|Founded||November 7, 1803|
|Named for||Erie people|
|• Total||1,558 sq mi (4,040 km2)|
|• Land||799 sq mi (2,070 km2)|
|• Water||759 sq mi (1,970 km2) 49%%|
|• Density||339.1/sq mi (130.9/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Erie County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2020 census, the population was 270,876. Its county seat is Erie. The county was created in 1800 and later organized in 1803.
Erie County comprises the Erie, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Erie County was established on March 12, 1800 from part of Allegheny County, which absorbed the lands of the disputed Erie Triangle in 1792. Prior to 1792, the region was claimed by both New York and Pennsylvania and so no county demarcations were made until the federal government intervened.
Since Erie County and its newly established neighboring Counties of Crawford, Mercer, Venango, and Warren were initially unable to sustain themselves, a five-county administrative organization was established at Crawford County's Meadville to temporarily manage government affairs in the region. Erie first elected its own county officials in 1803. Unfortunately, on March 23, 1823 the Erie County Courthouse burned and all county records to that point were destroyed.
The county was originally settled by immigrants of "Yankee" stock (immigrants from New England and the western part of New York descended from the English Puritans whose ancestors settled New England in the colonial era). Erie County resembled Upstate New York more than it did Pennsylvania with its population primarily consisting of settlers from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine. Roads were laid out, post routes established, public buildings erected and people were invited to move there. The original settlers were entirely of New England origins or were Yankees from upstate New York whose families had moved to that place from New England only one generation earlier, in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. This resulted in Erie County being culturally very contiguous with early New England culture.
Erie County was part of the Underground Railroad giving slaves the ability to gain freedom through Lake Erie into Canada, East through New York State, or to stay in Erie with the help of abolitionists and the free black community. Today, the "Journey to Freedom" educational program provides an interactive program on the Underground Railroad experience.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,558 square miles (4,040 km2), of which 799 square miles (2,070 km2) is land and 759 square miles (1,970 km2) (49%) is water. It is the largest county in Pennsylvania by total area. With the exception of a high ridge several miles from the lake, running nearly parallel with its shore, the terrain is generally rolling and well watered. It is the only county in the state that occupies a significant amount of land north of the 42nd parallel.
There are two cities in Erie County: the city of Erie and the city of Corry. Other notable population centers include Millcreek, Harborcreek and Fairview townships, and the boroughs of Edinboro, North East, Girard, Waterford and Union City. Erie County is bordered on the northeast by Chautauqua County, New York, on the east by Warren County, on the south by Crawford County, and on the west by Ashtabula County, Ohio. Directly north of the county is Lake Erie. This position on the water makes Erie County the only county in Pennsylvania to share a border with Canada, which is located on the far shore of the lake.
The county has a warm-summer humid continental climate (Dfb). Average monthly temperatures in downtown Erie range from 26.4 °F in January to 70.8 °F in July, while in Corry they range from 23.8 °F in January to 68.2 °F in July. 
According to the 2010 census, there were 280,566 people, 110,413 households, and 70,196 families residing in the county. The population density was 351.2 inhabitants per square mile (135.6/km2). There were 119,138 housing units at an average density of 149.1 per square mile (57.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.2 percent White, 7.2 percent Black or African American, 0.2 percent Native American, 1.1 percent Asian, 0.03 percent Pacific Islander, 1.2 percent from other races, and 2.1 percent from two or more races. A further 3.4 percent of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 24.4% were of German, 12.5% Polish, 12.3% Italian, 10.1% Irish, 6.5% English and 6.4% American ancestry.
Of the total number of household, 27.2 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4 percent were married couples living together, 13.2 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.4 percent were non-families. 29.3 percent of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.3 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.5 percent under the age of 20. The median age was 38.6 years. For every 100 females there were 96.73 males.
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Erie County as the Erie, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of the 2010 U.S. Census the metropolitan area ranked 11th most populous in the State of Pennsylvania and the 164th most populous in the United States with a population of 280,566. Erie County is also a part of the larger Erie-Meadville, PA Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which combines the populations of Erie County as well as Crawford County to the south. The Combined Statistical Area ranked 7th in the State of Pennsylvania and 102nd most populous in the United States with a population of 369,331.
|2015 rank||City||Type||2016 estimate||2010 Census||Change||Highest Population (Year)|
|7||North East||Township||6,269||6,315||−0.73%||7,702 (2000)|
Prior to 1960, Erie County was primarily Republican in presidential elections, only backing Democratic Party candidates in four elections from 1888 to 1956. Since 1960, it has become primarily Democratic with only four Republican wins in the county in presidential elections from 1960 to the present.
