|City and County seat|
From top to bottom, left to right: Downtown Wilkes-Barre, looking west from Giants Despair, Wilkes-Barre Public Square, Luzerne County Courthouse, Panorama of Wilkes Barre, and the Susquehanna River
|Nickname(s): The Diamond City, Coal City, Dub City, The W-B|
|Motto: Pattern After Us|
Location of Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
|Luzerne County, Pennsylvania|
|Named for||John Wilkes, Isaac Barré|
|• Body||Wilkes-Barre City Council|
|• Mayor||Anthony George (D)|
|• City Council|
|• City and County seat||7.31 sq mi (18.93 km2)|
|• Land||6.98 sq mi (18.08 km2)|
|• Water||0.33 sq mi (0.85 km2)|
|Elevation||525 ft (160 m)|
|• City and County seat||41,498|
|• Estimate (2016)||40,569|
|• Density||5,812.18/sq mi (2,244.01/km2)|
|• Metro||562,037 (US: 95th)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|ZIP Codes||18701–18703, 18705, 18706, 18710, 18711, 18762, 18764–18767, 18769, 18773|
|Area code||570 and 272|
Wilkes-Barre (// or /-/) is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Luzerne County. It is one of the principal cities in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located at the center of the Wyoming Valley, it is second in size to the nearby city of Scranton. The Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 563,631 as of the 2010 Census, making it the fourth-largest metro/statistical area in the state of Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding Wyoming Valley are framed by the Pocono Mountains to the east, the Endless Mountains to the west, and the Lehigh Valley to the south. The Susquehanna River flows through the center of the valley and defines the northwestern border of the city.
Wilkes-Barre was founded in 1769 and formally incorporated in 1806. The city grew rapidly in the 19th century after the discovery of nearby coal reserves and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who provided a labor force for the local mines. The coal mining fueled industrialization in the city, which reached the height of its prosperity in the first half of the 20th century. Its population peaked at more than 86,000. Following World War II, the city's economy declined due to the collapse of industry. The Knox Mine disaster accelerated this trend after large portions of the area's coal mines were flooded and could not be reopened. Today the city has a population of 41,498, making it the largest city in Luzerne County and the 13th-largest city in Pennsylvania.
- 1 History
- 2 City government
- 3 County government
- 4 State and federal representation
- 5 Infrastructure
- 6 Geography
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Economy
- 9 Education
- 10 Sports and recreation
- 11 Local media
- 12 In popular culture
- 13 Notable people
- 14 See also
- 15 Notes
- 16 References
- 17 External links
18th and 19th centuries
In the early 18th century, the Wyoming Valley had been long inhabited by the Shawanese and Delaware Indian (Lenape) tribes. By 1769, a group led by John Durkee were the first recorded Europeans to reach the area. They established a frontier settlement named Wilkes-Barre after John Wilkes and Isaac Barré, two British members of Parliament who supported colonial America.
The initial settlers were aligned with colonial Connecticut, which had a claim on the land that rivaled Pennsylvania's. Armed men loyal to Pennsylvania twice attempted to evict the residents of Wilkes-Barre in what came to be known as the Pennamite–Yankee War. After the American Revolution, the conflict was resolved between the states, and Connecticut gave up its claim. The settlers retained title to their lands but transferred their allegiance to Pennsylvania.
Wilkes-Barre's population exploded due to the discovery of anthracite coal in the 19th century; the economic boom resulted in the city being nicknamed "The Diamond City." Hundreds of thousands of immigrants flocked to the city, seeking jobs in the numerous mines and collieries that sprang up. New industries were established and the Vulcan Iron Works was a well-known manufacturer of railway locomotives from 1849 to 1954. Railroads were being constructed across the state and country.
During Wilkes-Barre's reign as an industrial and economic force in America, a number of major companies and franchises became based in the city, such as Woolworth's, Sterling Hotels, Planter's Peanuts, Miner's Bank, Bell Telephone, HBO, Luzerne National Bank, and Stegmaier. In addition, the demolished Old Fell House on Northampton Street is believed to be the first place in the entire world where anthracite was burned for heat.
