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State College
Downtown State College, during 2005 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
Nickname(s): Happy Valley
Coordinates: 40°47′29″N 77°51′31″W / 40.79139°N 77.85861°W / 40.79139; -77.85861Coordinates: 40°47′29″N 77°51′31″W / 40.79139°N 77.85861°W / 40.79139; -77.85861
Country  United States
State Flag of Pennsylvania.svg Pennsylvania
County Centre
Incorporated August 29, 1896
 - Mayor Elect Elizabeth Goreham
 - Total 4.5 sq mi (11.8 km2)
Elevation 1,154 ft (352 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 38,420
 Density 8,537/sq mi (3,256/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip 16801, 16803, 16804, 16805
Area code(s) 814
School district: State College Area School District

Local phone exchanges: 231, 234, 235, 237, 238, 272, 278, 321, 861, 863, 864, 865, 867

State College is the largest borough in Centre County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the principal city of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Centre county. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 38,420, (estimated 38,720 in 2007) and roughly double that total lived in the borough plus the surrounding townships. Of that population, 20,011 or 52.1% are males and 18,409 or 47.9% are females.[1]

The town is dominated economically and demographically by the presence of the main campus of the Pennsylvania State University, colloquially referred to as Penn State. "Happy Valley" is an often-used term to refer to the State College area, including the borough and the townships of College, Harris, Patton, and Ferguson.

In 2008, State College was ranked as the second safest metropolitan area in the United States by the CQ Press,[2] and ranked safest in 2009.[3]

The area is served by University Park Airport.



State College evolved from village to town to serve the needs of the fledgling Pennsylvania State College, founded as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania in 1855. Since then, the school has grown into a major university, renamed in 1953 The Pennsylvania State University. State College was incorporated as a borough on August 29, 1896 and has since grown with the university, sharing a symbiotic relationship. In 1973 State College adopted a home rule charter which took effect in 1976. The areas outside of State College are filled with historic towns and villages, immense tracts of farmland, and an expanse of mountains and forests.

The university has a post office address of University Park, Pennsylvania, which is sometimes a cause for confusion. When Penn State changed its name from College to University in 1953, its president, Milton S. Eisenhower, sought to persuade the town to change its name as well. A referendum failed to yield a majority for any of the choices for a new name, and so the town remains State College. After this, Penn State requested a new name for its on-campus post office in the Hetzel Union Building from the U.S. Post Office Department. The post office, which has since moved across a street to the McAllister Building, is the official home of zip code 16802 (University Park).

State College is known for beautiful fall foliage.

General information

  • ZIP Codes: State College: 16801, 16803, 16804, 16805; University Park: 16802
  • Area Code: 814
  • Local Phone Exchanges: 231, 234, 235, 237, 238, 272, 278, 861, 863, 865, 867

Geography and climate

State College is at 40°47′29″N 77°51′31″W / 40.79139°N 77.85861°W / 40.79139; -77.85861 (40.791261, -77.858740). The elevation is approximately 1,200 feet (370 m) above sea level.[4] According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 4.5 square miles (11.8 km²), all of it land.

State College has a Humid continental climate. Temperatures in State College average 27 °F (−3 °C) in January and 71 °F (22 °C) in July. Annual precipitation is about 38.8 inches (986 mm), and 46.3 inches (118 cm) of snow a year falls in the city (Based on official 109-year average of snowfall at State College as per National Weather Service's State College office).

Climate data for State College, Pennsylvania
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 35
Average low °F (°C) 20
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.9
Source: Weatherbase[5] November 2007


As of the census[6] of 2009, there are 39,893 people, 12,024 households, and 3,306 families residing in the borough. The population density was 8,459.3 people per square mile (3,267.4/km²). There were 12,488 housing units at an average density of 2,749.6/sq mi (1,062.0/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 84.31% White, 3.69% African American, 0.15% Native American, 8.77% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 1.38% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. 3.02% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 12,024 households out of which 10.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 22.4% were married couples living together, 3.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 72.5% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% 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 2.69.

