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LJinPA

Northeast PA photo and discussion thread:

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Since I'm one of the few on here representing Northeast PA I thought I'd put these pics on here. I took these a few years ago but I just discovered "Photobucket.com" last night. I live in Wilkes-Barre and was born and raised there (I work in DT Scranton).

As I have mentioned rather frankly in a few other threads this area has it's issues (population decline, poor economy/ job growth, old guard/ old families, well below average wages and educational attainment, brain-drain, fear of change or uncertainty, extremely clannish social climate...) I like to bring attention to our redeeming qualities (clean, well preserved New England-like architecture, sense of history, nation's lowest violent crime rate for a metro with over a half million, cheap housing and rent, ethnic food and festivals especially Italian and Eastern European, the nations 5th largest St. Patrick's Day parade, several small but decent universities...) We also are supposed to be getting a casino so this way the locals won't have to go all the way "downda' LANNIC CITY" on the church bus to gamble.

At one time we were among the wealthiest metros of our size (when anthracite coal was king). Around the 1930's and 40's we peaked at over a million people. Having been origionally settled and laid out by New Englanders of Puritan stock, we have a lot of nice architecture, urban planning, and cute towns reminiscent of southern New England. After decades of decline we now have about 550,000 in a 3 county metro. The metro includes Hazleton although Hazleton's cultural and economic ties were traditionally more with the southern coal region.

The cities may be more of interests to history buffs than skyscraper enthusiasts, however we do have skylines and.......everybody's favorite word... "density". :w00t: The tallest buildings in both cities are 155'-177' or 14-16 stories, but their valley setting makes them look larger. Even in the more working class areas the houses are well-preserved (though sometimes rather austere at street level). There was an old coal region expression "We may be poor but we're clean."

The eastern Poconos are a different story. 45 mins Southeast of here they are growing fast with New Yorkers.

Here's DT Wilkes-Barre, at least part of it, its much longer but hard to find a place to photograph it w/o suspicious looks:

DTWB1999.jpg

And here's DT Scranton, It's also longer but hard to get a good angle:

Scranton1.jpg

ScrTimes.jpg

ScrDowntown.jpg

Here's Bear Creek, just to the SE of W-B:

BearCreek311.jpg

Finally here are some random shots around Wilkes-Barre near my house. I'll take some more pics when I get a chance.

Boulders514.jpg

ConynghamValley1011.jpg

BaldMtn3903.jpg

Bald Mountain near W-B

Hilldale307.jpg

sunset307.jpg

I'm curious to know who has been through this area and the honest impressions they got good or bad. I have met people in places like Allentown and Harrisburg that barely know we exist. ;) SSP has more news articles on this area posted in their Northeast section. I thought this could be a good thread to post any info or pics of the region.

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Some more fun facts:

In the 2000 census we were:

*The metro with the highest % of Polish (23% as opposed to Chicago's 10%), Lithuanian, Ukranian, and Eastern European ancestry in general (35-40%) by a very huge margin.

*Second highest % of Russian ancestry next to Bismarck, ND.

*3rd or 4th highest % of Slovak ancestry.

*In the top 5 or top 10 for highest % Irish(23% compared to Boston's 24%), Italian, Syrian, or Lebanese ancestry.

*Highest % of Welsh ancestry. The Yankee settlers recruited them for their mining experience. Many shared a strong Calvinistic background with the Yankee establishment and had a strong influence on the early local education system.

*The most Catholic Metro in the state, roughly 2/3

*In the top 3 of metros where people were living here 5 yrs ago. (People here stay put as they do in Pittsburgh and Johnstown.)

For my fellow statistics geeks:

Population 2004 551,531 (In 1990 we had 575,322)

About 97% White

1.4% Black

1.2% Hispanic

0.6% Asian

0.1% Native American

Top Ancestries for Scranton/W-B:

Polish 22.7%

Irish 22.5%

Italian 19.3%

German 14.3%

English 6.5%

Welsh 6.2%

Slovak 5.0%

Other Ancestries 4.6%

Russian 3.9%

Lithuanian 3.3%

Median Age: 40.7

National Average 35.3

Per Capita Income 1999: $18,014

National Average $21,587

Median Household Income 1999: $32,137

National Average $41,994

Educational Attainment MSA:

adults 25+

HS Diploma 81.5

Nation 80.4

College Graduate: 17.4

Nation 24.4%

Now to be fair due to our large elderly population and blue collar roots this is the educational attainment for 25-34 year olds:

HS Graduate: Scranton/W-B 91.2%, National Average 83.9%

Bachelors Degree or Higher: Scranton/W-B 23.7%, National Average 27.5%

I would imagine the MSA average would be higher than the national average but I don't have that info. Thing to point out is that young people here are much more likely to finish High School than the Nation as a whole but far less likely to finish college. This is a blue collar leaning area atill and we have many good 2 yr colleges and trade schools, but we could use more affordable 4 yr college opportunities.

