Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Chester County Map

As one of the original counties established by William Penn (1644-1718), Chester County was only modestly influenced by Philadelphia in its early development because after 1789 it shared no border with the city. Although the Pennsylvania Railroad linked the county’s central valley to Philadelphia in the mid-nineteenth century, it remained a largely rural landscape whose farms, mills, and forges operated within a mostly self-sufficient economy while sending surpluses to the Philadelphia market. Not until the second half of the twentieth century did dramatic changes come to its pastoral landscapes and small towns. Starting in the 1970s the arrival of financial services firms along with bio-medical research and development companies drew thousands of new residents, turning it into a county of “farms plus pharma.”

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