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Johnstown is a city in Cambria Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, United Statesmarker, miles east of Pittsburghmarker and west-southwest of Altoona, Pennsylvaniamarker. The population was 23,906 at the 2000 census. It is the principal city of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Cambria Countymarker. As of 2008, the Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 144,319.


Johnstown, settled in 1770, is perhaps most famous for its three floods. The "Great Flood"marker of May 31, 1889 occurred after the South Fork Dammarker collapsed 14.1 miles (23 km) upstream from the city during heavy rains. At least 2,209 people died as a result of the flood and subsequent fire that raged through the debris. Other major floods occurred in 1936 and 1977.


This home was impaled on a tree by the raging waters of the 1889 Johnstown flood.
Johnstown was formally organized as a town in 1800 by the Swissmarker German immigrant Joseph Johns (ne Josef Schantz). The settlement was initially known as Schantzstadt, but was soon changed to Johnstown. From 1834 to 1854, the city was a port and key transfer point along the Pennsylvania Main Line Canalmarker. Johnstown was at the head of the canal's western branch, with canal boats having been transported over the mountains via the Allegheny Portage Railroadmarker and refloated here, to continue the trip by water to Pittsburgh and the Ohio Valley. Perhaps the most famous passenger via the canal to visit Johnstown briefly was Charles Dickens in 1842. By 1854, canal transport became redundant by the completion of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which now spanned the state. With the coming of the railroads, the city’s growth did not miss a beat; in fact, the tempo was stepped up. Johnstown became a stop on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad and was connected with the Baltimore & Ohio. The railroads provided large-scale development of the region’s mineral wealth.

[Iron]], coal, and steel quickly became central to the town of Johnstown. By 1860, the Cambria Iron Companymarker of Johnstown was the leading steel producer in the United States, outproducing steel giants Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Through the second half of the 19th century, Johnstown made much of the nation's barbed wire. Johnstown prospered from skyrocketing demand in the western United States for barbed wire. Twenty years after its founding, the Cambria Works was a huge enterprise sprawling over 60 acres in Johnstown and employing 7,000. It owned 40,000 acres of valuable mineral lands in a region with a ready supply of iron, coal and limestone.

Floods were almost a yearly event in the valley during the 1880s. On the afternoon of May 30, 1889, following a quiet Memorial Day ceremony and a parade, it began raining in the valley. The next day water filled the streets and rumors began stating that a dam holding an artificial lake in the mountains to the northeast might give way. The dam gave way and an estimated 20 million tons of water began spilling into the winding gorge that led to Johnstown some 14 miles away. The destruction in Johnstown occurred in only about 10 minutes. What had been a thriving steel town with homes, churches, saloons, a library, a railroad station, electric street lights, a roller-skating rink, and two opera houses, was buried under mud and debris. 2,209 people perished in this natural disaster. Clara Barton, 67, came to the city to distribute supplies and stayed for five months to assist in the rehabilitation of the town, earning the title of “the heroine of Johnstown”. The flood established Barton’s American Red Cross as the pre-eminent emergency relief organization in the U.S.

The mills were back in operation within a month. The Cambria Works grew, and Johnstown became more prosperous than ever. The disaster had not destroyed the community but strengthened it. Later generations would draw on lessons learned in 1889.


Johnstown was a remarkably prosperous hard-working city during the inter-war years. In the early 1900s, the population reached 75,000 people. Its public transportation was considered the one of the best of any small city in the United States. The city's first commercial radio station, WJAC, began broadcasts in 1925. The downtown boasted at least five major department stores, including Glosser Brothers, which in the 1950s gave birth to the Gee Bee chain of department stores. However, the St. Patrick's Day 1936 Flood combined with the gnawing effects of the Great Depression left Johnstown struggling again, but only temporarily. Johnstown’s citizens mobilized to achieve a permanent solution to the flooding problem and wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt pleading for Federal aid. Starting in August 1938, continuing for the next five years, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers gouged widened, deepened, and realigned 9.2 miles of channel in the city, and encased the river banks in concrete and reinforced steel. In a campaign organized by the Chamber of Commerce, thousands of Johnstown’s citizens wrote to friends and relatives across the country hoping to bring new business to the town. The memory of floods was virtually purged from the community’s consciousness. Newcomers to the town heard little about the tragic past. Johnstown proclaimed itself "flood-free," a feeling reinforced when Johnstown was virtually the only riverside city in Pennsylvania not to flood during Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

The immediate post-WWII years mark Johnstown's peak as a steel maker and fabricator. At its peak, steel provided Johnstowners with more than 13,000 full-time, well-paying jobs. However, increased domestic and foreign competition, coupled with Johnstown's relative distance from its primary iron ore source in the western Great Lakesmarker, led to a steady decline in profitability. New capital investment waned. Johnstown's mountainous terrain, and the resulting poor layout for the mills' physical plant strung along of river bottom lands, compounded the problem.

