Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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City of Williamsport
West 4th Street between Court and Market Streets Williamsport.jpg
Weightman Block Williamsport Pennsylvania.JPG
Williamsport, PA (3874312988).jpg
Williamsport (Large).JPG
Clockwise from top left: Skyline, downtown from 4th Street, The Weightman Block, Franco’s Lounge and skyline panorama
Nickname(s): Wilpo, Billtown
Motto(s): The will is in us
Location of Williamsport in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Williamsport in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
Williamsport is located in Pennsylvania
Location in Pennsylvania
Williamsport is located in the US
Williamsport (the US)
Coordinates: 41°14′40″N 77°1′7″W / 41.24444°N 77.01861°W / 41.24444; -77.01861Coordinates: 41°14′40″N 77°1′7″W / 41.24444°N 77.01861°W / 41.24444; -77.01861
Country  United States
State  Pennsylvania
County Lycoming
Settled 1769
Incorporated 1806 (borough)
  1866 (city)
 • Mayor Gabe Campana (R)
 • City Council President Dr. Jonathan Williamson (R)
 • Total 9.43 sq mi (24.42 km2)
 • Land 8.73 sq mi (22.61 km2)
 • Water 0.70 sq mi (1.80 km2)
Elevation 518 ft (158 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 29,381
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 28,834
 • Density 3,302.49/sq mi (1,275.09/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes 17701,17702,17703,17705 [3]
Area code(s) 570 and 272
FIPS code 42-85312[4]
GNIS feature ID 1213655[5]
Website cityofwilliamsport.org

Williamsport is a city in, and the county seat of, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, United States.[6] In 2016, the population was estimated at 28,834. It is the principal city of the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of about 117,000.

The city is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Central Pennsylvania. It is 131 miles (211 km) from Philadelphia, 166 miles (267 km) from Pittsburgh and 85 miles (137 km) from state capital Harrisburg. The city is renowned for its sports, arts scene and food.

Williamsport was settled by Americans late in the 18th century, and the town began to prosper due to its lumber industry. By the early 20th century, the town reached the height of its prosperity and the population has since declined by about a third from its peak of around 45,000 in 1950.

Williamsport is the birthplace of Little League Baseball. South Williamsport, a town nearby, is the headquarters of Little League Baseball and annually hosts the Little League World Series in late summer.


Discovery and settlement (1700s)[edit]

Colonial settlement in what is today Williamsport dates back to 1786 but the area was previously inhabited by the Iroquois. Williamsport was incorporated as a borough on March 1, 1806, and as a city on January 15, 1866. In the late 19th century, Williamsport was known as "The Lumber Capital of the World" because of its thriving lumber industry. The city is the original home of Little League Baseball, founded in 1939 as a three-team league. Following World War II the city's population and economic prosperity have declined.

Early history and incorporation as a city (1763-1899)[edit]

In 1763 the Battle of Muncy Hills took place during the French and Indian War. It was a clash between the Native Americans and colonists seeking homestead sites in Native American territory.[7] In 1768, at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, the British purchased the land that became Lycoming County from the Iroquois Nation who controlled the lands.[7]

In 1786 the first house was built in Williamsport. James Russell built his inn on what is now the corner of East Third and Mulberry Streets in downtown.[8] On April 13, 1795 Lycoming County was formed from Northumberland County. It encompassed all the lands of Northumberland County situated west of Muncy Hills and was a domain of 12,500 square miles (32,000 km2), comprising most of north central Pennsylvania.[7] In 1796 the first recorded childbirth in Williamsport was James Russell the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Russell and grandson of James Russell of the Russell Inn[8] and the first school was built as a one-room log addition to the building that would eventually become the first Lycoming County Courthouse.[8] In 1798 the first brick house in Williamsport was erected on Front Street, between Market and Mulberry, by Andrew Tulloh, a lawyer. The bricks were made on the banks of Grafius Run where that stream crossed Hepburn Street.[7]

Aerial view, about 1919

In 1799, a post office opened at the corner of Third and State Streets in what is now downtown,[8] and the following year, a jail was constructed at the northeast corner of William and Third Streets.[7] The post office was later converted to a saloon,[8]