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OK a few more pics though I barely had time to blow my nose today. I just took a few randon everyday shots in the hill section of Scranton. Notice I had to put a black dot on the one guys face just to be courteous since he shouted across the street thinking I was taking his pic...lol

HillSection1.jpg

Just an ordinary hill section road. (Madison Ave.)

EverydayScr.jpg

Looking toward "da U" (University of Scranton) with Southside Scranton in the background.

CovChurch1.jpg

Covenant Church, I love this building.

CovChurch2.jpg

One more of the Church at dusk.

LastFallSunset05.jpg

Last sunset of Fall 2005

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More Pics:

I took these around 1999 or 2000...

WBLaurelRun.jpg

W-B from Laurel Run Mtn. If you look close you can see how long the skyline is.

WBNorthamptonSt.jpg

Downtown W-B from Northampton St.

WBCoalSt.jpg

Downtown W-B from Coal St./(The Heights)

WBBridge.jpg

DT W-B from across the Market St. Bridge

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Very nice pics and NE PA looks to be a very pleasant place to visit and perhaps live in.

If it has not been taken over by NYC and Philadelphia yet, it will eventually because the Poconos is flooded with transplants near the Delaware Water Gap.

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Thanks. Here are a few more I took today. The weather wasn't the clearest or the brightest, but thats all the more reason these might show more ordinary, everyday-life scenes:

Here's the VA Hospital, I believe it's the tallest building in the area outside of downtown Wilkes-Barre:

VAHospital1.jpg

Looking toward the Miners Mills section of Wilkes-Barreis one of the areas many Russian Orthodox churches:

RussianChurch1.jpg

Next is Bald Mountain again. Something has changed since the time I took the pic at the beginning of this thread. They are in the process of building what is supposed to be PA's largest wind-farm in that area. It was too misty for these to come good on camera so I put it in photoshop and tried to sharpen it so that the windmills are more visable. More info on the windfarms could be found on SSP:

WindFarm1.jpg

Last for today a scene of an ordinary very typical working class neighborhood of greater Wilkes-Barre:

Hudson1.jpg

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Here's more I shot yesterday Afternoon and Evening:

The Square:

WB1123.jpg

Wilkes-Barre Center and Provincial Towers- with a nice full moon in the background :) :

WB1122.jpg

Another view but with Northeast PA's tallest building (16 stories and 170-180 feet?) to the left of the other 2:

WB1121.jpg

New Construction on South Washington St.:

WBNewBldg1.jpg

And Here's the new Movie Theater Project at the once blighted South Main and Northampton:

TheaterProject1.jpg

And here's the project from the S. Washington St. side:

TheaterProject2.jpg

I thought I'd throw "the projects" in for some grit:

OKT112.jpg

City Hall in the foreground on the left, The Old Stegmaier Brewery in the background (now goverment offices):

CityHall.jpg

St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church in North End. In the same few blocks is also 2 Polish Churches, another Orthodox Church, a Slovak-Rite Catholic Church, A Slovak-Lutheran Church... North End was mainly known for it's Slovak, Russian, and Ruthenian population:

StMarys.jpg

And here's the Slovak Church, in back of the Slovak Bar:

SlovakChurch112.jpg

A rather blurry density shot of the Heights section:

WBHouses3.jpg

Some better shots of the Pocone Wind-Farm, or part of it:

WindFarm3.jpg

WindFarm2.jpg

View from E. Northampton at night:

WBNight2.jpg

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LJin great pictures, I always thought that those valleys of NE Pennsylvania were beautiful.

Great shots! How are things going up there any redevelopment lately?

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I just wanted to also introduce myself as a fellow lifelong resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania and compliment you on your obvious photographic talent! ;o) I was born and raised in Pittston, which is one of the primary bedroom communities shared by both Scranton to the north and Wilkes-Barre to the south. I'm 19 and currently attend King's College here in Wilkes-Barre, PA, majoring in Accounting. I have an intense interest in our area's impending renaissance, and I've become well-known on MySpace for my "anti-sprawl" personality. In case you haven't noticed, the "nostalgic" Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area is quickly shifting in its character to the point where we're the next to be hacked up by the NY/NJ transplants seeking a "better life for their families" in exchange for a 90 minute commute into Manhattan. Pittston Township, where our family currently resides, is becoming more and more littered with strip malls, massive housing developments, and big-box stores with each passing year, and it has done nothing to improve the region other than to increase traffic congestion and further the decline of Downtown Pittston, which used to be a charming riverside mecca. While our cities have continued their abysmal decline into poverty and blight, the surrounding townships continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