Wilkes-Barre is located within Pennsylvania’s Coal Region. The anthracite coal mining industry, and its extensive use of child labor in the early part of the 20th century, was one of the industries targeted by the National Child Labor Committee and its hired photographer, Lewis Hine. Many of Hine's subjects were photographed in the mines and coal fields near Wilkes-Barre in the early part of the 20th century. The impact of the Hine photographs led to the enactment of child labor laws across the country.
The coal industry survived several disasters, including an explosion at Wilkes-Barre's Baltimore Colliery in 1919, which killed 92 miners. It could not survive the gradual switch in the country to other energy sources. Most coal operations left Wilkes-Barre by the end of World War II. The 1959 Knox Mine Disaster, resulting in the flooding of numerous mines, marked the end of King Coal's heyday. Industrial restructuring also caused the city to lose jobs and go into a decades-long decline.
Besides coal mining, many other historical events took place in Wilkes-Barre during the 20th century. It is said that Babe Ruth hit one of the longest home runs in history in Wilkes-Barre. This statement is quoted from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders News page:
"On October 12, 1926, Babe Ruth visited Wilkes-Barre's Artillery Park to play in an exhibition game between Hughestown and Larksville. Suiting up for Hughestown, the Yankee slugger challenged Larksville's hurler Ernie Corkran to throw him his "best stuff"—a fastball right down the heart of the plate. Corkran obliged and Ruth crushed the pitch into deep right field. When the ball cleared the fence, a good 400 feet away from home plate, it was still rising. It finally landed in Kirby Park on the far side of a high school running track. Ruth himself was so impressed by the feat that he asked for his homer to be measured. Originally estimated at 650 feet, the prodigious blast is considered to be the longest home run in baseball's storied history." 
Wilkes-Barre is the birthplace of the Planters Peanuts Company, which was founded by Italian immigrants Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi. Founded in the city in 1906, the company maintained its headquarters in Wilkes-Barre until 1961.
Manufacturing and retail remained Wilkes-Barre's strongest industries, but the city's economy took a major blow from Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. The storm pushed the Susquehanna River to a height of nearly 41 feet (12 m), four feet above the city's levees, flooding downtown with nine feet of water. A total of 128 deaths were attributed to the storm, the majority of drowning deaths by persons trapped in their cars; almost 400,000 homes and businesses were destroyed; 220,000 Pennsylvanians were left homeless (as were hundreds of thousands in other areas). Damages were estimated to be $2.1 billion in PA alone. President Richard Nixon sent aid to the area, after flying over in his helicopter on his way to his Camp David retreat (on June 24, 1972).
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Wilkes-Barre attempted to prevent the damage from storms as intense as Agnes by building a levee system that rises 41 feet (12 m); completed in January 2003, the network of levees was completed at a cost of $250 million. It has successfully resisted less threatening floods in 1996, 2004 and 2006. The Army Corps of Engineers has praised the quality of the levees. In 2006, the city made the front page of national newspapers when 200,000 residents were told to evacuate in the wake of flooding that was forecast to reach levels near that of 1972, though the flooding fell short of predictions.
In late August 2011, Hurricane Irene off the New Jersey coast caused the Susquehanna River to rise to flood stage but was no cause for alarm for the city. However, from September 6 to September 8, heavy rains from the inland remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia offshore funneled heavy rain over the Wyoming Valley and into the Susquehanna River watershed. The Susquehanna swelled to record levels across the state. In Wilkes-Barre it crested on September 9 at an all-time record of 42.66 feet (13.00 m), nearly two feet higher than water levels reached in 1972's Hurricane Agnes. The levees protected Wilkes-Barre, but nearby boroughs that did not have levees, such as West Pittston, Plymouth, and parts of Plains Township, were affected by extreme flooding and the subsequent water damage.
