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West Chester
Official name: Borough of West Chester
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Chester
Elevation 446 ft (136 m)
Coordinates 39°57′31″N 75°36′18″W / 39.95861°N 75.605°W / 39.95861; -75.605
Area 1.8 sq mi (5 km2)
 - land 1.8 sq mi (5 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 17,861 (2000)
Density 9,703.3 /sq mi (3,746 /km2)
Mayor Carolyn Comitta
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Codes 19380-19383, 19388
Area code 484, 610
Location of West Chester in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States

The Borough of West Chester is the county seat of Chester County, Pennsylvania,[1] United States. It is part of the Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington metropolitan area.

Valley Forge, the Brandywine Battlefield, Longwood Gardens, and other historical attractions are near West Chester. West Chester University of Pennsylvania is located in the borough.



The area was originally known as Turk's Head - after the Inn of the same name located in what is now the center of the borough.

West Chester has been the seat of government in Chester County since 1786, and the borough incorporated in 1799.[2] West Chester was settled in the early 18th century, principally by members of the Society of Friends. In the heart of town is its courthouse, a classical revival building designed in the 1840s by Thomas U. Walter, one of the architects for the Capitol in Washington, D.C.. West Chester is part of the rapidly growing suburban complex surrounding Philadelphia.

Geography and climate

West Chester is located at 39°57′31″N 75°36′18″W / 39.95861°N 75.605°W / 39.95861; -75.605 (39.958678, -75.605052).[3] It is located 25 miles (40 km) west of Philadelphia and 17 miles (27 km) north of Wilmington, Delaware.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.8 square miles (5 km2), all of it land.

Annual high temperatures average between 38.1 and 85.7 °F, annual low temperatures average between 19.3 and 63.3 °F, with the record high being 105 °F, and record low being -16 °F.

Annual precipitation averages 45 inches every year, and annual snowfall averages 19.6 inches every year. [1]

Adjacent municipalities


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 9,524
1910 11,767 23.6%
1920 11,717 −0.4%
1930 12,325 5.2%
1940 13,289 7.8%
1950 15,168 14.1%
1960 15,705 3.5%
1970 19,301 22.9%
1980 17,435 −9.7%
1990 18,041 3.5%
2000 17,861 −1.0%
Old Chester County Courthouse. The new Chester County Justice Center is located at West Market St. and North Darlington St

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 17,861 people, 6,265 households, and 2,662 families residing in the borough. The population density was 9,703.3 people per square mile (3,747.9/km²). There were 6,541 housing units at an average density of 3,553.5/sq mi (1,372.6/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 75.44% White, 17.08% Black, 8.94% Hispanic or Latino, 3.64% from other races, 1.46% Asian, 0.31% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, and 2.00% from two or more races.

There were 6,265 households out of which 19.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.8% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 57.5% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the borough the population was spread out with 13.4% under the age of 18, 37.7% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 13.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $37,803, and the median income for a family was $51,018. Males had a median income of $35,540 versus $30,819 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,073. About 9.8% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.5% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.

Notable natives and residents


West Chester is home to the West Chester Transportation Center, which serves as a parking garage for the Chester County Justice Center and a bus terminal, which is located on the lower level of the facility.

The main east-west road to West Chester is West Chester Pike, which begins in Upper Darby, Delaware County just outside of Philadelphia and is part of PA Route 3.

The main north-south road in West Chester is High Street. To the north of town, the road is known as Pottstown Pike, which connects to PA Route 100 in Exton. To the south of town, the road is known as Wilmington-West Chester Pike (US Route 202 and US Route 322).

Until 1986, West Chester was served by SEPTA's R3 commuter rail line. Service on the line was discontinued due to poor track conditions west of the Elwyn station. At the time, SEPTA had limited funds for the necessary repairs, and offered Chester County the option of either improving the rail line or expanding parking availability at the nearby Exton station on SEPTA's R5 commuter rail line. The county opted for the latter and service on the R3 was cut back to its current terminus of Elwyn, Pennsylvania. The rail line into West Chester is used by the West Chester Railroad, a heritage railroad.

Corporate Headquarters

West Chester in media

  • Many of the skits on the MTV television series Jackass, and later Jackass: The Movie were filmed in and around the borough, primarily ones featuring Bam Margera and the CKY Crew. The spin-off show Viva La Bam was filmed almost entirely in the area, as was the movie Haggard and the CKY videos. Margera has become something of a one-man publicity machine for West Chester, a status that allowed him to get the city's permission to close off some of West Chester's main streets to film portions of Haggard. Many local businesses such as Fairman's skateshop, Mad Platter records, Duffer's Pub and even West Chester University have benefitted from exposure in such projects.
  • QVC broadcasts originate from studios in West Goshen Township, just east of West Chester.
  • A recent documentary, Our Lady Of Victory, filmed many scenes in West Chester. It portrays the Immaculata University women's basketball team's road to the NCAA Championship.
  • Marley & Me, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, filmed a scene along West Chester's Gay Street in 2008.[5]
  • Chester County author Bruce Mowday has written two books about the borough: West Chester: Six Walking Tours and West Chester (a postcard book published by Arcadia).


The borough is governed by the Borough Council form of government. Led by the Borough Manager, there are seven Council Members each representing one of the seven voting wards. The council controls all departments except the Police Department (the Mayor directs Police Department activities through the Chief of Police). The mayor and council members are directly elected by borough voters. In January 2010 Carolyn Comitta took office as the borough's 58th mayor. She succeeds Richard "Dick" Yoder, who served the eight-year maximum term. Comitta is the first female mayor in borough history.[6]


West Chester Area School District manages the area's public school system, which includes three high schools: Henderson High School, West Chester East High School, and Rustin High School. West Chester University is located in the borough, south of the commercial and retail center.

Living in West Chester

CNN recently rated West Goshen Township in West Chester #11 in the country on the list of best places to live.[7] The combination of historical areas and new construction provide something for everyone in regards to housing. There are many apartment communities throughout West Chester including Goshen Terrace Apartments, Goshen Meadows Apartments, Jefferson at Westtown, Goshen Manor Apartments, Seven Oaks Apartments, Golf Club Apartments, Sharples Works, and Audubon Manor Apartments.


External links

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