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Pittston, Pennsylvania

Pittston, Pennsylvania
Pittston City aerial view looking northeast.
Pittston City aerial view looking northeast.
Nickname(s): The Tomato Capital of the World
Pittston, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Pittston, Pennsylvania
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Luzerne
Settled 1770
Incorporated (borough) April 30, 1853
Incorporated (city) December 10, 1894
 • Type City Council
 • Mayor Jason C. Klush (D)
 • Total 1.7 sq mi (4 km2)
 • Land 1.6 sq mi (4 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 653 ft (199 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 7,739
 • Density 4,600/sq mi (1,800/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip codes 18640-18644
Area code(s) 570 & 272

Pittston is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is situated between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The city gained prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as an active anthracite coal mining city, drawing a large portion of its labor force from European immigrants. The population was 7,739 as of the 2010 census.[1] At its peak in 1920, the population of Pittston was 18,497. The city consists of three sections: The Downtown (in the center of the city), the Oregon Section (in the southern end), and the Junction (in the northern end).[2]


  • History 1
    • Establishment 1.1
    • Coal mining 1.2
    • Mining disasters 1.3
    • City's boom and bust 1.4
    • Contemporary era 1.5
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Government 4
    • Executive 4.1
    • Mayors of Pittston City 4.2
    • Pittston mayoral election, 2013 4.3
    • Legislative 4.4
  • Downtown renovation 5
  • Education 6
    • Public schools 6.1
  • Pittston Tomato Festival 7
  • Transportation 8
    • Highways 8.1
    • Air 8.2
    • Public transportation 8.3
    • Rail 8.4
  • Notable people 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11



Pittston as depicted on an 1892 panoramic map
Child laborers at Pittston coal mine, 1911. Photo by Lewis Hine.

Pittston lies in the Wyoming Valley on the east side of the Susquehanna River and on the south side of the Lackawanna River. It is approximately midway between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. Named after the famous British statesman William Pitt the Elder, the city was settled around 1770 by the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut. It was originally called "Pittstown."

During the Revolutionary War, Connecticut Continentals (Patriots), led by Captain Jeremiah Blanchard and Lieutenant Timothy Keyes, held and maintained a fort in Pittston. On July 4, 1778 (one day after the Battle of Wyoming), a group of British soldiers took over the fortress and some of it was destroyed. Two years later, the Continentals stormed the fortification and recaptured it. From then on it was under Patriot control until the end of the war in 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Today a marker stands at the site where the fort once stood.

Pittston broke away from Pittston Township and officially became a borough in 1853. It was later chartered as a city on December 10, 1894.

Coal mining

With the opening of a canal in the 1830s, Pittston became an important link in the coal industry. Money made through the mining and transportation of coal led some of the leading merchants to petition its separation from Pittston Township. The anthracite and railroad industry attracted thousands of immigrants, making Pittston a true melting pot with once-distinct ethnic and class neighborhoods.

Group of breaker boys, 1911. Photo by Lewis Hine.

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 in and around Pittston between 1908 and 1912. The impact of the Hine photographs led to the enactment of child labor laws across the country.[3]

Mining disasters

Map of the Knox Mine disaster showing inundated area and the shafts used for escape and dewatering
The Flat Iron Building in downtown Pittston during the early 20th century
Water Street in 1908

Coal mining remained the prominent industry in Pittston for many decades, but disasters did strike on more than one occasion. The first major tragedy occurred in the Newton Coal Company's Twin Shaft Mine near the city's railroad junction on June 28, 1896, when a massive cave-in killed 58 miners.[4]

Anthracite coal mining remained in Pittston until January 22, 1959, when the Knox Mine Disaster in nearby Port Griffith in Jenkins Township ended the industry completely. There, the ice-laden Susquehanna River broke through the roof of the River Slope Mine of the Knox Coal Company, allowing billions of gallons of river water to flood the interconnected mines. Seventy-four miners were trapped; sixty-two miners escaped; twelve miners died and their bodies were never recovered.

The heroic efforts of one miner, Amedeo Pancotti of Pittston, led thirty-two miners to safety. For his efforts, Amedeo Pancotti was awarded the Carnegie Medal for heroism from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

City's boom and bust

Laurel Line in Pittston

Pittston became an active railroad center in response to its mining and industrial activity. The Lehigh Valley Railroad maintained a beautiful station in downtown Pittston, near the foot of the Water Street Bridge. Sadly, the station did not survive the urban renewal of the 1960s; it was demolished in 1964. Pittston also had a station on the historic Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad, commonly known as the Laurel Line, an electric interurban streetcar line.

Besides mining anthracite coal, Pittston was home to many industries in the 19th and 20th centuries, including metals, plastics, paper products, apparel, electrical equipment and beverages. The Pittston Stove Company, established in 1864, manufactured coal and wood-burning stoves for heating and cooking. The Pittston Brewing Company, brewers of Glennon's Beer, maintained operations in Pittston from 1873 until 1948. Evan R. Jones Stoneware crafted pottery which bore the Pittston name in the 1870s and 1880s.

