Chester, Pennsylvania

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Chester, Pennsylvania
Chester PA 5th n Ave of the States.JPG
Downtown Chester at 5th and Avenue of the States
Delaware County Pennsylvania incorporated and unincorporated areas Chester highlighted.svg
Location in Delaware County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
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Chester
Location of Chester in Pennsylvania
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Chester
Chester (the United States)
Coordinates: 39°50′50″N75°22′22″W / 39.84722°N 75.37278°W / 39.84722; -75.37278 Coordinates: 39°50′50″N75°22′22″W / 39.84722°N 75.37278°W / 39.84722; -75.37278
CountryUnited States
StatePennsylvania
County Delaware
Founded1682
Government
  Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland
Area
[1]
  Total6.00 sq mi (15.55 km2)
  Land4.83 sq mi (12.52 km2)
  Water1.17 sq mi (3.04 km2)
Elevation
69 ft (21 m)
Population
  Total33,972
  Estimate 
(2017) [2]
34,077
  Density7,050.90/sq mi (2,722.16/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
19013
Area code(s) 484, 610
FIPS code 42-045-13208
FIPS code 42-13208
GNIS feature ID1171694
Website www.chestercity.com
DesignatedOctober 13, 1947 [3]

Chester is a city in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. With a population of 33,972 at the 2010 census it is the largest city in Delaware County. [4] Incorporated in 1682, Chester is the oldest city in Pennsylvania [5] and is located on the western bank of the Delaware River between the cities of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.

Delaware County, Pennsylvania County in Pennsylvania, United States

Delaware County, colloquially referred to as Delco, is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. With a population of 562,960, it is the fifth most populous county in Pennsylvania, and the third smallest in area. The county was created on September 26, 1789, from part of Chester County, and named for the Delaware River.

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Contents

History

Early history

The Indian tribe that owned the land where Chester now stands were the Okehockings, removed by order of William Penn in 1702 to other lands in Chester County. [6] The original Indian name of Chester was Mecoponaca. [7]

Okehocking people

The Okehocking Tribe was a small band of Unami language-speaking Delaware Indians, who occupied an area along the Ridley and Crum creeks in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Part of that area is now known as Ridley Creek State Park. Along with the Schuylkill and Brandywine Indians, the Okehocking were known as Unami or "people down the river" by other tribes, in accordance with the Indian way of designating a tribe by geographical location.

William Penn English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania

William Penn was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English nobleman, writer, early Quaker, and founder of the English North American colony the Province of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

The first European settlers in the area were members of the New Sweden colony. The settlement that became Chester was first called "Finlandia" (the Latin name for Finland) and then "Upland" after the Swedish province of Uppland. The New Sweden settlers built Fort Mecoponacka in 1641 to defend the settlement. [8]

New Sweden former Swedish possession in North America between 1638–1655

New Sweden was a Swedish colony, along the lower reaches of the Delaware River, in North America, from 1638 to 1655, established during the Thirty Years' War, when Sweden was a military great power. New Sweden was part of Swedish colonization efforts in the Americas. Atiku Settlements were established on both sides of the Delaware Valley in the present-day American Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, often in places where Swedish traders had been visiting since about 1610. Fort Christina, now part of Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement, named after the reigning Swedish monarch, the sole daughter of Gustavus Adolphus. Along with Swedes and Finns, a number of the settlers were Dutch. New Sweden was conquered by the Dutch Republic in 1655, during the Second Northern War, and incorporated into the Dutch colony of New Netherland.

Finland Republic in Northern Europe

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland is a country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is a Nordic country and is situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Uppland Place in Svealand, Sweden

Uppland is a historical province or landskap on the eastern coast of Sweden, just north of Stockholm, the capital. It borders Södermanland, Västmanland and Gästrikland. It is also bounded by lake Mälaren and the Baltic sea. On the small uninhabited island of Märket in the Baltic, Uppland has a very short and unusually shaped land border with Åland, an autonomous province of Finland.