As someone who has been studying the effects of BoWash on the Poconos for several years now, I can tell you that the outer periphery of the "NYC commuter crowd" is now on the doorstep of Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, which are home to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre respectively. Southern Lackawanna County, home to the Moscow/North Pocono area, is currently taking a pro-active stance towards BoWash by planning the construction of a new, larger high school and reorganizing other district facilities. Half-million dollar homes are already springing up in new housing developments all over the Moscow area, which to me indicates that BoWash has indeed now crossed over the county line between Tobyhanna and North Pocono, edging ominously closer to Scranton, which is just fifteen minutes away. Just to the south, this growth will soon be entering Luzerne County as well in the Bear Creek/White Haven area, just fifteen minutes from Wilkes-Barre. We've already seen "LaurelBrook Estates" spring up along Highway 115, and I've done research with the recorder of deeds which has shown that approximately HALF of the lots sold so far have been to residents of NY/NJ who plan to commute into North Jersey or Manhattan for work via I-380 South to I-80 East.

Unfortunately, very few locals are intelligent or intellectual enough to see the need for "comprehensive community planning" or "zoning regulations" NOW in order to prepare for when BoWash does spread into Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with full force by 2015. Whenever I bring up the issue to local elected officials, I'm basically laughed at. Just to let you know, officials in Monroe and Pike Counties in the Poconos likewise had the "it can't happen here" attitude towards BoWash, but now Pike County is officially part of the NYC MSA, and Monroe County will be added by the next census. In due time, Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties will also become part of the NYC MSA, and we need to plan NOW for what will happen to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre once the New Yorkers/New Jersians realize that our McMansions cost HALF as much as McMansions in North Jersey and are about a third less than the homes in the Poconos. Most would be willing to commute an extra 25-30 minutes to save a few hundred thousand dollars on a home, and our communities are in desperate trouble---BoWash is on its way, and nobody cares but me apparently!

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Very nice pics and NE PA looks to be a very pleasant place to visit and perhaps live in.

If it has not been taken over by NYC and Philadelphia yet, it will eventually because the Poconos is flooded with transplants near the Delaware Water Gap.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre itself has not yet been infiltrated by the NY/NJ crowd, but sprawl is right on our doorstep. I work at a local Lowe's store, and I get at least two customers each day who are "new to the area", having just relocated to the region from NY/NJ. While it would be nice if our friends from the Garden and Empire States would have some respect for our rural countryside and instead rehab a nice, inexpensive Victorian home in one of either Scranton or Wilkes-Barre's many liveable neighborhoods, most are flocking to new housing developments just 20 miles or so now from both cities. As a minority, I'm embracing this influx of urban dwellers as I hope it will increase diversity and help to break down racial and homophobic tensions currently plaguing the valley; However, I also appreciated growing up in a city surrounded by beautiful mountains, affording fishing, hiking, camping, etc. just ten minutes from town. With the hundreds of homes in all price ranges currently available in the urban core of the valley floor, I truly don't see why all of the new residents are flocking to McMansions in Bear Creek, North Pocono, the Back Mountain, etc., which all used to be noted for their breathtaking scenery. I suppose BoWash and its accompanying spread of urban sprawl is just unavoidable though. To be honest, most local residents are just indifferent to the continual loss of open space we are experiencing. While Downtown Wilkes-Barre continues to decay, Wilkes-Barre Township, just a mile away and situated along I-81, has seen DOZENS of national retailers spring up in recent years, bringing 8-lane superhighways and traffic congestion along with it. The mentality around here seems to be "mega means better", so perhaps Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will be a welcomed addition to the BoWash "Mega"lopolis?

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^I think Scranton-Wilkes Barre is too far away from teh coastline to be considered part of the Boswash Megalopolous. You still have many areas of northwest Jersey that is rural between Lake Hopatcong, NJ and the Delaware Water Gap. In order to have a megalopolous, it has to be continious development connecting cities in between. Scranton-Wilkes Barre is on the way to being like the Albany metro area.

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^I think Scranton-Wilkes Barre is too far away from teh coastline to be considered part of the Boswash Megalopolous. You still have many areas of northwest Jersey that is rural between Lake Hopatcong, NJ and the Delaware Water Gap. In order to have a megalopolous, it has to be continious development connecting cities in between. Scranton-Wilkes Barre is on the way to being like the Albany metro area.