New regulations ordered by the EPA in the 1970’s also hit Johnstown with its aging plant especially hard. A community with a lesser tradition might have reacted with despair. Instead, with encouragement from the steel company, the city fathers organized an association called Johnstown Area Regional Industries (JARI) and, within a year, raised $3 million for industrial development in the area. Bethlehem, who was the major contributor to the fund, committed itself to bringing new steelmaking technologies to Johnstown because they were impressed by the city’s own efforts to diversify.

Extensive damage from the 1977 was heavy and there was talk of the company pulling out. Again, the city won a reprieve from the company’s top management, which had always regarded the Johnstown works with special affection because of its history and reputation. When the country slid into a recession in 1982 and steel companies began closing down plants all over the country, it looked as if Johnstown had exhausted its appeals. By the early 1990s, Johnstown abandoned most of its steel production, although some limited fabrication work continues.


In 2003, U.S. Census data showed that Johnstown was the least likely city in the United States to attract newcomers; however, what were previously relatively weak opportunities provided by the local manufacturing and service economies have more recently begun to burgeon, attracting outsiders. Gamesa, a Spanish wind energy company, opened its first U.S. wind turbine blade manufacturing facility near here in 2006. Several state-of-the-art operational wind turbines are sited on Babcock Ridge, the "eastern continental divide," along the eastern edge of Cambria and Somerset Counties. Lockheed Martin relocated a facility from Greenville, SC to Johnstown in 2008.

Companies like Concurrent Technologies Corporation, DRS Laurel Technologies, ITSI Biosciences, Kongsberg Defense and more throughout the region are embracing cutting edge technology and scientific progress to create products that make life easier, better and greener. Innovation is the key to the changes taking place for the area’s industry, and our region will continue to be on the leading edge. Recent construction in the surrounding region, the downtown, and adjacent Kernville neighborhood—including a new Regional Technology Complex that will house a division of Northrop Grumman, among other tenants—signal the increasing dependence of Johnstown's economy on the U.S. government's defense budget. The high-tech defense industry is now the main non-health-care staple of the Johnstown economy, with the region pulling in well over $100M annually in Federal government contracts, punctuated by one of the premier defense trade shows in the U.S., the annual Showcase For Commerce.

Johnstown remains a regional medical, educational, cultural, and communications center. As in many other locales, health care provides a significant percentage of the employment opportunities in the city. The region is located right in the middle of the “Health Belt”, an area stretching from the Midwest to New England and down the East Coast that has had massive growth in the health care industry. Incredible progress is being made at Memorial Medical Center and Windber Medical Center, especially at the Laurel Highlands Neuro-Rehabilitation Center and the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute, with its advances in treating wounded veterans, and the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center’s focus on early diagnosis and advanced treatment.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstownmarker and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College both attract thousands of students to their contiguous modern campuses in Richland, five miles east of Johnstown. Cambria-Rowe Business College, located in the Moxham section of Johnstown, offers concentrated career training and has continuously served Johnstown since 1891. The Pasquerilla Performing Arts Centermarker, a concert/theatrical venue at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, continues to attract high-quality performers. The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and the recently-formed Johnstown Symphony Chamber Players provide classical music. The Pasquerilla Convention Center was recently constructed downtown, adjacent to the historic Cambria County War Memorial Arenamarker at 326 Napoleon Street. Point Stadiummarker, a baseball park where Babe Ruth once played, was razed and rebuilt. A recently-passed zoning ordinance created an artist zone and a traditional neighborhood zone to encourage both artistic endeavors and the old-fashioned "Mom and Pop" enterprises that had difficulty thriving under the previous code. The Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Center offers many exhibitions, events, performances, and classes that celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the Area. The Johnstown Chiefs hockey team have provided affordable family entertainment to the region for over 20 seasons. The Chiefs are a member team of the ECHL, the premier "AA" hockey league in North America, and play their home games in the Cambria County War Memorial Arenamarker. The recently-established ART WORKS In Johnstown! houses artist studios in some of the area's architecturally significant but underused industrial buildings. A pilot ART WORKS project underway will feature Johnstown's first fully LEED-certified green building. The Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center opened in 2001 with the permanent exhibit America: Through Immigrant Eyes, which tells the story of immigration to the area during the Industrial Revolution. In June 2009, the Heritage Discovery Center opened the Johnstown Children's Museum and premiered "The Mystery of Steel," a film detailing the history of steel in Johnstown. The Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Center, ART WORKS, and the Heritage Discovery Center are located in the historic Cambria City section of town, which boasts a variety of eastern European ethnic church and social halls. This neighborhood hosted the National Folk Festival for three years in the early 1990s. Johnstown also hosts the annual Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally during the fourth week of June; the event has attracted motorcyclists from across the Northeast to the city of Johnstown since 1998. Well over 200,000 participants enjoyed the 2008 edition of Thunder In The Valley.

