The Full Wiki

Altoona, Pennsylvania: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Altoona is a city in Blair Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, United Statesmarker. It is the principal city of the Altoona, PA MSA. The population was 47,176 at the 2000 census, making it the ninth most populous city in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphiamarker, Pittsburghmarker, Allentownmarker, Eriemarker, Readingmarker, Scrantonmarker, Bethlehemmarker, Lancastermarker and Harrisburgmarker. The Altoona MSA includes all of Blair County and had an estimated population of 125,527 in 2007, according to the U.S. Census.

Having grown around the railroad industry, the city is currently working to recover from industrial decline and urban decentralization experienced in recent decades. The city is home to the Altoona Curve baseball team of the Double A Eastern League, which is the Double A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It also houses the 75+ year-old Altoona Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Teresa Cheung. Prominent landmarks include the Horseshoe Curvemarker, the Railroaders Memorial Museummarker, the Mishler Theatremarker, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramentmarker, and the Jaffa Mosque.

Altoona is also the home of the Sheetz headquarters. Sheetz is one of the largest convenience store and gas station chains in the country, with stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Because of this, many Sheetz stores are located in and around Altoona.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.8 sq mi (25.3 km²), all land. Altoona is situated in the Allegheny Mountains.

Altoona is located at 40°30'39" North, 78°23'59" West (40.510720, -78.399758).


A major railroad town, Altoona was founded by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1849 as the site for a shop complex. Altoona was incorporated as a borough on February 6, 1854, and as a city under legislation approved on April 3, 1867, and February 8, 1868. The town grew rapidly in the late 19th century, its population approximately 2,000 in 1854, 10,000 in 1870, and 20,000 in 1880.

The word Altoona is a derivative of the Latin word altus, meaning "high".

This explanation for the naming of Altoona is contradicted by Pennsylvania Place Names .Although Altoona, in Blair Country, is popularly known as "the Mountain City," its name has no direct or indirect etymological relation to the Latin adjective altus, signifying "elevated, lofty." Two very different explanations of the origin of this name are current.  The one which seems to be most natural and reasonable runs as follows:"The locomotive engineer who ran the first train into Altoona in 1851 was Robert Steele, who died several years ago, aged nearly ninety years.  He was then the oldest continuous resident of the city. He was much respected, and had long been one of the private pensioners of Andrew Carnegie.  Mr. Steele is authority for the statement that Colonel Beverly Mayer, of Columbia, Pennsylvania, who, as a civil engineer of what was then the Pennsylvania Central Railway, had laid out the tracks in the yards of the newly projected city, named the place Altoona after the city of Altona in Schleswig-Holstein, which became part of Germany in 1862."The German Altona, which lies on the right bank of the Elbe immediately west of Hamburg, is an important railway and manufacturing centre with a population of nearly 200,000.  The etymological derivation of the name Altona is not known with certainty, but widely believed to be Low German all to na, meaning "all too near" (sc. Hamburg).

The popular explanation derives the name of Altoona from Allatoona, said to be a Cherokee Indian name.  In 1849 David Robinson sold his farm to Archibald Wright of Philadelphia, who transferred the property to his son, John A. Wright, who laid it out in building lots, became one of the founders of Altoona, and was responsible for the naming of the town.  According to his own statement, he had spent considerable time in the Cherokee country of Georgia, where he had been especially attracted by the beautiful name of Allatoona, which he had bestowed upon the new town in the belief that it was a Cherokee word meaning "the high lands of great worth." In the Cherokee language there is a word eladuni, which means "high lands," or "where it is high"; but to a Cherokee, Allatoona and eladuni are so different that the former could hardly be derived from the latter.

An older history dated 1883 favored the Cherokee derivation, stating that "Its name is not derived from the Latin word altus nor from the French word alto, as has frequently been asserted and published, but from the beautiful, liquid, and expressive Cherokee word allatoona. This is on the authority of the person who bestowed the name, Mr. Wright, of Philadelphia, who was long a resident of the Cherokee country in Georgia, and an admirer of the musical names of that Indian language."

