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Morgantown, West Virginia
City of Morgantown
Downtown Morgantown from Fife Avenue
Downtown Morgantown from Fife Avenue
Official seal of Morgantown, West Virginia
Regina Monongahelae — Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum
Location in Monongalia County in the State of West Virginia
Location in Monongalia County in the State of West Virginia
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Monongalia
Settled 1772
Incorporated 1838
 • Type City Manager / Council
 • City 10.62 sq mi (27.51 km2)
 • Land 10.17 sq mi (26.34 km2)
 • Water 0.45 sq mi (1.17 km2)  4.24%
960 ft (293 m)
 • City 29,660
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,916.4/sq mi (1,126.0/km2)
 • Urban
70,350 (US: 393th)
 • Metro
137,251 (US: 293th)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code 304, 681 (effective March, 2009)
FIPS code 54-55756
GNIS feature ID 1555161

Morgantown is a city in and the county seat of Monongalia County, West Virginia, situated along the banks of the Monongahela River. With a permanent population of 31,073 per the 2015 U.S. Census estimates, Morgantown is the largest city in North-Central West Virginia. The Morgantown metropolitan area has a population of 138,176, and is the 3rd largest in West Virginia. West Virginia University adds several thousand seasonal residents to the city and surrounding area from September through May. Morgantown is best known as the home of West Virginia University and the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system.


Lunch time for two boys employed at the Economy Glass Works in Morgantown, 1908. Photo by Lewis Hine.
Historic warehouse in Wharf District, converted to restaurant during late-1990s/early-2000s riverfront refurbishing

Morgantown is closely tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory. Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now known as Morgantown was greatly contested by settlers and Native Americans, and by the British and the French. The treaty decided the issue in favor of the British, but Indian fighting continued almost to the beginning of the American Revolution.

Zackquill Morgan, son of Morgan Morgan, and his brother David entered the area of Virginia that would become Morgantown in about 1767, although others such as Thomas Decker are recorded as attempting settlements in the area earlier or at about the same time. As well, several forts were built in the area during this time: Fort Pierpont near the Cheat River, in 1769; Fort Coburn, near Dorsey's Knob, in 1770. Fort Morgan, at the present site of Morgantown, in 1772; Fort Dinwiddle, north several miles at Stewartstown, in 1772; Fort Martin, several miles north on the Monongahela River, in 1773; Fort Burris in the present-day Suncrest area of Morgantown, in 1774; and Fort Kern in the present-day Greenmont area of Morgantown, in 1774, in addition to other, smaller forts.

Zackquill Morgan settled the area about 1772 by establishing a homestead near present-day Fayette Street and University Avenue. Morgan fought in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of colonel. By 1783, following his wartime duties, Colonel Morgan commissioned Major William Haymond to survey his land and divide it into streets and lots. Colonel Morgan then received a legal certificate for 400 acres (1.6 km2) in the area of his settlement near the mouth of Decker's Creek. 50 acres (200,000 m2) were appropriated for Morgan's Town by the Virginia General Assembly in October 1785. On February 3, 1838, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a municipal charter incorporating the city, now with a population of about 700, as Morgantown, Virginia. The town became part of the newly created state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863, through the Reorganized Government of Virginia.

Early structures

Notable early structures still standing in Morgantown as of 2012 include the Old Stone House, built in 1795 by Jacob Nuce on Long Alley (the modern-day Chestnut Street) and the John Rogers family home on Foundry Street, built in 1840 and occupied as of 2011 by the Dering Funeral Home.

Personal Rapid Transit System

During the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Transportation built an experimental personal rapid transit system in the city, citing the area's variable seasonal climates and geographic elevations as factors in testing the technology's viability. The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) has been in use since 1975. University students use the system for free to travel between the spread-out campuses.


Morgantown is located 75 miles (121 km) south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 208 mi (335 km) north-northwest of Washington, D.C., 204 mi (328 km) east of Columbus, Ohio, and 156 mi (251 km) northeast of Charleston, West Virginia. Morgantown is just south of the Mason–Dixon line.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.62 square miles (27.51 km2), of which, 10.17 square miles (26.34 km2) is land and 0.45 square miles (1.17 km2) is water.


