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Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Downtown Carlisle
Downtown Carlisle
Official seal of Carlisle, Pennsylvania
"Excellence in Community Service"
Location of Carlisle in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Carlisle in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Carlisle, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Location in Pennsylvania
Carlisle, Pennsylvania is located in the United States
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Cumberland
Settled 1751
Incorporated 1782
Named for Carlisle, England
 • Type Borough Council
 • Total 5.43 sq mi (14.07 km2)
 • Land 5.42 sq mi (14.05 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
479 ft (146 m)
 • Total 18,682
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,539.45/sq mi (1,366.69/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
17013, 17015
Area code(s) 717 and 223
FIPS code 42-11272

Carlisle is a borough in and the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. Carlisle is located within the Cumberland Valley, a highly productive agricultural region. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 18,682; the estimated population as of 2019 was 19,198. Including suburbs in the neighboring townships, 37,695 live in the Carlisle urban cluster. Carlisle is the smaller principal city of the Harrisburg−Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry counties in South Central Pennsylvania. In 2010, Forbes rated Carlisle and Harrisburg the second-best place to raise a family.

The U.S. Army War College, located at the Carlisle Barracks, prepares high-level military personnel and civilians for strategic leadership responsibilities. Carlisle Barracks ranks among the oldest U.S. Army installations and the most senior military educational institution in the United States Army. Carlisle Barracks is home of the United States Army Heritage and Education Center, an archives and museum complex open to the public. Carlisle also hosts Penn State Dickinson School of Law and Dickinson College.


American pioneer John Armstrong Sr. laid the plan for the settlement of Carlisle in 1751. He fathered John Armstrong Jr., who was born in Carlisle in 1758. Scots-Irish immigrants settled in Carlisle and farmed the Cumberland Valley. They named the settlement after its sister town of Carlisle, Cumbria, England, and even built its former jailhouse (which Cumberland County now uses as general government offices) to resemble The Citadel in Carlisle, Cumbria.

In 1757, Colonel Commandant John Stanwix—for whom Fort Stanwix in upstate New York is named—–made his headquarters in Carlisle, and was promoted to brigadier general on December 27 of that year. Stanwix had sat in Parliament as Member for Carlisle during the 1740s. Later during the French and Indian Wars, the Forbes Expedition organized in Carlisle in 1758, and Henry Bouquet organized an expedition there for Pontiac's War, the last conflict of the war, in 1763.

Carlisle served as a munitions depot during the American Revolutionary War. The depot was later developed into the United States Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. Revolutionary War legend Molly Pitcher died in the borough in 1832, and her body lies buried in the Old Public Graveyard. A hotel was built in her honor, called the Molly Pitcher Hotel; it has since been renovated to house apartments for senior citizens.

Carlisle was incorporated as a borough a few years after the war on April 13, 1782. Carlisle continued to play a part in the early development in the United States through the end of the century: In response to a planned march in favor of the United States Constitution in 1787, Anti-Federalists instigated a riot in Carlisle. A decade later, during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, the troops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey assembled in Carlisle under the leadership of President George Washington. While in Carlisle, the president worshiped in the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Hanover Street and High Street.

Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, developed Carlisle Grammar School in 1773 and chartered it as Dickinson College—the first new college founded in the newly recognized United States. One of the college's more famous alumni, the 15th U.S. president, James Buchanan, graduated in 1809. The Dickinson School of Law, founded in 1834 and affiliated then with Dickinson College, ranks as the fifth-oldest law school in the United States and the oldest law school in Pennsylvania.

A general borough law of 1851 (amended in 1852) authorized a burgess and a borough council to administer the government of the borough of Carlisle.

Leading up to the American Civil War, Carlisle served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. During the war, an army of the Confederate States of America, under General Fitzhugh Lee, attacked and shelled the borough during the Battle of Carlisle on July 1, 1863 as part of the Gettysburg Campaign. A cannonball dent can still be seen on one of the columns of the historic county courthouse.

United States Army Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt founded Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879 as the first federally supported school for American Indians off a reservation. The United States government maintained the school, housed at Carlisle Barracks as an experiment in educating Native Americans and teaching them to reject tribal culture and to adapt to white society. Pratt retired from the Army in 1903 and from supervising the school as its superintendent in 1904. Athletic hero Jim Thorpe entered the school in 1907 and joined its football team under coach Glenn "Pop" Warner in 1908. Playing halfback, Jim Thorpe led the team to startling upset victories over powerhouses Harvard, Army, and the University of Pennsylvania in 1911–12, bringing nationwide attention to the school. Marianne Moore taught there c. 1910. Carlisle Indian School closed in 1918.

