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Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Johnstown is a city located in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 23,906.


Johnstown is located at 40°19'31" North, 78°55'15" West (40.325174, -78.920954)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 km² (6.1 mi²). 15.1 km² (5.8 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.11% water.


As of the census of 2000, there are 23,906 people, 11,134 households, and 6,045 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,583.2/km² (4,097.0/mi²). There are 12,802 housing units at an average density of 847.8/km² (2,194.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 1.59% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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

In the city the population is spread out 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 42 years. For every 100 females there are 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 80.2 males.

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


Johnstown perhaps is most famous for its frequent floods. The flood of May 31, 1889 occurred after an artificial reservoir collapsed 16 kilometers upstream from the city during heavy rains. At least 2200 persons died as a result of the flood and subsequent fire that raged through the debris. Other major floods occurred in 1936 and 1977.

Johnstown was founded in 1800 by the Swiss German settler Joseph Johns. The settlement was initially known as Schranzstadt, but was soon anglicized to Johnstown. The city was first an important port along the Pennsylvania Canal. By 1860, iron and coal became important. By 1920, Johnstown was primarily a steel producer. Johnstown's steelmaking facilities never really recovered from damage suffered in the 1977 flood and by the early 1990s, steel was no longer being produced. Johnstown has yet to find its economic footing for the 21st century. In 2003, US Census data showed that Johnstown was the city in the United States least likely to attract newcomers, demonstrating the weak opportunities provided by the local manufacturing and service economies. Johnstown remains a regional medical, educational, and communications center however.

Mystery novel writer K.C. Constantine currently resides in Johnstown. He has fictionalized Johnstown as "Rocksburg" in his books. The Johnstown Chiefs, made famous by the 1976 movie "Slap Shot", remains the city's minor league hockey franchise.