The demand for locomotives during the Civil War stimulated much of this growth, and by the later years of the war Altoona was known as a valuable city for the North. It was considered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee as a target during the Army of Northern Virginia's mid-1863 entry into Pennsylvania, before being repelled at the Battle of Gettysburgmarker. Also notable is the Union's Loyal War Governors' Conference, held at Altoona's Logan House Hotel.

The Horseshoe Curvemarker, a famous curved section of track owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, has become a tourist attraction and National Historic Landmark. The Curve was used to raise trains to a sufficient elevation to cross the Allegheny Ridge to the west, beyond which was the steel town of Pittsburghmarker and the rest of the western United Statesmarker. Because it was the industrial link to the western U.S., the Horseshoe Curve was a primary target of eight Nazi saboteurs who had infiltrated the United Statesmarker during World War II (1942) by being dropped off by U-boats of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) during Operation Pastorius.
Map of Altoona and some surrounding areas
In the early 20th century, the Railroad's Altoona Worksmarker complex employed, at its peak, approximately 15,000 people and covered three miles (5 km) in length, 218 acres (880,000 m²) of yards and 37 acres (150,000 m²) of indoor workshop floor space in 122 buildings. The Pennsylvania Railroad built many of its own locomotives at the Works, some 7,873 in all, the last being constructed in 1946.

The Railroad had a significant influence on the city, creating the city's fire departments and relocating the hospital to a site nearer to the shop's gates. Today, the fire department employs 65 personnel and is the largest career department between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, PA. The railroad sponsored a city band and constructed Cricket Field (a sports complex). In 1853, the Railroad built the Mechanic's Library, the first industrial library in the nation which exists today as the Altoona Public Library. With the decline in railroad demand after World War II, things began to decline steadily afterwards, with most of the plant is now gone. Many of the historic treasures of the city's history have also disappeared, including the aforementioned Logan House Hotel.

Altoona is one of the dual seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramentmarker was made a cathedral and rechristened from St. John's Church in 1851.

The Altoona Mirror newspaper, founded in 1876 by Harry Slep, is Altoona's oldest media outlet. Today, the newspaper has a daily circulation of 32,000 and a Sunday circulation of 39,000. Approximately 13,000 people read the online edition of the newspaper each day.

Today, Altoona serves as the corporate home to Sheetz, a rapidly growing convenience store chain in the United Statesmarker. It now has over 330 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

Altoona is home to the world's oldest wooden roller coaster, the Leap the Dipsmarker, located in Lakemont Parkmarker.


The main sections of Altoona are the Downtown, Dutch Hill area, East end, the Pleasant Valley region, the Plank Road Shopping district, Juniata, Logantown, Fairview, Eldorado, The Fifth Ward, and the Industrial Park. Many of the older districts consist of a mix of rowhomes and individual homes, which were a common building style in railroad towns so-as to provide for worker and manager housing, respectively.


The Downtown is the cultural and commercial center of Altoona and straddles the famous railroads. Much of the downtown area is listed in the national registry of historic places. Popular landmarks include the Mishler Theatremarker, the Penn Alto building (formerly the Penn Alto Hotel), the Gable's Building, City Hall, the Cathedralmarker, the Jaffa Mosque, and Eleventh Avenue itself.

Unlike most larger cities, the exact boundaries of the downtown are not specifically defined, due to the lack of natural boundaries. Residents tend to conservatively define the boundaries of the downtown as including the urban/commercial core, whereas more official sources define it as including all high and middle-density zoning. The downtown's borders are generally defined by 6th Avenue to 16th Avenue (and Willow Avenue in the "Logantown" section) along the east and west; and from 4th Street to 18th Street along the north and south. The downtown is sometimes considered to extend as far as 24th Street and beyond. And the eastern boundary is said by some to extend from 11th street to 19th street up to 3rd avenue.