In 1801 the town's first store was opened by William Winter on Third Street.[8] In 1831 Jacob L. Mussina established the Repasz Band, the oldest brass band in America still in existence.[7] On Oct. 15 1834 The West Branch Canal opened and the first boat to pass through the canal en route to Jersey Shore was that of George Aughenbaugh. The first freight carried into town was iron for the foundry of John B. Hall.[7] The same year the enactment of the common school law by Pennsylvania Legislature led to public education here. In May 1835, the first public schools opened in Williamsport and also the town's first bank, the West Branch National Bank.[7]

The Underground Railroad, used by enslaved African-Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860–1865) included routes from states in the South, which supported slavery, to "free" states in the North and Canada.[9] From 1830 until 1865, the underground railroad, a system of safe houses and routes for slaves escaping to freedom, operated in Lycoming County; many local abolitionists, including Daniel Hughes, served as conductors and agents.[7]

Based on the oral history of Mamie Sweeting Diggs (1933–2011), fourth generation descent and great-granddaughter, Hughes, was a river raftsman on the Susquehanna river who had migrated from Oswego, New York. He lived on the Muncy Indian Reservation until he acquired land off Freedom Road.[10] During his trips transporting logs to Maryland, he brought escaped slaves back on foot from Baltimore, over Bald Eagle Mountain and hid them at his home and in the caves on Freedom Road.[11]

Mamie's grandfather, Robert, helped his father, Daniel Hughes, hide escaped slaves in the caves behind their home on Freedom Road. They fed them, nursed the sick back to health and delivered them safely to the next "station", The Apker House in Trout Run.[10] The Apker House was the home of Robert Fairies, abolitionist and president of the Williamsport-Elmira Railroad. The railroad ran through his property where escaped slaves were hidden in the barn and house and then loaded into railway baggage cars for the trip to Elmira, NY, the next "station."[11]

Mamie’s grandfather, Robert passed the stories to his children, including Mamie's mother, Marion. Marion tended the family homestead, maintained Freedom Road Cemetery (where nine black Civil War vets are buried) and passed Daniel's stories down to her children.[10]

West Third Street looking west, c. 1910
Williamsport Home for the Friendless, c. 1910

In 1849 the Market Street Bridge was built over the West Branch Susquehanna River. It was opened as a toll bridge to cover the state's costs of $23,797.[8] In 1854 a brewery opened. The brewery was sold to Henry Flock in 1865. This brewery was run by the Flock family until the 1940s. The Flock's business survived Prohibition by converting to a dairy.[8]

In 1875, the first tower clock in the United States to sound the Cambridge Quarters (Westminster Chime) was installed at Trinity Episcopal Church, a gift of Peter Herdic with bells given by the Honorable Judge J. W. Maynard. The following year the Williamsport Hospital opened its first facility April 1 at Elmira and Edwin Streets.[7]

In 1881 a state law ended racial segregation in Pennsylvania schools. By 1948, all schools in this area were integrated.[7] In 1895 Harry Houdini appeared in one of his earliest performances at the Old Fair Grounds with The Welch Brothers Circus.[12]

Williamsport was the birthplace of the national newspaper Grit in 1882. Williamsport once had more millionaires per-capita than anywhere else in the world.[citation needed] For this reason, the area's local high school, the Williamsport Area High School, uses "Millionaires" as its team nickname.

Modern history (1900-present)[edit]

The Flood of March 17–18, 1936 caused the river to crest at 33.9'. Flood waters reached High Street. It was known locally as the Hello, Al flood because Al Glaes, operating a short-wave radio station from his home on High Street, kept the city in touch with the rest of the world after the flood disrupted electricity and telephone service.[7]

Downtown Williamsport

On June 6, 1939 the first Little League Baseball game was played on a sandlot outside Bowman Field in Williamsport. Carl Stotz conceived the idea of a Little League, and he and Bert and George Bebble managed the first three teams.[7] In 1941 the U.S. entered World War II after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Williamsport native Joe Lockard, stationed on Oahu, gave warning of the impending attack based on radar readings. His readings were dismissed as American B17 bombers coming in from the mainland.[7] Also in 1941 the Williamsport School Board created the Williamsport Technical Institute for high school and post-high school students. It grew into the Williamsport Area Community College, and later became Pennsylvania College of Technology.[7]

Geography and climate[edit]

Downtown and the Genetti Hotel as seen from neighboring South Williamsport


Physical geography and area landscape[edit]

Williamsport is located at 41°14′40″N 77°1′7″W / 41.24444°N 77.01861°W / 41.24444; -77.01861 (41.244428, −77.018738),[13] and is bordered by the West Branch Susquehanna River to the south (with Armstrong Township, South Williamsport, Duboistown and Susquehanna Township south of the river), Loyalsock Township to the east and north, Old Lycoming Township to the north and Woodward Township to the west.[14] As the crow flies, Lycoming County is about 130 miles (209 km) northwest of Philadelphia and 165 miles (266 km) east-northeast of Pittsburgh.

