Butler, Pennsylvania

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Butler, Pennsylvania
City
View of Butler from the Southside neighborhood
View of Butler from the Southside neighborhood
Location of Butler in Butler County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Butler in Butler County, Pennsylvania.
Butler is located in Pennsylvania
Butler
Butler
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°51′38″N 79°53′41″W / 40.86056°N 79.89472°W / 40.86056; -79.89472Coordinates: 40°51′38″N 79°53′41″W / 40.86056°N 79.89472°W / 40.86056; -79.89472
CountryUnited States
StatePennsylvania
CountyButler
Settled1802[1]
Incorporated (borough)1816[1]
Incorporated (city);1918[1]
Government
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorBenjamin A. Smith (R)
Area
 • Total2.72 sq mi (7.04 km2)
 • Land2.72 sq mi (7.04 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total13,757
 • Estimate 
(2018)[3]
12,993
 • Density4,820.52/sq mi (1,861.44/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
16001–16003
Area code(s)724, 878
FIPS code42-10464
Websitecityofbutler.org

Butler is a city and the county seat of Butler County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.[4] It is located 35 miles (56 km) north of Pittsburgh and part of the Greater Pittsburgh Region. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 13,757.[5] Butler was named the 7th best small town in America by Smithsonian magazine in May 2012.[6]

History[edit]

Downtown Butler

Butler was named for Maj. Gen. Richard Butler,[7] who fell at the Battle of the Wabash, also known as St. Clair's Defeat, in western Ohio in 1791.

In 1803 John and Samuel Cunningham became the first settlers in the village of Butler. After settling in Butler, the two brothers laid out the community by drawing up plots of land for more incoming settlers.[7] By 1817, the community was incorporated into a borough.[7] The first settlers were of Irish or Scottish descent and were driving westward from Connecticut. In 1802 the German immigrants began arriving, with Detmar Basse settling in Jackson Township in 1802 and founding Zelienople the following year. After George Rapp arrived in 1805 and founded Harmony, larger numbers of settlers followed. John A. Roebling settled Saxonburg in 1832, by which time most of the county was filled with German settlers.

Butler incorporated into a city in 1918.[1]

The first Butler library originated in 1894 with the Literary Society of Butler[8] in what is now known as the Little Red Schoolhouse.[9] The Butler Area Public Library, built in 1921, was the last Carnegie library built in Pennsylvania. In the intervening 27 years the library was independently operated.[8] From 1921 to 1941 the library quadrupled the number of patrons served.[10] In 1987 the County Commissioners, through a resolution, founded the Butler County Federated Library System.

Rail and automobile[edit]

In its heyday, the city of Butler was a "Steel Belt" manufacturing and industrial area. In 1902, the Standard Steel Car Company opened one of its largest railcar manufacturing facilities in Butler. It was here that some of the first all-steel rail cars were built. Diamond Jim Brady, the legendary financier, gourmand and gemophile, established the Standard Steel Car Company in 1902, which merged with the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1934, creating Pullman-Standard, a monopoly that was eventually broken by the government.

About 2,500 workers produced 60 steel-bed railroad cars per day in 1902. Eastern European immigrants were lured to the area in the early 20th century with the promise of reliable jobs, which offered company housing and a company store. The company constructed a baseball park which was the home of a New York Yankees farm team. The steel workers of Butler made artillery and naval shells during World War II.[11]

The Pullman-Standard plant closed in 1982, and was demolished in 2005. The site is now occupied by a vacant strip mall, as well as the Butler Transit Authority inter-modal facility. In 2011 the BTA moved a covered hopper rail-car, built in 1974, to the bus terminal in recognition of the former Pullman-Standard plant.[12]

The American Austin Car Company (1929–1941) was headquartered in the area. Later the firm changed its name to American Bantam Car Company. Bantam was an early producer of small fuel-efficient vehicles through the 1930s. In 1940, lead engineer Karl Probst led Bantam design team to create what later was termed the iconic WWII Jeep. Sizeable military contracts eventually went to Willys and Ford, as the Bantam factory had floundered. Today, a controversial monument stands near the courthouse commemorating Bantam's "creation of the Jeep".

