Norristown, officially the Municipality of Norristown, is a municipality in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States, northwest of the city limits of Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River. The population was 34,324 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. It is the county seat of Montgomery County. Norristown is in a rich agricultural region; in the past, it had extensive manufactures of cigars, tacks, wire, screws, boilers, bolts, silos, tanks, iron, hosiery, knitting machines, underwear, shirts, lumber and milling machinery, paper boxes, rugs and carpets.
Despite being named a municipality, it was formerly a borough operating under Pennsylvania's Borough Code and is frequently referred to as "the borough" even in statements by its officials. However, since 1986, Norristown has been governed under home rule charters, not under Pennsylvania's Borough Code. The 1986 charter was properly forwarded to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Code. The succeeding 2004 home rule charter has not been so published, but may be read at the municipal website. Some areas outside the municipality, in the surrounding townships, also have "Norristown, PA" mailing addresses. The entire Municipality of Norristown is within the 19401 ZIP code.
Norristown was incorporated as a borough in 1812, its population then being about 500. It was subsequently enlarged in 1853 and 1909. In 1900, 22,265 people lived here; in 1910, 27,875; in 1920, 32,319; and in 1940, 38,181, making Norristown the most populous borough in Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 34,324.
Norristown was one of the largest communities under Pennsylvania's borough form of government. Now, the official name is Municipality of Norristown, operating under a Home Rule Charter with that designation since 1986. Located on the Schuylkill River, it was established as a mill town and as a seat of county government.
At one time Norristown was a retail center for the rural areas outside of Philadelphia. With the growth of suburban communities and large shopping malls including the King of Prussia Mall and the Plymouth Meeting Mall in the outlying townships, Norristown's retail sector steadily declined and eventually collapsed.
Today the city's economy is powered by Montgomery County government jobs, the legal profession, and health care. Montgomery Hospital and Norristown State Hospital are located there. While the downtown has suffered in recent years, the residential areas of Norristown remain largely well-maintained. Row homes and twin homes are more numerous than single family residences.
The city is a transit center and the Norristown Transportation Center is the terminus of the Norristown High Speed rail line and a stop on the former Reading Railroad Norristown train to Center City Philadelphia (both are operated by SEPTA Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority).
The Norristown Times Herald is the city's daily newspaper, printing Monday through Saturday and serving most of Montgomery County. A Sunday edition is also published. Norristown is steeped in and surrounded by history. Valley Forge National Historical Park is nearby. The city is named for Isaac Norris, a member of the colonial Pennsylvania legislature who ordered the casting of the state house bell that became known as the Liberty Bell. Norris was given a grant of land, then called Williamstadt (William's Town), in honor of one of its founders William Trent who sold the land and went on to help found Trenton, NJ. The Municipality of Norristown and the adjacent Townships of East and West Norriton now occupy this former estate.
The Globe Knitting Mills, Cold Point Historic District, Central Norristown Historic District, Old Norriton Presbyterian Church, Gen. Thomas J. Stewart Memorial Armory, David Rittenhouse Junior High School, and Valley Forge National Historical Park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.