In 1644, the present site of Chester was a tobacco plantation operated by the New Sweden colonists. [9]

By 1682, Upland was the most populous town of the new Province of Pennsylvania. On October 27, the ship Welcome arrived bearing William Penn on his first visit to the province. Penn renamed the settlement for the English city of Chester. [10]

Province of Pennsylvania English, from 1707, British, possession in North America between 1681 and 1776

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in English North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II. The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as "Penn's Woods", was created by combining the Penn surname with the Latin word sylvania, meaning "forest land". The Province of Pennsylvania was one of the two major Restoration colonies, the other being the Province of Carolina. The proprietary colony's charter remained in the hands of the Penn family until the American Revolution, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the original thirteen states. "The lower counties on Delaware", a separate colony within the province, would breakaway during the American Revolution as "the Delaware State" and also be one of the original thirteen states.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Chester city in Cheshire, England

Chester is a walled city in Cheshire, England, on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales. With a population of 118,200 in 2011, it is the most populous settlement of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 332,200 in 2014. Chester was granted city status in 1541.

18th century

Chester County originally stretched from the Delaware River to the Susquehanna River from its founding in 1682 until 1729 when Lancaster County was formed from the western part. [11] Chester served as the county seat for Chester County from 1682 to 1788. [12] In 1724 the Chester Courthouse was built to support the legal needs of the county. [13]

Chester County, Pennsylvania County in Pennsylvania, United States

Chester County (Chesco) is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 498,886, increasing by 4.1% to a census-estimated 519,293 residents as of 2017. The county seat is West Chester. Chester County was one of the three original Pennsylvania counties created by William Penn in 1682. It was named for Chester, England.

Delaware River major river on the East coast of the United States of America

The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It drains an area of 14,119 square miles (36,570 km2) in five U.S. states: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. Rising in two branches in New York state's Catskill Mountains, the river flows 419 miles (674 km) into Delaware Bay where its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean near Cape May in New Jersey and Cape Henlopen in Delaware. Not including Delaware Bay, the river's length including its two branches is 388 miles (624 km). The Delaware River is one of nineteen "Great Waters" recognized by the America's Great Waters Coalition.

Susquehanna River river in the northeastern United States

The Susquehanna River is a major river located in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States. At 464 miles (747 km) long, it is the longest river on the East Coast of the United States that drains into the Atlantic Ocean. With its watershed, it is the 16th-largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the early 21st-century continental United States without commercial boat traffic.

Chester played only a small role in the American Revolutionary War. Throughout 1776 and 1777, there were significant forces stationed in Chester and nearby Marcus Hook.

In April 1776, nearly 1,000 men were stationed in Chester under Colonel Samuel Miles in preparation for the defense of Philadelphia. However, Colonel Miles led the troops to New York City in July 1776 when it became clear that the British Fleet was threatening New York rather than Philaldelphia. [14]

In 1777, the Continental Army led by George Washington passed through Chester on the way to meet the British Army led by General Howe at the Battle of Brandywine. John Armstrong was ordered to take command of the militia stationed at Chester. The Continental Army fled back to Chester after defeat at the Battle of Brandywine. A portion of the British force occupied Chester as they chased the Continental Army fleeing to Philadelphia. [15]

In 1788, the Chester County seat was moved from Chester to West Chester. [12] In 1789, Delaware County was formed from the eastern part of Chester County, and Chester became the new county seat. [16]

On March 5, 1795, the borough of Chester, which had been governed under the charter granted by Penn in 1701 was incorporated by the Pennsylvania Assembly. [17]

Caleb Pusey House, built in 1683 is the only remaining house known to have been visited by William Penn ACalebPuseyHouse.JPG
Caleb Pusey House, built in 1683 is the only remaining house known to have been visited by William Penn
William Penn Landing Site Penn Landing Stone 2.JPG
William Penn Landing Site
Chester Courthouse was built in 1724 and is the oldest existing courthouse in the United States ChesterCourtHouse.JPG
Chester Courthouse was built in 1724 and is the oldest existing courthouse in the United States
Old St. Paul's Church Burial Ground Old Swedish Burial Ground Chester Delco.jpg
Old St. Paul's Church Burial Ground
Bird's-eye view of Chester in 1885 Chester PA BEye View 1885.jpg
Bird's-eye view of Chester in 1885
Shuttered buildings on Avenue of the States Chester PA 502-510 Ave of the States.JPG
Shuttered buildings on Avenue of the States

19th century

In the 1700s and 1800s, Chester was a hub for business due to easy access to the Delaware River for the transport of raw materials and finished goods by ship.

