center and National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel is located on Bristol Pike in Bensalem. The shrine houses the remains of Katharine Drexel, born in 1858 to a wealthy Philadelphia family; as a young woman Saint Katharine turned her back on a life of privilege to serve the poor, focusing on Native- and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891; the next year she and thirteen other sisters moved into St. Elizabeth's Convent in Bensalem. St. Katharine died in 1955 and was canonized in 2000; the shrine welcomes visitors daily.
Penn Community Bank Amphitheater is located in Bensalem, and is a popular venue for concerts.
Bensalem is also home to the Mongkoltepmunee Buddhist Temple, or Wat Mongkoltepmunee, on Knights Road; this shrine is an exact replica of a temple in Bangkok and is the only one of its kind in the United States. It serves as a place of high ceremonies and meditation for a community of Buddhist monks who came to Bensalem from Thailand in the 1980s.
The Neshaminy Mall is located within Bensalem, it was one of the first malls to be constructed in the country in 1968. It has two main anchors (Boscov's and AMC Theatres) and over 120 smaller shops and eateries; the AMC Neshaminy 24 Theater is the largest and highest sales-producing theater in Pennsylvania. In addition, it has on many occasions been a top 10 for theater engagements in the United States (including the opening of Signs where it was #1). 
Benjamin Franklin would often travel to Bensalem to visit his friend, Joseph Galloway, at Growden Mansion. At the time, the Galloway family owned all of present-day Bensalem Township. A local legend maintains that Franklin performed his famous kite-flying experiment in Bensalem, at the mansion, to prove that lightning was the same as static electricity. (The broader consensus is that Benjamin Franklin flew his kite closer to his home in Philadelphia.)
Bensalem is home to the Philadelphia Gun Club which hosts one of the few trap pigeon shoots in the United States. Live birds are released from boxes called traps and then shot by club members. Many birds are not killed outright and are collected to be killed by hand.
Bensalem is home to Neshaminy State Park. Also, in the center of Bensalem is the Bensalem Township Community Park, which features a skatepark, playground, basketball courts, a roller-hockey rink, baseball football, soccer, and softball fields.
Bensalem Township is readily accessible with Interstate 95, Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 276), U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 13 (Bristol Pike), Pennsylvania Route 63 (Woodhaven Road), Pennsylvania Route 132 (Street Road), and Pennsylvania Route 513 (Hulmeville Road) all passing through. The Bensalem (formerly Philadelphia) Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (exit 351, at U.S. Route 1) is in the Trevose section of the township. In addition, the eastbound Street Road interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (exit 352), which is E-ZPass only, serves Bensalem; the eastern terminus of the ticket system along the turnpike is located at the Neshaminy Falls toll plaza, east of the Street Road interchange. The intersection of Knights and Street roads in Bensalem Township was ranked by Time magazine as the most dangerous intersection in the United States from 2003 until 2012.
Two SEPTA Regional Rail lines serve Bensalem Township, providing service to Center City Philadelphia; the West Trenton Line stops at the Trevose and Neshaminy Falls stations in the northern part of the township. The Trenton Line stops at the Cornwells Heights and Eddington stations in the southern part of the township; the Cornwells Heights station is also served by Amtrak's Keystone Service and Northeast Regional services along the Northeast Corridor and has a park-and-ride with access from Interstate 95 and Pennsylvania Route 63. CSX Transportation's Trenton Subdivision freight railroad line runs through the northern portion of the township. Multiple SEPTA bus routes pass through the township, serving points of interest within the township and providing connections to Philadelphia and other suburbs. Bus routes serving Bensalem Township include SEPTA City Bus Routes 1, 14, 20, 50, 58, and 78 and SEPTA Suburban Bus Routes 128, 129, 130, 133, and 150. SEPTA also operates the Boulevard Direct, a limited-stop bus route between the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem Township and the Frankford Transportation Center in Northeast Philadelphia that follows Roosevelt Boulevard through Northeast Philadelphia; the Delaware River passes along the southeastern border of Bensalem Township and provides access for shipping. The Northeast Philadelphia Airport, located a couple miles away, provides general aviation services; the Philadelphia International Airport is 25 miles (40 km) away, offering flights to domestic and international destinations.
Electricity and natural gas in Bensalem Township is provided by PECO Energy Company, a subsidiary of Exelon. Water in the township is provided by Aqua Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of Aqua America, while sewer service is provided by the Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority; Bensalem sold off its water and sewer system in 1999. Trash and recycling collection is provided by private haulers. Cable, telephone, and internet service to the area is provided by Xfinity and Verizon. Bensalem Township is served by area codes 215 and 267.
In 1987, the people of Bensalem voted to become a second-class township with a mayor-council form of government consisting of a five-member council and a mayor; the mayor is allowed to serve unlimited terms. The first mayor of Bensalem was Ed Burns, who was elected on 1989 and served in office from 1990 to 1994; the current mayor is Republican Joseph DiGirolamo, who is in his seventh consecutive term. He was elected mayor in 1994, his seventh term expires December 31, 2021.
Public schools in Bensalem are operated by the Bensalem Township School District; the school district consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, and Bensalem High School. The township has its own nine-member school board. Holy Ghost Preparatory School is a private Catholic high school located in the township.
Philly Pretzel Factory has its headquarters in Bensalem.
- Cheltenham Township
- Haverford Township
- Lower Merion Township
- Upper Darby Township
- Bensalem Township Police Department
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- [dead link]
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- [dead link]
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-  Archived 2016-09-14 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2013-12-31.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bensalem.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bensalem Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.|
Lower Southampton Township
| Bordering communities
Delanco Township, New Jersey