Easton is a city in and the county seat of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The city's population was 28,217 as of the 2020 census. Easton is located at the confluence of the Lehigh River, a 109-mile-long (175 km) river, that joins the Delaware River in Easton and serves as the city's western geographic boundary with Phillipsburg, New Jersey.
|City of Easton|
Location in Pennsylvania
Easton (the United States)
|Incorporated as a town||1752|
|Incorporated as a city||January 12, 1887|
|• Mayor||Sal Panto Jr. (D)|
|• Total||4.86 sq mi (12.59 km2)|
|• Land||4.26 sq mi (11.04 km2)|
|• Water||0.60 sq mi (1.54 km2) 12.35%|
|Elevation||211 ft (64 m)|
|• Density||5,800/sq mi (2,200/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||610 and 484|
|Website||City of Easton, Pennsylvania|
Easton is the easternmost city in the Lehigh Valley, a region of 731 square miles (1,890 km2) that is Pennsylvania's third largest metropolitan region with 861,889 residents as of the U.S. 2020 census. Of the Valley's three major cities, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, Easton is the smallest with approximately one-fourth the population of Allentown, the Valley's largest city.
Centre Square, the town square of the city's downtown neighborhood, is home to the Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument, a memorial for Easton area veterans killed during the American Civil War. In the first half of the 20th century, Centre Square was referred to by locals as the "Circle." The Peace Candle, a candle-like structure, is assembled and disassembled every year atop the Civil War monument for the Christmas season.
The Norfolk Southern Railway's Lehigh Line (formerly the main line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad) runs through Easton on its way to Bethlehem and Allentown heading west and to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River.
On August 22, 1751, Thomas Penn, the son of William Penn, the colony's founder and original proprietor married Juliana Fermor. On September 8, 1751, a letter was sent to Colonial Governor James Hamilton by Penn requesting that a new town on the confluence be named Easton and that it be in a new county called Northampton. In 1752, the city was named in honor of Lady Juliana's family estate, the Easton Neston as requested. The county's name was also named after the estate's location, south Northamptonshire, England.
The Lenape Native Americans originally referred to the area as "Lechauwitank", or "The Place at the Forks". The site of the future city was part of the land obtained from the Lenape Indian tribe in the Walking Purchase of 1737. A plaque commemorating this fact is set in the town square. Thomas Penn set aside a 1,000-acre (4 km2) tract of land at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers for a town. Easton was settled by Europeans in 1739 and founded in 1752, As Northampton County was being formed at this time, Easton was selected as its county seat.
During the French and Indian War, the Treaty of Easton was signed here by the British colonial government of the Province of Pennsylvania and the Native American tribes in the Ohio Country, including the Shawnee and Lenape.
Easton was an important military center during the American Revolutionary War. During the Revolutionary War, Easton had a military hospital. On June 18, 1779, General John Sullivan led 2,500 Continentals from Easton to engage British Indian allies on the frontier. Easton was one of the first three places the Declaration of Independence was publicly read (along with Philadelphia and Trenton). It is claimed that the Easton flag was flown during that reading, making it one of the first "Stars and Stripes" to fly over the colonies. This flag was used by a militia company during the War of 1812, and currently serves as Easton's municipal flag.
Situated at the confluence of the rapidly flowing Lehigh River and the deeper and wider Delaware River, Easton became a major commercial center during the canal and railroad periods of the 19th century and a transportation hub for the region's coal, iron, and steel industries. The Delaware Canal was built soon after the lower Lehigh Canal was opened in 1818 and became effective in delivering much-needed anthracite coal to the regions largest markets of Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City.