Main Street was the site of an active downtown into the 1970s, with many clothing stores, shoe stores, jewelers, JC Penneys, Kresge's, Woolworth's, drug stores, restaurants, theaters and banks.

Main Street was home to at least two theaters, the Roman at 27 South Main and the American at 48 North Main, both of which have been razed. Many historic commercial structures were demolished in the urban renewal efforts of the 1960s.

Contemporary era

Storefronts in the downtown

On March 15, 1993, two Pittston firefighters (John Lombardo and Len Insalaco) were killed while fighting a blaze on the city's main street. A monument was built in the downtown, and the nearby Water Street Bridge was renamed to commemorate their sacrifice during that tragic March day.

For decades, the towering spires of the many Protestant and Roman Catholic churches dominated the city's skyline. Most of the numerous Catholic churches were established to serve one of the many ethnic communities that made up Pittston. The Irish had St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary Help of Christians, the Slovaks had St. John the Baptist, the Lithuanians had St. Casimir's, the Germans had St. Mary's Assumption, and the Italians had St. Rocco's and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There is also a Byzantine Catholic Church on Main Street (St. Michael's). From 2004 to the present, the Diocese of Scranton has closed many of the churches and private schools in and around Pittston due to declining population and enrollment. Saint John the Baptist Elementary School closed in 2004, and Seton Catholic High School closed in 2007. St. Mary's Assumption School closed in 2011.

In recent years, the downtown area was renovated with new sidewalks, trees, and street lights. Older buildings are being demolished and newer structures (i.e., condominiums, restaurants, bars, and stores) are being built.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2), of which 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2), or 8.09%, is water. The city is drained by the Susquehanna River and Lackawanna River.

The area in and around Pittston is referred to as Greater Pittston and includes Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Exeter, Exeter Township, Hughestown, Jenkins Township, Laflin, Pittston, Pittston Township, West Pittston, West Wyoming, Wyoming, and Yatesville.


As of the census of 2010,[10] there were 7,739 people, 3,493 households, and 1,992 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,600 people per square mile (1,800/km2). There were 3,907 housing units at an average density of 2,442.4 per square mile (941.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95% White, 1.9% Black, 0.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.7% of the population.

There were 3,493 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.3% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.8% had a Male householder with no wife present, and 43% were non-families. 36% of all households were made up of individuals and 32% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.1% age 19 or under, 6.4% from 20-24, 26% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,918 [11] and the median income for a family was $54,000. The per capita income for the city was $24,304. About 17.8% of individuals are below the poverty line, including 22.2% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.[12]



The city is headed by an elected mayor. The current mayor of Pittston is Jason C. Klush.

Mayors of Pittston City [13]

Mayor's Name
Thomas J. Maloney 1894-1898 First mayor of Pittston City
Charles Calvin Bowman 1896* 16 term councilman; Served as acting mayor while Maloney was in Ireland and acting mayor, Michael J. Langan was killed in the Twin Shaft Disaster
Benjamin Harding 1898-1899 Died while in office; Thomas J. Corcoran (councilman of the 7th Ward) was appointed to complete his term
Thomas J. Corcoran 1899-1904
James Langan 1904-1907
William H. Gillespie 1907-1910
M.E. Golden 1910-1913
Michael N. Donnelly 1914-1918
James J. Kennedy 1918-1922
P.R. Brown 1922-1926
William H. Gillespie 1926-1930
Ambrose Langan 1930–1938
Kenneth J. English 1938–1942
John J. Reilly 1942-1950
John J. Allardyce 1950-1954
Joseph F. Saporito 1954–1956
Patrick J. O'Brien 1956-1960
Robert A. Loftus 1961–1980 One of the longest serving mayors in Pittston's history
Thomas Walsh 1980–1998 Served 10 years on City Council; Tomato Festival began during his first term
Michael A. Lombardo 1998–2006 Pittston's second youngest mayor
Joseph P. Keating 2006–2009 Resigned after unsuccessful race for renomination in 2009 [14]
Donna McFadden-Connors 2009–2010 Served the remainder of Keating's term as Pittston's first female mayor
Jason C. Klush 2010–present Pittston's youngest mayor [15]

From 1853-1894, the Borough of Pittston was served by Burgesses serving one year terms.

Burgess' Name
John Hosie 1853
E.B. Evans 1854
William Ferguson 1855
Charles R. Gorman 1856-1857
J.B. Fisher 1858
Abram Price 1859
M. Reap 1861-1865
James Brown 1866
P. Sheridan 1867
John B. Smith 1868
James Walsh 1869
Andrew Law 1870
J.P. Schooley 1871
James L. McMillan 1872
James McKane 1873
Michael Reap 1874-1876
Joseph Cool 1877
Patrick Henery 1878
James O'Donnell 1879-1881
L.B. Ensign 1882
James Walsh 1883-1884
William Abbott 1885-1886
John H. Mullin 1887-1888
Edward Barrett 1889
Louis Seibel 1890
Edward J. Burke 1891-1892
Thomas Maloney 1893-1894

Pittston mayoral election, 2013

Incumbent Mayor Jason Klush defeated Eugene M. Rooney Jr. in the May 2013 Democratic primary. Klush went on to win the November general election handily.[16][17] The next mayoral election is scheduled for 2017.