By the mid-1800s, many textile mills and factories were built along Chester Creek including the Upland Mills by John Price Crozer [18] and the Powhattan Mills by David Reese Esrey and Hugh Shaw. [19]

During the War of 1812, a group of volunteers from Chester called the Mifflin Guards was raised and led by Dr. Samuel Anderson. The troops were sent to Fort DuPont to defend the Delaware River from the threatened attack of British Admiral George Cockburn but did not see any action. [20]

In 1851, the Delaware County seat was moved from Chester to the borough of Media. [21] On February 14, 1866, Chester was incorporated as a city [22] and the first mayor elected was John Larkin, Jr..

In 1871, the Delaware River Iron Ship Building and Engine Works was opened by John Roach through the purchase of the Reaney, Son & Archbold shipyard. The first steel ships of the U.S. Navy were built at the Roach shipyard. [23] For the first 15 years of operation, it was the largest and most productive shipyard in the United States. More tonnage of ships were built at the Roach shipyard than its next two competitors combined.

Roach built other businesses to supply materials for his shipbuilding including the Chester Rolling Mill in 1873 to supply metal hull plates and beams, the Chester Pipe and Tube Company in 1877 for the manufacture of iron pipes and boiler tubes, and the Standard Steel Casting Company in 1883 to supply steel ingots.

Roach built the Combination Steel and Iron Company in 1880 to supply steel rails and other products for businesses beyond the Roach shipyard. He lost control of the company after his shipbuilding enterprise entered receivership in 1885.

First half of the 20th century

World War I brought Chester its first massive growth. People migrated to Chester for jobs, 63% of which were in manufacturing. [24] Between 1910 and 1920, Chester's population increased from 38,000 to 58,000 due to the influx of southern and eastern Europeans and southern U.S. blacks. [25] The Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. was opened in 1917 to build ships for the United States until its closure in 1990. The idled Roach shipyard was purchased in 1917 by W. Averell Harriman to build merchant ships during World War I, and renamed the Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation. The shipyard closed permanently in 1923.

Like many boomtowns, Chester was unprepared for the social changes that came along with rapid growth. As southern blacks migrated to Pennsylvania as part of the Great Migration, racial violence broke out, racially segregated neighborhoods expanded and economic discrimination emerged. [26] A four-day race riot that resulted in 7 deaths broke out in the city in July 1917 and the separation of blacks and whites in Chester's neighborhoods and workplaces became more defined. [27]

Chester was known as a freewheeling destination for vices such as drugs, alcohol, numbers rackets, gambling and prostitution. Chester was widely known as Greater Philadelphia's "Saloon Town". [28] By 1914, Chester had more saloons than police officers; approximately 1 saloon per every 987 residents. [29]

In 1927, the Ford Motor Company opened the Chester Assembly factory on the site of the previous Roach and Merchant shipyard and built cars there until its closure in 1961. [30]

Chester experienced its second growth period during World War II. Manufacturing increased exponentially including companies such as Wetherill Steel and Boilermakers, Congoleum-Nairn, Aberfoyles Textiles, Scott Paper Company, Belmont Iron Works, American Steel Foundries, Crew Levick Oil, Crown Smelting, Fields Brick Company, Hetzel and Ford Motor Company. [24] During World War II, the Sun shipyard became the largest single shipyard in the world. [31]

External audio
Nuvola apps arts.svg Chester, A City Working on a New Narrative, 43:46, Grapple, Keystone Crossroads [32]

The increased labor needs brought a flood of new workers to the city. The wartime labor force for industries along the waterfront soared to 100,000. [31]

Second half of the 20th century

Chester began losing its mainstay shipyard and automobile manufacturing jobs as early as the 1960s, causing the population to be halved from over 66,000 in 1950 to under 34,000 in 2010.

In the early 1960s, racial unrest and civil rights protests led by George Raymond of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP) and Stanley Branche of the Committee for Freedom Now (CFFN) made Chester one of the key battlegrounds of the civil rights movement. James Farmer, the national director of the Congress of Racial Equality called Chester "the Birmingham of the North". [33]

In 1962, Branche and the CFFN focused on improving conditions at the predominantly black Franklin Elementary school in Chester. Although the school was built to house 500 students, it had become overcrowded with 1,200 students. The school's average class-size was 39, twice the number of nearby all-white schools. The school was built in 1910 and had never been updated. Only two bathrooms were available for the entire school. [34]

