Luzerne County is comprised of 891 square miles of mountains, rolling plains, forests and parks, streams and rivers, and valley farmland.
Because of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s unique form of local government, there are seventy-six municipal jurisdictions in Luzerne County in which you can live and work. Four are cities: Hazleton, Nanticoke, Pittston and Wilkes-Barre. Thirty-six are boroughs, and thirty-six are townships. Eleven of the townships and boroughs contain fewer than 999 residents. Jeddo Borough is the smallest municipality with just 144 residents, followed by New Columbus Borough with 215 residents.
Wilkes-Barre is located roughly at the center of Luzerne County, on the east bank of the Susquehanna River. It’s a valley community that was originally settled by Connecticut Yankees as early as 1762. It contains two fine colleges – Wilkes and Kings – and the largest office buildings, and the county government buildings. The county’s extraordinary court house building is located in River Common on the Susquehanna River adjacent to the river. Downtown Wilkes-Barre is the center of much of the business activity in the county.
Twenty miles to the south in southern Luzerne County, is the smaller city of Hazleton, population of 23,000. Because of its location in the mountains – it has the highest elevation of any city in Pennsylvania – Hazleton has a completely different feel than Wilkes-Barre; the vistas are longer. Hazleton feels like it is more industrial, as is evident by the two large industrial park complexes located near the city. Hazleton is hillier than Wilkes-Barre, but it is also similar to Wilkes-Barre in that it is comprised of regular residential neighborhoods with well maintained homes in almost every price category. Hazleton has a modest downtown with shops, banks, business and government offices. The community is filled with parks, neighborhood schools, and the other amenities that make a community livable.
Nanticoke was named for the Nanticoke Indians from Maryland who settled in this part of the Wyoming Valley about 1750. Nanticoke is located eight miles downstream from Wilkes-Barre. Its population is about 11,000. Luzerne County Community College is located in Nanticoke.
Pittston was one of the five townships created by the Connecticut Yankees during the summer of 1769. It is located along the banks of the Susquehanna River about eight miles north of Wilkes-Barre. It has a population of about 8,000. Pittston is distinguished by a modest and relatively affluent downtown business district, with older neighborhoods that are close to the community’s churches and schools.
Kingston Borough (14,000), Hanover Township (11,500), and Plains Township (11,000) are the only other municipalities in the county with more than 10,000 residents.