The Reading area from the Pagoda
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location within the U.S.
|Founded||March 11, 1752|
|• Total||866 sq mi (2,240 km2)|
|• Land||857 sq mi (2,220 km2)|
|• Water||9.2 sq mi (24 km2) 1.1%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||485/sq mi (187/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Congressional districts||4th, 6th, 9th|
|Designated||May 12, 1982|
Berks County (Pennsylvania German: Barricks Kaundi) is a county located in the U.S. commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 411,442. The county seat is Reading.
Berks County comprises the Reading, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which is also included in the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD Combined Statistical Area. (CSA).
Reading developed during the 1740s when the inhabitants of northern Lancaster County sent several petitions requesting that a separate county be established. With the help of German immigrant Conrad Weiser, the county was formed on March 11, 1752, from parts of Chester County, Lancaster County, and Philadelphia County.
It was named after the English county in which William Penn's family home lay, Berkshire, which is often abbreviated to Berks. Berks County began much larger than it is today. The northwestern parts of the county went to the founding of Northumberland County in 1772 and Schuylkill County in 1811, when it reached its current size. In 2005, Berks County was added to the Delaware Valley Planning Area due to a fast-growing population and close proximity to the other communities.
In 2016, former Strausstown borough merged with Upper Tulpehocken township. Strausstown is now a village within Upper Tulpehocken Township.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 866 square miles (2,240 km2), of which 857 square miles (2,220 km2) is land and 9.2 square miles (24 km2) (1.1%) is water. Most of the county is drained by the Schuylkill River, but an area in the northeast is drained by the Lehigh River via the Little Lehigh Creek and areas are drained by the Susquehanna River via the Swatara Creek in the northwest and the Conestoga River (which starts in Berks County between Morgantown and Elverson) in the extreme south. It has a humid continental climate (Dfa except for some Dfb on Blue Mountain at the northern boundary and on Mount Penn) and the hardiness zone is mostly 6b with 6a in some higher areas and 7a along the Schuylkill in the SE part of the county.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 census, the county was 76.9% White non-Hispanic, 4.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.3% Asian, and 2.5% were two or more races. 16.4% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino ancestry. Historically there is a large Pennsylvania Dutch population. It is known as part of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
As of the census of 2010, there were 411,442 people, 154,356 households, and 106,532 families residing in the county. The population density was 479 people per square mile (184.9/km2). There were 164,827 housing units at an average density of 191.9 per square mile (74.1/km2).
According to Muninet Guide's 2010 analysis, the median household income for Berks County is $54,105.
There were 154,356 households, out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.9% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.1 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.70 males.
Berks County is home to an Old Order Mennonite community consisting of about 160 families, located in the East Penn Valley near Kutztown and Fleetwood. The Old Order Mennonites first bought land in the area in 1949. In 2012, Old Order Mennonites bought two large farms in the Oley Valley. The Old Order Mennonites in the area belong to the Groffdale Conference Mennonite Church and use the horse and buggy as transportation. There are several farms in the area belonging to the Old Order Mennonite community and meetinghouses are located near Kutztown and Fleetwood.
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Berks County as the Reading, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of the 2010 U.S. Census the metropolitan area ranked 10th most populous in the State of Pennsylvania and the 128th most populous in the United States with a population of 413,491. Berks County is also a part of the larger Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which combines the populations of Berks County as well as several counties around Philadelphia and in the states of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The Combined Statistical Area is the largest in the State of Pennsylvania and 8th most populous in the United States with a population of 7,067,807.
As of October 24, 2016, there were 259,918 registered voters in Berks County.
The first time since 1964 that a Democrat carried Berks in a Presidential election occurred in November 2008, with Barack Obama receiving 53.9% of the vote to John McCain's 44.7%. The other three statewide winners (Rob McCord for treasurer, Jack Wagner for auditor general, and Tom Corbett for attorney general) also carried it. While Republicans have controlled the commissioner majority most of the time and continue to control most county row offices, Democrats have become more competitive in Berks in recent years. In the 2012 Presidential election, Mitt Romney carried the county by approximately a one-percent margin, 49.6% to 48.6%, however, in 2016, Donald Trump carried Berks by a much larger margin of 52.9% to 42.7%.
While Reading itself was once heavily Democratic it has become more Republican as of recent elections, the rural areas are still strongly Republican.
The Reading Public Museum is an art, science, and history museum.
The Reading Buccaneers Drum and Bugle Corps are an all-age drum corps based in Berks County. The corps, founded in 1957, is a charter member Drum Corps Associates and an 11-time DCA World Champion.
Reading is home to one opera company, Berks Opera Company, founded in 2007 as Berks Opera Workshop. They were named Arts and Entertainment Newsmaker of the Year in 2015.
There are two Pennsylvania state parks and a Natural Area in Berks County.
There are two Pennsylvania Historic Sites in Berks County.
The Old Morlatton Village in Douglassville is maintained by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County. The village is composed of four historic structures: White Horse Inn, George Douglass Mansion, Bridge keeper's House, and the Mouns Jones House, constructed in 1716, which is the oldest recorded building in the county.
West Reading in home to the annual Art on the Avenue, which reached its 25th year in 2019.
Berks County has been home to several media sources including:
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and towns. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Berks County:
Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.
The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Berks County.
† county seat
CDP=census designated population
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|48||Stony Creek Mills||CDP||1,045|