The age distribution of State College, overwhelmingly influenced by Penn State, was: 5.8% under the age of 18, 65.5% from 18 to 24, 16.2% from 25 to 44, 6.7% from 45 to 64, and 5.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 108.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.1 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $21,186, and the median income for a family was $54,949. Males had a median income of $34,388 versus $27,219 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $12,155. 46.9% of the population and 9.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 10.6% of those under the age of 18 and 2.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. However, traditional measures of poverty can be very misleading when applied to a community like State College which is dominated by students.


Happy Valley

"Happy Valley" is sometimes used as a colloquialism for the State College area. Commentators referring to Penn State athletic events often give the location as "Happy Valley" rather than mentioning State College or the specific campus facility. The area initially received the nickname during the Great Depression, due to the fact that it was not hit as hard by the economic downturn as other areas. Mainly due to the college scene, State College is considered to be "recession-proof."

The Corner of College Avenue and Allen Street in downtown State College, taken from the gates of Campus.

In a survey conducted in the late 1980s by Psychology Today, State College was ranked as one of the least stressful places in the United States. A more recent rating put State College 19th among "50 Smart Places to Live."[7] The same source states: "Sperling's BestPlaces research group has previously ranked State College the No.1 safest small city in America, and Forbes, thanks in large part to the tremendous amount of research conducted at the University, listed State College among the top 10 smaller metro areas in which to start a career or business."[8] In 2007, CNN Money said State College was the number one "single" city based on percentage of unmarried people living there.[9][10]

In the August issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, State College received honorable mention in best music scenes throughout the country. Bands formed in State College include Artery, Axum, The Bullet Parade[11], Cootie Brown, The Earthtones, Emily's Toybox, Holy Mary Mother of Bert, Katsu, The Nightcrawlers, Blasting Trout Overbite, Queen Bee and The Blue Hornet Band, and The Rustlanders.

Otto's Pub & Brewery, located in State College, was voted #37 on the "Top 50 Places to Have A Pint" in the United States in 2003 by[12] In addition, the 2006 survey listed Zeno's Pub, a local bar, in the top 50 as well. The Diner, located in State College, was voted #3 on the "Best Places to Eat a Sticky Bun" in the United States in 2005 by There are dozens of additional interesting restaurants and bars unique to State College, most of which are concentrated in the downtown area along College Avenue and Beaver Avenue and their cross streets.

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, usually referred to as "Arts Fest", is held downtown every July. The five-day festival features artists from around the country and draws more than 125,000 visitors. Many streets are closed off and lined with booths where people can buy paintings, pottery, jewelry, and a variety of other hand made goods. There are also numerous musical performances and plays to take in, and food vendors selling everything from funnel cakes to Indian cuisine.

Major events

Notable people from State College

Points of interest


State College's daily newspaper is the Centre Daily Times, which is part of the McClatchy Company chain. Penn State University's student newspaper is the The Daily Collegian, and Penn State's blog is Onward State. Other independent newspapers exist including Voices[19]

Numerous magazines are also published in State College including Town & Gown,[20] State College Magazine,[21] Phroth,[22] and Good Life Magazine.[23]

Some of the more popular web media in State College include[24] and[25]

State College is part of the Johnstown/Altoona/State College television market, which is currently ranked #99 in the nation. Two television stations broadcast out of State College including WPSU (PBS) and WHVL (MyNetwork TV). Johnstown-based WJAC-TV, the market's NBC affiliate, also maintains a satellite studio and office here.

The State College radio market is ranked #257 in the nation. Some of the more popular stations include WQWK and WBHV. Other stations also exist, many of which are owned by Forever Broadcasting.



While State College is famous for Penn State Nittany Lions football, the borough itself is also home to a minor league baseball sports franchise called the State College Spikes which is part of the New York - Penn League and has played in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park since 2006.


State College is located not far from the State Correctional Institution - Rockview, which is known as the state penitentiary, or the "state pen"[26] in humorous opposition to "Penn State".