The Dickinson School of Law ended its affiliation with Dickinson College in 1914, against much protest from locals, and reorganized as an independent institution. Dickinson School of Law merged into the Pennsylvania State University in 1997 as Penn State Dickinson School of Law.

The Carlisle Historic District, Carlisle Indian School, Hessian Powder Magazine, Carlisle Armory, and Old West, Dickinson College are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Carlisle is located slightly northeast of the center of Cumberland County at 40°12′9″N 77°11′42″W / 40.20250°N 77.19500°W / 40.20250; -77.19500 (40.202553, −77.195016) at an elevation of 479 feet (146 m). The borough lies in the Cumberland Valley, a section of the Great Appalachian Valley, to the south of Conodoguinet Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. Letort Spring Run, a tributary of Conodoguinet Creek, runs north through the eastern part of the borough.

Carlisle lies in south-central Pennsylvania southwest of the intersection of Interstate 76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike) and Interstate 81 roughly 20 miles (32 km) west-southwest of Harrisburg, the state capital. By road it is approximately 80 mi (130 km) northwest of Baltimore and 124 mi (200 km) west-northwest of Philadelphia. According to the United States Census Bureau, Carlisle has a total area of 5.54 square miles (14.35 km2), of which 5.53 square miles (14.33 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.02 km2), or 0.14%, is water.


Leading industries in Carlisle's past have included Carlisle Tire and Rubber Company (founded 1917), Masland Carpets (founded 1866), and Frog Switch Manufacturing (founded 1876 by John Hays). Carlisle Tire and Rubber and Masland Carpets have since gone out of business, and both plants were demolished in 2013.

CenturyLink maintains a call center in the city, and is one of several warehouse facilities in the city.


Carlisle has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) with hot, humid summers and cool winters. The average temperature in Carlisle is 51.3 °F (10.7 °C) with temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 16 days a year and dropping below 32 °F (0 °C) an average of 119 days a year. On average, the borough receives 38.8 inches (986 mm) of precipitation annually. Snowfall averages 29.8 inches (757 mm) per year. On average, January is the coolest month, July is the warmest month, and September is the wettest month. The hottest temperature recorded in Carlisle was 102 °F (39 °C) in 1966; the coldest temperature recorded was −19 °F (−28 °C) in 1994.

Climate data for Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 35
Average low °F (°C) 20
Record low °F (°C) −19
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.17
Snowfall inches (cm) 9.0
Source: The Weather Channel; Weatherbase


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 2,052
1810 2,491 21.4%
1820 2,908 16.7%
1830 3,708 27.5%
1840 4,351 17.3%
1850 4,581 5.3%
1860 5,664 23.6%
1870 6,650 17.4%
1880 6,209 −6.6%
1890 7,620 22.7%
1900 9,626 26.3%
1910 10,303 7.0%
1920 10,916 5.9%
1930 12,596 15.4%
1940 13,984 11.0%
1950 16,812 20.2%
1960 16,623 −1.1%
1970 18,079 8.8%
1980 18,314 1.3%
1990 18,419 0.6%
2000 17,970 −2.4%
2010 18,682 4.0%
2019 (est.) 19,198 2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,970 people, 7,426 households, and 4,010 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,308.9 people per square mile (1,277.8/km2). There were 8,032 housing units at an average density of 1,479.0 per square mile (571.1/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 88.93% White, 6.92% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.60% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.96% of the population.

There were 7,426 households, out of which 23.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.3% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the borough, the population was spread out, with 18.6% under the age of 18, 17.2% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.8 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $33,969, and the median income for a family was $46,588. Males had a median income of $34,519 versus $25,646 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $21,394. About 8.6% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.7% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.


Carlisle is famous to many people for its car shows, put on regularly by Carlisle Events throughout the spring, summer, and fall at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. In addition to the regularly scheduled shows there are specialty shows, including the GM Nationals, the Ford Nationals, the Chrysler Nationals, the Truck Nationals, Corvettes at Carlisle, and the Import/Kit Car Nationals.

Most likely because of its location at the intersection of two major trucking routes (I-81 and I-76), air pollution within the borough often falls within the range considered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" [i.e., children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart disease]. The pollutant typically involved is PM2.5, particulate matter composed of particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), a ballet school and performing company known internationally for their alumni, is based in Carlisle.