Butler is home to one of the early Ford dealerships, established in 1918 and still extant.[13]

At one point, the Rainbow Rubber Company, in the late 1930s, made "Rubrtoy" replicas of Oldsmobiles along with many other rubber toys.[14]

In the 1950s, Butler became one of the first cities to install bells at crosswalks, a common practice today.[citation needed] Pedestrians could cross in either direction.

The city was linked to Pittsburgh via Mars, Pennsylvania, in 1907 by the Pittsburgh and Butler Street Railway, and to Evans City in 1908 by the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway, both interurban trolley lines. The Mars route closed in April 1931, followed by the Evans City line on August 15, 1931, with the trolleys replaced by buses.

Like most of the region, by the end of the 1970s, the local economy changed dramatically. Manufacturing virtually ended and good-paying jobs became scarce.[11] The city now accepts state and government money to sustain itself.[citation needed]

Geography[edit]

Connoquenessing Creek flows through Butler, Pennsylvania.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2), all land.

Connoquenessing Creek is the only waterway to pass through the city. In 2000, a scientific study was conducted to determine the health of the creek. Researchers discovered that only the Mississippi River received more toxic materials than the Connoquenessing, making the small river the second most polluted waterway in the United States. At the time, the Armco Inc. steel facility in Butler ranked first nationally for the amount of pollutant discharges.[15] However, by 2010, due to reduced industry and clean up efforts, the creek's health has significantly recovered and has become popular for water-sport activities.[16]

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Butler, Pennsylvania (2mi SW) (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1967–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 69
(21)
75
(24)
84
(29)
90
(32)
91
(33)
97
(36)
102
(39)
100
(38)
94
(34)
88
(31)
79
(26)
74
(23)
102
(39)
Average high °F (°C) 34.5
(1.4)
37.7
(3.2)
47.0
(8.3)
60.2
(15.7)
69.7
(20.9)
78.3
(25.7)
81.9
(27.7)
81.0
(27.2)
74.0
(23.3)
62.1
(16.7)
50.6
(10.3)
38.4
(3.6)
59.6
(15.3)
Daily mean °F (°C) 26.3
(−3.2)
28.3
(−2.1)
36.5
(2.5)
47.5
(8.6)
57.1
(13.9)
66.2
(19.0)
70.0
(21.1)
69.1
(20.6)
61.7
(16.5)
50.5
(10.3)
40.9
(4.9)
30.7
(−0.7)
48.7
(9.3)
Average low °F (°C) 18.2
(−7.7)
19.0
(−7.2)
25.9
(−3.4)
34.9
(1.6)
44.4
(6.9)
54.2
(12.3)
58.2
(14.6)
57.1
(13.9)
49.5
(9.7)
38.9
(3.8)
31.2
(−0.4)
22.9
(−5.1)
37.9
(3.3)
Record low °F (°C) −30
(−34)
−20
(−29)
−10
(−23)
9
(−13)
22
(−6)
31
(−1)
34
(1)
32
(0)
28
(−2)
17
(−8)
−3
(−19)
−18
(−28)
−30
(−34)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.89
(73)
2.48
(63)
3.23
(82)
3.40
(86)
4.16
(106)
4.16
(106)
4.24
(108)
3.97
(101)
3.69
(94)
2.79
(71)
3.59
(91)
3.21
(82)
41.81
(1,062)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 13.5
(34)
11.7
(30)
8.1
(21)
2.4
(6.1)
0.1
(0.25)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.8
(2.0)
3.6
(9.1)
10.3
(26)
50.5
(128)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 17 14 14 14 14 13 12 11 11 13 14 16 164
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 12 10 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 9 44
Source: NOAA[17]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1820225
1830580157.8%
184086148.4%
18501,14833.3%
18601,39921.9%
18701,93538.3%
18803,16363.5%
18908,734176.1%
190010,85324.3%
191020,72891.0%
192023,77814.7%
193023,568−0.9%
194024,4773.9%
195023,482−4.1%
196020,975−10.7%
197018,691−10.9%
198017,026−8.9%
199015,714−7.7%
200015,121−3.8%
201013,757−9.0%
Est. 201812,993[3]−5.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 15,121 people, 6,740 households, and 3,626 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,611.3 people per square mile (2,170.4/km²). There were 7,402 housing units at an average density of 2,746.8 per square mile (1,062.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.6% White, 2.7% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.52% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.88% of the population.

