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.
Chester County is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Statistical Area. Eastern Chester County is home to many communities that comprise part of the Main Line western suburbs of Philadelphia, while part of its southernmost portion is considered suburban Wilmington, along with southwest Delaware County.
|Chester County, Pennsylvania|
|County of Pennsylvania|
|County of Chester|
Location in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Chester, England|
|• Total||759 sq mi (1,966 km2)|
|• Land||751 sq mi (1,945 km2)|
|• Water||8.7 sq mi (23 km2), 1.1%|
|• Density||691.5/sq mi (267.0/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC−5/−4|
|Designated||October 26, 1982|
Philadelphia, Bucks, and Chester were the three Pennsylvania counties initially created by William Penn on August 24, 1682. At that time, Chester County's borders were Philadelphia County to the north, the ill-defined western edge of the colony (approximately the Susquehanna River) to the west, the Delaware River to the east, and Delaware and Maryland to the south. Chester County replaced the Pennsylvania portion of New Netherland/New York’s "Upland", which was officially eliminated when Pennsylvania was chartered on March 4, 1681, but did not cease to exist until June of that year. Much of the Welsh Tract was in eastern Chester County, and Welsh place names, given by early settlers, continue to predominate there.
The fourth county in the state, Lancaster County, was formed from Chester County on May 10, 1729. On March 11, 1752, Berks County was formed from the northern section of Chester County, as well as parts of Lancaster and Philadelphia counties.
The original Chester County seat was the City of Chester, a center of naval shipbuilding, at the eastern edge of the county. In an effort to accommodate the increased population of the western part of the county, the county seat was moved to a more central location in 1788; in order to mollify the eastern portion of the county, the village, known as Turk's Head, was renamed West Chester. In response to the new location of the county seat, the eastern portion of the county separated and formed the new Delaware County in 1789 with the City of Chester as its county seat.
Much of the history of Chester County arises from its location between Philadelphia and the Susquehanna River. The first road to "the West" (meaning Lancaster County) passed through the central part of Chester County, following the Great Valley westward; with some re-alignments, it became the Lincoln Highway and later U.S. Route 30. This road is still named Lancaster Avenue in most of the Chester County towns it runs through. The first railroad (which became the Pennsylvania Railroad) followed much the same route, and the Reading Railroad progressed up the Schuylkill River to Reading. Industry tended to concentrate along the rail lines. Easy transportation allowed workers to commute to urban jobs, and the rise of the suburbs followed. To this day, the developed areas form "fingers" extending along major lines of transportation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 759 square miles (1,970 km2), of which 751 square miles (1,950 km2) is land and 8.7 square miles (23 km2) (1.1%) is water. The topography consists of rolling hills and valleys and it is part of the region known as the Piedmont.
Watersheds that serve Chester County include the Octoraro, the Brandywine, and Chester creeks, and the Schuylkill River. Many of the soils are fertile, rich loam as much as twenty-four inches thick; together with the temperate climate, this was long a major agricultural area. Because of its proximity to Philadelphia, Chester County has seen large waves of development over the past half-century due to suburbanization. Although development in Chester County has increased, agriculture is still a major part of the county's economy, and the number of horse farms is increasing in the county. Mushroom growing is a specialty in the southern portion of the county.
Elevations (in feet): High point—1020 Welsh Mt., Honeybrook Twp. Other high points—960 Thomas Hill, Warwick Twp; 960 Barren Hill, West Caln Twp. Low point—66 Schuylkill River, Chester-Montgomery county line. Cities and boroughs: Coatesville 314; Downingtown 255; Kennett Square 300; Oxford 535; Parkesburg 542; Phoenixville 127; Spring City 114; West Chester 459.
Chester County has four distinct seasons and has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) except for some far southern lowlands which have a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). The hardiness zones are 6b and 7a.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 census, the county was 82.1% White Non-Hispanic, 6.1% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaskan Native, 3.9% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian, 1.8% were two or more races, and 2.4% were some other race. 6.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino.
As of the census of 2000, there were 433,501 people, 157,905 households, and 113,375 families residing in the county. The population density was 573 people per square mile (221/km²). There were 163,773 housing units at an average density of 217 per square mile (84/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.21% White, 6.24% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.95% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.35% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. 3.72% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.0% were of Irish, 17.3% German, 13.1% Italian, 10.1% English and 5.6% American ancestry. 91.4% spoke English and 3.7% Spanish as their first language.
There were 157,905 households out of which 35.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 8.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 22.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the county, the population was spread out with 26.20% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $65,295, and the median income for a family was $76,916 (these figures had risen to $80,818 and $97,894 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $51,223 versus $34,854 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,627. About 3.10% of families and 5.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.10% of those under age 18 and 5.50% of those age 65 or over.