Historical places and neighborhoods[edit]

The Peter Herdic House, Hart Building, Millionaire's Row Historic District, City Hall, Williamsport Armory, and Old City Hall are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[15]

Neighborhoods of Williamsport include:

  • Downtown, between Hepburn Street and Basin Street, south of Little League Blvd
  • Grampian Hills, the area around and north of Grampian Blvd.
  • Millionaire's Row, along W. 4th Street
  • Newberry, west of Lycoming Creek
  • Park Avenue, south of Williamsport Hospital
  • Vallamont, the area north of Rural Ave and west of Market St.
  • East End, the area south of Grampian Blvd. and east of Market St.
  • West Hills, the hillside and hilltop north of Dewey and west of Round Hill Road.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.5 square miles (25 km2). 8.9 square miles (23 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (6.92%) is water.[13]


Williamsport has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), typical of central Pennsylvania, with four distinct seasons, and lies in USDA hardiness zone 6b, with areas away from the West Branch Susquehanna River falling in zone 6a.[16] Winters are cold and comparatively dry but typically bring a mix of rain, sleet, and snow with occasional heavy snowfall and icing. January is the coldest month with an average mean temperature of 26.8 °F (−2.9 °C),[17] with daytime temperatures staying at or below freezing on 29 days a year and lows dropping to or below 0 °F (−18 °C) on 2.8 days, though such temperatures aren't seen every year.[17] The record for most subzero temperatures is 16, set during the winter of 1917-18. Snowfall averages 36.0 inches (91 cm) per season.[17] The snowiest month on record was 40.1 inches (102 cm) in January 1987, while winter snowfall amounts have ranged from 85.9 in (218 cm) in 1895–96 to only 6.0 in (15 cm) in 2007–08.[17] Summers are typically very warm and humid with temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) on 15 days per year on average; the annual count has been as high as 42 days in 1988, while only 1907 and 1979 did not reach that mark. [17] Temperatures of 100 °F (38 °C) or higher are rare, with the most recent occurrence being on July 1, 2012. July is the warmest month with an average mean temperature of 73.2 °F (23 °C).[17]

The all-time record high temperature in Williamsport of 106 °F (41 °C) was established on July 9, 1936, which occurred during the Dust Bowl, while the all-time record low temperature of −20 °F (−29 °C) was set on January 21, 1994. The lowest daytime maximum temperature of −5 °F (−21 °C) occurred twice on February 4, 1895 and January 12, 1918, while contraversially, the highest overnight low of 82 °F (28 °C) was set on August 1–2, 1890.[17] The first and last freezes of the season on average fall on October 16 and April 30, respectively, allowing a growing season of 168 days.[17] The normal annual mean temperature is 49.4 °F (9.7 °C).[17] Normal yearly precipitation based on the 30-year average from 1981–2010 is 41.28 inches (1,049 mm), falling on an average 133 days.[17] Monthly precipitation has ranged from 16.80 in (427 mm) in June 1972 (due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Agnes) to 0.16 in (4.1 mm) in September 1943, while for annual precipitation the historical range is 70.26 in (1,785 mm) in 2011 to 27.68 in (703 mm) in 1930.[17]

Climate data for Williamsport Regional Airport, Pennsylvania (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1895–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
Average high °F (°C) 34.2
Average low °F (°C) 19.3
Record low °F (°C) −20
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.70
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.0 9.7 11.5 11.6 13.3 11.9 11.4 10.3 10.0 10.3 11.0 10.8 132.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 7.4 5.6 3.5 0.7 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 1.3 5.3 23.9
Source: NOAA[17][18]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201628,834[2]−1.9%
Location of the Williamsport-Lock Haven CSA and its components:
  Williamsport Metropolitan Statistical Area
  Lock Haven Micropolitan Statistical Area
The black dot shows the location of Williamsport
Williamsport City Hall, formerly the United State Post Office

Williamsport is the larger principal city of the Williamsport-Lock Haven CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Williamsport metropolitan area (Lycoming County) and the Lock Haven micropolitan area (Clinton County),[22][23][24] which had a combined population of 157,958 at the 2000 census.[4]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 30,706 people, 12,219 households, and 6,732 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,456.3 people per square mile (1,335.1/km2). There were 13,524 housing units at an average density of 1,522.3 per square mile (588.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.1% White, 12.7% Black, 0.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 12,219 households, out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.9% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out, with 22.5% under the age of 18, 18.0% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,946, and the median income for a family was $33,844. Males had a median income of $26,668 versus $20,196 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,707. About 13.7% of families and 21.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 18 and 11.6% of those age 65 or over.