Revitalization and construction
On June 9, 2005, Mayor Thomas M. Leighton unveiled his I believe... campaign for Wilkes-Barre, which was intended to boost the city's spirits. Construction began on a planned downtown theatre complex which had a grand opening on June 30, 2006. Renovation of the landmark Hotel Sterling was being pursued by CityVest, a nonprofit developer. The expansion of Wilkes University and King's College took place. Also, the canopy and matching street lights in Public Square and across downtown were removed; the replacements are new green lampposts.
The City of Wilkes-Barre celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2006. Several events, including a Beach Boys concert, were planned but canceled due to extremely heavy rains. Most of the city's population was ordered to evacuate on June 28, 2006. The Bicentennial celebration was postponed to Labor Day weekend, September 3, 2006, and was attended by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and the Beach Boys.
The Riverfront revitalization project (River Common), broke ground in 2007 and was completed in early 2010. It has made the riverfront accessible to the public. The area also has a new amphitheater for live performances and improved access through ramps and sidewalks. Fountains and color-changing lights have been added underneath two bridges which carry pedestrian traffic across the normally-open levee breachings. The project stretches approximately four blocks from the Luzerne County Courthouse to the intersection of S. River Street and W. South Street. The River Common has since hosted concerts and charity events. Users have complained of insufficient parking close to the river.
Since completion of the River Common, additional improvements to city infrastructure have been progressing. New crosswalks have been installed downtown, including signage emphasizing that pedestrians have the right-of-way. The completion of the James F. Conahan Intermodal Transportation Facility has added parking and relocated Luzerne County buses from their former Public Square staging sites. This has reduced traffic congestion around the square. Private carrier Martz offers coach bus service from the terminal as well.
The widening and realignment of Coal Street, a major road connecting Wilkes-Barre City with Wilkes-Barre Township, was completed in 2012. The new Coal Street provides four lanes over the original two lanes, making travel between the highly commercial Wilkes-Barre Township and the city much easier. The 2012 realignment also provides travelers with a spectacular view of the city center when traveling west into Wilkes-Barre City.
The city is headed by an elected mayor, who serves four-year terms. The current mayor is Anthony George (Democrat). He has been in office since 2016. Before becoming mayor, George served as the Wilkes-Barre Chief of Police.
The legislative branch consists of a five-member City Council. They are elected by a single-member district to four-year terms. The following are current members of the council: Bill Barrett, Mike Belusko, Tony Brooks, Beth Gilbert, and Michael Merritt.
Audit & Control
The office of Audit and Control is the third branch of Wilkes-Barre City government. It is headed by the City Controller, elected to a four-year term. Darren G. Snyder, the current City Controller, is a Democrat and has been in office since 2016. The City Controller has the following powers and duties:
- Examine, audit and verify all books, records and accounts of the various administrative and legislative units, departments, offices or officials under the control or supervision of the Mayor or Council, and for this purpose have access to all such books, records and accounts at any time.
- Examine and approve for payment all contracts, purchase orders, and other documents by which the City incurs financial obligations, having ascertained before approval that monies have been duly appropriated or provided for and allotted to meet such obligations.
- Audit and approve all bills, invoices, payrolls and other evidence of claims, demands or charges paid from City funds.
- Submit reports to the City Council and the Mayor of any records deemed in violation of law or contrary to accepted accounting procedures.
- Prepare and submit to Council and the Mayor within sixty (60) days of the end of every fiscal year a complete financial statement of the affairs of the City with such comments as the Controller deems appropriate.
- Employ a Deputy and/or other personnel essential to the accomplishment of his duties.
- Delegate any duty and/or responsibility to the Deputy Controller that he shall deem necessary.
- Audit Authorities of the City as he deems appropriate and not contrary to law.
The City of Wilkes-Barre is served by two City Attorneys (Timothy Henry and Maureen Collins). They advise both the Mayor and City Council.
