State College, Pa

"State College" redirects here. For other uses, see State College (disambiguation).
State College
Home Rule Municipality

A view of State College's downtown during the 2005 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
Nickname(s): Happy Valley

Coordinates: 40°47′29″N 77°51′31″W / 40.79139°N 77.85861°W / 40.79139; -77.85861Coordinates: 40°47′29″N 77°51′31″W / 40.79139°N 77.85861°W / 40.79139; -77.85861

Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Centre
Incorporated August 29, 1896
 • Mayor Elizabeth Goreham
 • Home Rule Municipality 4.5 sq mi (11.8 km2)
Elevation 1,154 ft (352 m)
Population (2010)
 • Home Rule Municipality 42,034
 • Density 9,259/sq mi (3,574/km2)
 • Urban 104,860
 • Metro 153,990
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip 16801, 16803, 16804, 16805
Area code(s) 814
Local phone exchanges 206, 231, 234, 235, 237, 238, 272, 278, 287, 308, 321, 689, 721, 753, 861, 867, 962
School district State College Area School District

State College is a home rule municipality in Centre County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the principal borough of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Centre County. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 42,034, and just over 104,000 lived in the borough plus the surrounding townships often referred to locally as the "Centre Region." Many of these Centre Region communities also carry a "State College, PA" address although are not specifically part of the borough of State College.

The community is a college town, dominated economically and demographically by the presence of the University Park campus of the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). "Happy Valley" is another often-used term to refer to the State College area, including the borough and the townships of College, Harris, Patton, and Ferguson.

In 2010, State College was ranked as the third-safest metropolitan area in the United States by the CQ Press.[1] In 2013, it was ranked second smartest city by Lumosity[2] and third best college town in the United States by the American Institute for Economic Research.[3]


State College evolved from village to town to serve the needs of the fledgling Pennsylvania State College, founded as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania in 1855. State College was incorporated as a borough on August 29, 1896 and has since grown with the college, which in 1953 was renamed The Pennsylvania State University.

In 1973 State College adopted a home rule charter which took effect in 1976;[4] since that time, it has not been governed by the state's Borough Code, although it retains "Borough of State College" as its official name.

The university has a post office address of University Park, Pennsylvania. When Penn State changed its name from College to University in 1953, its president, Milton S. Eisenhower, sought to persuade the town to change its name as well. A referendum failed to yield a majority for any of the choices for a new name, and so the town remains State College. After this, Penn State requested a new name for its on-campus post office in the HUB–Robeson Center from the U.S. Post Office Department. The post office, which has since moved across an alley to the McAllister Building, is the official home of zip code 16802 (University Park).

Geography and climate

State College is situated at an elevation of approximately 1,200 feet (370 m) above sea level.[5] According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 4.5 square miles (12 km2), all of it land. It is surrounded by large tracts of farmland, and an expanse of mountains and forests.

State College has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa). Temperatures average 27.2 °F (−2.7 °C) in January and 72.1 °F (22.3 °C) in July. Annual precipitation averages 39.8 inches (1,010 mm), and 46.3 inches (118 cm) of snow a year falls in the city (Based on official 109-year average of snowfall at State College as per National Weather Service's State College office). With a period of record dating back to 1893, the lowest temperature recorded was −20 °F (−29 °C) on February 10, 1899 and the highest was 102 °F (39 °C) on July 17, 1988 and July 9, 1936. Outside of the National Weather Service's contiguous records (1878–1887), An unofficial high of 84 °F (29 °C) during February was recorded; if this were officially confirmed, it would be the highest reading in February statewide.[6]

Climate data for State College, Pennsylvania (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 34.2
Average low °F (°C) 20.2
Record low °F (°C) −18
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.74
Snowfall inches (cm) 12.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 12.8 11.2 11.8 13.1 14.0 12.5 11.9 10.6 10.6 11.1 11.5 12.8 143.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.4 7.2 4.5 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 .2 1.8 6.2 29.8
Source: NOAA (extremes 1896–present),[7]


Historical population
Census Pop.

According to the 2010 census[9], there are 42,034 people, 12,610 households, and 3,069 families residing in the borough. The population density was 9,258.6 people per square mile (3,574.3/km²). There were 13,007 housing units at an average density of 2,865.0 per square mile (1,106.0/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 83.2% White, 3.8% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 9.8% Asian, 1.0% Other, and 2.0% from two or more races. 3.9% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry. 22,681 or 54.0% of borough residents are males and 19,353 or 46.0% are females.[10]

Of the 12,610 households, 9.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 18.2% were married couples living together, 3.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 75.6% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.71.

