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Pittston, Pennsylvania
—  City  —
Downtown Pittston
Nickname(s): The Tomato Capital
Pittston, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Pittston, Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 41°19′26″N 75°47′20″W / 41.32389°N 75.78889°W / 41.32389; -75.78889
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Luzerne
Settled 1770
Incorporated (borough) 1856
Incorporated (city) December 10, 1894
Government
 - Type City Council
 - Mayor Jason C. Klush
Area
 - Total 1.7 sq mi (4.4 km2)
 - Land 1.6 sq mi (4.1 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 653 ft (199 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 8,104
 Density 5,072.6/sq mi (1,958.5/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip codes 18640-18644
Area code(s) 570

Pittston is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States, between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. It gained prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as an active anthracite coal mining city, drawing a large portion of its labor force from European immigrants. The population was 8,104 at the 2000 census.

Contents

History

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Establishment

Pittston lies in the Wyoming Valley on the east side of the Susquehanna River, and on the south side of the Lackawanna River. It is approximately midway between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. Named after the famous British statesman William Pitt the Elder, the city was settled around 1770 by the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut. It was originally called "Pittstown".

William Pitt the Elder

During the Revolutionary War, Connecticut Continentals (Patriots), led by Captain Jeremiah Blanchard and Lieutenant Timothy Keyes, held and maintained a fort in Pittston. On July 4, 1778, a group of British soldiers took over the fortress and some of it was destroyed. Two years later, the Continentals stormed the fortification and recaptured it. From then on it was under Patriot control until the end of the war in 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Today a marker stands at the site where the fort once stood.

Pittston broke away from Pittston Township and officially became a borough in 1856. It was later chartered as a city on December 10, 1894. Throughout the late 1890s, the city's borders extended from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre, however, due to financial and civil differences, the city would soon be divided into the many townships and boroughs that exist throughout the central Wyoming Valley today.

Coal mining

Pittston as depicted on an 1892 panoramic map.

With the opening of a canal in the 1830s, Pittston became an important link in the coal industry. Money made through the mining and transportation of coal led some of the leading merchants to petition its separation from Pittston Township. The anthracite and railroad industry attracted thousands of immigrants, making Pittston a true melting pot with once-distinct ethnic and class neighborhoods.

The anthracite coal mining industry, and its extensive use of child labor in the early part of the twentieth century, was one of the industries targeted by the National Child Labor Committee and its hired photographer, Lewis Hine. Many of Hine's subjects were photographed in the mines and coal fields in and around Pittston between 1908 and 1912. The impact of the Hine photographs led to the enactment of child labor laws across the country.

Mining disasters

Coal mining remained the prominent industry in Pittston for many decades, but disasters did strike on more than one occasion. The first major tragedy occurred in the Newton Coal Company's Twin Shaft Mine near the city's junction on June 28, 1896, when a massive cave-in killed 58 miners.[1]

Anthracite coal mining remained in Pittston until January 22, 1959, when the Knox Mine Disaster in nearby Port Griffith in Jenkins Township ended the industry completely. There, the ice-laden Susquehanna River broke through the roof of the River Slope Mine of the Knox Coal Company, allowing billions of gallons of river water to flood the interconnected mines. Seventy-four miners were trapped; sixty-two miners escaped; twelve miners died and their bodies were never recovered. The heroic efforts of one miner, Amedeo Pancotti of Pittston, led thirty-two miners to safety. For his efforts, Amedeo Pancotti was awarded the Carnegie Medal for heroism from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

City's boom and bust

Water Street in 1908

Pittston became an active railroad center in response to its mining and industrial activity. The Lehigh Valley Railroad maintained a beautiful station in downtown Pittston, near the foot of the Water Street Bridge. Sadly, the station did not survive the urban renewal of the 1960s; it was demolished in 1964. Pittston also had a station on the historic Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad, commonly known as the Laurel Line, an electric interurban streetcar line.

