Pottsville is a city in, and the county seat of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 14,324 at the 2010 census, and is the principal city of the Pottsville, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies along the west bank of the Schuylkill River, north-west of Philadelphia. It is located in Pennsylvania's Coal Region, named for the abundance of anthracite coal.
By the Charter of Charles II, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, Defender of the Faith, to his trustie and well beloved subject, William Penn, Esq., sonne and heire of Sir William Penn, for the Colony of Pennsylvania, the grantee, William Penn, was given power and authority to erect counties, in the following words: "And we do further for us, our heires and successors, give and grant unto the said William Penn, his heirs and assignees, free and absolute power to divide the said countrey and islands into townes, into boroughes and counties, etc.," whereupon William Penn did divide the Province into three counties, Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester.
The last comprised all lands west and south of the Delaware and the Schuylkill; therefore the site of Pottsville was originally in Chester County. When the legislative Council, on 10 May 1729, enacted the law erecting Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which included all the lands of the Province lying westward of a straight line drawn northeasterly from the headwaters of Octorara Creek (near the southern borders) marked with blazed trees, to the Schuylkill River, then this placed Pottsville in Lancaster County. By enactment of the same Council, approved on 11 March 1752, Berks County was erected; this placed Pottsville within the limits of that county.
Pottsville's anthracite coal history began in 1790 when it was discovered by hunter Necho Allen. Legend has it that Allen fell asleep at the base of the Broad Mountain, and woke to the sight of a large fire; his campfire had ignited an outcropping of coal. By 1795 an anthracite-fired iron furnace was established on the Schuylkill River.
In 1806 John Pott purchased the furnace. By an act of Assembly of the Commonwealth approved March 1, 1811, the County of Schuylkill was erected out of portions of Berks and Northampton; this placed the site of Pottsville in Schuylkill County. The town was formally laid out in 1816 by a local surveyor, Henry Donnell. Pottsville was established as a village in Norwegian Township in 1819 and incorporated as a borough on February 19, 1828.
The Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, which has its roots in the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company, the remnants of which were acquired in the late 20th century by the Reading Anthracite Company, acquired extentive coal lands and would become one of the most notable of the coal companies operating in Pennsylvania until the demise of the anthracite industry after World War II.
Because of its location along the Schuylkill River, Pottsville developed a small textile industry. Out of this industry grew the Phillips Van Heusen company which was founded in 1881. Moses Phillips and his wife Endel began sewing shirts by hand and selling them from pushcarts to the local coal miners. Van Heusen and other textile companies left the region starting in the late 1970s, mainly as a result of foreign competition. Another element of the textile industry was the Tilt Silk Mill on Twelfth Street, which produced silk from silk worms imported from China which fed on mulberry trees in the building's solarium. The silk business eventually was eclipsed by the development of nylon stockings. The building still stands and is presently the headquarters of a storage and vehicle rental business.
During the Prohibition period in the United States, under the 18th Amendment, Yuengling stopped making beer and moved to production of "near beer". The three brews produced in this time were the Yuengling Special (the most popular brand), Yuengling Por-Tor (a version of their "celebrated Pottsville Porter"), and finally, the Yuengling Juvo, which was a cereal beverage. Then-owner Frank Yuengling also opened the Yuengling Dairy, which produced ice cream and other dairy products for the local area. These ventures helped to keep the company afloat during that period.
When the 18th Amendment was repealed, Yuengling stopped production of "near beer" and resumed making alcoholic beverages. The brewery famously sent a truckload of its Winner Beer to the White House in 1933 as thanks to President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the repeal of Prohibition. Yuengling still continues its family-owned business today. It is the second largest American-owned brewery, after the Boston Beer Company, producer of Samuel Adams beer. The Yuengling Dairy was operated by a different branch of the family from the Brewery. Business declined and the dairy folded as of 1985. Attempted buyouts by large conglomerate breweries have all been unsuccessful.
Pottsville was chartered as a third-class city on March 22, 1911.
Pottsville was host to a National Football League (NFL) franchise from 1925-1928. The Pottsville Maroons played in Sportsman's Park (or Minersville Park) in nearby Minersville, now the site of King's Village shopping plaza. The Maroons posted some of the best records in the NFL during the 1925 and 1926 seasons. The Maroons had a claim to the 1925 NFL championship, but because of a controversial decision by NFL President Joe Carr, the title was instead awarded to the Chicago Cardinals. The Maroons suffered two more losing seasons before relocating to Boston and becoming the Boston Bulldogs. The Bulldogs folded in 1929.
Until the middle of the 20th century, Pottsville was a popular destination for many traveling acts and vaudeville performers. The 1929 film Berth Marks stars the comedy legends Laurel and Hardy as they attempt to reach Pottsville by train for one of their booked performances. Pearl Bailey had once resided in Pottsville during the early part of her entertaining career. Soldiers in training at nearby Fort Indiantown Gap were prohibited from visiting Pottsville during most of World War II due to the large amounts of illicit venues and activities present during the time.
In August 1997, the Pottsville Railway Park Little League all star team, managed by 42-year veteran Irv Shappell, made an impressive run to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania by representing the U.S. East Region. The team glided through the Pennsylvania District 24 Tournament including defeating their cross-town rival Pottsville Rotary Little League 19-0. Following the District 24 Tournament Railway Park continued its impressive run through the PA Section 3 Tournament beating every team they played. Moving on to the Pennsylvania State Tournament which was held in Carbondale, PA; they suffered their first loss of the tournament to Berwyn-Paoli Little League only to bounce back the next night to win the State Crown which earned them a berth in the U.S. Eastern Region Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut. Defeating Connecticut twice, as well as teams from Rhode Island, Maine, and New Jersey they played their final game before the Series against California-Hollywood, Maryland, defeating them 2-1 in a LIVE-televised game on ESPN2. Finally, in Williamsport for the World Series they defeated Dyer, Indiana 1-0 in an extra inning game. The following evening they played Bradenton, Florida at Lamade Stadium before the largest crowd ever to watch a Non-championship game. The crowd was estimated at more than 35,000. Although they lost the game they played their final game against Mission Viejo, Southern California, losing to that team 3-1; one game shy of the United States Championship Game. The team returned home to a city-wide party and more than 200 fire trucks welcomed them back to town.
Today Pottsville is on the verge of revitalizing the downtown area. The city completed in 2007 a streetscaping project on Centre Street. In addition, the city plans on using the funds from the Elm Street project to revitalize Nichols Street. The city also is working on bringing the railroad back into center city for tourist excursions. In June 2011, the City of Pottsville became the county's transportation hub for STS (Schuylkill Transportation System) bus service throughout the county with the $16.1 million Union Station Intermodal Transit Center at 300 S. Centre Street. It will also accommodate Trailways and Greyhound bus services. Union Station plans to eventually incorporate a train station in the current Union Street Parking Lot.
Pottsville is also the home to the Great Pottsville Cruise which is held on the second Sunday of August each year. The Great American Way Fair is also held annually in early May. Each New Year's Eve the city sponsors the raising of the Yuengling Bottle to the top of the flagpole at Garfield Square to ring in the new year.
The Pottsville Downtown Historic District, Cloud Home, John O'Hara House, Burd Patterson House, Pottsville Armory, D.G. Yuengling and Son Brewing Complex, and Frank D. Yuengling Mansion are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.