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Butler is a city in Butler Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, United Statesmarker located 35 miles north of Pittsburghmarker. The population was 15,121 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Butler Countymarker.


The city was named for Maj. Gen. Richard Butler, who fell at the Battle of the Wabashmarker, also known as St. Clair's Defeat, in western Ohiomarker in 1791. The first settlers were of Irish or Scottish descent and were driving westward from Connecticutmarker. In 1802 the German immigrants began arriving, with Detmar Basse settling in Jackson Township in 1802 and founding Zelienoplemarker the following year. After George Rapp arrived in 1805 and founded Harmonymarker, larger numbers of settlers followed. John A. Roebling settled Saxonburgmarker in 1832, by which time most of the county was filled with German settlers.

The city was linked to Pittsburghmarker via Marsmarker in 1907 by the Pittsburgh and Butler Street Railway and to Evans Citymarker in 1908 by the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway, both interurban trolley lines. The Mars route closed in April 1931, followed by the Evans City line on 15 August 1931 with the trolleys replaced by buses.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 15,121 people, 6,740 households, and 3,626 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,611.3 people per square mile (2,170.4/km²). There were 7,402 housing units at an average density of 2,746.8/sq mi (1,062.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.52% White, 2.22% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.42% of the population.
Downtown Butler
There were 6,740 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.2% were non-families. 40.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,154, and the median income for a family was $35,893. Males had a median income of $30,607 versus $20,950 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,457. About 14.7% of families and 19.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.8% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.


Major employers

Claims to fame

  • The modern Jeep was invented in Butler, by the American Bantam Car Company, an early producer of small fuel-efficient vehicles. Big military contracts eventually went to Willys and Ford, and the Bantam factory failed during World War II.
  • Butler is home to one of the few original Ford dealers left that Henry Ford authorized when he created the first car dealers.
  • Cult classic Night of the Living Dead was filmed in Butler County, in Evans Citymarker. Butler is referenced in the movie when the city's name appears on a television set.
  • In the 1950s, Butler became one of the first cities to install bells at crosswalks , a common practice today.
  • The first all steel rail car was manufactured at the Pullman Standard plant in Butler.
  • Stewart O'Nan's prizewinning novel Snow Angels is set in Butler.
  • The Connoquenessing Creek, which was ranked the second most polluted waterway in the United States in 2000, flows through the city.

Notable natives and residents

  • Josie Carey, the host of "The Children's Corner" on WQED in Pittsburgh, was one of the first employees of the station, which was the first community-sponsored public TV station. Fred Rogers was a puppeteer and musician on her show for seven years before creating Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Ms. Carey was born and raised in Butler.

  • Former US Senator Rick Santorum spent his formative years in Butler.

  • World record setting swimmer and Armco CEO Harry Holiday was born and raised in Butler.

  • Butler native John Minton (1948-1995) became a well-known exhibition wrestler under the name Big John Studd.

  • Jazz trombonist and arranger Jim Pugh was born and raised in Butler.

  • Tony award winning actress Michele Pawk was born and raised in Butler.

  • William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton (1994-97), born in Vandergrift, PA graduated from Butler High School in 1945.

  • Terry Hanratty, an All-American quarterback from Notre Dame who won the National Championship in 1966 and went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1970s as a back-up, was born in Butler, PA in 1948.
  • Bill Saul and his twin brothers Richard and Ronald, a trio of professional football players during the 60's and 70's, were born and raised in Butler - Bill played linebacker for the Colts, Steelers, Saints and Lions; Richard played for the Los Angeles Rams; and Ronald played for the Washington Redskins.

  • Home and birthplace of heavyweight boxer Brian Minto.

  • Hometown of major league All-Star pitcher member of the 2007 World Series Red Sox Matt Clement.

  • Hometown of Eric Namesnik (1970-2006), two time silver medalist Olympic swimmer.

Sites of interest

Butler County Courthouse
Walter Lowrie Shaw House


Team Sport League Championships Venue
Butler BlueSox Baseball Prospect League Pullman Park
Butler High School Golden Tornado Baseball WPIAL Pullman Park
Butler High School Golden Tornado American football WPIAL Art Bernardi Stadium




Live plays are performed by local actors at the historic Butler Little Theatre which has been running productions continuously since 1941. The Musical Theater Guild also produces an annual musical production. Plus, the Penn Theater along Main Street is currently undergoing a renovation in hopes of attracting people to Butler.

Butler is also home to the Butler County Symphony Association which performs at Butler High School's auditorium. There are also many art groups located in the city. They include the Associated Artists of Butler County and the Butler Arts Council.

  • Leisure Activities
Butler 5k held each summer in June, raises funds for local students in scholarships.

The Butler Fall Festival, held each September, features car shows, ethnic foods, and many representative items from various cultures.



The Butler County Airport Terminal Building.

There are two airports located outside the city. Butler County Airportmarker is used for general aviation, and can accommodate large aircraft such as corporate jets. Butler Farm Show Airport is used by pilots with smaller, private aircraft in the Butler area.

Mass transit

Butler is serviced by the The Bus which is run by the Butler Transit Authority.


There are currently two railroads that have service in Butler. Both railways are freight haulers. The Canadian National Railway's (formerly the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad) main line passes through the city, while the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad provides regional service in the area. The B&P has a large locomotive shop located just outside the city limits.


Five major highways run through or near the city, providing links to other areas throughout Western Pennsylvania. The south terminus of PA 38 terminates just north of the city at U.S. Route 422. U.S. Route 422 skirts the city to the north on the Butler Bypass.PA 68, and PA 356 go straight through downtown where they intersect with PA 8. PA 8 is Butler's Main Street when passing through the city.



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