About Wilkes-BarreCity of Wilkes-Barre
Welcome to Wilkes-Barre!
Wilkes-Barre is a progressive city with industrial roots that resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The City is located on the Susquehanna River and is the seat of Luzerne County. Conveniently situated in the tri-state area, Wilkes-Barre offers easy access to highways and airports. Wilkes-Barre is only hours away from major cities like New York and Philadelphia. If you prefer nature to the bustle of an urban setting, Wilkes-Barre is a short drive from the beautiful Pocono Mountains and boasts a number of natural park lands. According to the 2010 Census, its population is 41,200. Wilkes-Barre was settled in 1769 and reached the height of its prosperity in the 19th century when the city discovered nearby coal reserves. This discovery led to the city being nick-named “The Diamond City”. With the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the city’s economy flourished due to new resources and an expanding workforce.
The Wyoming Valley held the largest anthracite coal field in the United States at the time. During Wilkes-Barre’s reign as an industrial and economic force, a number of franchises planted their roots in the city, such as Bell Telephone, HBO, and Stegmaier. More recently, the City hosts 15,000 downtown employees, the 4th largest workforce in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with major employers such as Geisinger Health Systems, Blue Cross Health, eBay and over 60 new business that have opened their doors in recent years. Through partnerships with both public and private organizations, the City of Wilkes-Barre has been a key player in many economic development projects that have shaped the future for Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding community. Downtown Wilkes-Barre is home to R/C Theatres Wilkes-Barre Movies 14 on the corner of Northampton and Main, which welcomes 10,000 people per week on average. Our Barnes & Noble serves as the bookstore for neighboring Wilkes University and King’s College, as well as a community retail store and cafe. The Downtown Streetlight and Streetscape Enhancement Project has brightened downtown Wilkes-Barre with over 300 streetlights installed. The $25 million Intermodal Transportation Center has added 752 parking spots to the downtown and centralized public transportation to South Main Street, making the businesses along Public Square more accessible to patrons.
Wilkes-Barre has become revitalized into an 18-hour destination with a “Walk-To-Everything” lifestyle. The downtown offers a wide variety of dining and shopping options for residents and visitors. Both locally-owned and nationally recognized restaurants, such as Rodano’s Pizza, Katana and Thai Tai are within walking distance from Public Square and the movie theater. Retail shops are easily accessible to downtown patrons including Boscov’s and Barnes & Noble along South Main Street. The vision of downtown living has become a reality as the strategic conversion of inactive bank buildings to luxury apartment units has added a lively, spectacular presence to our city. From the former Citizens Bank building being converted into the upscale apartment building known as “The Bank”; as well as renovations underway at the former Luzerne and Wyoming National Bank, attractive and marketable living units are becoming a permanent fixture downtown. To complement the downtown lifestyle citizens are becoming accustomed to, the city has introduced a variety of options to shop, dine, socialize and live. Investors recognize the potential for success in the City of Wilkes-Barre and private development occurring throughout the city. The city is strengthened by its quality educational programs. King’s College and Wilkes University are mainstays of academic achievement and benefactors of economic progress in the city. Over 5,000 college students are within walking distance to our downtown and the city’s administration has made great strides to connect these colleges with the greater community. King’s and Wilkes have helped create the “college town” atmosphere with state-of-the-art centers for dynamic learning and academic excellence.
There are also many venues throughout the city for families to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Wyoming Valley. Coal Street Park provides outdoor recreational amenities such as new basketball courts, a multi-purpose field and pavilions. Another groundbreaking project for the City has been the renovation to the River Common area, located along the Susquehanna River. This area now features two portals, which bring views of the river to the street level, an amphitheater for outdoor performances, walking corridors, a boat launch, and other infrastructure improvements to accommodate concerts and festivals. Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square hosts many events throughout the year. Our Farmer’s Market, which runs from June to October each year, brings food, crafts, and music to our downtown. The Fine Arts Fiesta, a week-long festival on the Square, brings live performances and art exhibits to the public. The Square is the central point of the City’s parades among numerous block parties and holiday celebrations. The city, under the leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Leighton and Wilkes-Barre City Council, is well on its way to achieving a social and economic renaissance, encouraged by business growth and increased optimism in its future. The City of Wilkes-Barre strives to improve the quality-of-life for its neighborhoods each and every day and serves as a benchmark municipality within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.