The Luzerne County government operates out of Wilkes-Barre. The city is the administrative center of Luzerne County. On January 2, 2012, a new form of government (council–manager government) was established. The government consists of a council, a manager, and many other officials. They impose taxes, provide services to the public, and administer laws and regulations. They govern over a population of nearly 320,000 people. Many government offices are situated within the county courthouse (located at 200 North River Street in Downtown Wilkes-Barre).
State and federal representation
- Eddie Day Pashinski (D) represents Wilkes-Barre in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
- John Yudichak (D) represents the city in the Pennsylvania State Senate.
- Matthew Cartwright (D) represents Wilkes-Barre on the federal level (in the U.S. House of Representatives).
- Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) represent the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate.
Five international airlines fly from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in nearby Pittston Township. Smaller, private planes may also use the Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport in Forty Fort.
|Allegiant Air||Orlando/Sanford, St. Petersburg/Clearwater|
|American Eagle||Charlotte, Philadelphia|
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta|
|United Express||Chicago-O'Hare, Newark|
Interstate 81 passes north–south near Wilkes-Barre, and the city is also located near the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It is also about 10 miles (16 km) north of Interstate 80. Pennsylvania Route 309 also passes near Wilkes-Barre.
Public transportation is provided by the Luzerne County Transportation Authority. In addition to servicing the city, it provides transportation for the northern half of the county. It also has a connecting bus to Scranton via an interchange at Pittston with the Transit System of Lackawanna County (COLTS), the public transit authority of Lackawanna County.
The city was at one time served by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (later Erie Lackawanna Railway), Delaware and Hudson Railway, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad, and the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad (known as the Laurel Line). The Wilkes-Barre Traction Company formed a streetcar line from Georgetown to Nanticoke and over the river into Plymouth (it ceased operations in the mid-1940s). Today, the Canadian Pacific Railway (successor to the Delaware and Hudson) and the Luzerne and Susquehanna Railroad (designated-operator of a county-owned shortline) provide freight service within the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (19 km2), of which 6.8 square miles (18 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), or 4.60%, is water. The city is bordered by the Susquehanna River to the west. Most of Downtown is located on a wide floodplain. Floodwalls were constructed to protect a large percentage of the city. The elevation of the downtown area is about 550 feet (170 m) above sea level. As you travel inland, away from the river, the elevation rises. Wilkes-Barre Mountain is a physical barrier southeast of the city.
Wilkes-Barre houses over one dozen neighborhoods:
- Central City: It is also referred to as "Downtown." This section of the city is located between the Susquehanna River and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, and between South and North Streets. It is the original foundation of Wilkes-Barre (the 16 blocks claimed by the Connecticut settlers who founded the city). The neighborhood is home to most of the city's high-rises and its one Public Square. Throughout the city's history, the area has remained a hub for all of Luzerne County. During the city's boom, this small area was home to the headquarters of more than 100 national corporations. Today, it still houses the NEPA Headquarters for Verizon, Citizen's Bank, Blue Cross, PNC Bank, Luzerne National Bank, Guard Insurance, and a number of other companies. Thousands of people live and/or work in Downtown Wilkes-Barre every day.
- North End: This is the area northeast of Downtown. It comprises a number of urban and suburban communities. North End is renowned for its interesting and beautiful architecture.
- Parsons: This neighborhood is also northeast of Downtown. This is a quiet part of the city (with a suburban atmosphere). It includes two city parks, a golf course, and a number of factories.
- Miners' Mills: This community was named after a prominent local family (who lived in the area). Miners' Mills is the last neighborhood on the northeastern border of the city.
- East End: This neighborhood is directly east of Downtown. East End, along with Heights and Mayflower, are fairly new areas compared to the rest of the city, having only been developed in the 20th Century. Old pictures of the Stegmaier Building indicate that everything east of Downtown was undeveloped until the 1900s.
- Heights: This section of the city is located southeast of Downtown. It is centered between East End and Mayflower.
- Mayflower: This area is located south of Downtown. It was once home to numerous beautiful mansions owned by various "bigwigs." Today it houses the OKT, Lincoln Plaza, and Park Avenue residential housing communities. From the high streets of Mayflower, the best view of Downtown can be seen.
