Faculty Advisor(s)

Jennifer Black



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Located in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County, Scranton acts as a representation of nineteenth century industrial America. Originally farmland, the area was first inhabited by the Munsee tribe, who were later driven out by conflict between settlers (first arriving in the 1600s), Native Americans, and the English. Eventually, the land would come into ownership by the Scranton brothers, who were able to capitalize on the land’s anthracite and iron deposits to create the city’s first substantial industry. Not only did the Scrantons lay the groundwork for the rail, iron, and coal industries, but also create labor opportunities for European immigrants who would settle into ethnic neighborhoods, increasing the population and allowing the city to grow. Although this period of prosperity came to an end with the Great Depression and WWII, the city has since capitalized on tourism and its historic downtown district.

This project uses GIS mapping systems to reflect the development of downtown Scranton from 1840-2020, chronicling changing populations, demographic distribution within that population, industrial development, and the spatial distribution of these changes. This data demonstrates that, within a short period of time, the city and its neighborhoods grew quickly in response to industrial, economic, and population changes. A subset within this study explores the growing presence of African Americans in Scranton along with their entrepreneurship.

Publication Date


Document Type



History, Government, Law & National Security


Scranton, immigration, urbanization, coal, neighborhood


Arts and Humanities | History | Labor History | Public History | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

Mapping Historic Scranton