Delaware County, colloquially referred to as Delco, is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that borders Philadelphia. With a population of 566,747, it is the fifth most populous county in Pennsylvania, and the third smallest in area. The county was created on September 26, 1789, from part of Chester County, and named for the Delaware River.
|County of Delaware, Pennsylvania|
|Founded||September 26, 1789|
|Named for||Delaware River|
|• Total||191 sq mi (490 km2)|
|• Land||184 sq mi (480 km2)|
|• Water||6.8 sq mi (18 km2) 3.5%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||3,065/sq mi (1,183/km2)|
|Designated||October 3, 1982|
Delaware County is adjacent to the city-county of Philadelphia and is included in the Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington, PA–NJ–DE–MD Metropolitan Statistical Area. Delaware County is the only county covered in its entirety by area codes 610 and 484.
Delaware County lies in the river and bay drainage area named "Delaware" in honor of Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, Governor of the nearby English colony of Virginia. The land was explored by Henry Hudson in 1609, and over the next several decades it was variously claimed and settled by the Swedes, the Dutch, and the English. Its original human inhabitants were the Lenni-Lenape tribe of American Indians.
Once the Dutch were defeated and the extent of New York was determined, King Charles II of England made his grant to William Penn in order to found the colony which came to be named Pennsylvania. Penn divided his colony into three counties: Bucks, Philadelphia, and Chester. The riverfront land south of Philadelphia, being the most accessible, was quickly granted and settled. In 1789, the southeastern portion of Chester County was divided from the rest and named Delaware County for the Delaware River.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 191 square miles (490 km2), of which 184 square miles (480 km2) is land and 6.8 square miles (18 km2) (3.5%) is water. It is the third-smallest county in Pennsylvania by area.
Delaware County is roughly diamond- or kite-shaped, with the four sides formed by the Chester County boundary to the northwest, the boundary with the state of Delaware (a portion of the "Twelve Mile Circle") to the southwest, the Delaware River (forming the border with the state of New Jersey) to the southeast, and the city of Philadelphia and Montgomery County to the east and northeast.
The lowest point in the state of Pennsylvania is located on the Delaware River in Marcus Hook in Delaware County, where it flows out of Pennsylvania and into Delaware. The highest point in Delaware County is 500 feet at two points southeast of Wyola in Newtown Township .
Waterways in Delaware County generally flow in a southward direction and ultimately drain into the Delaware River. The waterways are, from west to east: the Brandywine River (forming a portion of the county's western boundary with Chester County), Naaman's Creek, Stoney Creek, Chester Creek, Ridley Creek, Crum Creek, Muckinipates Creek, Darby Creek and Cobbs Creek (forming a portion of the county's eastern boundary with Philadelphia). Crum Creek was dammed in 1931 near Pennsylvania Route 252 to fill Springton Lake (also known as Geist Reservoir), an approximately 391-acre (1.58 km2) drinking water reservoir maintained by Aqua America, the county's largest lake.
- Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (north)
- Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (northeast)
- Gloucester County, New Jersey (southeast)
- New Castle County, Delaware (southwest)
- Chester County, Pennsylvania (west)
Delaware County is one of four counties in the United States to border a state with which it shares the same name (the other three are Nevada County, California, Texas County, Oklahoma, and Ohio County, West Virginia).
National protected areasEdit
State protected areaEdit
2,600 acres (11 km2) of the county are occupied by the Ridley Creek State Park.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 census, the county was 71.1% White non-Hispanic, 19.7% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaskan Native, 4.7% Asian, <0.1% Native Hawaiian, 2.0% were two or more races, and 0.9% were some other race. 3.0% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.
As of the 2000 census, there were 550,864 people, 206,320 households, and 139,472 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,990 people per square mile (1,155/km2). There were 216,978 housing units at an average density of 1,178 per square mile (455/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 80.3% White, 14.5% African American, 0.1% Native American, 3.3% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. 1.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.6% were of Irish, 17.5% Italian, 10.1% German and 6.7% English ancestry.
There were 206,320 households, out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.8% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.8% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $50,092, and the median income for a family was $61,590. Males had a median income of $44,155 versus $31,831 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,040. About 5.8% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|7||Ardmore (partially in Montgomery County)||CDP||12,455|
|16||Village Green-Green Ridge||CDP||7,822|
|39||Haverford College (partially in Montgomery County)||CDP||1,331|
|41||Cheyney University (mostly in Chester County)||CDP||988|
Politics and governmentEdit
The county has operated under a home-rule charter with five at-large council-members since 1972.
In November 2019, there was a historically significant election held that resulted in the Democratic Party taking total control of the county council for the first time since the Civil War. Another notable election result was that of Nusrat Rashid, who now enjoys the accolades of being the first African-American female Common Pleas judge in the county, as well as being the first Muslim to be elected into any judicial position in the entire Commonwealth. Also of note was the election of Jack Stollsteimer to the position of District Attorney, representing the first time a Democrat has ever had this position in the county. This major change has been colloquially referred to as "The Blue Wave."
