1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chester (Pennsylvania)

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CHESTER, a city of Delaware county, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., on the Delaware river, about 13 m. S.W. of Philadelphia. Pop. (1800) 20,226; (1900) 33,988, of whom 5074 were foreign-born and 4403 were negroes; (U. S. census, 1910) 38,537. It is served by the Baltimore & Ohio and the Philadelphia & Reading railways, by the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington division of the Pennsylvania system, and by steamboat lines. Chester has several interesting buildings dating from early in the 18th century—among them the city hall (1724), one of the oldest public buildings in the United States, and the house (1683) occupied for a time by William Penn. It is the seat of the Pennsylvania Military College (1862); and on the border of Chester, in the borough of Upland (pop. in 1900, 2131), is the Crozer Theological Seminary (Baptist), which was incorporated in 1867, opened in 1868, and named after John P. Crozer (1793–1866), by whose family it was founded. Chester has a large shipbuilding industry, and manufactories of cotton and worsted goods, iron and steel, the steel-casting industry being especially important, and large quantities of wrought iron and steel pipes being manufactured. Dye-stuffs and leather also are manufactured. The value of the city’s factory products in 1905 was $16,644,842. Chester is the oldest town in Pennsylvania. It was settled by the Swedes about 1645, was called Upland and was the seat of the Swedish courts until 1682, when William Penn, soon after his landing at a spot in the town now marked by a memorial stone, gave it its present name. The first provincial assembly was convened here in December of the same year. After the battle of Brandywine in the War of Independence, Washington retreated to Chester, and in the “Washington House,” still standing, wrote his account of the battle. Soon afterwards Chester was occupied by the British. In 1701 it was incorporated as a borough; in 1795 and again in 1850 it received a new borough charter; and in 1866 it was chartered as a city. For a long time it was chiefly a small fishing settlement, its population as late as 1820 being only 657; but after the introduction of large manufacturing interests in 1850, when its population was only 1667, its growth was rapid.

See H. G. Ashmead, Historical Sketch of Chester (Chester, 1883).