The region was originally occupied by the Lenni Lenape people, who greeted European settlers in the seventeenth century with amity and kindness. British settlers were mostly English, Scotch-Irish and Welsh in ethnicity. From the late 19th to early 20th century, the industrial areas of the region, such as Coatesville, attracted immigrants and job seekers from Germany and Ireland, Eastern Europe, Italy, and the American rural South, with both black and white migrants coming north. Later Hispanic immigrants have included Puerto Ricans and, most recently, Mexicans.
Long a primarily rural area, Chester County is now the fastest-growing county in the Delaware Valley; it is one of the fastest growing in the entire Northeastern section of the United States.
In keeping with its colonial history, Chester County is home to a number of historic Quaker buildings, including Birmingham, Birmingham Orthodox, Bradford, Caln, Old Kennett, Parkersville, Westtown, and Uwchlan meeting houses. Other historic religious buildings include St. Malachi Church, southeastern Pennsylvania's oldest active Catholic mission church, and the Episcopal St. Mary's, St. Paul's, and St. Peter's churches, and Washington Memorial Chapel. Also located in the county are the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester, Coventryville United Methodist Church, which is part of the Coventryville Historic District, and Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County, a Conservative synagogue in Coatesville, a site of Eastern European immigration in the 20th century.
As of 31 December 2016, there are 354,316 registered voters in Chester County.
Chester County has historically been reliably Republican at the county level; traditionally, it was the most conservative county near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. In recent elections, however, it has been trending Democratic, though not as overwhelmingly as the rest of the Philadelphia suburbs. In 2000 Al Gore lost it by almost 10 percent but in 2004 George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by a much smaller margin of only 4.5 percent. Bob Casey, Jr. carried it by 10% when he unseated incumbent Republican US Senator Rick Santorum in 2006. In 2008, Chester County sided with the rest of Pennsylvania and voted for Barack Obama by a much larger margin of 9%, making him the first Democrat to carry it in a Presidential election since 1964. But, in 2009, with a smaller turnout, Republican candidates swept all county-row offices, winning with an average margin of 20%. In 2012 the county voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, by a very small margin of about 500 votes.
In 2016, despite Pennsylvania voting for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time since 1988, Chester County voted more Democratic than in 2012, with Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by over 25,000 votes or 9.4 percentage points; a 4.8 percentage point swing from 2012. The only two statewide winners in 2016 to carry Chester County were U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R) and Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella (D). Republican candidates John Brown and John Rafferty carried Chester County, though both lost their races for Auditor General and Attorney General, respectively (Rafferty, a State Senator whose district includes northern Chester County, carried the county by a slim margin of 50 votes)
Democrats have made gains in Chester County state legislative seats in recent elections. Democrat Andy Dinniman picked up the 19th Senate District in May 2006 in the special election to replace the late Robert Thompson. Democrat Barbara McIlvaine Smith picked up the open 156th House district in November 2006, winning by 28 votes and tipping the State-House majority to the Democrats. This was the first time that a Democrat had served part of Chester County as State Representative since Jim Gerlach (who represented much of Chester County for 12 years in Congress) unseated Sam Morris in 1990. In 2008, two more open House seats in the county went Democratic—to Tom Houghton in the 13th and Paul Drucker in the 157th. In 2010, however, Chester County swung back to the GOP, with Republicans Dan Truitt (who defeated McIlvaine Smith), Warren Kampf (who defeated Drucker), and John Lawrence (who defeated Houghton) all elected to the State House. On November 8, 2017, Democrats made historic inroads in Chester County by winning their first County Row Office seats since 1799, picking up 4 row office seats.
|Year||Republican Party||Democratic Party||Libertarian Party||Green Party||Other|
|2014||48.2% 75,097||51.8% 80,701|
|2010||56.0% 97,112||44.0% 76,440|
|2006||34.9% 60,437||65.2% 112,960|
|2002||41.1% 58,669||57.4% 81,996||0.8% 1,159||0.7% 990|
|1998||67.6% 68,572||21.0% 21,337||11.3% 11,500|
|1994||53.1% 61,890||29.7% 34,652||17.2% 20,019|
|1990||47.5% 44,262||52.5% 48,935|
Chester County is administered by a three-person Board of Commissioners, who serve four-year terms. Elections occur in the odd-numbered years that precede U.S. Presidential elections, with the next election falling in 2019. The Commissioners have selective policy-making authority to provide certain local services and facilities on a county-wide basis. Accordingly, the commissioners are responsible for the management of the fiscal and administrative functions of the county.
As of the November 2017 election:
|Clerk of Courts||Yolanda Van de Krol||Democratic||2021|
|Coroner||Christina VandePol, M.D.||Democratic||2021|
|District Attorney||Tom Hogan, Esq.||Republican||2019|
|Recorder of Deeds||Rick Loughery||Republican||2019|
|Register of Wills||Terri Clark||Republican||2019|
|Sheriff||Carolyn Bunny Welsh||Republican||2019|
As of the November 2018 election.
|155||Danielle Friel Otten||Democratic|
As of the November 2018 election.