- South Wilkes-Barre: This neighborhood is located directly southwest of Downtown. It was home to the national headquarters of Planter's Peanuts and the Bell Telephone Company (in the 20th Century). One of the tallest churches in Luzerne County, St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, dominates the south end skyline (standing at nearly 200 feet).
- Goose Island: This area is located in the southwestern section of the city between South Wilkes-Barre and Rolling Mill Hill.
- Rolling Mill Hill: This neighborhood is also located in the southwestern part of the city.
- Iron Triangle: This is another community southwest of Downtown.
- Other neighborhoods and sub-neighborhoods: There are other smaller neighborhoods and sub-neighborhoods in Wilkes-Barre City (e.g., Brookside, Upper Miners' Mills, Lower Miners' Mills, and Barney Farms).
- Wilkes-Barre Township (southeast)
- Plains Township (east and northeast)
- Kingston (north)
- Edwardsville (northwest)
- Larksville (west)
- Hanover Township (southwest)
- Bear Creek Township (southwest)
Wilkes-Barre has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa/Dfb) with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold with a January average of 25.8 °F (−3.4 °C). The surrounding mountains have an influence on the climate on both precipitation and temperatures, leading to wide variations within a short distance. On average, temperatures below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) are infrequent, occurring 3 days per year and there are 36 days where the maximum temperature remains below 32 °F (0.0 °C). The average annual snowfall is 46.2 inches (117 cm) during the winter in which severe snowstorms are rare. However, when snowstorms do occur, they can disrupt normal routines for several days. Summers are warm with a July average of 71.4 °F (21.9 °C). In an average summer, temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32.2 °C) occur on 9 days and can occasionally exceed 100 °F (37.8 °C). Spring and fall are unpredictable with temperatures ranging from cold to warm although they are usually mild. On average, Wilkes-Barre receives 38.2 inches (970 mm) of precipitation each year, which is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year though the summer months receive more precipitation. Extreme temperatures range from −21 °F (−29.4 °C) on January 21, 1994, to 103 °F (39.4 °C) on July 9, 1936. Wilkes-Barre averages 2303 hours of sunshine per year, ranging from a low of 96 hours in December (or 33% of possible sunshine) to 286 hours in July (or 62% of possible sunshine).
|Climate data for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Int'l Airport, Pennsylvania (1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1901–present[b])|
|Record high °F (°C)||69
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||55.4
|Average high °F (°C)||33.2
|Average low °F (°C)||18.5
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||−0.8
|Record low °F (°C)||−21
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.37
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||14.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||12.0||11.0||11.8||12.3||13.2||12.8||11.2||11.3||10.2||10.7||11.2||11.5||139.2|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||9.3||7.7||5.0||1.7||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||2.1||7.1||33.0|
|Average relative humidity (%)||70.1||67.5||63.3||60.4||64.6||70.5||71.1||73.8||75.2||71.6||71.8||72.5||69.4|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||130.3||143.7||185.7||210.5||246.9||269.7||285.7||257.2||200.2||173.3||104.3||95.9||2,303.4|
|Percent possible sunshine||44||48||50||53||55||60||62||60||54||50||35||33||52|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1964–1990, sun 1961–1990)|
|U.S. Decennial Census
The city's population has been in constant decline since the 1930s. As of the 2010 census, the city was 79.2% White, 10.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.4% Asian, and 2.9% were two or more races. Of the population, 11.3% were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry. The Hispanic population was just 1.58% of the population as of the 2000 census.
As of the 2000 census, there were 43,123 people, 17,961 households, and 9,878 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,296.3 people per square mile (2,430.6/km2). There were 20,294 housing units at an average density of 2,963.1 per square mile (1,143.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.30% White, 5.09% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.58% of the population.