As is typical to a traditional city layout, the downtown is centrally located and contains significant development in all directions from the downtown. The commercial core of the downtown includes many multistory residential, commercial, and mixed-use facilities designed in at the turn-of-the-century in a mix of Victorian, Edwardian Baroque, and Neo-Romanesque styles. This style features high ceilings, resulting in taller buildings than is typical for the number of floors. The high ceilings are typically made of either tin or plaster, although sometimes a drop ceiling is utilized.

Individual homes originally provided housing to managers and executives of the Pennsylvania Railroad and can be best recognized by the structural similarities to Victorian or Edwardian mansions, but built very narrow and tall with little to no space between the two structures. These are sometimes used as double or triple family apartments or even converted into commercial space. Outside of the commercial core is a mosaic of multistory commercial structures, mixed use facilities, single story commercial structures, apartment buildings, multi-unit housing, and single-family homes.

Downtown Altoona is notable for having several churches, such as the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramentmarker at the corner of 13th Street and 13th Avenue, the Presbyterian church on the corner of 12th Street and 14th Avenue, and the First Lutheran Church on the corner of 14th Street and 12th Avenue. The Station Medical Center, formerly known as the Station Mall, was a downtown mall built during the 1970s in place of many old railroad shops. The downtown contains most of what's known as Altoona's Little Italy district.

As has been typical of many rust belt cities, the economic downturn of the railroad resulted in the closure of many of the downtown's landmark stores and industries; and the simultaneous rise in prominence of the automobile shifted commercial development to the suburbs. However, through recent revitalization efforts, Altoona's downtown maintains a significant level of economic vitality and hosts few office and residential vacancies. The downtown maintains a significant focus on pedestrian-oriented development, as evidenced by the presence of more pedestrian bridges and underpasses across the railroad tracks (connecting the two parts of Downtown) than automobile crossings.

Penn State Altoona has bought several downtown buildings, including the former Playhouse Theater building, the six-story Penn Furniture building, and the former WRTA building. The University provides a flow of resources into the downtown, aiding in revitalization efforts. As an example of the university's value to the downtown's economy, the installation of the Blue Lot near the Wolf Court Building has improved the economic attraction of downtown by offering up to three hours of free parking. A bike path connecting the Campus to Downtown Altoona has been proposed.

One unique little known fact is that the Texas Hot Dog was originally created in downtown Altoona in 1918, although the Paterson, New Jerseymarker Texas Hot Dog location, which opened in 1924, is more famous.

Dutch Hill and Pleasant Valley

The Dutch Hill area is near the main school campus that straddles the edge of the downtown, and is bounded by 6th Avenue and I-99 on the east and west, and 25th Street and Kettle Street to the north and south. From Walton Avenue to I-99, this area is also known as the Pleasant Valley region and includes a part of the Little Italy district. The Dutch Hill district contains an abundance of historic neighborhoods and traditional "corner markets". With the construction of the Altoona Area Junior High School, the lines between the school zone of Dutch Hill and the Downtown are becoming increasingly blurred, because the main Altoona Area School District campus extends all the way up to 4th avenue, which is not a part of the downtown. However, some tourism-oriented sources include the lower Dutch Hill region up to 3rd Avenue from 11th Street to 19th Street as part of the downtown because of its historic nature as a part of the earliest settled region of Altoona.


The line between Downtown and Fairview is a bit blurred, since some elements of Fairview's low-density residential nature can be seen as low as 13th Avenue, and some elements of the medium to high density nature of the Downtown as far up as 18th Avenue. At times, you see some single unit houses on 13th through 16th Avenues, and 16th through 18th Streets, amongst much taller office, retail, and apartment buildings. Many of the houses in the part of downtown near Fairview and lower Fairview are the middle-density mansions originally owned by managers and executives of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The most striking example of this is the Penn Alto residential hotel on the corner of 13th Avenue and 12th Street, which has two single-unit houses next to it. Conversely, there are a few multistory residential and commercial buildings on 17th Avenue. Fairview could be best described as the urban neighborhoods that one would expect to find just outside of a downtown. One of the sections of the downtown is called "Lower Fairview" due to its transitionary nature.