Seeing other ways of exploiting the new fuel source, other entrepreneurs quickly moved to connect across the Delaware River reaching into the New York City area to the east via a connection with the Morris Canal in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, so the town became a canal nexus or hub from which the Coal from Mauch Chunk reached the world. The early railroads were often built to parallel and speed shipping along transportation corridors, and by the late 1860s the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad (LH&S) and Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) were built to augment the bulk traffic through the canals and provide lucrative passenger travel services. The LVRR, known as the Black Diamond Line had twice daily express passenger trains to and from New York City and Buffalo, New York via Easton. The Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ), would lease and operate the LH&S tracks from the 1870s until the Conrail consolidations absorbed both the Central Railroad of New Jersey and Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1966. Today, the Lehigh Valley Railroad's main line is the only major rail line that goes through Easton and is now known as the Lehigh Line; the Lehigh Line was bought by the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1999.
Canal transportation was largely replaced by railroads in the mid-19th century with Easton being a hub for five railroads including the Jersey Central, Lehigh Valley Railroad and others. Easton lost its prominence in passenger transportation with the rise of the automobile in the mid-20th century. The development of improved logistics, transfer and handling methods lead to other regions profiting from freight transportation rather than Easton.
Like the Pennsylvania Dutch region to the southwest, Easton was settled largely by Germans. The Pennsylvania Argus, a German-language newspaper, was published in Easton until 1917. As part of their heritage, the Germans put up one of the continent's earliest Christmas trees in Easton; Daniel Foley's book states that "Another diary reference unearthed recently makes mention of a tree set-up at Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1816." There is a plaque in Scott Park (along the Delaware River) commemorating this event. The Pennsylvania guide, compiled by the Writers' Program of the Works Progress Administration in 1940, colorfully described the rich and cosmopolitan fabric of Easton's society in the first half of the 20th century:
The city is a composite of a hurried commercial present and a sedate mercantile past, leavened by a carefree college atmosphere. Coeds, dressed according to the dictates of Hollywood, and college boys in sports clothes and near-white buckskin shoes worn without regard for time or season, rub elbows with frugal Pennsylvania Germans. A familiar sight on market days is the trucks and wagons, loaded with farm produce, drawn up to the curb at the Circle [Centre Square]. Women, scrupulously clean in their calico house dresses, and men in overalls or 'Sunday best,' arrange makeshift counters on which to display their vegetables, meats, crocks of apple butter, and pastries.— Federal Writers'Project, "Part II: Cities and Towns, Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State (1940)
Historians of angling believe that Samuel Phillipe, an Easton gunsmith, invented the six-strip split-cane bamboo fly rod. A Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission plaque near Center Square commemorates this event.
Easton is located at  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), of which 4.3 square miles (11 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (8.39%) is water, including Bushkill Creek and the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. It also includes an island, called Getter's Island, which was the site of the last public execution in Pennsylvania.(40.688248, −75.216458).
Easton is divided into four districts: Downtown (DD), College Hill (CH), South Side (SS), and West Ward (WW). A number of smaller additional parks and institutional districts also exist.
Downtown Easton lies at the confluence of the Lehigh River and Delaware River and is a low-lying area surrounded by hills to the north, west, and south. North of downtown is College Hill, the home of Lafayette College. South Easton, divided by the Lehigh River from the rest of the city, was a separate borough until 1898; it was settled initially by Native Americans, later by canal workers, and then was later the home of several silk mills.
|City of Easton Districts|
City of Easton
Easton's Historic Downtown District lies directly at the confluence, north banks of the Lehigh River and west banks of the Delaware River. Downtown adjoins each of the three other districts to the north, west, and south. Downtown continues west to Sixth Street and north to US Route 22.
The South Side district lies south of the Lehigh River.
The West Ward district is situated to the west of downtown and encompasses much of the west side of Easton between Sixth and Fifteenth Streets.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Easton falls within either a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) if the 0 °C (32 °F) isotherm is used or a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) if the −3 °C (27 °F) isotherm is used. Summers are usually hot and very muggy, averaging in the mid-80s during the day, though the high humidity makes it feel much warmer. Fall and spring months are typically mild, offering many days in the mid-60s, as well as stronger winds. Winters are usually very cold and produce about 30 inches of snow. The local hardiness zone is 6b.
|Climate data for Easton|
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Average high °F (°C)||36
|Average low °F (°C)||19
|Record low °F (°C)||−15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.03
|Source: Weather Channel|
Easton operates a mayor-on-council city government. Residents elect a city controller, six city councilpersons (three at large and three district) and a mayor who is also Chairman and a voting member of the city council. All of these officials are elected to four-year terms.
