Located 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia, along the scenic banks of
the Schuylkill River, Norristown's history is a story of hard-work,
economic prosperity, and the endeavor to adapt to changing times.
The land from which Norristown was founded was acquired by the
family of Isaac Norris, a prominent Quaker merchant and former mayor
of Philadelphia during the early 1700s. Norris purchased the land
directly from William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, as a retreat
from the hustle and bustle of the growing city center of Philadelphia.
When a collection of communities decided to form Montgomery County in 1784, Norristown was named the county seat of government. It was not until March 31, 1812 that Norristown was officially incorporated as a Pennsylvania State Borough (the first in Montgomery County).
It lies on the north bank of the Schuylkill River, 17 miles northwest of Philadelphia and near the eastern terminus of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Norristown’s economy now is based on service activities with some light manufacturing, machinery manufacture, product assembly, and warehousing. Valley Forge, the encampment site for George Washington’s army during the winter of 1777–78, is preserved nearby as a national historical park. Mill Grove, early home of the naturalist-artist John James Audubon, has been developed as a museum and wildlife sanctuary.
Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, Norristown developed into a thriving industrial and retail center. The following industries called Norristown home and provided ample employment for skilled laborers and artisans including: factories, foundries, icehouses, lumber yards, textile mills.
The downtown in Norristown featured a bustling shopping district filled with department stores, several theaters, and restaurants that attracted visitors from throughout the region.
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