Morgantown lies in the transition between a humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa) and humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), with four distinct seasons. Winters are cool to cold with a January daily mean temperature of 31.3 °F (−0.4 °C), an average seasonal snowfall of 21.0 inches (53 cm) and 1.7 nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) readings. Summers are hot and humid with a July daily mean temperature of 73.2 °F (22.9 °C) and 12 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually. Precipitation is generous, with winter being the driest period and May through July the wettest. Extreme temperatures range from −20 °F (−29 °C) on January 16, 1972, up to 108 °F (42 °C) on July 25, 1892, although, as of 2013, 100 °F (38 °C)+ temperatures have only been recorded nine times since record-keeping began in 1877, five of which occurred in 1892 alone.

Climate data for Morgantown, West Virginia (Morgantown Municipal Airport), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1877–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 76
Average high °F (°C) 39.0
Average low °F (°C) 23.7
Record low °F (°C) −20
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.81
Snowfall inches (cm) 9.1
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 15.2 12.3 13.9 13.4 14.0 12.6 11.7 10.1 9.9 10.6 12.4 13.7 149.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.1 4.3 3.3 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0.2 1.1 3.5 18.8
Source: NOAA


City of Morgantown from the west side of the Monongahela River, May 2012
Morgantown from the west side of the Monongahela River

Morgantown is made up of several neighborhoods, some of which had been independent towns that were annexed by the city as it continued to grow. Neighborhoods include First Ward, Woodburn, South Park, Jerome Park, South Hills, Second Ward, Greenmont, Suncrest, Evansdale, Wiles Hill, Sunnyside, Sabraton, the Mileground, and North Hills. While some of these, such as the Mileground, Easton, and Sabraton, are in part or entirely outside the city limits, they are still considered part of Morgantown. The City of Morgantown contained an estimated 31,073 residents in 2014. The Morgantown MSA contains roughly 117,000 permanent residents, including over 30,000 full-time students at West Virginia University.


Fort Burris was erected in 1774 in what became the Suncrest area of Morgantown. The fort was a settler's blockhouse located in what as of 2010 is the Summers Masonic Lodge at the intersection of Burroughs and Windsor streets.

During 1885–1888, the land in the Evansdale/Suncrest area was agricultural, with farms of 400–1,000 acres (1.6–4.0 km2). Drummond's Chapel was named after a minister who then moved to Missouri. The Evans Farm was located on land near Riverview Drive and 8th Street and was named for Colonel John Evans, who fought in the American Revolution with Morgantown founder Zack Morgan. The Krepps farmhouse was located on land where the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center, Engineering and Agricultural buildings would later be built. Dilley Farm was located on the other side of 8th street. The Van Voorhis Farm was large. Down Collins Ferry Road was the Anderson Farm. The Jacobs Farm was below Elmhurst and Mulberry.

Trolley cars determined how far people lived outside of the city, and did not reach to what is now Suncrest. By 1920, however, cars were becoming common.

In 1923, the Monongahela Development Company bought land from Krepps and most others else in the area. Suncrest Park bought Sears Roebuck house plans and divided Suncrest into three areas: Fairfield Street, Suncrest Park and Suncrest. No African-Americans, Jews or immigrants were permitted to buy land there. In 1928, the Suncrest Home Association developers gave 30 acres (120,000 m2) for what became Krepps Park. A civic group built facilities and the park was given to Morgantown, which made some improvements.

By 1937, Suncrest needed a town government to pave streets and provide water and sewer. Dr. Julian Leach, a WVU plant pathologist, was elected mayor; Bill Hart was a later mayor. Suncrest finally became part of Morgantown. In 1940 the Dupont industrial park around the Kenmore Street area built 100 homes with six different floor plans. From 1947 to 1950, Gunnison homes were built in the Mulberry and Lake Street areas. The development of the DuPont Ordnance Works during World War II in Westover resulted in a large number of prefabricated homes being constructed in Suncrest. Old Suncrest and Suncrest Addition were among the names given to various subsections of this growing community. The names of some streets reflected the community's participation in various service organizations, such as Civitan, Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary. Before Suncrest became part of Morgantown in 1949, it had first been incorporated in 1937 as the town of Suncrest; the name came from a developer who looked out one morning and saw the sun crest over a hill.