As of the 2010 census, the city was 67.2% White, 16.8% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian, and 4.9% were two or more races. 19.9% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,263 people, 9,544 households, and 5,735 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,168.4 per square mile (2,380.3/km2). There were 10,545 housing units at an average density of 2,476.7 per square mile (955.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.48% White, 12.71% African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.66% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 3.67% from other races, and 3.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.79% of the population. The increase in Hispanic/Latinos—from less than 10% of the population in the 2000 census, to nearly 20% in the 2010 census, is a significant change in the city's demographics. The growth in Hispanic residents is similar to increases in Allentown and Bethlehem, the Valley's two largest cities.
There were 9,544 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 16.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.9% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 16.3% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.1 males.
|Crime rates* (2008)|
|Total violent crime||602.2|
|Motor vehicle theft||253.2|
|Total property crime||3,923.8|
*Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
2008 population: 26,072
Source: 2008 FBI UCR Data
The median income for a household in the city was $33,162, and the median income for a family was $38,704. Males had a median income of $32,356 versus $23,609 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,949. About 12.3% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.3% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.
The Easton Area School District serves the residents of the city of Easton along with Forks and Palmer Townships and the village of Martins Creek to the north. As of the 2000 census, the combined population of the municipalities in the Easton Area School District was 53,554.
The school district has seven elementary schools (Cheston, Forks, March, Palmer, Paxinosa, Shawnee and Tracy) for grades K-5, Easton Area Middle School Campus (in Forks Township) for grades 6–8, and Easton Area High School (in Easton) for grades 9–12. Total student enrollment is about 8,289 students in all grades as of 2020-21.
Easton Area High School is known for its long-standing athletic rivalry with Phillipsburg High School in neighboring Phillipsburg, New Jersey. The two teams play an annual football game on Thanksgiving Day that is considered one of the largest and longest-standing rivalries in American high school football. 2006 marked the 100th anniversary of the Easton-Phillipsburg high school football rivalry The game, which was shown on ESPN, was won by Easton. In 2009, Easton was the location of the Gatorade REPLAY Game in which the 1993 teams from the Easton vs. P-Burg Game met again to resolve the game, which ended in a 7–7 tie. The REPLAY Game was won by Phillipsburg, 27–12.
Easton Area High School athletes compete in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, which consists of the 12 largest high schools in the Lehigh Valley and is one of the nation's most elite high school athletic conferences. Easton holds the third most LVIAC championships in all sports, behind only Parkland High School and Emmaus High School. Easton is also home to Notre Dame High School, a Catholic school.
Easton is the home of one four-year college, Lafayette College, which was established in 1826. Lafayette is located in the College Hill section of Easton and is home to 2,514 undergraduate students as of the 2022-2023 academic year. In 2017 the U.S. News & World Report ranked Lafayette as the 36th best liberal arts school in the country.
Before the American Civil War, Easton was the location of Union Law School, which was founded in 1846 and seems to have foundered fairly soon after the 1856 death of its founder, Judge Washington McCartney. (While at least one student, future Wisconsin state senator Robert L. D. Potter, graduated in the spring of 1857, a historian in 2000 dismissed Union in an endnote as "a one-man operation that died with him" [i.e., McCartney].)