Williamsport operates on a "Strong Mayor" form of government, meaning the mayor is given almost total administrative authority and a clear, wide range of political independence with the power to appoint and dismiss department heads without council approval and little need for public input. The mayor is Gabriel J. Campana.[25]

Williamsport is located in Pennsylvania's 23rd senatorial District, Pennsylvania's 83rd House District, and Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district.

The Weightman Block in downtown Williamsport was built by Peter Herdic
Lycoming County Prison was built between 1799 and 1801; today it is a night club.


Williamsport's top ten employers are Susquehanna Health, the Pennsylvania State Government, the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport Area School District, Brodart Company, Springs Window Fashions, Weis Markets, West Pharmaceuticals, Shop Vac Corporation, and Textron Lycoming Engines.[citation needed]

Williamsport is noted for the Lycoming aircraft engines which is a division of Avco Corporation and a subsidiary of Textron. Brodart, a library supplies company, is also based in Williamsport. Shop-Vac is headquartered in the Newberry section of Williamsport and manufactures wet/dry vacuums and accessories for consumer, industrial, commercial and contractor uses. Overhead Garage Door is also located in Newberry.[citation needed] Bethlehem Wire Rope, a 46-acre (190,000 m2) manufacturing complex in Williamsport, with over 620,000 square feet (58,000 m2) under roof, is the single largest wire rope manufacturing facility in North America.[26][unreliable source?]

Recently, interest has grown in extracting natural gas in the Williamsport area.[27] Williamsport has become a key area in the Marcellus Shale drilling.[citation needed]

Lonza Group, a Swiss biotechnology and pharmaceutical company, has a large manufacturing site on the western fringes of the city, where a number of specialty chemicals are made that go into a wide array of oilfield, nutritional, personal care, and industrial applications.[citation needed]

The Williamsport Downtown Gateway Revitalization Project began in 2004 in order to attract more people (both citizens of the Williamsport community and visitors) to the Downtown Williamsport area.[28] The construction on the Carl E. Stotz Memorial Little League Bridge, the first of many projects, began in June 2004 and was completed in 2008.


Williamsport is the home of Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology, The Commonwealth Medical College, as well as Barone Beauty School and Empire Beauty School. There is also a continuing education center of Pennsylvania State University located in Williamsport.

Williamsport Area School District consists of:

  • Cochran Primary School
  • Hepburn Lycoming Primary School
  • Jackson Primary School
  • Stevens Primary School
  • Curtin Intermediate School
  • Lycoming Valley Intermediate School
  • Williamsport Area Middle School
  • Williamsport Area High School

Williamsport Area School District has a renowned music program, frequently ranked in the top schools in the country each year according to the Namm Foundation.[29]

Private schools in the area include West Branch School, Mountain View Christian School and Williamsport Christian School and several Catholic schools in Lycoming County are run by Saint John Neumann Regional Academy.[30]


The James V. Brown Library (2014)

The James V. Brown Library is Williamsport's public library. The library has a staff of nearly 50 full and part-time employees, and offers volunteer opportunities for youth and adults.[31] With a collection of nearly 150,000 units it offers books, DVDs, CDs, and other resources, while the library offers wireless Internet access, local history archives, and premium online reference resources. As the headquarters for the county library system, the Brown Library serves almost 87,000 patrons, some years[vague] circulating upwards of 550,000 books both in-house and through its traveling Storymobile.[31] The James V. Brown offers preschool and early learning opportunities, as well as programs for teens and adults. The library, led by local retired physician Dr. William R. Somers, constructed a children's wing in 2009 to target educational and social resources to young people from birth through the second grade. The library has since been able to bolster its school-age programming to include teen and tween populations, offering a variety of after-school gaming clubs, arts and crafts programs, and social events that occur on a regular basis. The library's after-school café also provides reading and study incentives for young students. The Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Bureau of Library Development funds the statewide online resource "Ask Here PA", a free chat service that provides Williamsport and other Pennsylvania library patrons with access to 24/7 reference support.