As of November 1, 2021, there are 407,694 registered voters in Delaware County.
- Democratic: 201,939 (49.53%)
- Republican: 151,044 (37.05%)
- Independent: 35,198 (8.63%)
- Third Party: 19,513 (4.79%)
Until recent years, Delaware County was regarded as a strongly Republican county. The Delaware County Republican political machine was controlled by William McClure and his son John J. McClure from 1875 to 1965. Delaware County voted for the Republican candidate in nearly every election from 1854 through 1988, one of the few exceptions being Lyndon Johnson's national landslide of 1964. As a measure of how Republican the county was, Franklin Roosevelt was completely shut out in all four of his successful campaigns for president. Even in his 46-state landslide victory of 1936, Roosevelt only got 45 percent of Delaware County's vote.
In 1992, however, the county swung from a 21-point win for George H. W. Bush to a narrow one-point win for Bill Clinton, who became only the second Democrat to win the county in the 20th century. Clinton won it just under 10 points in 1996, coming up just short of a majority. It has gone Democratic in every Presidential election since then by 10 points or more by progressively-increasing margins. In the 2004 election Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry won the county by 14 points. Barack Obama won it by resounding 21-point margins in each of his bids for president. Hillary Clinton carried it by 22 points in 2016. Clinton turned in her second-best performance in the state, behind only Philadelphia, thus cementing Delaware County's status as one of the most Democratic suburban counties in the nation. Underlining this, Joe Biden carried it in 2020 with 62 percent of the vote, his second-strongest performance in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump turned in the worst showing for a Republican in the county in over 160 years.
While the longstanding Republican registration edge has been erased, Republicans still remain competitive with Democrats at the state and local level. Most Republicans from the county tend to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate, as is the case with Republicans from most suburban Philadelphia counties. In the 2004 US Senate election, Republican Arlen Specter defeated Joe Hoeffel but Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. defeated Rick Santorum in the 2006 Senate election. All three Democratic state row office candidates carried it in 2008.
In 2016, Delaware County elected all Democrats in national office elections except Republican Patrick Meehan (U.S. Representative).
All of Delaware County is located in the state's 5th congressional district, represented by Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon. Prior to 2019, most of Delaware County had been in the 7th congressional district. The district had been held for 20 years by Republican Curt Weldon until he was ousted by Joe Sestak, a retired admiral, in the 2006 U.S. House of Representatives election. Also in the 2006 election, Democrat Bryan Lentz unseated Republican incumbent State Representative Tom Gannon in the 161st House district. In 2010 Sestak ran for the senate seat vacated by Arlen Specter and was replaced by Republican Pat Meehan, who defeated Lentz, the Democratic candidate. Lentz was replaced in the State House by Joe Hackett, a Republican. Meehan represented the 7th district until his resignation on April 27, 2018. Before it was thrown out by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in 2018, the 7th Congressional District had been regarded one of the most irregularly drawn districts in the nation.
In the 2019 elections for the Delaware County Council, Republicans John McBlain and Colleen Morrone had served two terms and were not eligible for a third. Michael Culp, the council's third Republican, chose not to run. After a campaign described as having a good share of mud-throwing, Democrats swept the board and elected Monica Taylor, Elaine P. Schaefer, and Christine Reuther. This was the first time in history that the county had an all-Democratic county council.
Delaware County CouncilEdit
|Chair||Brian P. Zidek||Democratic|
|Vice-Chair||Dr. Monica Taylor||Democratic|
|Member of Council||Kevin M. Madden||Democratic|
|Member of Council||Christine Reuther||Democratic|
|Member of Council||Elaine Paul Schaefer||Democratic|
County row officersEdit
Row officers, a term unique to Pennsylvania, are a conglomeration of elected officials defined by Article IX, Section 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. This unit of officers includes the position of controller, District Attorney, treasurer, sheriff, register of wills, recorder of deeds, prothonotaries, clerks of the court, and the coroner. It is thought that this term originated because these positions were arranged in a row on a typical ballot.
|Controller||Joanne Phillips, Esquire||Democratic|
|District Attorney||Jack Stollsteimer||Democratic|
|Register of Wills||Mary J. Walk, Esquire||Democratic|
United States SenateEdit
United States House of RepresentativesEdit
As of July 23, 2021[update]:
|5||Mary Gay Scanlon||Democratic|
As of July 23, 2021[update]:
|8||Anthony Hardy Williams||Democratic|
|9||John I. Kane||Democratic|
State House of RepresentativesEdit
As of July 23, 2021[update]:
The George W. Hill Correctional Facility (Delaware County Prison) is located in Thornbury Township. The jail houses pre-trial inmates and convicted persons who are serving sentences of no longer than two years less one day. It is operated by the for-profit prison corporation GEO Group, of Boca Raton, Florida. It is the only privately operated county-level correctional facility in Pennsylvania, although there are plans for it to be deprivatized as early as December 31, 2020.