The Industrial section is near Margaret Avenue, Broad Avenue, and Beale Avenues, and spans the area between 17th Street and 37th Street. Some of the Industrial section is also considered part of the downtown. It is named that because of its history of manufacturing facilities, such as Boyer Candies. Although many factories exist here, and this is the main industrial region, the name can be deceiving, as there is a lot of industry near the railroads in the downtown, Logantown, Eldorado, and Juniata sections of Altoona.


Eldorado, pronounced locally, El-doe-ray-doe, is the southern section of Altoona, south of Logan Boulevard and west of 6th Avenue. The Sheetz Headquarters is located in this area. At one time, this section was also known as the "West End"; and strangely, northern Altoona is known as the "East End". This is probably due to the fact that trains leaving the north end of town head east towards Philadelphia while trains leaving the south end of town head west towards Pittsburgh. Some parts of Eldorado are actually outside of incorporated Altoona and located in Allegheny Townshipmarker.


Logantown is the area just north of the Downtown, even including some parts of the Downtown, this is where the Altoona Hospital, the tallest building in Altoona, is located. However, some sources also indicate that the hospital is located in downtown, indicating that 4th Street is the border between the two neighborhoods. 4th street between Chestnut and Willow Avenues includes a mixture of residential and commercial uses.


Juniata was once its own city, but was incorporated into Altoona in the late 1800s. This background is the reasoning behind the community's change in streetnames as well as the presence of its own commercial district. The commercial district, sometimes nicknamed "downtown Juniata", is much like the commercial district along 29th Street, in the Industrial section, and also like the commercial district near the Bon Secour Hospital, both just outside of Altoona's downtown. To reduce confusion due to the change in street names, many of the roadways were given a "North" prefix. The most important street in Juniata's L-shaped commercial district is North Second Street.

Greenwood/East End

Greenwood is a mixture of urban and suburban style neighborhoods, with more modern buildings than you find in Juniata. Greenwood's boundary is not agreed upon, some state that it is Greenwood Road, while others state that it is Main Street (ironically, not Altoona's main street), and others say that it includes the part of the East End that's less urban than around Route 764. Some of Greenwood is north of incorporated Altoona and is actually part of Logan township. On Business Route 220, there is actually a small "village of Greenwood" sign, despite the fact that it's actually partly in Altoona and partly in Logan Township.

The East End includes part of the Dutch Hill region and is bounded by 1st street, because north of 1st street, all avenue names are given an "east" prefix. The East End, in contrast to Greenwood's lower density, is surprisingly urban and densely packed, almost as dense as downtown in some parts.


Altoona is a major center on the Norfolk Southern Railway's Pittsburgh Line. In Altoona, helper engines are added to heavy trains to give them extra power up and over the Horseshoe Curvemarker west of town. The Juniata Heavy Repair Shop Complex, originally built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, is the primary repair and maintenance facility on the Norfolk Southern Railway. On an average day, 60 to 80 trains pass though Altoona. The historical importance to the railroad industry and the current high level of railroad activity has made Altoona a mecca for railfans for over 60 years, with the Railroaders Memorial Museummarker and the Horseshoe Curve being popular spots for individuals to take photographs of passing trains.

In addition to the many freight trains, Amtrak's Pennsylvanian train stops at Altoona stationmarker once daily in each direction, and also makes use of the Horseshoe Curve.

Local bus service in the city is provided by AMTRAN. In 2007, AMTRAN customers suffered a major loss in service due to cuts in state funding. In May of that year, Governor Rendell visited Altoona to discuss plans intended to rectify this situation.

Roadway service primarily consists of Interstate 99, which provides access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the south and Interstate 80 to the north; and U.S. Route 22, which provides east-west service and direct access to Pittsburghmarker and Harrisburgmarker. Local roadways in Altoona tend to be given numerical names, and Streets are aligned northwest-southeast and Avenues are aligned northeast-southwest.

The Altoona-Blair County Airportmarker provides commercial air service for Altoona, offering daily flights to Washington Dulles International Airportmarker and a limited number of flights to Pittsburgh International Airportmarker.


