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Pennsylvania Counties
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Pennsylvania Counties

There are sixty-seven counties of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States of America. The city of Philadelphia is coterminous with Philadelphia County, and governmental functions have been consolidated since 1854.

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Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

Lehigh County Education, Geography, and History

Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Courthouse

Lehigh County is a county located in the Lehigh Valley region of the state of Pennsylvania. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 349,497. Its county seat is Allentown, the state's third largest city behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The county, which was first settled around 1730, was formed in 1812 with the division of Northampton County into two counties. It is named after the Lehigh River, whose name is derived from the Delaware Indian term Lechauweki or Lechauwekink, meaning "where there are forks".

Lehigh County is included in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the New York City-Newark, New Jersey, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Lehigh County Name

Named for the Lehigh River. The name Lehigh is derived from the German "Lecha," which comes from the Native American term "Uchauwekink," meaning, "where there are forks."


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Lehigh County History

Created on March 6, 1812, from part of Northampton County and named for the Lehigh River. The name Lehigh is derived from the German "Lecha," which comes from the Native American term "Uchauwekink," meaning, "where there are forks." Allentown, the county seat, was laid out about 1762 and named for Chief Justice William Allen of Pennsylvania, a local landowner. It was incorporated as the Borough of Northampton on March 18, 1811, renamed Allentown in 1838, and chartered as a city on March 12, 1867. The county adopted a home rule charter in November 1975.

Although English, Scotch-Irish, and Welsh were in the Saucon Township area before 1729, large numbers of Swiss and Germans came to the Lehigh Valley after that. Philadelphians allied with the Penn proprietors received large grants and sold them to settlers. Allentown was designed to take advantage of the road to Reading. Canal development in the 1820s preceded the growth of industry. Railroads arrived in the 1840s, and Allentown grew large in the 1850s. Small iron furnaces using local ore flourished until phased out by competition elsewhere. By the late nineteenth century the slate industry, grain milling, and the manufacture of shoes, cotton, woolens, silk, cigars, beer, and cement were major enterprises, but each has been overcome by competitors elsewhere since the 1930s. Machinery manufacture was dominant until the deindustrialization period of the 1970s. Forty-three percent of the land is farmed, and the value of harvested crops exceeds that of animal products. Lehigh is in the top quarter of the counties in total farm income.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 348 square miles (902 km2), of which, 347 square miles (898 km2) of it is land and 2 square miles (4 km2) of it (0.48%) is water.

The county is located within the Lehigh Valley, a geographic region bounded by Blue Mountain, a ridge of the Appalachian mountain range which varies from 1,000 to 1,585 feet (483 m) in height in the north of the county, and South Mountain, a ridge of 500 to 1,000 feet (300 m) in height in the south of the county. The highest point in the county is Bake Oven Knob, a mass of Tuscarora conglomeratic rocks that rises about 100 feet above the main ridge of the Blue Mountain in northwestern Heidelberg Township.

Lehigh County is in the Delaware River watershed. While most of the county is drained by the Lehigh River and its tributaries, the Schuylkill River also drains regions in the south of the county via the Perkiomen Creek and the northwest via the Maiden Creek.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Carbon County to the north
  • Northampton County to the northeast and east
  • Bucks County to the southeast
  • Montgomery County to the south
  • Berks County and Schuylkill County to the west.


4-year colleges and universities

Cedar Crest College, Allentown
DeSales University, Center Valley
Muhlenberg College, Allentown
Penn State Lehigh Valley, Center Valley

2-year colleges and technical institutes

Baum School of Art, Allentown
Lehigh Carbon Community College – Main Campus, Schnecksville, and Donley Center, Allentown
Lehigh Valley College, Center Valley
Lincoln Technical Institute, Allentown

Public school districts

Allentown School District
Catasauqua Area School District
East Penn School District
Northern Lehigh School District
Northwestern Lehigh School District
Parkland School District
Salisbury Township School District
Southern Lehigh School District
Whitehall-Coplay School District
Whitehall-Coplay Middle School

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