Carlisle, Pennsylvania

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Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Official seal of Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Motto: "Excellence in Community Service"
Carlisle is located in Pennsylvania
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Cumberland
Settled 1751
Incorporated 1782
 • Type Borough Council
 • Mayor Tim Scott
 • Deputy Mayor Sean M. Shultz
 • Total 5.54 sq mi (14.35 km2)
 • Land 5.53 sq mi (14.33 km2)
 • Water 0.008 sq mi (0.02 km2)
Elevation 479 ft (146 m)
Population (2014 estimate)[1]
 • Total 18,916
 • Density 3,421/sq mi (1,320.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 17013, 17015
Area code(s) 717
Designated July 30, 1947[2]

Carlisle is a borough in and the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States.[3] The name is locally pronounced as in British English with emphasis on the second syllable /kɑːrˈll/. Carlisle is located within the Cumberland Valley, a highly productive agricultural region. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 18,682;[4] the estimated population as of 2014 was 18,916.[1] Including suburbs in the neighboring townships, 37,695 live in the Carlisle urban cluster. Carlisle is an exurb of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to the east.

Carlisle is the slightly smaller principal city of the Harrisburg−Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry counties in South Central Pennsylvania. In 2010, Forbes rated Carlisle and Harrisburg the second-best place to raise a family.[5]

The U.S. Army War College, located at the Carlisle Barracks, prepares high-level military personnel and civilians for strategic leadership responsibilities. Carlisle Barracks ranks among the oldest U.S. Army installations and the most senior military educational institution in the United States Army. Carlisle Barracks is home of the United States Army Military Heritage Museum.

Carlisle also hosts Dickinson College and Penn State Dickinson School of Law. Ahold's U.S. headquarters are in Carlisle.


American pioneer John Armstrong, Sr., circa 1751 laid the plan for the settlement of Carlisle. Scots-Irish immigrants settled in Carlisle and farmed the Cumberland Valley. They named the settlement after its sister town of Carlisle, Cumbria, England, and even built its former jail-house (which Cumberland County now uses as general government offices) to resemble Carlisle Citadel.[6][7] In 1757, Colonel-Commandant John Stanwix made his headquarters there, and was promoted to brigadier general on December 27 of that year. Fort Stanwix in upstate New York is named for him. John Armstrong, Sr., founder of the town, fathered John Armstrong, Jr., born in Carlisle in 1758. John Stanwix sat in Parliament as Member for Carlisle during the 1740s, that his surname "Stanwix" is the name of a historic village (now suburb) to the north of Carlisle, Cumbria, and that the surname "Armstrong" is an old Reiver name common to the Anglo-Scottish border and the Carlisle district.

Late during the French and Indian Wars, the Forbes Expedition organized in Carlisle in 1758, and Henry Bouquet organized an expedition there for Pontiac's War, the last conflict of the war, in 1763.

The Carlisle Grammar School (now Dickinson College) began as a Latin school on the frontier in 1773.

Carlisle served as a munitions depot during the American Revolutionary War. The depot ultimately developed into the United States Army War College at Carlisle Barracks.

Carlisle was incorporated as a borough on April 13, 1782. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, developed Carlisle Grammar School and chartered it as Dickinson College, the first new college founded in the newly recognized United States. The 15th U.S. president, James Buchanan, graduated from Dickinson College in 1809.[8] In response to a planned march in favor of the United States constitution in 1787, Anti-Federalists instigated a riot in Carlisle. During the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, the troops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey assembled in Carlisle under the leadership of President George Washington.[9] The President worshiped in the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Hanover Street and High Street. Revolutionary legend Molly Pitcher died in the borough in 1832, and her body lies buried in the Old Graveyard. A hotel was built in honor of her, called the Molly Pitcher Inn, but has since been renovated due to its neglected use.

The Dickinson School of Law, founded in 1834 and affiliated then with Dickinson College, ranks as the fifth-oldest law school in the United States and the oldest law school in Pennsylvania. A general borough law of 1851 (amended in 1852) authorizes a burgess and a borough council to administer the government of the borough of Carlisle. Carlisle served as a stop on the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War.

An army of the Confederate States of America under General Fitzhugh Lee attacked and shelled the borough during the Battle of Carlisle on July 1, 1863, part of the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War.[9] On a column in front of the historic county courthouse a cannonball dent can still be seen.

United States Army Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt founded Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879 as the first federally supported school for American Indians off a reservation. The United States government maintained the school, housed at Carlisle Barracks as an experiment in educating Native Americans and teaching them to reject tribal culture and to adapt to white society. Richard Henry Pratt retired from the Army in 1903 and from supervising the school as its superintendent in 1904. Athletic hero Jim Thorpe entered the school in 1907 and joined its football team under coach Glenn Warner ("Pop" Warner) in 1908. Playing halfback, Jim Thorpe led the team to startling upset victories over powerhouses Harvard, Army, and the University of Pennsylvania in 1911–12, bringing nationwide attention to the school. Marianne Moore taught there c.1910. Carlisle Indian School closed in 1918.

The Dickinson School of Law ended its affiliation with Dickinson College in 1914, against much protest from locals, and reorganized as an independent institution. Dickinson School of Law merged into the Pennsylvania State University in 1997 as Penn State Dickinson School of Law.

The Carlisle Historic District, Carlisle Indian School, Hessian Powder Magazine, Carlisle Armory, and Old West, Dickinson College are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[10]


Carlisle is located slightly northeast of the center of Cumberland County at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (40.202553, −77.195016) at an elevation of 479 feet (146 m).[11][12] The borough lies in the Cumberland Valley, a section of the Great Appalachian Valley, to the south of Conodoguinet Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. Letort Spring Run, a tributary of Conodoguinet Creek, runs north through the eastern part of the borough.