Major employers



State College has many shopping areas, most notably:

  • Downtown State College[36]
  • Nittany Mall
  • Various Shopping plazas, including Colonnade Shopping Center, Hills Plaza, and Walmart Plaza.

Government and politics

Federal level

At the federal level, State College forms part of Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district. The current representative is Glenn "G.T." Thompson.

County level

At the county level, Centre County, Pennsylvania's county seat is in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. There are three county-level district courts within State College, with the others being Philipsburg, Bellefonte, and Centre Hall.

The current county-level districts are divided as follows, all of which are common pleas courts. The jurisdictions include civil claims and summary offenses. Higher level courts are located in neighboring Bellefonte.[37]

  • District 49-1-01, District Judge Carmine W. Prestia, serving State College, elected in 2007 for a 4 year term [38]
  • District 49-3-05, District Judge Jonathan D. Grine, serving State College[39]
  • District 49-2-01, District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot, serving College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, and Patton Townships, elected in 2007 for 4 year term at $76,000/year[40]

Regional level

The Borough of State College is a member of the Centre Region Council of Governments (CRCOG)

Other Members are

Local level

At the local level, the Borough of State College government is currently run by the following elected officials, based on the 2007 election results:[41]

  • Mayor: Felicia Lewis
  • President of Council: Elizabeth A. Goreham
  • Council Members:
    • Ronald Filippelli
    • Donald M. Hahn
    • Theresa D. Lafer
    • Silvi Lawrence
    • Peter Morris
    • James L. Rosenberger

Law enforcement

The law enforcement arm of the Borough of State College is the State College Police Department, served by Chief Thomas R. King. A large fraction of police force duties involve the monitoring of drinking and drinking-related activities in the town; for this reason, students often feel that they are unjustly targeted, particularly for underage drinking activities. Relations between students and police deteriorated after 2008 riots following the Ohio State football game and Phillies World Series win, when police pepper-sprayed many students who were not involved in the vandalism which took place on those nights.

Fire protection

The Alpha Fire Company operates out of 3 stations, the main stations within the Borough of State College, and responds with 5 engines, 2 trucks, 1 heavy rescue and 2 tankers. The department's annual run total is around 1000.

The Alpha Fire is an All Volunteer Fire Company, arguably the largest in the state when the size and population of Penn State is factored in.

The Fire is led by 5 chiefs, 3 captains, and other various officers. The fire company operates under the Centre Region Council of Governments under the direction of Fire Director Steve Bair.


Public schools

State College is served by the State College Area School District.[42]

Private schools

There are also a variety of private schools, including the State College Friends School[43], Nittany Christian School[44], and Our Lady of Victory Catholic school.

Higher education

Penn State University is located partially in the borough of State College.[45][46]


State College is served by the following libraries:[47]

  • Aaronsburg Public Library
  • American Philatelic Research Library
  • Centre County Book Mobile
  • Centre Hall Area Branch Library
  • Holt Memorial Library
  • Pennsylvania State University Libraries
    • Pattee and Paterno Libraries (main library)
    • Hammond Library (engineering)
    • Pollock Library (study library)
    • Davey Library (physical and mathematical sciences)
    • Deike Library (earth and mineral sciences)
    • Stuckeman Library (architecture and landscape architecture)
  • Schlow Centre Region Library (
  • The Centre County Library




State College is served by:


The closest airport is the University Park Airport.

Mass transportation

  • Centre Area Transportation Authority provides buses that run within the greater State College area
  • Greyhound Lines, located right next to the university, provide transportation to 2,200 locations in North America
  • Dragon Deluxe Bus Line provides daily, non-stop service between New York City and State College at discounted rates.
  • Fullington Trailways, Bus company

See also


  1. ^ City Data
  2. ^ The Daily Collegian: State College ranks second as safest town
  3. ^ State College Ranked No.1 Safest Metropolitan Area
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for State College, Pennsylvania, United States of America". Weatherbase. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-02. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
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  45. ^ State College borough, Pennsylvania. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  46. ^ College township, Pennsylvania. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
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External links

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