You are here

Pottsville

-A A +A

Eli Bowen, in his Pictorial Sketchbook of Pennsylvania  (1852), described Pottsville as “the great theatre of the anthracite coal trade,” with a population of 8,000 in a booming industrial town dominated by the “loud puff of the collier steam-engines, and the shrill whistle of the locomotive resounding through the narrow valleys and passes of the mountains.” He continued, “Pottsville, like all the other towns in the coal region, is of recent origin. Previous to 1824 there was scarcely a dwelling on the spot where the town now stands.… The town took a run-and-jump into existence.” At its height Pottsville called itself a “little Philadelphia” for its mix of industry, government, and commerce. By the early twentieth century, it had reached a population of 25,000 and like Philadelphia, by the end of the century its population had fallen by more than a third. Today it is a distant relic of the booming coal town fictionalized as “Gibbsville” by native son John O’Hara in Appointment in Samarra (1935), but his assessment of its history still rings true: “Anyone in Gibbsville who had any important money made it in coal; anthracite.”

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,