Public school districtsEdit
- Chester Upland School District
- Chichester School District
- Delaware County Technical High School, Aston
- Garnet Valley School District
- Haverford Township School District
- Interboro School District
- Marple Newtown School District
- Penn-Delco School District
- Radnor Township School District
- Ridley School District
- Rose Tree Media School District
- Southeast Delco School District
- Springfield School District
- Upper Darby School District
- Wallingford-Swarthmore School District
- William Penn School District
In Pennsylvania, charter schools are public schools. They receive a per pupil funding from the state along with federal funding. They are eligible to apply for many competitive grants offered by the state and federal governments. There are two charter schools in 2011. They are located within the attendance borders of the Chester Upland School District. Charter schools may accept students from neighboring school districts.
- Chester Community Charter School
- Widener Partnership Charter School
- Chester Charter School for the Arts, (K–6) approved by PA Charter Appeal Board July 2012
In 1963 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia had 48 Catholic K-8/elementary schools in Delaware County with a total of 39,695 students, which was the highest ever enrollment. From 1971 to 2012, 20 of these schools closed, with ten of them closing from 2003 to 2012. By 2012 there were 28 Catholic K-8/elementary schools in Delaware County with a total of 8,291 students. One notable private school is Friends School Haverford.
Colleges and universitiesEdit
- Cabrini College
- Cheyney University
- Eastern University
- Delaware County Community College (locations in Marple Township, Upper Darby and Sharon Hill)
- Haverford College
- Neumann University
- Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation
- Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
- Penn State Brandywine
- Rosemont College
- Swarthmore College
- Villanova University
- Widener University
- Williamson College of the Trades
- Haverford Adult School
- Main Line School Night
- Senior Community Services Lifelong Learning
Delaware County is bisected north to south by Blue Route Interstate 476, which connects I-76 just north of the extreme northern corner of the county to I-95, which parallels the Delaware River along the southeastern edge of the county.
Delaware County is home to SEPTA's 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, and is served by the Norristown High Speed Line (P&W), two Red Arrow trolley lines (Routes 101 and 102), four Regional Rail Lines (the Airport Line, Wilmington/Newark Line, Media/Elwyn Line, and Paoli/Thorndale Line), and a host of bus routes.
Major roads and highwaysEdit
There is one Pennsylvania state park in Delaware County.
County parks include:
- Clayton Park & Golf Course
- Glen Providence Park
- Kent Park/Dog Park
- Rose Tree Park
- Smedley Park
- Upland Park
Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is a harness racing track and casino (i.e., "racino") located on the Chester, Pennsylvania waterfront. It is owned by Vici Properties and operated by Caesars Entertainment.
Delaware County is the traditional home of women's professional soccer in the Philadelphia area. The former Philadelphia Charge of the defunct Women's United Soccer Association played at Villanova Stadium, which is located on the campus of Villanova University. The Philadelphia Independence of Women's Professional Soccer succeeded the Charge and played at Widener University's Leslie Quick Stadium in 2011.
Delaware County is the home of one of oldest baseball leagues in the country, the Delco League, which at one time was known for featuring future, former, and even current major league players who were offered more money than their current teams would pay them.
Every summer, Delaware County is home to the Delco Pro-Am, a basketball league consisting of current, future, and former NBA players as well as local standout players.
The county itself is serviced by several newspapers, most notably the News of Delaware County, the Delaware County Daily Times, The Suburban and Wayne Times, and The Spirit, the only minority owned newspaper serving Delaware County. The Philadelphia Inquirer also has a significant presence, reflecting Philadelphia's influence on Delaware County and the rest of the metro. Delaware County Magazine is the news magazine with the largest circulation in Delaware County, reaching over 186,000 homes.
Delaware County has two physical geographic regions: the Piedmont and the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Most of the county has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) while some higher northern areas have a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa.). The hardiness zones are 7a and 7b.
|Climate data for Newtown Square (Elevation: 456 ft (139 m)) 1981–2010 Averages|
|Average high °F (°C)||38.6
|Daily mean °F (°C)||30.4
|Average low °F (°C)||22.2
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.36
|Average relative humidity (%)||68.3||65.0||60.5||59.4||63.2||68.2||68.2||70.5||71.7||70.5||69.7||70.8||67.2|
|Average dew point °F (°C)||21.2
|Climate data for Chester (Elevation: 10 ft (3 m)) 1981–2010 Averages|
|Average high °F (°C)||40.5
|Daily mean °F (°C)||33.7
|Average low °F (°C)||26.8
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.15
|Average relative humidity (%)||65.3||60.7||57.6||57.2||60.8||62.7||64.4||65.8||67.8||67.3||65.3||65.1||63.4|
|Average dew point °F (°C)||23.3
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Delaware County, Pennsylvania.|
- "Delaware County". co.delaware.pa.us. Official website.
- "History of Townships in Delaware County, PA". history.rays-place.com/pa/delaware-cty.htm.