In November 1963, CFFN protesters blocked the entrance to Franklin Elementary school and the Chester Municipal Building resulting in the arrest of 240 protesters. Following public attention to the protests stoked by media coverage of the mass arrests, the mayor and school board negotiated with the CFFN and NAACP. [35] The Chester Board of Education agreed to reduce class sizes at Franklin school, remove unsanitary toilet facilities, relocate classes held in the boiler room and coal bin and repair school grounds. [36]

In 1964, a series of almost nightly protests brought chaos to Chester as protestors argued that the Chester School Board had de facto segregation of schools. The mayor of Chester, James Gorbey, issued "The Police Position to Preserve the Public Peace", a ten-point statement promising an immediate return to law and order. The city deputized firemen and trash collectors to help handle demonstrators. [37] The State of Pennsylvania deployed 50 state troopers to assist the 77-member Chester police force. [36] The demonstrations were marked by violence and charges of police brutality. [38] Over six hundred people were arrested over a two-month period of civil rights rallies, marches, pickets, boycotts and sit-ins. [39] National civil rights leaders such as Gloria Richardson, Malcolm X and Dick Gregory came to Chester in support of the demonstrations. [40] Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton became involved in the negotiations and convinced Branche to obey a court-ordered moratorium on demonstrations. [41]

In 1978, an intense fire broke out at Wade Dump, a rubber recycling facility and illegal industrial chemical dumping site. The burning chemicals caused multi-colored smoke and noxious fumes which injured 43 firemen and caused long-term health problems for the first responders to the fire. [42] In 1981, the location was declared a Superfund cleanup site and remediation occurred throughout the 1980s. In 1989, the site was deemed safe and removed from the Superfund national priorities list. In 2004 the site was converted to a parking lot for the nearby Barry Bridge Park. [43]

By the 1980s, Chester was a city bereft of industry. Many bottom-rung projects were initiated in Chester, including a trash incinerator, a sewage treatment plant and a prison. [44] Chester residents and politicians began pushing back against the placement of projects that increased concerns about pollution, noise and trucks such as a contaminated soil remediation facility, the Westinghouse trash incinerator, the DELCORA sewage waste treatment center and the Abbonizio recycling center. [45]

In 1995, the state designated Chester as a financially distressed municipality. [46]

J. Lewis Crozer Library Crozer Library Chester PA DelCo.jpg
J. Lewis Crozer Library
The Alfred O. Deshong Memorial in Deshong Park Alfred O Deshong Memorial.jpg
The Alfred O. Deshong Memorial in Deshong Park

21st century

Recent programs to foster investment into Chester include the Pennsylvania Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program, which incentivizes companies with state and local tax breaks to invest in KOZ-designated areas. The Wharf at Rivertown, a $60 million renovation of the Chester Waterside Station of the Philadelphia Electric Company, originally built in 1918, was renovated and provides recreational and office space for businesses. [47]

Harrah's Casino and Racetrack began harness racing in September 2006, and opened its racino in January 2007. Talen Energy Stadium, home of the Major Soccer League Philadelphia Union franchise, opened in 2010. [44]

Two ships of the United States Navy have been named USS Chester in honor of the city.

The following are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Delaware County National Bank, 1724 Chester Courthouse, Chester Waterside Station of the Philadelphia Electric Company, Old Main and Chemistry Building, William Penn Landing Site, and the former Second Street Bridge. [48]

Government

Chester has a mayor-council government system, consisting of a popularly elected city mayor and city council. The terms of the mayor and members are four years. [49]

The current mayor of the City of Chester is Thaddeus Kirkland, who won the Democratic nomination in May 2015 over incumbent Mayor John Linder. Kirkland was elected on November 3, 2015, and took office on January 4, 2016. [50] [51]

The Chester City Council consists of the mayor and four council members. Council members are elected at-large to serve the entire city. Council meetings are generally held the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. The five help administer the five municipal departments: [52]

The city government has been in financial distress for many years and has operated under the state's Act 47 provisions for twenty-one years. The act provides for municipalities that are near bankruptcy. [53]

Political corruption

Chester has been negatively impacted for decades by corrupt politicians and organized crime. [54] Chester's Republican Party political machine was one of the nation's oldest and most corrupt. [55] John J. McClure took over from his father, William McClure, in 1907 [55] and was the political boss for the machine until his death in 1965. In 1933, McClure was found guilty in federal court and sentenced to 18 months in prison for vice and rum-running [56] but his conviction was overturned on appeal. [57]

In 1941, McClure was indicted for conspiracy to gain a $250,000 profit from the sale of the Chester Water Works to a private buyer. McClure and four Chester City Council members were acquitted but ordered by the court to return the money to the city of Chester. [58]

With the exception of 1904-1905, the Republican political machine controlled Chester politics for over a century. A non-machine mayor was not elected until 1992 [28] with the election of Barbara Bohannan-Sheppard.

