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Carlisle is a borough in Cumberland Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, west by southwest of Harrisburgmarker, the state capital. The name is traditionally pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable. Carlisle is located within the Cumberland Valley, a highly productive agricultural region. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 17,970. It is the county seat of Cumberland County.

Carlisle is the smaller principal city of the Harrisburgmarker–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Areamarker, which includes all of Cumberland, Dauphinmarker, and Perrymarker counties.


Carlisle was laid out and settled by Scots-Irish immigrants in 1751 and became the center of their settlement in the Cumberland Valley. It was named after its sister town in Carlislemarker, Englandmarker, and even built its former jailhouse (still standing and in use by Cumberland County as general government offices now) to resemble Carlisle Citadel. Carlisle was initially part of Lancaster County. Carlisle was incorporated as a borough on April 13, 1782. As authorized by a general borough law of 1851 (amended in 1852), the government is administered by a burgess and a borough council.

In 1787 Carlisle was the scene of a riot instigated by Anti-Federalists in response to a planned march in favor of the US constitution. In 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion, the troops of Pennsylvania and New Jerseymarker assembled in Carlisle under the leadership of George Washington. On a related note, George Washington worshipped during that time in the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Hanover and High streets. The borough was shelled by the Confederates on July 1, 1863, during the Battle of Carlisle, part of the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War. On a column in front of the city's historic courthouse, evidence of the cannonballs' destruction can still be seen. Carlisle was well-known at one time for the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which trained Native Americans from all over the United Statesmarker; one of its notable graduates was athletic hero Jim Thorpe. However, some view the Carlisle School as the first of many schools that were used for "cultural genocide" of American Indians. Shortly after the Wounded Knee Massacre, Native Americans were forcefully taken from their families on the newly instituted reservations, sent to Carlisle, and were forced to give up their dress, languages, customs, religious views, sciences, and all other parts of their culture (often physical force and abuse was used to institute this policy). After this, the American Indian students were sent back from Carlisle to their reservations to teach their families how to be what the United States government identified as civilized.

Carlisle is also home to Dickinson Collegemarker, established in 1773 and later chartered in 1783, making it the first college founded in the newly recognized United States. The Dickinson School of Law, founded in 1834 and affiliated with Dickinson College until 1914, is the fifth oldest law school in the United States and the oldest law school in Pennsylvania. It remained independent for over 80 years, until it merged with The Pennsylvania State Universitymarker in 1997, becoming the Penn State Dickinson School of Law.

The U.S.marker Army War Collegemarker, located at the Carlisle Barracks, caters to high-level military personnel and civilians and prepares them for strategic leadership responsibilities. The Carlisle Barracks is the oldest installation in the United States Army and Army's most senior military educational institution. Carlisle is home of the U.S. Army Military Heritage Museum.

General Information

  • ZIP codes: 17013, 17015 (17015 was added July 1, 2006 due to "population expansion")
  • Area code: 717
  • Local phone code: 218, 226, 240, 241, 243, 245, 249, 254, 258, 374, 385, 386, 422, 440, 448, 486, 609, 701, 713, 960


Carlisle is located at (40.202553, -77.195016).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 5.4 square miles (14.1 km2), all of it land.

Carlisle is home to LeTort Creek, famed for its trout fishing.


Borough of Carlisle
Population by year [19843]
1900 9,626
1910 10,303
1920 10,916
1940 13,984
1980 18,314
1990 18,419
2000 17,970
As of the census of 2000, there were 17,970 people, 7,426 households, and 4,010 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,308.9 people per square mile (1,277.8/km2). There were 8,032 housing units at an average density of 1,479.0/sq mi (571.1/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 88.93% White, 6.92% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.60% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.96% of the population.

There were 7,426 households out of which 23.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.3% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the borough the population was spread out with 18.6% under the age of 18, 17.2% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.8 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $33,969, and the median income for a family was $46,588. Males had a median income of $34,519 versus $25,646 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $21,394. About 8.6% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.7% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents

Colleges and universities


Carlisle is famous to many people for its car shows, put on regularly by Carlisle Events throughout the spring, summer, and fall at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. In addition to normal shows there are speciality shows, among which are GM, Ford, Chrysler, Import/Kit Car and truck shows.

The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), a ballet school and performing company known internationally for their alumni, is based in Carlisle.

Carlisle also is home of the headquarters of the Giant Food supermarkets in Pennsylvania.

Carlisle was home to the Washington Redskins training camp for many years. In 1986, cornerback Darrell Green ran the 40 yard dash at Dickinson Collegemarker in 4.09 seconds. Although the result was unofficial, it is the fastest legitimate time ever recorded in the 40 yard dash.

Fire Companies

There are currently three fire companies supporting Carlisle. Union in downtown, Cumberland Goodwill located near I-81, and Empire Friendship on the other side of Carlisle.

Union responds to nearly 1000 calls a year, and it also supports the surrounding areas. Union is also the oldest volunteer fire company in the United States.


  3. , The Day The World Ended at Little Bighorn

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