The county seat of government is in Erie, Pennsylvania. The county has a home-rule charter and is run by a county executive. The current County Executive is Kathy Dahlkemper. Dahlkemper assumed the office in January 2014 after ousting incumbent Barry Grossman in the 2013 Democratic primary and defeating Republican Don Tucci in the general election. The remaining elected officials of the executive branch are the Erie County Controller, Erie County Coroner, Erie County District Attorney, Erie County Sheriff, and Erie County Clerk. see latest list
|Name||Party||Term start||Term end|
|Judith M. Lynch||Democratic||1982||2002|
|Mark A. DiVecchio||Democratic||2006||2010|
The legislature consists of a county council. The Erie County Council is made up of seven councilpersons elected to represent seven geographical districts. see map A chair and vice chair are chosen among the councilpersons to lead the council.
The judiciary is made up of nine judges serving the Erie County Court of Common Pleas and fifteen magisterial district judges serve the district courts. Court administration is managed by a district court administrator, deputy court administrator, and assistant court administrator. The Erie County Courthouse is located near Perry Square in downtown Erie. Erie County also operates a County Prison, and a combined 911/Emergency Management Agency under the Erie County Department of Public Safety, which is located in Summit Township.
As of November 1, 2021, there are 177,186 registered voters in Erie County.
Unlike most of northwestern Pennsylvania, Erie County tends to lean Democratic in statewide and national elections. All four statewide winners carried the county in 2008. The margins of victory for the Democratic presidential candidate in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections in Erie County were 9, 8, and 20 percentage points, respectively. In 2016, however, Republican Donald Trump continued a trend seen elsewhere in the region, turning Erie County red. He was also the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Erie County since 1984.
The county is considered a bellwether polity.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has 36 Approved Private Schools including the Charter Schools for the Blind and Deaf. Students attending these schools come from across the commonwealth. The private schools are licensed by the State Board of Private Academic Schools. They provide a free appropriate special education for students with severe disabilities. The cost of tuition for these schools is paid 60% by the state and 40% by the local school district where the student is a resident. Pennsylvania currently has four PA chartered and 30 non-charter APSs for which the Department approves funding. These schools provide a program of special education for over 4,000 day and residential students. Parents are not charged for the services at the school. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Education budgeted $98 million for tuition of children in approved private schools and $36.8 million for students attending the charter schools for the deaf and blind.
After years of advocacy on the issue, Erie County Council approved sponsorship of an Erie County Community College on June 28, 2017. Council Chairman Jay Breneman and colleagues Andre Horton, Kathy Fatica and Fiore Leone voted in favor of sponsoring the community college, which was later signed by County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper. The County Executive's administration took the lead in presenting the proposal to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education for approval, supported by a cross-section of business, civic, labor, and community leaders.
There are two Pennsylvania state parks in Erie County and both are on the shores of Lake Erie.
The foremost public library in Erie is part of the Erie County library system, which consists of five branches and a bookmobile. The Raymond M. Blasco, M. D. Memorial Library, named for its benefactor, opened in 1996. Now called the Main Library or the Erie County Public Library, is the third-largest library in Pennsylvania. It is connected to the Erie Maritime Museum, both of which are part of a bayfront improvement project that includes the Bayfront Convention Center and the Bicentennial Tower on Dobbins Landing. The Main Library is praised for its waterfront views of the Presque Isle Bay, where the historic U.S. Brig Niagara is often located. The library was moved to this location approximately 25 years ago, from its previous home in the center of downtown Erie. The library's renovation directly contributed to the revitalization of the waterfront, which was previously underdeveloped.
The second floor of the Main Library is home to an art collection, containing historic pieces like Summer Afternoon, Isle of Shoals by Frederick Childe Hassam. The display also features several local artists. The library works with the International Institute of Erie (IIE) to offer tours of the library, a collection of foreign-language books, and other practical information about immigration processes. The library also provides a heritage room where one can conduct genealogy research concerning their ancestors who resided in Erie County or Northwest Pennsylvania.
The four remaining libraries within the Erie County library system are the Edinboro Branch Library, Iroquois Avenue Branch Library, Lincoln Community Center Branch Library, and Millcreek Branch Library. The other public libraries of Erie County include the Albion Area Public Library, Corry Public Library, McCord Memorial Library, Rice Avenue Public Library, Union City Public Library, and Waterford Public Library.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. There are 38 incorporated municipalities in Erie County, including 2 cities, 14 boroughs, and 22 townships. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Erie 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 Erie County.
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|12||Penn State Erie (Behrend)||CDP||1,629|