CHESTER COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA
The county seat is West Chester. It is the highest-income county measured per capita and by median household income in Pennsylvania, and has the 21st highest gross adjusted income in the nation (as of 2009).
Chester, Philadelphia, and Bucks were the three original Pennsylvania counties created by William Penn on 8/14/1682. At that time, Chester County's borders were Philadelphia County to the north, the western edge of the colony (approximately the Susquehanna River) to the west, the Delaware River to the east, and Delaware and Maryland to the south. Chester County replaced the Pennsylvania portion of New Netherland/New York’s Upland, which was officially eliminated when Pennsylvania was chartered on 3/4/1681, but did not actually cease to exist until June of that year. Much of eastern Chester County was in the Welsh Tract, and Welsh place names continue to predominate there.
The fourth county in the state, Lancaster County, was formed from Chester County on May 10, 1729. On March 11, 1752 Berks County was formed from the northern section of Chester County, as well as parts of Lancaster and Philadelphia Counties.
The original Chester County seat was the naval shipbuilding city of Chester. However, it became part of Delaware County when that county was formed from the eastern portion of the Chester County on September 26, 1789. This took the county seat out of Chester County, so West Chester became the new county seat that year, and has remained so to the present.
Much of the history of Chester County arises from its location between Philadelphia and the Susquehanna River. The first road to "the West" (meaning Lancaster County) passed through the central part of Chester County; with some re-alignments, it became the Lincoln Highway and later U.S. Route 30. For much of its distance, the road is still known as Lancaster Avenue. The first railroad (which became the Pennsylvania Railroad) followed much the same route, and the Reading Railroad progressed up the Schuylkill River to Reading. Industry tended to concentrate along the rail lines. In time, easy transportation allowed workers to commute to urban jobs, and the rise of the suburbs followed. To this day, the built-up areas form "fingers" extending along lines of transportation.
The Battle of Brandywine was fought at what is now the southeastern fringe of the county, and the Valley Forge encampment was at the northeastern edge. The former Valley Forge Army Hospital, constructed during World War II, was one of the largest military hospitals in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 760 square miles (1,968 km²), of which, 756 square miles (1,958 km²) of it is land and 4 square miles (10 km²) of it (0.51%) is water. The topography consists of rolling hills and valleys and it is part of the region known as the Piedmont.
Watersheds which service Chester County include the Octorara Creek, the Brandywine Creek, the Chester Creek, and the Schuylkill River. Many of the soils are fertile, rich loam as much as twenty-four inches thick, resulting with its temperate climate in some of the finest farmland in the world. Due to the close proximity to the Philadelphia area, Chester County has experienced large "waves" of development due to suburbanization. Although development in Chester County has increased, agriculture is still a large form of income for the county. In fact the number of horse farms are increasing in the county.
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