Carlisle is the headquarters of the Giant Food supermarkets in Pennsylvania.

Carlisle was home to the Washington Redskins training camp for many years. In 1986, cornerback Darrell Green ran the 40-yard dash at Dickinson College in 4.09 seconds. Although the result was unofficial, it is the fastest "legitimate" time ever recorded in the 40-yard dash.


Leading industries in Carlisle's past have included Carlisle Tire and Rubber Company (founded 1917), Masland Carpets (founded 1866), and The Frog, Switch and Manufacturing. Carlisle Tire and Rubber and Masland Carpets have since gone out of business, and both plants were demolished in 2013. CenturyLink maintains a call center in the city, and is one of several warehouse facilities in the city. In 2013, Apple opened an AppleCare device repair facility southeast of the Interstate 81 overpass over the Pennsylvania Turnpike to cover American customers east of the Mississippi River.


Colleges and universities

  • Dickinson College
  • Penn State Dickinson School of Law
  • United States Army War College

Public schools

  • Carlisle Area School District

Private schools

As reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics

  • Carlisle Christian Academy
  • Blue Ridge Mennonite School
  • Dickinson College Children's Center
  • Hidden Valley School
  • St Patrick School
  • The Christian School of Grace Baptist Church

Notable people

  • Charles Jefferson Albright (1816–1883), congressman from Pennsylvania
  • James Armstrong, congressman from Pennsylvania
  • John Armstrong, Jr., United States Secretary of War
  • Deborah Birx, American physician and diplomat.
  • Ashley Bouder, ballet dancer
  • Sid Bream, Major League Baseball player
  • Jackson Bostwick, actor
  • Alice Bridges, (1916-2011), Olympic bronze medalist at age 20 in 100 m swimming event (1936 Berlin Olympics); resided in Carlisle
  • William Davidson (1783-1867), Pennsylvania State Senator for the 17th district from 1817 to 1824
  • Stephen Duncan, the wealthiest cotton planter in the South prior to Civil War, and second largest slave owner in the country
  • Cheston Lee Eshelman, inventor, aviator, manufacturer (Cheston L. Eshelman Company) and automaker (see Eshelman)
  • Harold J. Greene (1955-2014), United States Army soldier
  • Arthur Japy Hepburn (1877–1964), admiral whose naval career spanned Spanish–American War, World War I, and World War II
  • John Huzvar (1929–2007), football player
  • Carrie Imler, ballet dancer
  • Alexander J. Irwin, Wisconsin territorial legislator
  • Robert Irwin, Jr., Michigan territorial legislator
  • J. E. Keeny, president of Louisiana Tech University from 1908 to 1926, born in Carlisle in 1860
  • Jeff Lebo, former men's basketball coach at East Carolina University
  • Lois Lowry, author of children's literature, awarded Newbery Medal twice; several childhood years were spent in Carlisle, her mother's hometown
  • Andrew G. Miller, United States federal judge
  • Marianne Moore, Modernist poet and writer
  • Billy Owens, former NBA player
  • Molly Pitcher (Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley), heroine at the Battle of Monmouth during the American Revolutionary War; a statue of her can be seen in Old Cemetery, where she is buried
  • John T. Smith (1801-1864), U.S. Congressman for Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district from 1843 to 1845
  • Samuel Smith, a U.S. senator and congressman from Maryland, born in Carlisle in 1752
  • Abi Stafford, ballet dancer
  • Jonathan Stafford, ballet dancer and artistic director of New York City Ballet
  • Robin Thomas, actor
  • Jim Thorpe (1887-1953), iconic athlete, Olympic gold medalist, football player and coach; considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports
  • Lemuel Todd (1817-1891), U.S. congressman, officer in the 1st Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment
  • Frederick Watts, U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture (1871–1876) and "Father of Penn State University"
  • Samuel Wilkeson, former mayor of Buffalo, New York
  • William Wilkins (1779-1865), U.S. Senator 1831–34, U.S. Representative, U.S. Secretary of War
  • James Wilson, signer of Declaration of Independence, twice elected to the Continental Congress, a major force in the drafting of the nation's Constitution
  • Lee Woodall, former NFL player
  • Lt. Col. Jay Zeamer, Jr., World War II U.S. Army Air Forces veteran and Medal of Honor recipient

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Carlisle (Pensilvania) para niños

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