Lycoming College's Snowden Library and the Pennsylvania College of Technology's Madigan Library are also located in Williamsport.


UPMC Susquehanna is a six hospital integrated health system including:

UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport was recognized as one of the 2011 Thomson Reuters 50 Top Heart Hospitals in the nation.[32]


Williamsport station c. 1910

Williamsport Regional Airport (IPT), located several miles east of the city in the borough of Montoursville, has two flights daily to Philadelphia via American Eagle (as of October 2016).[33] Fullington Trailways provides daily long distance bus service from a station in the downtown to Elmira, New York, Harrisburg, New York City, and Philadelphia.[34] Local bus service within Williamsport and to other places in Lycoming County is offered by River Valley Transit.[35]

Williamsport is served by several major highways, including Interstate 180, U.S. Route 15, and U.S. Route 220. I-180 and US 220 run together northeast/southwest through Williamsport, and US 15 joins (in the opposite direction) for two miles.[36] Once completed, Interstate 99 will enter Williamsport from the southwest on US 220 and continue north on US 15, joining only one at a time.

There is no passenger rail service, but, until the mid-20th century, Williamsport was a major transfer point between the Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Railroad, and New York Central Railroad and direct passenger services were provided to New York City, Buffalo, Harrisburg, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Freight rail service (west to Avis and east to Muncy) is provided by the Lycoming Valley Railroad, which has its main yard in the Newberry section of Williamsport, and offers connections to the Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific railroads.[37]

The West Branch Susquehanna River is not navigable, but a dam at Hepburn Street provides a large lake for recreational boating, including outings on the mock paddlewheeler Hiawatha from Susquehanna State Park.[38]


Little League World Series and Lamade Stadium

Williamsport has one professional baseball team, the Williamsport Crosscutters, a minor league baseball club with the New York–Penn League affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies, and a semi-professional football team, the Williamsport Wildcats, registered with the GEFA

The Little League World Series is held annually on the south side of the West Branch Susquehanna River in South Williamsport, where Little League Baseball now has its headquarters.

Each year the Susquehanna 500 Mini Indy Gokart Racing Series competes in Brandon Park. The Saturday-Sunday event is held each year, usually the third weekend of September with all proceeds going to the North Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross. The 2013 event will be the 17th annual. About $400,000 has been raised since its inception.


Local newspapers include the Williamsport Sun Gazette, Webb Weekly and The Williamsport Guardian.

The local news/talk radio stations are WRAK/WRKK (1400/1200 kHz), and WWPA 1340 kHz. Williamsport has an all-sports station, ESPN (AM) (1500 kHz). Williamsport is ranked #260 by Arbitron in terms of its radio market.

Local online media includes WilliamsportLIVE, Connect Williamsport, Lycoming County Kids[permanent dead link] (local kid's activities), Williamsport.com (directory), and the City of Williamsport Facebook page (social media) and the Downtown Williamsport Facebook page (social media).

TV stations in Williamsport are served by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market.

A new multiplex movie theater on West 4th Street, opened May 2, 2008.[citation needed]

Points of interest[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Panoramic view of South Willamsport, Duboistown and Williamsport from the River Walk on top of the flood control levee. Bald Eagle Mountain, West Branch Susquehanna River, Hepburn Street Dam on the left, center is River Walk path, Lycoming Valley Railroad, Interstate 180 and city skyline, right is Market Street Bridge over the river.

See also[edit]



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  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. ^ Williamsport, Pennsylvania (PA) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news. City-data.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  4. ^ a b c d "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
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  30. ^ (http://www.flexcms.com), St. John Neumann Regional Academy -- Powered by FlexCMS. "St. John Neumann Regional Academy, Williamsport, PA". www.sjnra.org.
  31. ^ a b "James V. Brown Library Public Disclosure" (PDF). www.jvbrown.edu. April 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
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Further reading

  • Dornsife, Samuel J.; Wolfson, Eleanor M. (1995). Lost Williamsport: a Photo Album of Williamport's Vanishing Architectural Treasures. Williamsport, Pennsylvania: Riverun Productions. p. 196.
  • Larson, Robert H.; Morris, Richard J.; Piper Jr, John F. (1984). Williamsport: Frontier Village to Regional Center. Woodland Hills, California: Windsor Publications. p. 208. ISBN 0-89781-110-0.

External links[edit]