Emmaus, Pennsylvania

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Borough of Emmaus
Emmaus Moravian Church
Emmaus Moravian Church
Location of Emmaus in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Emmaus in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.
Emmaus is located in Pennsylvania
Location of Emmaus in Pennsylvania
Emmaus is located in the United States
Emmaus (the United States)
Coordinates: 40°32′13″N 75°29′45″W / 40.53694°N 75.49583°W / 40.53694; -75.49583Coordinates: 40°32′13″N 75°29′45″W / 40.53694°N 75.49583°W / 40.53694; -75.49583
CountryUnited States
 • MayorLee Ann Gilbert (R)
 • Total2.90 sq mi (7.51 km2)
 • Land2.90 sq mi (7.50 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)
436 ft (133 m)
 • Total11,211
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,960.97/sq mi (1,529.30/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
18049, 18098, 18099
Area code(s)610 Exchanges: 904,965,966,967
FIPS code42-23584

Emmaus (/ɛˈm.əs/ em-AY-əs) is a borough in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is located 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley region of the state. It is 50 miles (80 km) north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, and 20 miles (32 km) west of the Delaware River.[3] Emmaus is located in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The population of Emmaus was 11,211 in 2010. The borough has been given many awards, including the Delaware Valley Green Building Council's Sustainable Community Award. In 2007[4] and 2009,[5] Emmaus has been listed as one of the top 100 "Best Places to Live" in the United States by Money magazine.[6]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), all land, though part of the Little Lehigh Creek, a tributary of the Lehigh River, flows just outside the Emmaus border with Salisbury Township. Emmaus borders South Mountain, a large mountain range. The town's elevation is 436 feet above sea level. Emmaus is located at approximately 40°32′13″N 75°29′45″W / 40.53694°N 75.49583°W / 40.53694; -75.49583.[7] It has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) and is in hardiness zone 6b. Average monthly temperatures in the downtown vicinity range from 28.9 °F in January to 73.5 °F in July. [1]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)11,467[2]2.3%

As of the census[10] of 2010, there were 11,313 people, 4,985 households, and 3,155 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,918.8 people per square mile (1,511.4/km2). There were 5,186 housing units at an average density of 1,796.4 per square mile (692.8/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 95.89% White, 0.70% African American, 0.06% Native American, 1.81% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.88% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.51% of the population.

There were 4,985 households, out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the borough, the population was spread out, with 21.2% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there are 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $55,139, whereas the estimated median household for the state of Pennsylvania is $52,007, and the median income for a family was $54,120. Males had a median income of $38,659 versus $25,331 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,245. About 2.2% of families and 3.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.


Emmaus Theatre in Emmaus


Emmaus was settled in the 1740s and dates its founding to 1759. Shelter House, the oldest building in the borough, was constructed in 1734. For approximately 100 years, until the mid-19th century, it was a closed community of the Moravian Church. The original land on which the town now lies was donated by Sebastian Heinrich Knauss and Jacob Ehrenhardt for use by the Moravian church. The founders and original residents of the town were members of the Lutheran and Reformed faiths, who joined the Moravian church when their own denominations were unable to provide ministers. Emmaus was one of the four leading Moravian communities in the northeast United States at the time of its founding; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lititz, Pennsylvania and Nazareth, Pennsylvania were the three others.

Origin and spelling of name[edit]

The borough was named for the biblical village of Emmaus[12] (now within modern Israel), where, according to the New Testament, Jesus was seen by his disciples Luke and Cleopas following his crucifixion and resurrection.[13]

From its founding in 1759 until 1830, the settlement's name was spelled "Emmaus." From 1830 until 1938 the community used the Pennsylvania Dutch spelling of the name: "Emaus" with a line above the "m" to indicate a double letter. As English became the prevalent language in Pennsylvania the line often was omitted, leading to confusion about the correct spelling. In 1938, the local Rotary Club circulated petitions and the borough formally changed the spelling to "Emmaus," matching the English King James Version. A major thoroughfare in the borough, Emaus Avenue, has retained the pre-1938 spelling, however.

