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The Delaware Valley is a term used widely by the media to refer, perhaps misleadingly, to the metropolitan area centered on the city of Philadelphiamarker in the United Statesmarker. The term is derived from the Delaware River, which flows through the area, although the river extends more than 100 miles to the north of Philadelphia (see below). The Office of Management and Budget officially defines the region as the Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The Delaware Valley is composed of several counties in southeastern Pennsylvaniamarker and southern New Jerseymarker, one relatively populous county in northern Delawaremarker and one relatively small county in northeastern Marylandmarker. The area has a population of 5.83 million (as of the 2006 Census Bureau estimate). Philadelphia, being the region's major commercial, cultural, and industrial center, maintains a rather large sphere of influence that affects those counties that immediately surround it. The majority of the region's populace resides in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the United Statesmarker and is located towards the southern end of the group of metropolitan areas in the northeastern United States extending from Bostonmarker to Washington, D.Cmarker.

Based on commuter flows, the OMB also defines a wider labor market region known as the Philadelphia–Camden–Vineland Combined Statistical Area (CSA). This wider region adds the metropolitan areas of Vineland and Reading and has a total population of 6.38 million.

Philadelphia's media ranks #4, behind only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, in Nielsen Media Market size rankings.


The area has extensive suburban sprawl. King of Prussia, Pennsylvaniamarker, and Cherry Hill, New Jerseymarker, are two of the largest suburban edge cities. Philadelphia's suburbs contain a high concentration of malls, including the King of Prussia Mallmarker, the largest on the East Coast, and the Cherry Hill Mallmarker in Cherry Hill Township, New Jerseymarker, the first enclosed mall on the East Coast. Malls, office complexes, strip shopping plazas, expressways, and tract housing are common sights, and more and more continue to replace rolling countryside, farms, woods, and wetlands. However, due to recent opposition by residents and political officials, many acres of land have been preserved throughout the Delaware Valley. Sprawling forests and farms can still be found throughout the region, providing a haven for pristine nature seekers. Older small towns and large boroughs such as Norristownmarker, Jenkintownmarker and West Chestermarker, retain distinct community identities while engulfed in suburbia. The fastest-growing counties are Chestermarker, Montgomerymarker, Bucksmarker, and Gloucestermarker.

The region also has a large and growing ethnic population, thanks to job growth and proximity to major cities other than Philadelphiamarker, such as New York Citymarker (90 miles away and about a 1.5 hour trip) and Washington D.Cmarker (140 miles away and about a 2.5 hour trip).

The Delaware Valley is home to extensive populations of African Americans, Europeans, Asian, Arabs, Israelis, Hispanic, and West Indiansmarker . Along with their immigrant counterparts, the area is seeing revived internal migration. Once sending more people out then receiving, the Valley has now turned that around. This is most notable of the city of Philadelphia, which has been struggling with population decline since the fifties. The city is projected to begin increasing in population shortly before or after 2010. The core suburban counties have never had a difficult time achieving this, with most gaining the bulk of their populations in the last few decades.

Counties making up the Delaware Valley



New Jersey

Atlantic County, New Jerseymarker and Cape May County, New Jerseymarker are also associated with the Delaware Valley. These counties, while home to Philadelphia commuters, are also home to an extensive tourism industry. The most notable of these tourist towns is Atlantic City, New Jerseymarker.

Ocean County, New Jerseymarker, while officially designated as part of the New York Metropolitan Areamarker, is strongly affiliated with the Delaware Valley. Ocean County is home to many tourist attractions frequently visited by Delaware Valley residents. These attractions include a myriad of beaches such as Long Beach Islandmarker and Seaside Heightsmarker, along with resorts such as Island Beach State Parkmarker and Six Flags Great Adventuremarker. It should also be noted that the Jersey Shore, of which Ocean County is a central part, is a major destination for beach tourism for Delaware Valley residents, as there are no other beaches closer than those of the Jersey Shore. By contrast, New York area residents, especially those who do not live in New Jersey, have alternative options on Long Island or in Connecticut.

Mercer County, New Jerseymarker, while part of the New York Metropolitan Area, has traditionally also been affiliated with the Delaware Valley (and had been officially part of the Delaware Valley Metropolitan Area before 2000). Mercer County, a relatively wealthy county located on the northern fringe of the Delaware Valley MSA, is home to both New York and Philadelphia commuters. In recent years, however, growing numbers of New York commuters have migrated into Mercer. The two main towns in Mercer County are Princetonmarker, located in the northern part of the county, and Trentonmarker, located in the southern part of the county. Princeton identifies with New York because it is home to many New York commuters who began migrating into the area after World War II. Furthermore, the commute time from Princeton to New York by train is much shorter than the commute from Princeton to Philadelphia. Trenton, New Jersey's capital, is fittingly considered the meeting point between New York and Philadelphia. For example, the commute times from Trenton to New York and Trenton to Philadelphia by train are roughly the same. Trenton is also its own metropolitan region, called the Trenton-Ewing MSA.