In the 1990s, the Pennsylvania Crime Commission reported that Chester's government had been dominated by "a triad of criminals, corrupt politicians and rogue law-enforcement officers" since the 1960s. [59] John H. Nacrelli, the mayor of Chester from 1968 to 1979, was convicted of racketeering and income tax evasion for accepting $22,000 in bribes from an illegal gambling operation with ties to organized crime and served two years in prison. [60]

Police Department

The current Police Commissioner, Daren Alston, is serving his second term in that role. He has worked for the department since 1993 and has held various roles including captain, major, and deputy chief. [61] The department responds to about 4,900 calls for service each month. [62]

Crime is a heavy part of the daily life in Chester along with violence and economic hardships. [63] The city of Chester has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country. People in the city of Chester have a 1 in 37 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. Recently, a source stated that there were 73 registered sex offenders living in the area. [64] Other sources say that the crime in Chester is approximately 114% higher than crime in the rest of Pennsylvania and 330% greater than the rest of the nation.

To combat these crimes, the city of Chester has a police force of 112 officers. This is about 80% greater than the average in Pennsylvania. [65]

Geography

Confluence of Chester Creek and the Delaware River Chester Creek PA mouth.JPG
Confluence of Chester Creek and the Delaware River

Chester borders on (clockwise from southwest to northeast) Trainer Borough, Upper Chichester Township, Chester Township, Upland Borough, Parkside Borough, Brookhaven Borough, Nether Providence Township, Ridley Township, and Eddystone Borough in Pennsylvania. Chester is bordered to the south by the Delaware River. The city has a total area of 6.0 square miles (15.6 km2), 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2) of which is land and 1.2 square miles (3.0 km2) of which (19.42%) is water, according to the United States Census Bureau. [4]

Chester Creek meets the Delaware River in Chester. The northeastern border of Chester is defined by Ridley Creek.

Being at a low elevation between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Chester experiences a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) bordering a humid continental climate (Dfa.) The hardiness zone is 7b.

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1820 657
1830 84728.9%
1850 1,667
1860 4,631177.8%
1870 9,485104.8%
1880 14,99758.1%
1890 20,22634.9%
1900 33,98868.0%
1910 38,53713.4%
1920 58,03050.6%
1930 59,1642.0%
1940 59,2850.2%
1950 66,03911.4%
1960 63,658−3.6%
1970 56,331−11.5%
1980 45,794−18.7%
1990 41,856−8.6%
2000 36,854−12.0%
2010 33,972−7.8%
Est. 201734,077 [2] 0.3%
Sources: [66] [67] [68]

As of Census 2010, the racial makeup of the city was 74.7% African American, 17.2% White, 9.0% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. .

There were 11,662 households, out of which 37.3% had children under the age of 18, 19.5% were headed by married couples living together, 35.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.1% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64, and the average family size was 3.34. [69]

For the period 2010-2014, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $28,607, and the median income for a family was $34,840. Male full-time workers had a median income of $34,354 versus $30,634 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,516. About 27.3% of families and 33.1% of the total population were below the poverty line, including 47.7% of those under age 18 and 18.4% of those age 65 or over. [70]

Transportation

In Chester, east-west streets are numbered, while north-south streets carry names. The main bisecting street, known as The Avenue of the States south of 9th Street and Edgmont Avenue north of it, is signed as both Pennsylvania Route 320 (southbound only; northbound PA Rt. 320 uses adjacent Madison Street to Interstate 95) and Pennsylvania Route 352. North of I-95, State Route 320 follows Providence Avenue. Between 1993 and 2006, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) widened and realigned Pennsylvania Route 291 from Trainer to Eddystone from a two-lane roadway to a five-lane roadway. This widening and realignment project, spearheaded by the late State Senator Clarence D. Bell, allowed PA Route 291 to maintain at least two travel lanes in each direction.