The Chester County Library System in southeastern Pennsylvania was organized in 1965. It is a federated system composed of a District Center Library in Exton and sixteen member libraries. The system provides materials and information for life, work and pleasure.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. The post office uses community names and boundaries that usually do not correspond to the townships, and usually only have the same names as the municipalities for the cities and boroughs. The names used by the post office are generally used by residents to describe where they live. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Chester County:
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|1||† West Chester||Borough||18,461|
|29||Cheyney University (partially in Delaware County)||CDP||988|
Birmingham Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 4,208 at the 2010 census.East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
East Fallowfield Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 7,449 at the 2010 census.Elk Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Elk Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,681 at the 2010 census.Great Valley (Pennsylvania)
The Great Valley is a west-to-east valley through the center of Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is also sometimes referred to as Chester Valley, and both names are in use throughout the region. The valley stretches from the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County in the east, southwesterly through Chester and Lancaster counties. The valley is most distinct in central Chester County, although traces of it can be followed almost the entire distance between the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers.
Valley Creek flows along the base of eastern Great Valley, towards the Schuylkill River. A second creek, also named Valley Creek, flows westward from Frazer into the East Branch Brandywine Creek. Beaver Creek flows eastward along the northern side of the valley from around Thorndale into the East Branch Brandywine Creek. Multiple branches of both the Brandywine and Octoraro creeks cross the valley.Hickory Hill, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Hickory Hill is a populated place situated in Elk Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It has an estimated elevation of 449 feet (137 m) above sea level.Homeville, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Homeville is a populated place situated in Upper Oxford Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It has an estimated elevation of 469 feet (143 m) above sea level.Hopewell, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Hopewell is an unincorporated community in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It lies at an elevation of 344 feet (105 m). It is also home to Hanover Farms, Hopewell UMC and BSA Troop 8.Isabella, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Isabella is a populated place situated in West Nantmeal Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It has an estimated elevation of 646 feet (197 m) above sea level.Lewisville, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Lewisville is an unincorporated community in Elk Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. Lewisville is located at the intersection of Pennsylvania Route 472 and Pennsylvania Route 841 just north of the Maryland border.Marshallton, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Marshallton is an unincorporated community and federal historic district in West Bradford Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is one of three historic districts in West Bradford Township that are on the National Register of Historic Places. The village is largely known for its historic buildings, some notable restaurants, and the nearby Highland Orchards, a pick-your-own orchard offering a variety of produce year round and very popular for its apples and pumpkins as well as products made from the same. Highland Orchards is a frequent field trip destination for local schools, especially in the fall.
The Marshallton Historic District encompasses 65 contributing buildings and 3 contributing sites. It includes the separately listed Humphry Marshall House, Marshalton Inn, and Bradford Friends Meetinghouse.It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.National Register of Historic Places listings in Chester County, Pennsylvania
There are 320 properties and districts listed on the National Register in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted December 21, 2018.National Register of Historic Places listings in eastern Chester County, Pennsylvania
This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in eastern Chester County, Pennsylvania.
This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in eastern Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. Eastern Chester County is defined for this list as being the municipalities south and east of a line extending from Phoenixville to Exton to West Chester. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in a map.There are 320 properties and districts listed on the Register in Chester County, including 7 National Historic Landmarks. Eastern Chester County includes 113 properties and districts, including 4 National Historic Landmarks; the county's remaining properties and districts are listed elsewhere. One district, the Middle Pickering Rural Historic District, is split between Northern and Eastern Chester County, and is thus included on both lists.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted December 21, 2018.National Register of Historic Places listings in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania
This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania.
This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. Northern Chester County is defined for this list as being the municipalities north of the Pennsylvania Main Line and west of a line extending from Phoenixville to Exton. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in a map.There are 319 properties and districts listed on the Register in Chester County, including 7 National Historic Landmarks. Northern Chester County includes 88 properties and districts, including 2 National Historic Landmarks; the county's remaining properties and districts are listed elsewhere. One district, the Middle Pickering Rural Historic District, is split between northern and eastern Chester County, and is thus included on both lists.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted December 21, 2018.National Register of Historic Places listings in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania
This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania.
This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. Southern Chester County is defined as being the municipalities south of the Pennsylvania Main Line and west of West Chester. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in a map.There are 319 properties and districts listed on the Register in Chester County, including 7 National Historic Landmarks. Southern Chester County includes 120 properties and districts, including 2 National Historic Landmarks; the county's remaining properties and districts are listed elsewhere.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted December 21, 2018.Sadsbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Sadsbury Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 3,570 at the 2010 census.Wallace Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Wallace Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 3,458 at the 2010 census.West Fallowfield Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
West Fallowfield Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,566 at the 2010 census. It includes the unincorporated village of Cochranville.West Whiteland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
West Whiteland Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 18,274 at the 2010 census.Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Willistown Township is a township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 10,497 at the 2010 census. At the 1860 census, the population of Willistown was 1,521, and in 1980 it was 8,269.