The area from University Avenue to the university's medical school held a racetrack at one point. When there was talk of building a medical school in West Virginia, Charleston and Huntington vied for it, but Morgantown offered to give 60 acres (240,000 m2) and provide a county hospital. A cemetery with 200 graves near what is now Ruby Memorial Hospital had to be relocated to the West Run area. Around 1928, there was an airport near where the West Virginia University Coliseum was later built.

Suncrest students attend three or four schools throughout their K-12 education, starting at Suncrest Primary School or North Elementary School, Suncrest Middle School and Morgantown High School depending on where they live.

In 2000, the White House Millennium Council designated Suncrest as a Millennium Community.


Sunnyside, located just north of downtown Morgantown, is an older neighborhood adjacent to West Virginia University's downtown campus. The neighborhood is bounded by University Avenue to the east and Campus Drive to the south. Close to the downtown campus of West Virginia University and for decades known as a neighborhood of student housing, is also the scene of many off-campus parties and post-game celebrations including, until 1995, to the unsanctioned annual back-to-school block party that would annually draw upward of 10,000 revelers to celebrate the start of fall classes. The university and city put an end to the tradition that year after two students, Monica Potter of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Jason Callahan of Pennsauken, New Jersey, were shot in the leg the previous year.

The City of Morgantown and West Virginia University jointly established the Sunnyside Up Project: Campus Neighborhoods Revitalization Corporation, dedicated to the redevelopment of this area. The first step was to create a comprehensive revitalization plan, which was published in fall 2004.

The university's Summit Hall Dormitory and the Honors Hall Dormitory are located in the southern part of the neighborhood.

First Ward

First Ward is located south of High Street in Morgantown. First Ward Elementary School was formerly located there; however, it was demolished and the playground area converted to Jack Roberts Park, one of two parks in the area along with White Park. Both include recreational facilities. The city's reservoir is in this neighborhood and sports several biking and hiking trails on almost all sides. White Park is the location of the Morgantown Municipal Ice Arena and also features athletic fields and wooded hiking trails. The Mountaineer Mall, Morgantown's first mall, is located here, as are South Middle School and the Monongalia County Technical Education Center. The Wharf District is located along the west side of First Ward, on the banks of the Monongahela River.

South Park

South Park is across Deckers Creek from downtown Morgantown. Originally farmland, it was one of the first suburbs of Morgantown. In the early 20th century, South Park experienced a housing boom, with wealthy and influential citizens settling there. The neighborhood is home to Morgantown High School, built in 1924 and later expanded. The neighborhood is designated a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places.


Woodburn used to be farmland on the hills to the east of downtown Morgantown. It encompasses the area enclosed by Richwood Avenue in the south and Willey Street in the north. Monongalia Avenue serves as the western boundary and the eastern boundary begins in the south at the intersection of Richwood Avenue and Darst Street, and continues north until Darst intersects with Willey Street at the beginning of the Mileground.

While it used to be home to small hillside farmsteads, Woodburn grew into a typical city neighborhood in the late 19th century. Many of the street names, such as Louise Avenue, James Street, and Ridgeway Avenue, are named for early farm families, and many of the original farmhouses remained standing in the first decade of the 21st century. The area saw a rapid growth in population at the beginning of the 20th century as home to tinsmiths from Wales who came to work in the tinplate mill that later became the Sterling Faucet plant in Sabraton. A trolley line ran the length of Richwood Avenue and originally connected downtown with Sabraton. The Welsh community was active in the Methodist Church at the intersection of High Street and Willey Street, and held picnics in Whitemoore Park, the main green space in Woodburn. Many of these immigrants retained the Welsh language, and as late as the 1930s it was common to hear Welsh spoken on the streets of Woodburn and the community was known for carrying on a traditional eisteddfod every year. Woodburn Elementary School was the neighborhood school built in 1910.

Following World War II, many new families came to Woodburn, attracted by the parkland, close proximity to downtown, community atmosphere, and nearby school. In 1950, Tom and Anna Torch opened the Richwood Avenue Confectionery, a corner store and lunch counter that served beer in large Weiss goblets from the Morgantown Glassworks. When they sold the operation in 1963 to Mario and Rose Spina, the establishment was nicknamed "Marios Fishbowl" in honor of the goblets.

A neighborhood newspaper was published here in the 1980s.