The largest ethnic groups in Wilkes Barre as of recent estimates are:
- African-American 29.1%
- Mexican 21.0%
- Puerto Rican 16.4%
- Polish 23.4%
- Irish 21.3%
- German 17.9%
- English 17.1%
- Welsh 16.2%
- Slovak 13.8%
- Russian 13.4%
- Ukrainian 12.8%
- Greek 11.4%
- Lithuanian 9.1%
- Arab 1.0%
The average household size was 2.20, and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.9% under the age of 18, 12.6% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females (age 18 and over), there were 90.7 males.
Family Median Income in Wilkes-Barre is $44,430, compared to the national average of $64,585. Unemployment in June 2014 was 7%. 49% of jobs were in sales, office, administrative support, production, transportation, and material moving sectors. In 2009, 31.9% of residents lived below the poverty line, nearly double the Pennsylvania average of 16.4%. Large employers in the city include GUARD Insurance Group and Lord & Taylor.
Wilkes-Barre City is part of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. The city has four high schools:
- James M. Coughlin High School
- G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Memorial High School
- Holy Redeemer High School
- Elmer L. Meyers High School
The area in and around Wilkes-Barre consists of several colleges/universities:
- King's College
- Wilkes University
- Misericordia University
- Luzerne County Community College
- Penn State Wilkes-Barre
- The Commonwealth Medical College
Sports and recreation
|Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders||IL, Baseball||PNC Field||1989||New York Yankees||2|
|Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins||AHL, Ice hockey||Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza||1999||Pittsburgh Penguins||0|
Wilkes-Barre has a Downtown Riverfront Park system that contains 91 acres of open space.
Kirby Park is a public park located along the western bank of the Susquehanna River. Kirby Park is one of the region's most valued recreational resources. Given to the City of Wilkes-Barre by the Kirby Family, the park welcomes hundreds of thousands each year. The park is the setting for the City of Wilkes-Barre's annual Cherry Blossom Festival (held during the last weekend of April) and the city's 4th of July Celebration. Its amenities include tennis courts, a fitness trail, pond, walking paths, running track, softball fields, parking area, volleyball courts, pavilions and more.
Nesbitt Park is also located on the west side of the Susquehanna River. It is located across from Kirby Park. Nesbitt is open to the public. It has walking paths and areas for picnicking.
The River Common is located along the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River. The Market Street Bridge bisects the park. The River Common joins with the Luzerne County Courthouse grounds. Its features include a 750-person amphitheater, paved walk-ways, gardens, ornamental trees, seating areas, a fishing pier, and two grand gateways connecting the city to the river.
- F. M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
- Frederick Stegmaier Mansion
- Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre
- Luzerne County Museum
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Pennsylvania's first slots casino
- Wyoming Monument
- Luzerne County Historical Society
- Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus of Wilkes University
The Times Leader and The Citizens' Voice are the two largest daily newspapers in Wilkes-Barre. The Wyoming Valley's NBC affiliate, WBRE-TV 28, is the only television station licensed to Wilkes-Barre, but WNEP-TV 16 (ABC), WYOU 22 (CBS), WVIA-TV 44 (PBS), and WSWB 38 (CW), all in Scranton, WOLF-TV 56 (Fox) in Hazleton, and WQMY 53 (MyNetworkTV) in Williamsport also serve the city. Wilkes-Barre's radio market is ranked No. 69 by Arbitron's ranking system. There are news, adult alternative, and music radio stations which are receivable in the area.
In popular culture
- Wilkes-Barre's economic plight is featured in the movie Capitalism: A Love Story, directed by Michael Moore.
- The Wilkes-Barre variation (or Traxler variation, as it is more commonly known) of the Two Knights' Defense is named for the Wilkes-Barre chess club.
- In the TV series Supernatural episode 8.13 "Everyone Hates Hitler," the lead protagonists investigate a case in Wilkes-Barre.