There were 6,740 households, out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.2% were non-families. 40.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

Skewed statistics rate the median income for a household in the city was $25,154, and the median income for a family was $35,893. Males had a median income of $30,607 versus $20,950 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,457. About 14.7% of families and 19.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.8% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.

Neighborhoods[edit]

The city of Butler has six labeled neighborhoods:

  • Institute Hill
  • The Island
  • North Butler
  • South Hills
  • South Side
  • West End

Economy[edit]

Major employers:

Historical sites[edit]

The following structures are listed in the National Register of Historical Places

  • The Butler Armory is a National Guard armory located on Washington Street. Built in 1922, it was designed by architect Joseph F. Kuntz with W.G. Wilkins, Co. and expanded in 1930.
  • The Butler County Courthouse is a government and judicial building located in the heart of the city. The plaza across the street, Diamond Park, displays various war memorials.
  • The Butler County National Bank, also known as the Lafayette Building and Butler Branch Mellon Bank, it is considered the first "skyscraper" in Butler. It was built in 1902-1903, and is a six-story, five bay by five bay, brick and stone building in the French Renaissance Revival style. A two-story addition was built in 1929. The building housed Butler's post office from 1903 to 1913. The building was rehabilitated into an apartment building in 1992-1993.
  • The Butler Historic District is a national historic district which includes 128 contributing buildings, 1 contributing site, and 4 contributing objects in the central business district of Butler. It includes primarily commercial and institutional buildings, with some residential buildings, built between about 1828 and 1952 in a number of popular architectural styles including Late Victorian. Located in the district and listed separately are the Butler County Courthouse, the Butler County National Bank, and the Sen. Walter Lowrie House.
  • The Senator Walter Lowrie House was the home of United States Senator Walter Lowrie, built in 1828, and is the headquarters of the Butler County Historical Society.
  • Elm Court, often referred to as Phillips Mansion, is a historic Tudor-Gothic mansion designed by architect Benno Janssen and built in 1929-1930 for Benjamin D. Phillips, son of T.W. Phillips, founder of T.W. Phillips Gas & Oil Co. Tucked away and hidden from view, it resides in the northeast corner of the city [19] and is privately owned by one of the Koch Brothers.[20]

Education[edit]

  • Butler Junior High School
  • Center Avenue Community School
  • Emily Brittain Elementary

Art and culture[edit]

The Butler Little Theatre has been running productions continuously since 1941. The Musical Theater Guild produces an annual musical production. In 2012, Hobnob Theatre Company began producing several plays, including an annual production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

The Maridon Museum is the only museum in the Western Pennsylvania region with a specific focus on Chinese and Japanese art and culture.

The Little Red School House is a former one-room schoolhouse that taught students from 1839 to 1874. Throughout its history, it has been a post office, library and Red Cross headquarters. It became a museum in 1966 and is run by the Butler County Historical Society.[21]

Butler is home to the Butler County Symphony Association, which performs at the Butler Intermediate High School auditorium.

The city features artist groups including the Associated Artists of Butler County and the Butler Arts Council, which host galleries and live events at the Art Center, located on Main Street.

Stewart O'Nan's prizewinning 1994 novel Snow Angels is set in Butler, with the protagonist being a local high school student. However, the 2007 film adaption, shot in Canada, removes all references to Butler.

Stephen King's 2002 novel From A Buick 8 takes place in the area.

Charles Cingolani penned an entire book of poetry about the area in The Butler Pennsylvania Poems (2010).

The city was the setting for several scenes in the 2015 novel trilogy Benjamin's Field by local author J. J. Knights.[22]

Events[edit]

The Butler Road Race, a 5-mile and 2-mile race held each summer in June, raises scholarship funding for local students.

The Butler Italian Festival is an annual street fair that features ethnic foods, live music and events.

The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, the Largest Jeep Festival in the US, is held annually in June with off-road trails, a Jeep Playground obstacle course, and the "original" Jeep Invasion street party.

Parks[edit]

  • Doughboy Park, primarily a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives in World War I.
  • Butler Memorial Park, once featured a community pool, but it has remained closed since the late 2000s.
  • Father Marinaro Park, features a skateboard park.
  • Ritts Park, a small park in the northernmost portion of the city with various courts.
  • Rotary Park, a curved park near the Pullman baseball park.