Easton is the home of 27 interactive children's attractions, and the National Canal Museum, which focuses on the importance of canals in the region, and the Crayola Experience, which is owned by Crayola LLC (formerly known as Binney & Smith), a major toy manufacturer based in nearby Forks Township. The global headquarters for Victaulic is also based in nearby Forks Township. The city was also once the home of Dixie Cup Corporation, the manufacturer of Dixie Cups and other consumer products. Majestic Athletic, current provider of uniforms for Major League Baseball, is based in nearby Palmer Township.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey using the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, Lehigh and Hudson River Railway and Conrail are major defunct railroads that operated in Easton. The Norfolk Southern Railway is now the only railroad in Easton.
Easton's daily newspaper is The Express-Times. The Morning Call, based in Allentown, also is read in the city. Easton is part of the Philadelphia DMA, but also receives numerous radio and television channels from New York City and the smaller Scranton-Wilkes-Barre media market to the northwest.
Five radio stations are based in Easton: WEEX, a sports radio station broadcasting at 1230 AM, WODE-FM "The Hawk", a classic rock station broadcasting at 99.9 FM, WCTO "Cat Country 96," a country music station broadcasting on 96.1 FM, WJRH, a Lafayette College radio station broadcasting at 104.9 FM and WEST "Loud Radio", a rhythmic contemporary radio station broadcasting at 99.5 FM. In addition, WDIY-FM, a National Public Radio affiliate located in Bethlehem, maintains a translator in Easton broadcasting at 93.9 FM.
Easton is becoming an increasingly sought after destination for motion pictures filming on location.
Easton was once served only by the 215 area code from 1947 (when the North American Numbering Plan of the Bell System went into effect) until 1994. In response to southeastern Pennsylvania's growing telecommunication demand, Easton telephones exchanges were switched to area code 610 in 1994. An overlay area code, 484, was added to the 610 service area in 1999.
Major state, federal, or interstate highways serving Easton include I-78, US 22, PA 33, PA 248 and PA 611 (Delaware Drive). Major east−west roads (from north to south) in Easton include Corriere Road, Zucksville Road, Northwood Avenue, Lafayette Street, Hackett Avenue, Northampton Street, Butler Street (known as William Penn Highway west of Wilson, then as Easton Avenue nearing Bethlehem), Freemansburg Avenue, and Canal Street. Major north−south roads (from west to east) in Easton include Farmersville Road, Stones Crossing Road, Greenwood Avenue, 25th Street, Bushkill Drive, 13th Street, Centre Street, Sullivan Trail, Richmond Road, 3rd Street (Known as Smith Avenue south of the Lehigh River, then as Philadelphia Road farther south), Cattell Street, Riverside Drive, and Delaware Drive (PA 611).
Air transport to and from Easton is available through Lehigh Valley International Airport, which is located approximately 15 miles (24 km) west of the city, in Allentown. Braden Airpark, also known as Easton Airport, is a smaller airport located about three nautical miles north of Easton's central business district.
Local bus transportation is provided by LANta, which serves Lehigh and Northampton counties. The Easton Intermodal Transportation Center in downtown Easton serves as a hub for LANTA buses. NJ Transit provides bus service from Center Square in Easton to Phillipsburg and Pohatcong in New Jersey along the 890 and 891 routes. Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus service to Easton, stopping at the Easton Intermodal Transportation Center. Trans-Bridge Lines provides regular bus service to New York City.
Easton has no passenger rail service. Until 1983 NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line terminated at Phillipsburg, across the Delaware River from Easton. The line now stops at High Bridge, New Jersey, roughly 20 miles (32 km) to the east. Under NJT's I-78 Corridor study, this service would be restored.
Electricity in Easton is provided by Met-Ed, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy. Natural gas service in Easton is provided by UGI Utilities. The city's Public Works department provides water, sewer service, and trash and recycling collection to Easton. Easton's water supply comes from the Delaware River. The city's water is treated at a filtration plant along the Delaware River and then stored in reservoirs and delivered to customers. The Easton Suburban Water Authority serves suburban areas outside of Easton and purchases water from the city's Public Works department. The city's Public Works department contracts with Raritan Valley Disposal for trash and recycling collection in Easton.