I can only hope that Albany/Schenectady/Troy is our future! I've never been to that area, but I've heard that it seems to be very vibrant and well-cultured. What I'm seeing now in the way of declining downtowns and deforested hillsides in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre isn't too promising, especially since you can access county property transfers online and see just how many of these new developments are being gobbled up by out-of-state residents. I'm in no way AGAINST people from NY/NJ who think NEPA offers a better quality of life for their families (which it does). I just wish more of them would be considerate enough to NOT plow down an acre of trees for a custom new home when HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS, of already-existing ones are available for resale already. I've already heard some brand new residents to Monroe County claim that it's "not as rural as they had hoped it would be" when I asked them about their new relocation at work. Well, who's to blame for this? As an advocate of infilling "in-town" neighborhoods before heading out to the hills, I don't have much sympathy for new residents who bash our area for not being what they had hoped it would be just because they didn't take enough time to research an area before they packed their bags.

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^I think Scranton-Wilkes Barre is too far away from teh coastline to be considered part of the Boswash Megalopolous. You still have many areas of northwest Jersey that is rural between Lake Hopatcong, NJ and the Delaware Water Gap. In order to have a megalopolous, it has to be continious development connecting cities in between. Scranton-Wilkes Barre is on the way to being like the Albany metro area.

Also, I agree about NW Jersey still having a "rural" feel to it. The area between Lake Hopatcong and the Delaware River is still heavily-forested and scenic. To be honest, I've been to NJ many times and have indeed seen some very liveable, scenic areas. However, the cost of living difference between, let's say Lake Hopatcong, NJ and Mount Pocono, PA is incredible. For just an extra 45-minutes tacked onto that commute, you can get a lot more "bang for your buck" as far as real estate is concerned. As a Jersey resident, I hope you don't find me to be at all "standoff-ish" towards you, since this isn't the case. I've just watched in disbelief as the NYC area has swallowed up the Eastern Poconos with a vengeance, and I don't want the same to happen to the Scranton area, which is still a great place to raise a family (regardless of those nasty stereotypes you may hear about us being "a bunch of hicks.") I grew up being able to have my father drive me just a few miles outside of town to go fishing, hiking, see deer, etc. in the wilderness, and I still cherish those memories fondly. I want my own children to have that same opportunity without having to pay a homeowner's association fee to fish on a local lake or ask McMansion residents for permission to access the woods behind their homes.

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LJ, kudos on more beautiful NE PA pics.

To anyone who might know, what happened to the proposal years ago to build the Kirby Towers in downtown Wilkes-Barre? It was supposed to be a 19 story apartment tower that Al Boscov was somehow involved in building.

If built, that would have been the tallest building in NE PA.

Never found out why the idea died on the drawing board.

---Bruce

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^^Pa great info, that is fascinating about the Kirby towers. If anyone has any info on that let us know.

Any other updates from NE? Lin, let us know how things are going up there, great gallery you have there.

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Sorry for coming on so late. I never thought of looking on the PA forum before.

My dad was born in Wilkes Barre in 1921, and my grandpa was born in Scranton in 1879. I was born in Ceveland in the 50s, and my daughter in California in 1988. My family has trended westward since landing in New York in the 1850s.

I grew up in Michigan, but once a year we went back to Scranton to visit my great uncle, who lived on N. Webster. My roots are deep in that valley, and I am interested in hearing all about it.

My dad grew up in Forty Fort, which was a bastion of WASPs at that time. My grandpa had some kind of interest in the Stegmaier Brewery,

during Prohibition, I wish my dad were alive to ask him about it.

I always thought Wikes Barre looked like a much larger city than it was.

It's time for that area to shine again!

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Sorry for coming on so late. I never thought of looking on the PA forum before.

My dad was born in Wilkes Barre in 1921, and my grandpa was born in Scranton in 1879. I was born in Ceveland in the 50s, and my daughter in California in 1988. My family has trended westward since landing in New York in the 1850s.

I grew up in Michigan, but once a year we went back to Scranton to visit my great uncle, who lived on N. Webster. My roots are deep in that valley, and I am interested in hearing all about it.

My dad grew up in Forty Fort, which was a bastion of WASPs at that time. My grandpa had some kind of interest in the Stegmaier Brewery,

during Prohibition, I wish my dad were alive to ask him about it.

I always thought Wikes Barre looked like a much larger city than it was.

It's time for that area to shine again!

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I can't see how Scranton would be considered part of the NY MSA when even Fairfield County in CT isn't.

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I can't see how Scranton would be considered part of the NY MSA when even Fairfield County in CT isn't.

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