Besides mining anthracite coal, Pittston was home to many industries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including metals, plastics, paper products, apparel, electrical equipment and beverages. One of these was the Pittston Stove Company (established in 1864) which manufactured coal and wood burning stoves for heat and cooking. Another business was the Pittston Brewing Company, brewers of Glennon's Beer, which maintained operations in Pittston from 1873 until 1948.

Main Street was the site of an active downtown into the 1970s, with many clothing stores, JC Penney's, Kresge's, F. W. Woolworth Company, drug stores, restaurants, theaters and banks. Main Street was home to at least two theaters, the Roman at 27 South Main and the American at 48 North Main, both of which have been razed. Many historic commercial structures were demolished in the urban renewal efforts of the 1960s.

Recent years

On March 15, 1993, two Pittston firefighters (John Lombardo and Len Insalaco) were killed while fighting a blaze on the city's main street. A monument was built in the downtown and the nearby Water Street Bridge was renamed to commemorate their sacrifice during that tragic March day.

For many decades, Roman Catholic churches made up the city's skyline. From 2004 - 2008, the Diocese of Scranton shut down many of the churches and most of the private schools in and around Pittston. Two of these were Saint John the Baptist Elementary School (in 2004) and Seton Catholic High School (in 2007).

In 2008, the downtown area was renovated with new sidewalks and trees.

Geography

Pittston is located at 41°19′26″N 75°47′20″W / 41.32389°N 75.78889°W / 41.32389; -75.78889 (41.323865, -75.788894)[2]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.5 km²), of which, 1.6 square miles (4.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (8.09%) is water. The city is drained by the Susquehanna River and Lackawanna River.

The area in and around Pittston is referred to as Greater Pittston and includes Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Exeter, Exeter Township, Hughestown, Jenkins Township, Laflin, Pittston, Pittston Township, West Pittston, West Wyoming, Wyoming and Yatesville.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1890 10,302
1900 12,556 21.9%
1990 9,400
2000 8,104 −13.8%
Est. 2006 7,658 −5.5%

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 8,104 people, 3,530 households, and 2,170 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,072.6 people per square mile (1,955.6/km²). There were 3,902 housing units at an average density of 2,442.4/sq mi (941.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.4% White, 0.7% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 0.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.68% of the population. Pittston includes many Italian immigrants and families.

There were 3,530 households out of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 22.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 84.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,103, and the median income for a family was $33,861. Males had a median income of $8,351 versus $1,417 for females. The per capita income for the city was $3,686. About 61.8% of families and 78.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 44.0% of those under age 18 and 88.0% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Executive

The city is headed by an elected mayor. The current mayor of Pittston is Jason C. Klush.

Mayors of Pittston [1]

Mayor's Name
Charles Calvin Bowman 1886 Became a U.S. Representative after leaving office
James J. Kennedy 1920
Ambrose Langan 1929–1935
Kenneth J. English 1937–1939
John J. Allardyce 1953
Joseph F. Saporito 1954–1956
Robert A. Loftus 1961–1980 One of the longest serving mayors in Pittston's history
Thomas Walsh 1998
Michael A. Lombardo 1998–2005 Pittston's second youngest mayor
Joseph P. Keating 2005–2009 Resigned after losing his 2009 reelection bid [4]
Donna McFadden-Connors 2009–2010 She served the remainder of Keating's term as Pittston's first female mayor.
Jason C. Klush 2010–present Pittston's youngest mayor [5]

Pittston City mayoral election, 2009

Mayor Joseph P. Keating sought re-election for another 4-year term in the spring of 2009. His Democratic opponents in the May primary were Jason Klush and Luddy Fleming. Following political attacks from Mayor Keating, Fleming was forced out of the race on May 16. He threw his support behind Klush for the May 19 primary. Klush defeated incumbent Mayor Keating by a margin of 16% in the primary election. Democrat Klush ran unopposed in the November 2009 general election.

A day after losing the Democratic primary, Mayor Keating submitted a letter of resignation to the city council. The council voted to appoint Councilwoman Donna McFadden-Connors as acting mayor. Michael Lombardo, who won the Democratic nomination for a city council seat, replaced Connors on council.