Significant and largely successful efforts have been made to deal with deteriorating housing, brownfields, drug problems, and other issues as population leaves the city limits and concentrates in suburban boroughs and townships. The Johnstown Fire Department has become a leader in developing intercommunication systems among first responders, and is now a national model for ways to avoid the communications problems which faced many first responders during the September 11, 2001 attacks.


Johnstown is located at (40.325174, -78.920954) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.1 square miles (16 km²), of which, 5.8 square miles (15 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it (4.11%) is water. The Conemaugh River forms at Johnstown from its tributaries, the Stonycreek River and the Little Conemaugh.

Wards and neighborhoods of the city


As of the census of 2000, there were 23,906 people, 11,134 households, and 6,045 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,097.0 people per square mile (1,583.2/km²). There were 12,802 housing units at an average density of 2,194.0/sq mi (847.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.28% White, 10.71% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 1.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.59% of the population. 23.8% were of German, 10.0% Italian, 9.2% Irish, 7.7% Polish, 7.2% Slovak and 5.7% Americanmarker ancestry according to Census 2000.

There are 11,134 households of which 22.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 41.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.87.

Within the city, the population is spread with 21.3% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 22.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,595 and the median income for a family was $28,279. Males had a median income of $26,163 versus $19,791 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,236. 24.6% of the population and 18.9% of families were below the poverty line. Of the total population, 37.5% of those under the age of 18 and 12.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Due to the severe lack of jobs in the town, it was reported that the unemployment average is 9%,though its more like almost 20 %. Most of the jobs center around health care and defense, with little being offered to anyone outside of the two industries besides telemarketing and retail.


The City of Johnstown is divided into many neighborhoods, each with its own unique, ethnic feel. These are the Downtown Business District, Kernville, Hornerstown, Roxbury, Old Conemaugh Boro, Prospect, Woodvale, Minersville, Cambria City, Morrellville, Oakhurst, Coopersdale, Walnut Grove and Moxham.

Of the suburbs, Westmont Boromarker, Southmont Boro, Brownstown Boromarker, Dale Boro, Ferndale Boro, Upper Yoder Twp, and Lower Yoder Twp form the West Hills. Richlandmarker, Geistown Boro, Lorain Boro and Stoneycreek Township are in the East Hills. East Conemaugh Boromarker, Franklin Boromarker, Daisytown Boromarker, Conemaugh Township, and West, Middle, and East Taylor Townships lie to the north of the city.

Johnstown in the arts and literature

Two major motion pictures have been filmed in Johnstown, taking advantage of the city's atmosphere.

The first is 1977's Slap Shot, directed by George Roy Hill and featuring Paul Newman as an aging hockey player/coach. The screenplay by Nancy Dowd was a parody loosely based on the real-life Johnstown Jets hockey team and its North American Hockey League championship in 1976. In the movie, Johnstown was rechristened "Charlestown" and the Jets as the Charlestown Chiefs. The film's premiere engendered some local controversy, as some thought Johnstown was portrayed in a less than flattering light. The name "Charlestown" itself is believed to be a reference to Charles Kunkle, an influential local businessman of the era. Slap Shot has since become the iconic movie about hockey and its foibles. Nancy Dowd would revive the fake town of "Charlestown" in her screenplay for the 1981 punk rock satire Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, but the film itself was shot in Canadamarker.

The second major film was All the Right Moves, a high school football drama set in the fictional town of Ampipe and featuring Tom Cruise, Lea Thompson and Craig T. Nelson. Locations seen in the movie are the old Johnstown High School in Kernville, torn down shortly afterwards; the Carpatho-Russian Citizen's Club in East Conemaugh; the Franklin works of Bethlehem Steel; the Point Stadium; the Johnstown "Cochran" Junior High football practice field and the Johnstown Vo-Tech football locker room.

Historian David McCullough wrote what is widely regarded as the city's definitive history, The Johnstown Flood, in 1968. McCullough completed his research with the aid of the remaining flood survivors.