The age distribution of the borough, overwhelmingly influenced by its student population, was 5.1% under the age of 18, 70.6% from 18 to 24, 13.1% from 25 to 44, 6.5% from 45 to 64, and 4.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years.

The median income for a household in the borough was $23,513, and the median income for a family was $58,953. The per capita income for the borough was $13,336. 46.9% of the population and 9.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 10.6% of those under the age of 18 and 2.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. However, traditional measures of income and poverty can be very misleading when applied to a community like State College which is dominated by students.

The population of the State College Metropolitan Statistical Area, including the borough, is 153,990.[year needed]


Happy Valley

"Happy Valley" is sometimes used as a colloquialism for the State College area. Commentators referring to Penn State athletic events often give the location as "Happy Valley" rather than mentioning State College or the specific campus facility.

In a survey conducted in the late 1980s by Psychology Today, State College was ranked as one of the least stressful places in the United States. A more recent rating put State College 19th among "50 Smart Places to Live."[11] The same source states: "Sperling's BestPlaces research group has previously ranked State College the No.1 safest small city in America, and Forbes, thanks in large part to the tremendous amount of research conducted at the University, listed State College among the top 10 smaller metro areas in which to start a career or business."[12] In 2007, CNN Money said State College was the number one "single" city based on percentage of unmarried people living there.[13][14]

In the August issue of Rolling Stone magazine,[year needed] State College received honorable mention in best music scenes throughout the country. Small bands that have formed in State College include Swiss Alps, The Fiddlercrabs, The Imperial Orgy, Cootie Brown, and Katsu.

There are dozens of restaurants and bars unique to State College, most of which are concentrated in the downtown area along College Avenue and Beaver Avenue and their cross streets.[15]

The town is surrounded by hills and forests ideal for hiking.[16]


While State College is most known for Penn State Nittany Lions football, the borough itself is home to the State College Spikes, a minor league baseball team. The team is part of the New York - Penn League and has played in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, also home to Penn State baseball, since 2006.


The Nittany Valley Symphony has been part of the State College community since 1967 and offers regular concert performances on campus at Eisenhower Auditorium. The group also holds and participates in numerous special events throughout the area.

Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra was founded in 1991 as a professional chamber orchestra. They regularly perform at the 400-seat Esber Recital Hall on campus as well as various other venues throughout the State College area. State College is also home to the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra, part of the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania.[17]


The State College Community Theatre group offers regular performances at venues such as The State Theatre in State College and Boal Barn Playhouse in nearby Boalsburg. Additionally, Pennsylvania Centre Stage offers regular performances at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (Citizens Bank Theatre) in State College and the on-campus Pavilion Theatre and Playhouse Theatre.

Major events

"First Night State College" is a New Year's Eve celebration that takes place in downtown State College and on the adjacent University Park campus. First Night is known for its display of carved ice sculptures and also features musical and vaudeville performances in downtown churches and theatres as well as many other activities.[18]

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts,[19] usually referred to as "Arts Fest", is held downtown every July. The five-day festival features artists from around the country and draws more than 125,000 visitors. Streets are closed off and lined with booths where people can buy paintings, pottery, jewelry, and other hand-made goods. There are also numerous musical performances and plays to take in, and food vendors selling everything from funnel cakes to Indian cuisine.

Central PA 4th Fest is a day-long event, highlighted by many activities, crafts, food vendors and entertainers, all of which typically attracts 60,000 to 80,000 people. According to the International Fireworks website, it is ranked the third largest annual Fourth of July fireworks in the United States; the Travel Channel has called the celebration "one of the best fireworks displays in the world."

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, commonly referred to as THON, is a 46-hour Dance Marathon that takes place every February on the University Park campus with the purpose of raising money for the Four Diamonds Foundation.[20] A number of events throughout the year pave the way to February's THON weekend.

Blue-White Football Weekend occurs in April and includes a carnival, fireworks, food vendors, the student entertainment stage, live music, a parade, and more.[21] On game day, an autograph session with the football student-athletes is held in Beaver Stadium, prior to kickoff of the Blue-White football intrasquad scrimmage game.

Homecoming Weekend is celebrated annually by Penn State students, alumni, faculty, staff, and fans alike. Numerous events take place in State College and on the University Park campus including charity fund raisers, socials, pep rallies, tailgate competitions, a parade, and a football game.