Sports[edit]

Transportation[edit]

Airports

The Butler County Airport terminal building

There are two airports located outside the city. Butler County Airport is used for general aviation, and may accommodate large aircraft such as corporate jets. Butler Farm Show Airport is used by pilots with smaller, private aircraft.

Mass transit

Butler is served by The Bus, run by the Butler Transit Authority.

Railroads

Two railroads currently offer freight service in Butler. The Canadian National Railway-owned Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad main line passes through the city, while the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad provides regional service in the area. The B&P has a large locomotive shop located just outside the city limits.

Roads

Five major highways run through or near the city, providing links to other areas throughout Western Pennsylvania. The south terminus of Pennsylvania Route 38 is just north of the city at U.S. Route 422. Route 422 skirts the city, to the north, on the Butler Bypass. PA 68 and PA 356 go straight through downtown, where they intersect with PA 8 (Butler's Main Street).

Media[edit]

  • The Butler Eagle, daily newspaper
  • WBUT, country music AM radio
  • WISR, news, talk, & sports AM radio
  • WLER, rock music FM radio
  • Butler Radio Network, news website and parent company of WBUT, WISR, & WLER
  • The Armstrong Neighborhood Channel, a community TV/Internet channel
  • Golden Tornado Television, channel 204, the school district's channel that features school news, sports, events and student projects.

Notable people[edit]

Butler native Carl Yankowski as he gives the Palm keynote at the CES

Sports

Major League Baseball

National Football League

Sports, other

Film, Stage & Television

Music

Public Office and Military

Technology

Pageants

Other

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Robert C. History of Butler County, Pennsylvania:...Pioneers and Representative Citizens, Etc., Etc. [Chicago]: R.C. Brown & Co., 1895. Chapter VI.Print.
  • An Historical Gazetteer of Butler County, Pennsylvania, Chicora: Mechling Bookbindery, 2006, ISBN 978-0-9760563-9-3.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Butler County, 5th class" (PDF). Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  2. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Butler city, Pennsylvania". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "20 Best Small Towns in America". Smithsonian, May 2012.
  7. ^ a b c An Historical Gazetteer of Butler County, Pennsylvania, p. 118
  8. ^ a b Butler County Federated Library System. (2015). Butler Area Public Library. Retrieved from https://www.bcfls.org/butler-area-public-library
  9. ^ Butler County Historical Society. (2019). The Little Red Schoolhouse. Retrieved from https://butlerhistory.com/the-little-red-school-house/
  10. ^ Pennsylvania economy league Butler. (1941). The Pennsylvania economy league surveys the Butler public library. Butler, PA.
  11. ^ a b Viser, Matt (September 1, 2016). "In Pa., Boomers see the American dream slipping away". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  12. ^ Garrett, Kelly B. (February 4, 2011). "Pullman railcar honors past". Butler Eagle.
  13. ^ "Dealer Profile". Butler County Ford. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  14. ^ "Rainbow Rubber Co 1935 Oldsmobile Coupe". WorthPoint. July 7, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2014. This Oldsmobile Coupe was made by Rainbow Rubber Co. circa 1935. At 3 3/4 inches long by 1 3/8 inches wide, it is made of rubber... Underneath it is marked 'Rubrtoy Oldsmobile Mfg'd by Rainbow Rubber Co. Butler, PA.'
  15. ^ Hopey, Don (2000-02-18). "Pa. ranks 2nd worst in toxic dumping". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  16. ^ Butler, Kiera (2012-04-02). "America’s Top 10 Most-Polluted Waterways" Mother Jones (magazine) Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  17. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  19. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Smith, Eliza P. (March 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Elm Court" (PDF). Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  20. ^ Clarke, Katherine. (2020-1-23). "The Koch Brothers Are Sitting on a Real Estate Empire Worth Hundreds of Millions". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2020-01-24.
  21. ^ The Butler County Historical Society. "The Little Red Schoolhouse" Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  22. ^ http://www.butlereagle.com/article/20150730/ARTSENTERTAINMENT02/707309915
  23. ^ USGHOF. "U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame – Inductees by Year". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  24. ^ "Millvale honors Slippery Rock alumnus/Hall of Famer Paul Uram". Slippery Rock University. March 30, 2009. Archived from the original on December 22, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2011.

External links[edit]