- Hazel Barnes, philosopher
- Douglas Carter Beane, playwright
- Al Bedner, NFL player
- Joe Biden, 47th Vice President of the United States under Barack Obama and longtime U.S. Senator from Delaware (1973-2009)
- David Bohm, quantum physicist
- Benjamin Burnley, lead singer and guitarist for rock band Breaking Benjamin
- Lillian Cahn, co-founder of Coach, Inc. and Coach handbag designer
- George Catlin, artist
- Britton Chance, bio-physicist and Olympic sailor
- Mark Ciavarella, disgraced judge in kids for cash scandal
- Mark Cohen, street photographer
- Colleen Corby, 1960s fashion model
- Amasa Dana, former U.S. Congressman
- Charles B. Dougherty, Army National Guard major general who commanded the 28th Infantry Division
- Mark Duda, NFL player, Lackawanna College football head coach
- Francis A. "Mother" Dunn, football player for the Canton Bulldogs
- David Evans, Hollywood filmmaker most known for the movie The Sandlot
- Jesse Fell, early experimenter with anthracite coal
- Pat Finn, game show host whose shows include Lifetime's, The Family Channel's, and PAX's Shop 'til You Drop
- Ham Fisher, cartoonist
- Tess Gardella, actress
- William Harmatz, jockey, winner of 1959 Preakness Stakes
- George Washington Helme, businessman and founder of Helmetta, New Jersey
- Joe Hergert, former professional football player
- Raye Hollitt, bodybuilder, American Gladiators and actress, Skin Deep
- Qadry Ismail, former NFL wide receiver on the Baltimore Ravens
- Raghib Ismail, former NFL player and Heisman Trophy runner-up
- Florence Foster Jenkins, unconventional operatic soprano, subject of film starring Meryl Streep
- Candy Jones, fashion model, writer, radio personality
- Dorothy Andrews Elston Kabis, Treasurer of the United States
- James Karen, actor
- Michael Kirwan, represented Youngstown, Ohio in Congress, 1938–1970
- Franz Kline, abstract expressionist painter
- Mike Konnick, former MLB player
- Mary Jo Kopechne, passenger killed in car driven by Ted Kennedy at Chappaquidick
- Harley Jane Kozak, actress and author
- Matthew Lesko, infomercial personality
- Edward B. Lewis, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine
- Santo Loquasto, production designer
- Garrick Mallery, ethnologist
- Herman Mankiewicz, screenwriter of Citizen Kane
- Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Academy Award-winning director and producer
- Al Markim, actor (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet)
- Mary McDonnell, actress twice nominated for Academy Award
- Edward Peter McManaman, Roman Catholic bishop
- Edward Meneeley, painter
- Albert Mudrian, author and magazine editor
- Leo C. Mundy, Pennsylvania state senator and physician
- Jozef Murgas, radio pioneer
- Claudette Nevins, actress
- Amedeo Obici, founder of Planters Peanuts
- Jerry Orbach, Tony award-winning actor
- Phil Ostrowski, NFL player
- John Paluck, football player for Washington Redskins and Pro Bowl selection
- William Daniel Phillips, co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics
- Mendy Rudolph, NBA referee from 1953 to 1975
- Sam Savitt, equestrian artist, author
- Michael Schoeffling, actor, played Jake Ryan in film Sixteen Candles
- Don Schwall, MLB pitcher
- M. Gerald Schwartzbach, California criminal defense attorney
- Greg Skrepenak, former NFL player, convicted felon
- Jonathan Slavin, character actor
- Ron Solt, former NFL player
- Jacob Sullum, journalist and author, featured in Academy Award-nominated documentary Super Size Me
- Bob Sura, basketball player, Houston Rockets
- Louis Teicher, pianist; member of the duo Ferrante & Teicher
- Alexis Toth (St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre), saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church
- Ed Walsh, Hall of Fame pitcher; major league baseball's all-time ERA leader
- Michael Whalen, actor
- Ira W. Wood, represented New Jersey's 4th congressional district from 1904 to 1913
- Frank Zane, bodybuilder, three-time Mr. Olympia, won Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Mr. World; donated gym at Wilkes University
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