Notable people

The following individuals were born and/or raised in State College:

The following were/are residents of State College:

Points of interest

  • American Red Cross – Centre Communities Chapter[23]
  • The Arboretum at Penn State[24]
  • Beaver Stadium – the second largest stadium in the western hemisphere and home of Penn State Football
  • Bryce Jordan Center – home of Men's and Women's Penn State Basketball as well as other indoor sports and entertainment events
  • Citizens Bank Theatre – located in downtown State College
  • Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania - science museum for children ages 2 to 12
  • Downtown Farmers' Market - Fridays during summer and fall only
  • Eisenhower Auditorium - home to a variety of academic, business, and entertainment events
  • Jeffrey Field - home of the Men's and Women's Penn State Soccer and Lacrosse teams
  • McCoy Natatorium - home of the Men's and Women's Penn State Varsity Swim teams Recreation Facilities
  • Medlar Field at Lubrano Park - home of the State College Spikes and Penn State Men's Baseball teams
  • Memorial Field - State College Area High School football field
  • Mount Nittany – hiking
  • Nittany Lion Shrine - second most photographed location in Pennsylvania
  • Old Main - Penn State's first building of major significance, completed in 1863
  • The Palmer Museum of Art - prominent visual arts facility and cultural resource for Penn State and local community
  • Pavilion Theatre - intimate 300-seat flexible arena/thrust performance space
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Penn State All-Sports Museum - honors all Penn State Nittany Lion athletes
  • Penn State Creamery - the largest university creamery in the world
  • Penn State Ice Pavilion - home of the Men's and Women's Penn State Varsity Hockey teams
  • Playhouse Theatre - home of Penn State's University Resident Theatre Company (URTC)
  • Rec Hall - a field house that is home of the Men's and Women's Penn State Gymnastics, Volleyball, and Wrestling
  • Schlow Centre Region Library
  • The State Theatre – Centre County's Performing Arts Center[25]
  • Stone Valley Recreation Area
  • Tussey Mountain – winter and summer activities including skiing, snowboarding, swimming, golf, and more


State College's daily newspaper is the Centre Daily Times (part of the McClatchy Company chain). Alternative newspapers include the Centre County Gazette and State College City Guide. Newspapers of Pennsylvania State University's main campus include The Forum and the student-run Daily Collegian.[26]

Numerous magazines are also published in State College including Town & Gown,[27] State College Magazine,[28] Good Life in Happy Valley,[29] Blue White Illustrated, Pennsylvania Business Central, and Voices of Central Pennsylvania.[30]

The State College radio market is ranked #257 in the nation. Some of the more popular stations include WPSU, WKPS, WBUS, WQWK, WFGE, WBHV, WZWW, WRSC, WRSC-FM, and WMAJ.

State College is part of the Johnstown/Altoona/State College television market, which is ranked #102 in the nation.[31] Television stations broadcasting out of State College include WPSU (PBS) and WHVL (MyNetworkTV) as well as C-NET, Centre County's Government and Education Access Television Network, which broadcasts on two channels: CGTV (Government Access TV) and CETV (Educational Access TV). Johnstown-based WJAC-TV (NBC) and Altoona-based WTAJ-TV (CBS) also maintain satellite studios and offices here.

Some of the more popular web media in State College include,[32] Onward State student run media covering State College and Penn State student issues and[33]


The State College area typically enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Penn State is by far the largest single employer in the region, employing nearly 25,000 full- and part-time workers in 2012. Other industries in the area include health care, retail, hospitality services, and government.

Major employers


In addition to a popular downtown shopping area, State College is home to a variety of shopping centers and the region's only enclosed shopping mall:

  • The Benner Pike Shops
  • Colonnade at State College
  • Creekside Plaza
  • Hamilton Square Shopping Center
  • Hills Plaza
  • Nittany Commons
  • Nittany Mall
  • North Atherton Place
  • Northland Center
  • Southridge Plaza
  • Westerly Parkway Plaza
  • Woodycrest Center

Oldest businesses

Area businesses operating for 75 years or more:

  • The Daily Collegian – since 1887, originally The Free Lance
  • Meyer Dairy – since 1887
  • Hoy Transfer – since 1888
  • Centre Daily Times – since 1898, originally The Weekly Times
  • Wolf Furniture – since 1902, originally opened in Altoona as City Furniture
  • Kranich's Jewelers – since 1903, originally opened in York as Kranich Bros. Jewelers
  • McLanahan's – since 1903, originally opened in Tyrone
  • Fullington Auto Bus Company – since 1908, originally opened in Clearfield as E.M. Fullington's
  • Koch Funeral Home – since 1913
  • Woodring's Floral Gardens – since 1922, originally opened in Bellefonte
  • State College Floral Shoppe – since 1923
  • Rinaldo's Barber Shop – since 1925
  • The Corner Room – since 1926
  • Harper's Fine Clothing & Sportswear – since 1926, originally Stark Bros. & Harper
  • Balfurd Cleaners – since 1927
  • Alexander Building Construction – since 1928
  • The Diner – since 1929, originally College Diner
  • Nittany Lion Inn – since 1931
  • W.R. Hickey Inc. – since 1933
  • Kissinger Bigatel & Brower Realtors – since 1933, originally The Kissinger Agency
  • The Rathskeller – since 1933, originally The Rathskeller & Gardens
  • The Autoport – since 1936
  • Esber Rugs – since 1936, originally opened in Tyrone as W.E. Esber

Government and politics

Federal level

At the federal level, State College forms part of Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district. The current representative is Glenn "G.T." Thompson.

