The Borough of Gettysburg was founded in 1786. It is the county seat of Adams County, which was formed in 1800 from the western section of York County. Gettysburg sits in the shadow of South Mountain, eight miles west of the town, and is framed by Marsh Creek to the west/southwest and Rock Creek to the east/southeast. In 1830, Gettysburg had a population of 1,473. By 1840 it had grown to 1,908, and in 1860 roughly 2,400 people resided in the town. Many rich farms surrounded the town, and various industries thrived. An early history of Adams County stated: "The inhabitants are industrious and enterprising, many of whom are devoted to mechanical pursuits, and partucularly to the manufacture of carriages of every description, a branch of business which has been commenced here since 1817." ---"The History and Topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams, and Perry Counties" (Lancaster City, PA: Gilbert Hills, 1846), p. 527.
Gettysburg was also known for its institutions of higher learning, namely the Lutheran Theological Seminary, founded in 1825; and Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College), which began operating in 1827.
Many roads radiate from Gettysburg, providing hub-like access to Baltimore (52 miles), Harrisburg (38 miles), Carlisle (30 miles), Frederick and Hagerstown, Maryland (25 and 30 miles, respectively), and Washington, D.C (60 miles). Today the town is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Philadelphia via the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Business Route 15.
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During the American Civil War (1861-65), Company K, 1st Pennsylvania Reserves, was made up of men from Gettysburg. These men would be present in the Army of the Potomac during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. As nearly 160,000 soldiers descended on the small village, the battle raged all around and through the town. A description of the terrain on which the battle was fought is in Gettysburg Battlefield. On July 1 the Theological Seminary was the scene of much heavy fighting, and the Seminary buildings--as well as those of Pennsylvania College and most other public and many private buildings--were used as hospitals. President Abraham Lincoln visited the town in November 1863 to attend the dedication ceremony of the Soldiers' National Cemetery, where he gave his Gettysburg Address.
In the summer of 1913, the 50th anniversary of the battle, veterans held a massive reunion of the Blue and Gray in Gettysburg.
During the First World War (1914-1918), Gettysburg was the site of Camp Colt, a tank-training camp. The camp's commander was a young captain, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was taken by the bucolic beauty; when he retired from the presidency, he purchased and retired to the John Biesecker farm, just west of the Confederate positions on Seminary Ridge.
The year 1938 saw the final reunion of the Blue and Gray to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Today, Gettysburg is still a thriving farm community, and Gettysburg College is one of the nation's excellent private educational institutions. Numerous orchards surround the town, which holds an annual Apple Blossom Festival each fall. Gettysburg's prime industry is tourism, as more than 1 million visitors arrive each year to visit Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, both maintained and operated by the National Park Service.
Gettysburg is located at 39°49'45" North, 77°14'3" West (39.829290, -77.234218)1.
As of the census of 2000, there are 7,490 people, 2,541 households, and 1,229 families residing in the borough. The population density is 1,763.4/km² (4,562.3/mi²). There are 2,759 housing units at an average density of 649.5/km² (1,680.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the borough is 85.46% White, 5.79% African American, 0.37% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.67% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. 8.02% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 2,541 households out of which 22.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.6% are married couples living together, 12.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% are non-families. 42.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 16.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.17 and the average family size is 2.94.
In the borough the population is spread out with 16.2% under the age of 18, 36.2% from 18 to 24, 19.1% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 23 years. For every 100 females there are 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.1 males.
The median income for a household in the borough is $29,840, and the median income for a family is $40,489. Males have a median income of $30,341 versus $21,111 for females. The per capita income for the borough is $14,157. 19.4% of the population and 13.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 24.0% are under the age of 18 and 5.2% are 65 or older.