Highways and bridges

Commodore Barry Bridge across the Delaware River at Chester Commodore Barry Bridge 9104.jpg
Commodore Barry Bridge across the Delaware River at Chester

Chester is served by two interstate highways: Interstate 95 and Interstate 476, which meet in nearby Crum Lynne. I-95 was built in the 1960s and originally terminated just north of the Chester/Eddystone line at the present-day I-95/I-476 junction. It was extended north in the 1970s, with the section around Philadelphia International Airport being completed in 1985. Three exits on I-95 allow access to Highland Avenue, Kerlin Street, and Edgmont Avenue/Avenue of the States (Rts. 320 & 352).

Two federal highway routes, U.S. Route 13 and U.S. Route 322, also run through Chester. US 13 enters Chester from Trainer on W. 4th Street, becomes part of Highland Avenue between W. 4th Street and W. 9th Street, and then continues on 9th Street to Morton Avenue. US 13 follows Morton Avenue in the city's Sun Village section until it crosses Ridley Creek and becomes Chester Pike in Eddystone.

US 322 enters Chester from the northeast, merges with I-95 briefly and crosses the Delaware River over the Commodore Barry Bridge. Prior to the bridge's opening in 1974, US 322 would cross the Delaware River on the Chester-Bridgeport Ferry, via Flower Street, causing major backups because of limited space on the ferries. With the expansion of State Rt. 291 and the redevelopment of the Chester Waterfront, both the Delaware River Port Authority and PennDOT built a pair of entrance (westbound) and exit (eastbound) ramps to PA Rt. 291, providing direct access to the waterfront without using local streets. The ramps were built between 2007 and 2010 and were opened in 2011. [71]

Plans for reconstruction of US 322 and the merge with I-95 are underway. [72] The road currently requires traffic to merge onto I-95 in the left lane and requires changing lanes three times to the Commodore Barry Bridge exit ramp in less than a mile.

A $16.6 million project to fix up eight I-95 bridges will begin March 2017 and is expected to be finished in November 2018. Improvements to Chestnut Street and Morton Avenue are also included in the project. [73]

Public transportation

Chester Transportation Center Chester PA Transportation Center SEPTA.jpg
Chester Transportation Center

Public bus transportation in Chester is provided by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which acquired the former Suburban Philadelphia Transit Authority (aka "Red Arrow" Lines) in 1968. Seven bus routes (Routes 37, 109, 113, 114, 117, 118, and 119) serve the city, with the Chester Transportation Center as the hub.

The city is also served by the SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line commuter rail service. The Chester Transportation Center and Highland Avenue stations are the two SEPTA train stations in Chester. The Lamokin Street station was run as a flagstop station until it was closed and demolished in 2003 due to low usage.

The Chester Transportation Center was both a commuter and intercity stop on the former Pennsylvania Railroad's New YorkWashington route. The Chester Transportation Center was bypassed when Amtrak took over intercity rail passenger services in 1971, with the exception from April 30, 1978, to October 29, 1983, when the Chesapeake stopped once daily in each direction between Philadelphia and Washington.

Education

Chester High School Chester PA High School.JPG
Chester High School

In 1995, the city's schools ranked last among the state's 501 districts, leading Pennsylvania education officials in 2001 to hire the for-profit Edison Schools to run the local school district for three years. [46]

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The Chester-Upland School District serves the city, along with nearby Chester Township and the borough of Upland.

Parochial schools

The old armory designed by Will Price Chester PA Armory entrance.jpg
The old armory designed by Will Price

Drexel Neumann Academy is Chester's only parochial school. It is run by the Saint Katharine Drexel Roman Catholic Church which was established in 1993 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with the consolidation of all Roman Catholic parishes in the city. [74] St. James High School for Boys closed its doors in 1993 due to low enrollment.

Charter schools

Chester Charter School for the Arts began in 2008 as a small public-private partnership between The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts and the Chester-Upland school district. The school was originally called the Chester Upland School for the Arts (CUSA) and operated until 2011 when significant staff reduction occurred due to state funding cuts. [75] In 2012, a charter school application was accepted and the school operated in Aston until September 2017 when a $30 million campus was built on Highland Ave. [76]

Chester Community Charter School is a charter school established in 1998 that serves over 4,000 students in grades K-8. [77] [78] The school operates four campuses, the Upland campus at 1100 Main Street in Upland, the Aston campus at 200 Commerce Drive in Aston, the East Campus at 302 East 5th Street and the West Campus at 2730 Bethel Road in Chester Township. [79]