19th century[edit]

Iron ore was discovered nearby in the 19th century and served as a source of industrial growth for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1859, the East Pennsylvania Railroad (later part of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad) brought trains to Emmaus. That same year, the town was incorporated as a borough. In 1869, the town's first blast furnace opened. The largest iron company was Donaldson Iron Company, which made cast iron pipes and other products until the company closed in 1943. During the 19th century, Emmaus was also a center of silk and cigar manufacturing.

Population trends[edit]

In 1940, public census statistics showed that 6,731 people lived in Emmaus. The population of the borough has since nearly doubled to 11,313, as of the 2000 census. Housing construction has reached the borough line in all directions, so significant continued population growth in the borough is unlikely. Outside the borough line, however, the local population continues to grow, particularly in neighboring Lower Macungie Township. Consequently, the growth is found within the Emmaus ZIP code but not its borough limits.

Historic sites[edit]

Emmaus is home to several residences and other properties that were constructed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and have been labeled historic sites by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under historical preservation Commonwealth laws, the sites are protected from commercial and other development expansion in the borough.


Emmaus Fire Department[edit]

Until the 1980s, fire protection was provided through three fire companies. In 1980, the Borough completed the construction of the Central Fire Station on Sixth Street from which all personnel and equipment are currently dispatched. The staff consists of paid on-call volunteers who respond, on average, to 375-400 calls per year. Calls include fire protection, rescue/extrication, and HAZMAT response, and are dispatched via Lehigh County's 911 Communications Center. Its vehicles include two 1988 Central States 1250 GPM Pumpers, One 110' Simon LTI 1989 Aerial, Central States 2002 Heavy Rescue Unit, 1989 Chevrolet Fire Police Vehicle, 1985 Chevrolet and a 1983 Ford Special response units, 1969 Ford bucket utility truck, 2001 GMC Yukon (Fire Chief's vehicle), and a 2011 HME 109' aerial ladder truck.

Emmaus Police Department[edit]

During the late 1800s the Borough of Emmaus provided protection for the community by appointing "High Constables." The Emmaus Police Department was established in 1909, and Wilson Kratzer was appointed as the borough's first Police Chief. Since then, the Emmaus Police Department has grown to be a Pennsylvania-accredited law enforcement agency.

Emmaus Ambulance Corps[edit]

Emmaus Ambulance Corps provides ambulance coverage for the borough of Emmaus, the eastern portion of Upper Milford Township, and a portion of Western Salisbury Township in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. The Corps also provides mutual aid response to surrounding areas including: Macungie, Lower Macungie Township, Upper Saucon Township, Upper Saucon Township, and the city of Allentown. As of April 1, 2004, the Corps began Advanced Life Support service, allowing the Corps to provide a higher level of patient care via state certified paramedics with advanced cardiac care and trauma care procedures. The number of emergency responses in 2004 was 1301. The 2005 call volume was 1607, and the 2006 call volume was 1604. The Emmaus Ambulance service currently consists of three ALS-equipped ambulances and one wheelchair/ambulette transport van.

Industry and commerce[edit]

Buckeye Pipe Line, a United States petroleum distributor, is headquartered locally, between Emmaus and Macungie.

The largest major shopping mall in the Emmaus area is South Mall, located on Lehigh Street on Emmaus' border with Salisbury Township and Allentown. South Mall is one of four major shopping malls in Allentown and its immediate suburbs.

Emmaus is also home of Shangy's, one of the nation's largest beer distributors, featuring over 4,000 domestic and imported beer brands. Shangy's attracts thousands of beer enthusiasts from around the nation each year.

Yocco's Hot Dogs, the Lehigh Valley-based fast food establishment known for their regionally-famous hot dogs and cheesesteaks, maintains its corporate headquarters in Emmaus. One of its six Lehigh Valley restaurants is also located just west of Emmaus, on Chestnut Street near Buckeye Road in Upper Milford Township. Opened in the 1980s, the Emmaus Yocco's is known as Yocco's South. Traub's Doggies, formerly Traubs Market, also is based in Emmaus.