Team Sport League Championships Venue
Altoona Curve Baseball Eastern League; Southern Division
Blair County Ballparkmarker

In the early 20th century, the Pennsylvania Railroad constructed a large sports complex at the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and Seventh Street. It was named Cricket Field in an attempt to appeal to Cricket-loving Britishmarker investors. Cricket did not catch on with the Altoona populace, so its close relative baseball became the choice for Cricket Field. Well known baseball players as Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson played at Cricket Field, and the stadium was also the venue for numerous other sporting events, musical competitions, marching units, and activities. A plaza stands today on the site of Cricket Field.

Altoona was the site of a 1.25 mile board track called Altoona Speedway from 1923 to 1931.


Altoona has an education system that contains two high schools, one parochial, one public. Bishop Guilfoyle High Schoolmarker is the private parochial school having grades 9-12, located at 2400 Pleasant Valley. Blvd. Altoona Area High Schoolmarker houses grades 10-12, and is located at 1415 6th Ave. Altoona High is much larger than Bishop Guilfoyle, graduating around 600 students annually, while Guilfoyle graduates around 100. Most athletic teams at Bishop Guilfoyle are the smallest classification within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), which is Class single A. In contrast, those at Altoona Area High School are the largest classification within the PIAA, which is AAAA. These high schools occasionally compete against each other in basketball, volleyball, tennis, cross country and softball.

Altoona is also home to The Pennsylvania State Universitymarker, Ivyside Park campus, also known as Penn State Altoonamarker. This is the second largest of the Penn State Commonwealth Campuses. The college has approximately 3,800 students as of the 2006-07 school year.




FM stations
call letters frequency format location Owner
WHHN 88.1 Religious Hollidaysburg Radio Maria, Inc.
WRXV 89.1 Christian Contemporary State College Invisible Allies Ministries
WUFR 91.1 Religious Bedford Family Radio
WJSM 92.7 Religious Martinsburg Martinsburg Broadcasting, Inc.
WHPA 93.5 Oldies Gallitzin Vernal Enterprises, Inc.
WBXQ 94.3 Country Patton Sherlock Broadcasting
WBRX 94.7 Adult Contemporary Cresson Sherlock Broadcasting
WSLQ 95.5 Country Johnstown Forever Broadcasting
WKYE 96.5 Adult Contemporary Johnstown Forever Broadcasting
WFGY 98.1 Country Altoona Forever Broadcasting
WRKW 99.1 Rock Ebensburg Forever Broadcasting
WWOT 100.1 Top 40 Altoona Forever Broadcasting
W274BE 102.7 Christian Contemporary Altoona Invisibile Allies Ministries
WLAK 103.5 Hot AC Huntingdon First Media Radio, LLC
WALY 103.9 Hot AC Bellwood Forever Broadcasting
WRKY 104.9 Rock Hollidaysburg Forever Broadcasting
W294AE 106.7 Public Radio Altoona Pennsylvania State University
WMES 107.7 Religious Altoona Lay Stewardship Educational Association

AM stations
call letters frequency format location Owner
WHUN 1150 News/Talk Huntingdon Megahertz Licenses, LLC
WRTA 1240 News/Talk Altoona Handsome Brothers, Inc.
WFBG 1290 News/Talk Altoona Forever Broadcasting
WKMC 1370 Nostalgia Roaring Spring Handsome Brothers, Inc.
WVAM 1430 Sports Altoona Forever Broadcasting


The Johnstown/Altoona/State College market is the 101st largest in the country. The following box contains a list of television stations in the area.


As of the census of 2000, there were 49,523 people, 20,059 households, and 12,576 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,069.7 people per square mile (1,957.1/km²). There were 21,681 housing units at an average density of 2,219.5/sq mi (856.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.01% White, 2.49% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.24% from other races, and 0.83% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.74% of the population.

There were 20,059 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.3% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,248, and the median income for a family was $36,758. Males had a median income of $28,851 versus $21,242 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,213. About 12.9% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.1% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

Sister cities

Altoona is a sister city with:

See also


External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address