County level

At the county level, Centre County, Pennsylvania's county seat is in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. There are three county-level district courts within State College, with the others being Philipsburg, Bellefonte, and Centre Hall.

The current county-level districts are divided as follows, all of which are common pleas courts. The jurisdictions include civil claims and summary offenses. Higher level courts are located in neighboring Bellefonte.[42]

  • District 49-1-01, District Judge Carmine W. Prestia, serving State College, elected in 2007 for a 4-year term [43]
  • District 49-3-05, District Judge Jonathan D. Grine, serving State College[44]
  • District 49-2-01, District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot, serving College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, and Patton Townships, elected in 2007 for 4-year term

Regional level

The Borough of State College is a member of the Centre Region Council of Governments (CRCOG).[45] Other members are

Local level

At the local level, the Borough of State College government is currently run by the following elected officials, based on the 2009 election results:[46]

  • Mayor: Elizabeth A. Goreham
  • President of Council: Donald M. Hahn
  • Council Members:

Thomas E. Daubert, Ronald L. Filippelli, Catherine G. Dauler, Sarah Klinetob, Peter Morris, and James L. Rosenberger.

Law enforcement

The law enforcement arm of the Borough of State College is the State College Police Department, served by Chief Thomas R. King. A large fraction of police force duties involve the monitoring of drinking and drinking-related activities in the town.


State College is located about 11 miles from the State Correctional Institution – Rockview, which is known as the state penitentiary, or the "state pen"[47] in humorous opposition to "Penn State."

Fire protection

The Alpha Fire Company[48] is an All Volunteer Fire Company, arguably the largest in the state when the size and population of Penn State's University Park campus is factored in. It operates out of three stations, the main stations within the Borough of State College, and responds with three engine-rescues, one engine, two tankers, two tower ladders, one quint and one heavy rescue vehicle. The department's annual run total is around 1100.

The Fire Department is led by five chiefs, three captains, and five lieutenants. The fire company operates under the Centre Region Council of Governments,[45] under the direction of Fire Director Steve Bair.


Public schools

State College is served by the State College Area School District which operates nine elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school in and around State College.[49]

Charter schools

  • Centre Learning Community Charter School
  • Nittany Valley Charter School
  • Wonderland Charter School
  • Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School

Private schools

  • Children's House Montessori School
  • The Goddard School
  • Grace Prep High School[50]
  • Nittany Christian School[51]
  • Our Lady of Victory Catholic School
  • Park Forest Montessori School
  • State College Friends School[52]

Higher and post-secondary education


State College is served by the following libraries:[55]

  • Aaronsburg Public Library
  • American Philatelic Research Library
  • Centre County Book Mobile
  • Centre Hall Area Branch Library
  • Holt Memorial Library
  • Pennsylvania State University Libraries
    • Pattee and Paterno Libraries (main library)
    • Hammond Library (engineering)
    • Pollock Library (study library)
    • Davey Library (physical and mathematical sciences)
    • Deike Library (earth and mineral sciences)
    • Stuckeman Library (architecture and landscape architecture)
  • Schlow Centre Region Library
  • The Centre County Library

Area hospitals



State College is served by:


University Park Airport serves as a commercial and general aviation airport for the State College area.

Mass transportation

  • Centre Area Transportation Authority provides buses that run within the greater State College area.[56]
  • Greyhound Lines offers regularly scheduled services from State College to points around the country.
  • Megabus offers services between State College and Harrisburg, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  • Fullington Trailways offers a range of express services during the university year.


Walk Score ranks State College as fifth best walking city (with populations over 18,000) in Pennsylvania.


External links

  • Borough of State College Government website
  • State College's news and information website
  • Centre Daily Times
  • Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County
  • Downtown State College Improvement District
  • Map 536 *Augmented by Wood, C. R. (1980), Summary groundwater resources of Centre County, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 4th ser., Water Resource Report 48, 60 p.

Template:PA Home Rule Municipality

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