Widener Partnership Charter School was first launched in 2006, and is currently located across from the main campus of Widener University. It has been operating for eight years, and now has four hundred enrolled students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Widener University provides support to the charter school including educating staff, providing work to graduate students, and use of the university facilities. The school also has a number of outside partners that include 21st Century Learning Communities, Andrew Hicks Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Big Friends, Chester Education Foundation, Earth Force, Exelon Foundation, Incredible Years, PECO, and Soccer for Success. [80] The Widener Partnership Charter School also has recently added a new $4.6 million wing of the school at 1450 Edgmont Ave. This new edition includes a Science Learning Center, an extension of the library, a gymnasium, eight classrooms and eight offices. [81]

Colleges and universities

Old Main and Chemistry Building on Widener University Campus OldMainWidener.JPG
Old Main and Chemistry Building on Widener University Campus

Widener University is a private, coeducational university located in Chester. Its main campus sits on 108 acres (0.44 km2). The university has three other campuses: two in Pennsylvania (Harrisburg and Exton) and one in Wilmington, Delaware.

Founded as The Bullock School for Boys in 1821, the school was established in Wilmington, Delaware. It became The Alsop School for Boys from 1846–1853, and then Hyatt's Select School for Boys from 1853-1859. Military instruction was introduced in 1858 and in 1859 the school changed its name to Delaware Military Academy. It moved to Chester in 1862 and became Pennsylvania Military Academy. It was known as Pennsylvania Military College after 1892 and adopted the Widener name in 1972.

Old Main Building at the Crozer Theological Seminary OldMainUpland.JPG
Old Main Building at the Crozer Theological Seminary

About 3,300 undergraduates and 3,300 graduate students attend Widener in eight degree-granting schools. The university offers associate's, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees in areas ranging from traditional liberal arts to professional programs. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Widener as a Doctoral/Research University and a Community Engagement Institution. Widener was ranked #181 in the National Universities category by US News & World Report for 2012. [82]

Crozer Theological Seminary was a multi-denominational religious institution built in 1858 by the wealthy industrialist John Price Crozer. Its most famous student was Martin Luther King, who graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. [83]

In 1970, the school was moved to Rochester, New York in a merger that formed the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. [84] The Old Main Building of the Crozer Theological Seminary was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1973. [85] The seminary grounds are part of the Crozer Arboretum and the Old Main building is part of the Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Sleeper's College was a vocational school for "office and commercial training" founded in 1910. [86]

Sports

Horse racing

Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack Harrahschesterfront.jpg
Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack

With the construction of Harrah's Philadelphia, the city received a series of horse races that were once held at the Brandywine Raceway and the now-defunct Liberty Bell Park Racetrack. The racino opened on January 22, 2008, and features a specially-constructed bridge that enables the midpoint of races, contested at one mile, to take place over the Delaware River.

Soccer

ClubSportLeagueVenueEstablishedChampionships
Philadelphia Union Soccer MLS Talen Energy Stadium 2010 
View of the interior of Talen Energy Stadium, from the southwest corner facing the Commodore Barry Bridge in 2010. PPL Park Interior from the Southwest Stands 2010.10.02.jpg
View of the interior of Talen Energy Stadium, from the southwest corner facing the Commodore Barry Bridge in 2010.

Chester is the home of the Major League Soccer Philadelphia Union franchise, which plays its home games at Talen Energy Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium at the base of the Commodore Barry Bridge. Located on the Delaware River, the stadium is part of a larger development called Rivertown. Financing for the Rivertown development was announced in early 2008 by Governor Ed Rendell and Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, with $25 million going to the construction of Talen Energy Stadium, and an additional $7 million towards a two-phase project composing of 186 townhouses, 25 apartments, 335,000 square feet (31,100 m2) of office space, a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) convention center, more than 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of retail space, and a parking structure to house 1,350 cars. In phase two, another 200 apartments will be built, along with 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of office space and 22,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of retail space. [87]

Notable people

Points of Interest

Third Presbyterian Church 3rd Presby Chester PA from SE.JPG
Third Presbyterian Church
Delaware County National Bank Delco National Bank.JPG
Delaware County National Bank

Notes

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References

Further reading

Preceded by
none
County seat of Chester County
1682–1786
Succeeded by
West Chester
Preceded by
none
County seat of Delaware County
1789–1851
Succeeded by
Media