The film "The Johnstown Flood", written and directed by Charles Guggenheim, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject in 1989. The film was commissioned by the Johnstown Flood Museum Association, which later reorganized as the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, and is shown every hour at the Johnstown Flood Museum.

Mystery novel writer K.C. Constantine fictionalized many elements of Johnstown and its culture as "Rocksburg" in his novels, although the nearby city of Greensburg, Pennsylvaniamarker also provides some of the lore for Rocksburg.

In 2000, Kathleen Cambor published In Sunlight, In A Beautiful Garden. The novel followed its characters through the events leading up to and including the 1889 flood. Although the protagonists in the novel were fictional, several historical figures, such as Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick and Daniel Morrell were also depicted in the book.

The American death metal band, Incantation, currently call Johnstown their home.

Author James Patterson had his fictional serial kidnapper Gary Soneji from Along Came A Spider stopping at a convenience store on his way through Johnstown, Pennsylvania; and author David Morrell had his fictional character "Eliot" recruit two brothers from an orphanage in Johnstown to train as assassins in Brotherhood of the Rose.

In 1978's haunting film Dawn of the Dead, a character mentions that they are flying over Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and quips that the people are actually entertained by the zombie outbreak. George Romero filmed the majority of the zombie movie at the Monroevillemarker Mall, some 50 odd miles away.


Colleges Secondary Education

  • The Cambria County Library is located at 248 Main Street, Johnstown PA 15901.
  • The Highland Community Library is located at 330 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown PA 15904.


Major employers in the area:


Newspapers and magazines


The Johnstown market is the 191st largest radio market in the country. The following box contains a list of radio stations in the area.

FM stations
call letters frequency format location Owner
WFRJ 88.9 Religious Johnstown Family Stations, Inc.
WQEJ 89.7 Classical Johnstown WQED Multimedia
WPKV 90.7 Christian Contemporary Nanty Glo Educational Media Foundation
WUFR 91.1 Religious Bedford Family Radio
W219DB 91.7 Religious Johnstown Bible Broadcasting Network
WJHT 92.1 Top 40 Johnstown Forever Broadcasting
W230BK 93.9 Rock Johnstown Forever Broadcasting
WFGI 95.5 Country Johnstown Forever Broadcasting
WKYE 96.5 Adult Contemporary Johnstown Forever Broadcasting
WPCL 97.3 Religious Northern Cambria He's Alive, Inc.
WFGY 98.1 Country Altoona Forever Broadcasting
WRKW 99.1 Rock Ebensburg Forever Broadcasting
W263AW 100.5 Jazz Johnstown Duquesne University
WCCL 101.7 Oldies Central City Results Radio Company
WLKJ 105.7 Christian Contemporary Portage EMF Broadcasting

AM stations
call letters frequency format location Owner
WFRB 560 Nostalgia Frostburg, MD Dix Broadcasting
WKHB 620 Oldies Irwin Broadcast Communications, Inc.
WKGE 850 News/Talk Johnstown Birach Broadcasting Corporation
WNTW 990 News/Talk Somerset Forever Broadcasting
WCRO 1230 Nostalgia Johnstown Greater Johnstown School District
WNTJ 1490 News/Talk Johnstown 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.



The main highway connecting Johnstown to the Pennsylvania Turnpike is US 219. In addition, there is also State Route 56, which is an expressway from 219 until Walnut Street. From there, it provides a connection to US 22 to the north of Johnstown, which connects to Pittsburghmarker and Altoonamarker.


The local airport is the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airportmarker and is served by United Airlines.


Passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak's daily . The city is located on the former mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Norfolk Southern operates (60-80) trains daily on these rails.

Mass transit

CamTran operates the local bus service, and the Johnstown Inclined Planemarker.


Club League Venue Established Championships
Johnstown Chiefs ECHL, Ice hockey Cambria County War Memorial Arenamarker 1988 0

Johnstown has been home to a long succession of minor league hockey franchises dating back to 1940. The current team, the Johnstown Chiefs, were named for their Slap Shot counterparts. The team made their ECHL debut in 1988. Johnstown will be the home to the junior team Johnstown Jets in the UJHL.

The city also has a rich history in amateur and professional baseball. Since 1944, Johnstown has been known as the host city for the AAABA Baseball Tournament held each summer. Several Major League Baseball Players have played on AAABA teams over the years, including Hall-of Famers Al Kaline and Reggie Jackson and current Major League managers Joe Torre and Bruce Bochy. The organization also has its own Hall of Fame instituted in its 50th anniversary year of 1994.