Pittston City mayoral primary election, 2013
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jason C. Klush (Incumbent) 887 72
Democratic Eugene M. Rooney Jr. 323 27


A third class city government consists of a mayor and four council members with equal voting power. The four council members are:

  • Councilman Danny Argo
  • Councilman Joseph Chernouskas
  • Councilman Michael Lombardo
  • Councilman Joseph McLean

The other city officers are:

Downtown renovation

In October 2005, it was revealed that Daniel Siniawa and Associates of Dickson City, Pennsylvania, designed a condo complex for Pittston City. The location of this complex is at Kennedy Blvd. (between the Water Street Bridge and East Street). Riverfront Park is located to the west of the development. Each tower, 5 stories in height, will have 45 units. Space is currently being made by destroying CareerLink and other buildings. The Del-Mar Dress Factory and B&G Beverage are also in the process of being purchased and demolished. For more information, visit:

In 2008, the city invested in renovating the downtown area sidewalks with a brick theme. Colorful brick pavers line the sidewalks along the curbside and at street crossings. Black street lights and sign posts were also placed to enhance the appearance of the downtown.

In December 2009, several buildings along William Street were demolished. These included St. John the Baptist Church and School, St. John the Baptist Catholic Information Library, St. John the Baptist Rectory, the Msgr. Joseph A. Super Athletic Center, and Dave's Billiards. The only building remaining is part of the school where DeMuro's Pizzeria is located. A memorial green space is located on the site of the church, where it had served the Slovak community for over 107 years.


Public schools

Pittston city is located within the Pittston Area School District, which covers Pittston Township, Dupont, Duryea, Hughestown, Yatesville, Avoca, and Jenkins Township.

The Pittston Area School District consists of five schools:

  • Ben Franklin Kindergarten Center - Dupont (Grades: K)
  • Pittston Area Primary Center - Hughestown (Grades: 1-2)
  • Pittston Area Intermediate Center - Pittston (Grades: 3-5)
  • Martin L. Mattei Middle School - Pittston (Grades: 6-8)
  • Pittston Area Senior High School - Yatesville (Grades: 9-12)

Private schools There were several Catholic schools in the Greater Pittston area; many have been closed by the Diocese of Scranton due to lack of funding and low enrollment.

Grade schools

Pittston Tomato Festival

The City of Pittston promotes itself as "The Quality Tomato Capital of the World." The Pittston Tomato Festival, in its twenty-eighth year in 2011, is held annually on South Main Street in downtown Pittston to celebrate the city's tradition and heritage in cultivating the tomato.

The event consists of many food vendors from the Greater Pittston area, a beauty pageant, a tomato tasting contest, a best looking and ugliest tomato contest, a 5 km run through the city, tomato fights, live entertainment, and a parade. In May 2011, Parade Magazine cited the Pittston Tomato Festival and its tomato fights.



Interstate 81 and US Route 11 pass near Pittston, heading north to Binghamton and south to Harrisburg. Pittston is also located near the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 476, providing a link to Allentown and Philadelphia.


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is located in Pittston Township. The airport is served by eight international airlines and has hosted Air Force One on regional presidential visits several times in the past. In the spring of 2002, the airport began offering an increased number of non-stop flights across the nation. Service is provided by Allegiant, Delta, United Airlines, and US Airways.

Public transportation

Pittston is served by the Luzerne County Transportation Authority and COLTS, which provides bus services to the city and other communities within Luzerne County and Lackawanna County. Martz Trailways also provides commuter, tour, and trip service from Pittston, and nearby locations in downtown Scranton and Wilkes-Barre to points east and south, such as Philadelphia, New York City, and Atlantic City.


At present, the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad, Canadian Pacific Railway (successor to the Delaware and Hudson) and the Luzerne & Susquehanna Railroad (designated-operator of the county-owned shortline) provide freight service within the city and Pittston Township. A proposed nearby commuter train from Scranton to New York City has received government funding.

Notable people


  1. ^ city, Pennsylvania/POPULATION/DECENNIAL_CNT
  2. ^>
  3. ^ Troncale, Anthony T. "About Lewis Wickes Hine". New York Public Library. Archived from the original on 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  4. ^ Twin Shaft Disaster Marker. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Pennsylvania" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Pennsylvania: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  9. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Pittston welcomes its youngest mayor - News - Citizens' Voice. (2010-01-05). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Election roundup - The Sunday Dispatch. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  18. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed. (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing.  

External links

  • City of Pittston, Pennsylvania
  • Pittston Memorial Library
  • Pittston, Pennsylvania at DMOZ
  • Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce
  •  "Pittston, Pa.". The New Student's Reference Work. 1914. 
  •  "Pittston".  
  •  "Pittston".  
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