Jerome Park

Primarily residential, Jerome Park is located to the east of Woodburn. In 2012, the city bought two acres that include the old Jerome Park Elementary School playground, and made it a park called the Paul Preserve. The neighborhood also contains Whitemoore Park.


The site of the tinplate mill that later became the Sterling Faucet plant, this neighborhood in its early days was connected to downtown Morgantown by a trolley line that ran the length of Richwood Avenue. Its amenities include the recreation area Marilla Park.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 741
1870 797 7.6%
1880 745 −6.5%
1890 1,011 35.7%
1900 1,895 87.4%
1910 9,150 382.8%
1920 12,127 32.5%
1930 16,186 33.5%
1940 16,655 2.9%
1950 25,525 53.3%
1960 22,487 −11.9%
1970 29,431 30.9%
1980 27,605 −6.2%
1990 25,879 −6.3%
2000 26,809 3.6%
2010 29,660 10.6%
2015 (est.) 30,708 3.5%
Sources: 1900–2010
U.S. Decennial Census
2014 Estimate

Following the 2010 census, Monongalia County (with county seat Morgantown) and neighboring Preston County were acknowledged as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) by the United States government. Estimates from 2010 put the Metropolitan Statistical Area population at 129,709; as of July 2013, the estimate was 136,133. Of the 10 largest cities in West Virginia, only Morgantown and Martinsburg have shown positive population growth since the 2010 census, with Morgantown growing from 29,660 to a 2012 estimate of 31,000.

West Virginia University constitutes 913 acres (3.69 km2) of the city and vicinity, and with the fall 2012 enrollment added an additional population of 29,707 students.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Morgantown had some of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States as of early 2009.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 29,660 people, 11,701 households, and 3,827 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,916.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,126.0/km2). There were 12,664 housing units at an average density of 1,245.2 per square mile (480.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.7% White, 4.1% African American, 0.1% Native American, 3.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.

There were 11,701 households of which 12.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 23.1% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 67.3% were non-families. 36.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.05 and the average family size was 2.71.

The median age in the city was 22.6 years. 8.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 52.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.4% were from 25 to 44; 13.1% were from 45 to 64; and 8.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 53.5% male and 46.5% female.

Arts and culture

Points of interest

  • Core Arboretum
  • Dorsey Knob
  • Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park
  • The Metropolitan Theatre (former vaudeville house)
  • Warner Theatre (closed September 10, 2010)
  • Monongalia Arts Center (MAC)
  • Monongalia County Courthouse
  • Mountaineer Field
  • WVU Coliseum
  • Caperton and Deckers Creek Rail-Trails
  • Personal Rapid Transit system (PRT)
  • West Virginia University Art Museum

Twin cities/sister cities

Morgantown is twinned with

Morgantown established Friendship City relations with Quanshan District, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China, in 2012.

In popular culture

WVU Student Section at Mountaineer Field

The cable television network MTV announced in October 2006, that it would tape an eight-episode reality TV series, Show Choir, following Morgantown High School's show choir, which performs songs in four-part harmony, with costumes and choreography, on a competitive circuit. The show was scheduled to premiere Spring 2007, but as of 2012 has yet to air.

The Joni Mitchell song "Morning Morgantown" is popularly believed to be written about Morgantown, West Virginia.

The 2006 film We Are Marshall has two brief scenes set in, but not filmed in, Morgantown.

Morgantown is the title and location of the second volume of Keith Maillard's quartet of novels, Difficulty at the Beginning. The town is also mentioned in other novels by Maillard, where it is placed near the fictitious town of Raysburg, West Virginia.


  • 2010 Forbes "Best Small Places For Business And Careers" #10
  • 2010 "America's Top College Towns"
  • 2009 Forbes "Best Small Places For Business And Careers" #3
  • 2008 "Best Walking City in West Virginia", "34th Best in Country" (out of 500) by Prevention magazine & American Podiatric Medical Association
  • 2007 Morgantown Named One of "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • 2007 Forbes "Best Small Places for Business and Careers" #9
  • 2006 Forbes "Best Small Places"#5
  • History of the Making of Morgantown, West Virginia, by Callahan, James Morton (Morgantown, W.Virginia, West Virginia University, 1926)
  • Morgantown a Bicentennial History, by West Virginia University Public History Option for the Morgantown Bicentennial Commission (Morgantown, W.Virginia, Monongalia Historical Society, 1985)

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