Primary cities


Many residents commute to jobs in Philadelphiamarker, Camdenmarker, Wilmingtonmarker with the help of expressways and trains. Commutes from one suburb to another are also common, as office parks have sprung up in new commercial centers such as King of Prussiamarker, Fort Washingtonmarker, Cherry Hillmarker, and Plymouth Meetingmarker.

Commuter rail

Philadelphia's 30th St. station has Septa regional rail and Amtrak service
  • SEPTA Regional Rail
    • R1 Airport Route connecting Central Philadelphia with Philadelphia International Airportmarker in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties and R1 Glenside route serving North Philadelphia and Montgomery County
    • R2 Marcus Hook/Wilmington/Delaware route connecting the Wilmington, DE area (with limited weekday service to Newark, DE), via Chester City and Delaware County and R2 Warminster route serving southeastern Montgomery County.
    • R3 West Trenton connecting Central Philadelphia northern to the Trenton, NJ area, serving Bucks County, PA between Jenkintown, PA and Yardley, PA, with the final stop in West Trenton, NJ. R3 Media/Elwyn (southern) route connecting Philadelphia to central Delaware County.
    • R5 Paoli/Downingtown/Thorndale route connecting Philadelphia with the affluent Main Line area and western Chester County near Coatesville and R5 Lansdale/Doylestown connecting Philadelphia with Lansdale in central Montgomery County and Doylestown in Bucks County.
    • R6 Norristown route connecting Philadelphia with Conshohocken and Norristown in Montgomery County and R6 Cynwyd route connecting Philadelphia with Bala Cynwyd on the Philadelphia/Montgomery County line.
    • R7 Trenton Route connecting Philadelphia to the Trenton, NJ, serving Bucks County and R7 Chestnut Hill East line connecting Central Philadelphia with Chestnut Hill area of the city.
    • R8 Chestnut Hill West route connecting Central Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill area and R8 Fox Chase connecting Central Philadelphia with Fox Chase area in Philadelphia.

  • New Jersey Transit
    • Atlantic City Line connecting Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NJ with connections to PATCO Speedline in Lindenwold, NJ
    • River Linemarker connecting Camden (NJ) to Trenton (NJ) running along the east bank of the Delaware River

  • PATCO Speedline connecting Philadelphia to Lindenwold, NJ in Camden County with connections to NJT's Atlantic City Line

Major highways


Colleges and universities


New Jersey


Lexicon note

Some believe that the term "Delaware Valley" is not entirely a synonym for "Greater Philadelphia." "Greater Philadelphia" implies that the region is centered on the city in an economic and cultural context, while "Delaware Valley" is a more generic geographic term that doesn't imply that any part is of more consequence than any other. Several organizations, such as KYW Radiomarker and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, consciously use the term "Greater Philadelphia" to assert that Philadelphia is the center of the region, referring to the less urbanized areas as, "Philadelphia's countryside." Others note that the customary media usage of the term omits the majority of the length of the Delaware River's valley that is not in metropolitan Philadelphia.

WPVI-TVmarker uses the slogan, "The Delaware Valley's leading news program" for their Action News broadcast, since that program has led the ratings for news programs in the Philadelphia market for over 30 years.

The Delaware Valley is also sometimes called "the Tri-State area," referring to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

There is debate regarding whether the neighboring Lehigh Valley should be considered of part of the Greater Delaware Valley area, as it is part of the same media market. If so, it would increase the size of the Delaware Valley by approximately 790,000 people. A similar debate is starting to grow regarding the metro areas of cities like Lancastermarker and Yorkmarker that are located only from Philadelphia, are also regarded as being a part of the same media market and heavily rely on the city's services and utilities.


  1. Rankings for Metropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006
  2. Shore Guide -
  3. - Fire Island, New York Travel Guide
  4. Connecticut: Beaches: Beaches in Fairfield County, CT
  5. Housing development boomed as postwar employment expanded in Princeton and nearby communities and as commuting to New York became more affordable and practical.
  6. Trenton-Ewing MSA
  7. OMB Bulletin No. 06-01- Corrected
  8. Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.

External links

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