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Easton City

Easton City Hall is located at 1 South Third Street, Easton PA 18042; phone: 610-250-6730.

Beginnings [1]

The City of Easton is located at the Forks of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, approximately 70 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia. This place called Lehanwitauk by the Indians, meaning The Place of the Forks, found its roots as a city in the early colonial days of Pennsylvanian and American history.

It was in the summer of 1735 when Thomas Penn, accompanied by his brother John, overlooked the Forks and envisioned this junction of the two rivers as the future site for a town. The land lacked overland transportation links to developing lands in the surrounding region and was uninhabited by the white man. In spite of these considerable shortcomings, in 1752, William Parsons, the Surveyor General, and Nicholas Scull, his assistant, laid out the streets of a new village. It was named Easton by Thomas Penn after the English estate of his father-in-law, the Earl of Pomfret in Easton Neston. The original boundaries of the town were the Lehigh River to the south, the Delaware River to the east, the Bushkill Creek to the north and a hill to the west about 715 yards away from and parallel to the Delaware River. A town square, to be the site of the county court house, was placed at the center. The construction of the court house in 1763 was preceded by the construction of the county jail. Lots measuring approximately 60 by 200 feet were surveyed, extending outward from the square in a grid pattern.

Easton was slow to be settled. Its establishment had been different from other locales in that rather than forming as a center of commerce, trade or habitation by settlers, Easton had been created as the seat of a new county. The stores and dwellings were developed to meet the needs of the people who would carry on the work of the county. Easton played a role in the creation of a new nation when on July 8, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read on the old Court House steps and for the first time a new thirteen-star flag was flown. During the post-revolutionary war years Easton grew and was incorporated as a borough in 1789 with almost 700 residents of the county seat. By 1800, 1,000 residents were clustered in the 200 houses around the Center Square Court House. The Circle Market, which still operates today, was begun by ordinance in 1796; the first fire company in Easton was established in 1797, a free public library was completed in the city in 1811, the water works were developed in 1817, and Lafayette College was founded in 1826.

From these modest beginnings, Easton developed as the value of its water resources was realized. The completion of the Lehigh Canal in 1829 and the Delaware Canal in 1831 placed Easton at the center of activity. Tanneries, distilleries and flour mills flourished with Easton serving as a water transportation hub for shipments to Philadelphia and eventually New York via the Morris Canal in New Jersey. South Easton became a borough in 1840 and was home to most of the industrial plants located in the area. With the introduction of the railroads in the 1850's along with the Industrial Revolution, prosperity increased in Easton and Northampton County. Easton's population had escalated from approximately 4,800 in 1840 to almost 12,000 by 1880. With the 1887 annexation of South Easton by the city, Easton's population had again doubled to 25,000 in 1900.

  1. City of Easton Comprehensive Plan, 1997,, accessed February, 2008
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