The Emmaus Arts Commission hosts art and film events in Emmaus, including "Art in the Garden," "Emmaus Art Walk," the "Student Horror Film Festival," and others. Each October, Emmaus also hosts an annual Halloween parade, one of the largest in eastern Pennsylvania, combined with a 5K Race,[14] held just before the parade's start and is a major fundraiser for the Parade Committee and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Emmaus was the former headquarters of Rodale, Inc., one of the world's largest publishers of health-related books and magazines, including Men's Health, Prevention, Runner's World and Women's Health magazines. Rodale was acquired by Hearst in 2018 and local offices were moved to Easton.[15]


Emmaus is served educationally by the East Penn School District, a public school district that accommodates kindergarten through 12th grade.

The district has one high school, Emmaus High School (for grades nine through 12), two middle schools, Eyer Middle School and Lower Macungie Middle School (for grades six through eight), and six elementary schools (for kindergarten through fifth grade), Alburtis Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Macungie Elementary School, Shoemaker Elementary School, and Wescosville Elementary School. A seventh elementary school, Seven Generations Charter School, opened in 2009. A brick-and-mortar charter school, Seven Generations teaches approximately 300 students in the 2011–2012 academic year. The school district opened an eighth elementary school, Willow Lane Elementary School, in September 2010.


Emmaus Borough Hall

Emmaus is governed under a council/mayor system, with the Borough Council retaining the vast majority of governmental authority. After the 2011 municipal election, the borough government includes:

Borough council

  • Brent A. Labenberg - Council President
  • Chris DeFrain- Council Vice President
  • Roy D.Anders Jr.
  • Wesley R. Barrett
  • Shana L. Baumgarnter
  • Jeff Shubzda
  • Teri Sorg-McManamon


  • Lee Ann Gilbert

Borough Manager

  • Shane Pepe

Water privatization controversy[edit]

On July 5, 2005, the Emmaus Borough Council voted in a 3–2 vote to authorize its Water Committee to work with the borough's consultant to draft an agreement of sale for its water system. Citizens had been especially concerned that if the borough chose to follow the consultant's advice to "monetize the system," that the system would be sold to a multinational corporation, as was an increasing trend throughout the region. Many Emmaus residents organized themselves under the group EFLOW ("Emmaus for Locally Owned Water"), and through a combination of letter-writing, petitioning and public comment at council meetings, in early September 2005 the council voted to take water privatization off the table of options. This controversy garnered regional and national attention, with anti-privatization non-profits such as Public Citizen noting the debate and outcome.[16]


Emmaus is accessible by two Lehigh County highways, Cedar Crest Boulevard, located on the borough's west-side, and Lehigh Street, which is located on the borough's east-side and connects Emmaus with Allentown and Bethlehem. Both highways have junctions with I-78, which spans from Lebanon County in the west to New York City in the east. Route 29 runs through the west side of the borough on Cedar Crest Boulevard and Chestnut Street. LANTA provides bus service to Emmaus along Route 104, which heads north to Allentown and the Lehigh Valley Mall.[17]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Official Borough of Emmaus Pennsylvania". www.borough.emmaus.pa.us. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "Emmaus, Pennsylvania". Best Places to Live/CNNMoney Magazine. CNN. 2007. Archived from the original on July 29, 2009. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
  5. ^ "Emmaus, Pennsylvania". Best Places to Live/CNNMoney Magazine. CNN. 2009. Archived from the original on September 17, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
  6. ^ City-Data
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  8. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Pennsylvania" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  9. ^ "Pennsylvania: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on November 20, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  12. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 119.
  13. ^ Luke 24:12-35
  14. ^ Emmaus5K.com
  15. ^ Kelly, Keith J. (2018-09-20). "Runner's World staff moving to a former bowling alley". New York Post. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  16. ^ "Victory in Emmaus," Public Citizen
  17. ^ System Map (Map). LANTA. Retrieved February 14, 2018.

External links[edit]