Legislative

A third class city government consists of a mayor and four council members with equal voting power. The four council members are:

  • Councilman Danny Argo
  • Councilman Joseph Chernouskas
  • Councilman Michael Lombardo
  • Councilman Joseph McLean

The other city officers are:

Downtown renovation

William Street deconstruction

In December 2009, several buildings along William Street were demolished. These included St. John the Baptist Church, St. John the Baptist Catholic Information Library, St. John the Baptist Rectory, the Msgr. Joseph A. Super Athletic Center, and Dave's Billiards. The only building remaining is the elementary school, where DeMuro's Pizzeria is located. A memorial green space is planned for the site of the church, because it had served the Slovak community for over 107 years.

Downtown sidewalks and lights

In 2008, the city invested in renovating the downtown area sidewalks with a brick theme. Colorful brick pavers line the sidewalks along the curbside and at street crossings. Black street lights and sign posts were also placed to enhance the appearance of the downtown.

In 2009, a small park was built at the corner of William and North Main Streets. A raised flowerbed capped with a large tomato, the green space reminds passersby of the city's unofficial symbol.

Education

Public schools

Pittston city is located within the Pittston Area School District, which covers Pittston Township, Dupont, Duryea, Hughestown, Yatesville, Avoca and Jenkins Township.

The Pittston Area School District consists of five schools:

  • Ben Franklin Kindergarten Center - Dupont (Grades: K)
  • Pittston Area Primary Center - Hughestown (Grades: 1-2)
  • Pittston Area Intermediate Center - Pittston (Grades: 3-5)
  • Martin L. Mattei Middle School - Pittston (Grades: 6-8)
  • Pittston Area Senior High School - Yatesville (Grades: 9-12)

Private schools There were several Catholic schools in the Greater Pittston area; many have been closed by the Diocese of Scranton due to lack of funding and low enrollment.

Grade schools

Pittston Tomato Festival

The City of Pittston promotes itself as "The Quality Tomato Capital of the World." The Pittston Tomato Festival, in its twenty-sixth year in 2009, is held annually in August on South Main Street in downtown Pittston to celebrate the city's tradition and heritage in cultivating the tomato.

The event consists of many food vendors from the Greater Pittston area, a beauty pageant, a tomato tasting contest, a best looking and ugliest tomato contest, a 5 km run through the city, tomato fights, live entertainment, and a parade. See www.pittstontomatofestival.com for more information.

Transportation

Highways

Interstate 81 passes through Pittston Township. Combined with all of Interstate 59 and a portion of Interstate 75, Interstate 81 follows U.S. 11 for its entire journey from New Orleans, Louisiana to northern New York State. I-81 does not enter major metropolitan areas; it instead serves smaller cities such as Roanoke and Winchester, Virginia; Hagerstown, Maryland; Harrisburg and Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Binghamton and Syracuse, New York. After passing through Watertown, NY, Interstate 81 crosses the St. Lawrence Seaway to meet Highway 401 in Canada. The city is also located near the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 476 providing service from Clarks Summit to Philadelphia.

Air

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is actually in Pittston Township. The airport is serviced by eight international airlines and hosted Air Force One on regional presidential visits several times in the past. In the spring of 2002, the airport began offering an increased number of non-stop flights across the nation. Service is provided by Continental Airlines, Delta, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways.

Public transportation

Pittston is served by the Luzerne County Transportation Authority and COLTS, which provides bus services to the city and other communities within Luzerne County and Lackawanna County. Martz Trailways also provides commuter, tour, and trip service from Pittston, nearby Wilkes-Barre and Scranton to points east and south, such as Philadelphia, New York City, and Atlantic City.

Rail

At present, the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad, Canadian Pacific Railway (successor to the Delaware and Hudson) and the Luzerne & Susquehanna Railroad (designated-operator of the county-owned shortline) provide freight service within the city and Pittston Township. A proposed nearby commuter train from Scranton to New York City has received government funding.

Sites of interest in the Pittston area

Notable residents

References

External links


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