Scranton is the sixth-largest city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat and largest city of Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley. With a population of 76,328 as of the 2020 United States Census, Scranton is the largest city in northeastern Pennsylvania and the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of about 570,000. It hosts a federal court building for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The city is conventionally divided into nine districts: North Scranton, Southside, Westside, the Hill Section, Central City, Minooka, East Mountain, Providence and Green Ridge, though these areas do not have legal status.
Scranton is the geographic and cultural center of the Lackawanna River valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as the largest of the former anthracite coal mining communities in a contiguous quilt-work that also includes Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke, Pittston and Carbondale. Scranton was incorporated on February 14, 1856, as a borough in Luzerne County and as a city on April 23, 1866. It became a major industrial city and a center of mining and railroads; it attracted thousands of new immigrants. It was the site of the Scranton General Strike in 1877.
People in northern Luzerne County sought a new county in 1839, but the Wilkes-Barre area resisted losing its assets. Lackawanna County did not gain independent status until 1878. Under legislation allowing the issue to be voted by residents of the proposed territory, voters favored the new county by a proportion of 6 to 1, with Scranton residents providing the major support. The city was designated as the county seat when Lackawanna County was established in 1878, and a judicial district was authorized in July 1879.
The city’s nickname “Electric City” began when electric lights were introduced in 1880 at the Dickson Manufacturing Company. Six years later, the United States’ first streetcars powered only by electricity began operating in the city. Rev. David Spencer, a local Baptist minister, later proclaimed Scranton as the “Electric City”.
The city’s industrial production and population peaked in the 1930s and 1940s, fueled by demand for coal and textiles, especially during World War II. But while the national economy boomed after the war, demand for the region’s coal declined as other forms of energy became more popular, which also harmed the rail industry. Foreseeing the decline, city leaders formulated the Scranton Plan in 1945 to diversify the local economy beyond coal, but the city’s economy continued to decline. The Knox Mine disaster of 1959 essentially ended coal mining in the region. Scranton’s population dropped from its peak of 143,433 in the 1930 census to 76,089 in the 2010 census. The city now has large health care and manufacturing sectors.
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