In addition, the city has hosted several incarnations of a Minor League Baseball team, the Johnstown Johnnies, beginning in 1884. The last team to play as the Johnnies, as a part of the Frontier League, left the city in 2002.

Johnstown also hosts the annual Sunnehanna Amateur golf tournament at its Sunnehanna Country Club. The invitational tournament hosts top amateur golfers from around the United States.

Johnstown is home to the Flood City Water Polo team. Established in 2005 by Zachary Puhala, the team takes its name from the history of floods in the area. FCWP is part of the American Water Polo Organization.


  • Grandview Cemetery, Johnstown is one of Pennsylvania's largest cemeteries: With more than 65,000 interments, Grandview is home to over 47 burial sections and more than of land. Grandview also holds the remains of the 777 victims of the 1889 Johnstown Flood who were not able to be identified.


Notable Johnstowners include:

Political jurisdictions in the Johnstown MSA

Adams Townshipmarker |Addison Boroughmarker |Addison Townshipmarker |Allegheny Townshipmarker |Allegheny Township, Somerset Countymarker |Ashville Boroughmarker |Barr Townshipmarker |Benson Boroughmarker |Black Townshipmarker |Blacklick Townshipmarker |Benson Boroughmarker |Brothersvalley Townshipmarker |Cambria Townshipmarker |Callimont Boroughmarker |Carolltown Boroughmarker |Casselman Boroughmarker |Central City Boroughmarker |Chest Springs Boroughmarker |Chest Townshipmarker |Clearfield Townshipmarker |Conemaugh Township, Cambria Countymarker |Conemaugh Township, Somerset Countymarker |Confluence Boroughmarker |Croyle Townshipmarker |Daisytown Boroughmarker |Dale Boroughmarker |East Carroll Townshipmarker |East Conemaugh Boroughmarker |East Taylor Townshipmarker |Ebensburg Boroughmarker |Ehrenfeld Boroughmarker |Elder Townshipmarker |Elk Lick Townshipmarker |Fairhope Townshipmarker |Ferndale Boroughmarker |Franklin Boroughmarker |Garrett Boroughmarker |Geistown Boroughmarker |Greenville Townshipmarker |Hasting Boroughmarker |Hooversville Boroughmarker |Jenner Townshipmarker |Indian Lake Boroughmarker |Jefferson Township, Somerset Countymarker |Jennerstown Boroughmarker |Larimer Townshipmarker |Lincoln Township, Somerset Countymarker |Lorain Boroughmarker |Lower Turkeyfoot Townshipmarker |Lower Yoder Townshipmarker |Meyersdale Boroughmarker |Middlecreek Township, Somerset Countymarker |Middle Taylor Townshipmarker |Milford Township, Somerset Countymarker |Nanty Glo Boroughmarker |New Baltimore Boroughmarker |New Centerville Boroughmarker |Northampton Township, Somerset Countymarker |Northern Cambriamarker |Ogle Townshipmarker |Paint BoroughmarkerPaint Township, Somerset Countymarker |Patton Boroughmarker |Portage Boroughmarker |Quemahoning Townshipmarker |Richland Townshipmarker |Rockwood Boroughmarker |Salisbury Boroughmarker |Scalp Level Boroughmarker |Seven Springs Boroughmarker (partial) |South Fork Boroughmarker |Shade Townshipmarker |Shanksville Boroughmarker |Somerset Boroughmarker |Somerset Township, Somerset Countymarker | Southampton Township, Somerset Countymarker |Southmont Boroughmarker |Stoneycreek Township, Cambria Countymarker |Stonycreek Township, Somerset Countymarker |Summerhill Boroughmarker |Stoystown Boroughmarker |Summerhill Townshipmarker |Summit Township, Somerset Countymarker |Susquehanna Townshipmarker |Upper Turkeyfoot Townshipmarker |Upper Yoder Townshipmarker |Ursina Boroughmarker \Vintondale Boroughmarker |Wellersburg Boroughmarker |West Carroll Townshipmarker |West Taylor Townshipmarker |Westmont Boroughmarker |White Townshipmarker |Wilmore Boroughmarker |Windber Boroughmarker

See also


Further reading

  • David McCullough. The Johnstown Flood, ISBN 0-671-20714-8
  • Karl Berger, M.D., editor. Johnstown: Story of a Unique Valley, published by the Johnstown Flood Museum, 1984.
  • Morawska, Ewa. (2004) For Bread with Butter: The Life-Worlds of East Central Europeans in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1890-1940., Cambridge University Press. [19780]
  • Morawska, Ewa. (1999). Insecure Prosperity. Princeton University Press. [19781]

External links

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