Carlisle lies in south-central Pennsylvania southwest of the intersection of Interstate 76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike) and Interstate 81 roughly 20 miles (32 km) west-southwest of Harrisburg, the state capital. By road it is approximately 80 mi (130 km) northwest of Baltimore and 124 mi (200 km) west-northwest of Philadelphia.[13] According to the United States Census Bureau, Carlisle has a total area of 5.54 square miles (14.35 km2), of which 5.53 square miles (14.33 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.02 km2), or 0.14%, is water.[4]


Leading industries in Carlisle's past have included Carlisle Tire and Rubber Company (founded 1917), Masland Carpets (founded 1866), and Frog Switch Manufacturing (founded 1876 by John Hays). Carlisle Tire and Rubber and Masland Carpets have since gone out of business, and both plants were demolished in 2013.

CenturyLink maintains a call center in the city, and is one of several warehouse facilities in the city.


Carlisle has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) with hot, humid summers and cool winters. The average temperature in Carlisle is 51.3 °F (10.7 °C) with temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 16 days a year and dropping below 32 °F (0 °C) an average of 119 days a year. On average, the borough receives 38.8 inches (986 mm) of precipitation annually. Snowfall averages 29.8 inches (757 mm) per year.[14] On average, January is the coolest month, July is the warmest month, and September is the wettest month. The hottest temperature recorded in Carlisle was 102 °F (39 °C) in 1966; the coldest temperature recorded was −19 °F (−28 °C) in 1994.[15]

Climate data for Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 35
Average low °F (°C) 20
Record low °F (°C) −19
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.17
Average snowfall inches (cm) 9.0
Source: The Weather Channel;[15] Weatherbase[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 2,052
1810 2,491 21.4%
1820 2,908 16.7%
1830 3,708 27.5%
1840 4,351 17.3%
1850 4,581 5.3%
1860 5,664 23.6%
1870 6,650 17.4%
1880 6,209 −6.6%
1890 7,620 22.7%
1900 9,626 26.3%
1910 10,303 7.0%
1920 10,916 5.9%
1930 12,596 15.4%
1940 13,984 11.0%
1950 16,812 20.2%
1960 16,623 −1.1%
1970 18,079 8.8%
1980 18,314 1.3%
1990 18,419 0.6%
2000 17,970 −2.4%
2010 18,682 4.0%
Est. 2014 18,916 [16] 1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
2014 estimate[1]

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,970 people, 7,426 households, and 4,010 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,308.9 people per square mile (1,277.8/km2). There were 8,032 housing units at an average density of 1,479.0 per square mile (571.1/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 88.93% White, 6.92% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.60% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.96% of the population.

There were 7,426 households, out of which 23.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.3% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the borough, the population was spread out, with 18.6% under the age of 18, 17.2% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.8 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $33,969, and the median income for a family was $46,588. Males had a median income of $34,519 versus $25,646 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $21,394. About 8.6% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.7% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.


Colleges and universities

Public school

Private schools

As reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics[18]

  • Carlisle Christian Academy
  • Blue Ridge Mennonite School
  • Dickinson College Children's Center
  • Hidden Valley School
  • St Patrick School
  • The Christian School of Grace Baptist Church



Carlisle has one daily newspaper, The Sentinel.[19]



Frequency Callsign[20] Format[21] City of License Notes
960 WHYL Adult Standards Carlisle, Pennsylvania -
1000 WIOO Country Carlisle, Pennsylvania -


Frequency Callsign[22] Format[21] City of License Notes
88.3 WDCV-FM Variety Carlisle, Pennsylvania Dickinson College radio
93.1 W226AS Contemporary Christian Carlisle, Pennsylvania Translator of WBYO, Sellersville, Pennsylvania
97.9 W250AP Country Carlisle, Pennsylvania Translator of WIOO
101.7 W269AS Christian Carlisle, Pennsylvania Family Radio translator
102.3 WCAT-FM Country Carlisle, Pennsylvania Broadcasts from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Notable people


Carlisle is famous to many people for its car shows, put on regularly by Carlisle Events throughout the spring, summer, and fall at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. In addition to the regularly scheduled shows there are specialty shows, including the GM Nationals, the Ford Nationals, the Chrysler Nationals, the Truck Nationals, Corvettes at Carlisle, and the Import/Kit Car Nationals.

Most likely because of its location at the intersection of two major trucking routes (I-81 and I-76), air pollution within the borough often falls within the range considered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" [i.e., children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart disease]. The pollutant typically involved is PM2.5, particulate matter composed of particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.[citation needed]

The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), a ballet school and performing company known internationally for their alumni, is based in Carlisle.

Carlisle is the headquarters of the Giant Food supermarkets in Pennsylvania.

Carlisle was home to the Washington Redskins training camp for many years. In 1986, cornerback Darrell Green ran the 40-yard dash at Dickinson College in 4.09 seconds. Although the result was unofficial, it is the fastest "legitimate" time ever recorded in the 40-yard dash.

Fire companies

There are currently two fire companies supporting Carlisle: Union in downtown and Carlisle Fire and Rescue on the north side of Carlisle.

Union responds to nearly 1,000 calls a year, and it also supports the surrounding area.


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  7. [1] Archived July 13, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
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Further reading

  • Ridner, Judith. A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior ( 2010) excerpt and text search

External links