Johnstown, PA

The Johnstown Region

Although the booming iron, coal and steel industries that once sustained the Johnstown Region no longer compare to the ones of decades past, that industrial era is still contributing to the region’s bottom line as a resource-based tourism economy continues to gain strength in the region. Tourism now contributes more than $281 million to the region each year.

Founded in 1800, Johnstown became a thriving industrial community late in the century when modernized steel production in Johnstown’s mills was producing millions of tons of steel for railroads, warships, bridges and common nails. A mass immigration of people from Europe looking for a life free from persecution or oppression began streaming into the U.S. in 1870 providing the labor force that allowed Johnstown to become the largest steel making center in the United States. In fact, many of the steel industry’s greatest advances were forged in Johnstown and include the Bessemer process and the three-high rolling mill.

On May 31, 1889, Johnstown gained national attention when a devastating 35-foot-high wall of water flooded the region and took 2,209 lives. In the years following the flood immigrants still were arriving in Johnstown and bringing with them the customs, the religions and the cuisines of their homelands, all of which contributed to the now heritage-rich character of Johnstown. The city’s moniker became “The Flood City” following two more floods in 1936 and 1977.

Most recently, the city has enjoyed the “The Friendly City” designation as Johnstown, jarred by the demise of its industrial base in the 1980s, has reinvented itself as a result of efforts to economically diversify and enhance its image with industries based on new technologies and tourism.

The Johnstown region, just 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, is proud of its strong heritage, its strong work ethic and its strong sense of community. Although diversification is now guiding the region in its development, the teamwork and foresight of its community, business and heritage leaders continue to be the real guides. Tourism-based, as well as technology-based, strategies are making the region a great place to live, work and play.

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