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Northeastern Pennsylvania Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pocono area
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:57 PM
 
Location: where you sip the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica
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I may be moving to the Wilkes Barre area in a month or so, renting a cottage up over into the hills - that's the Poconos out of town? I think it's to the south over a ridge, iirc from the map.

Is Wilkes Barre a nice town ..... how's the crime rate (I'll be checking the stats in a bit, but want general impressions first)? Economy? Water? Shopping? Entertainment? Whatever you think might be good to know.
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:59 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
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Hello there! I live about ten miles north of Wilkes-Barre in the suburb of Pittston Township, and I both work and attend college in Wilkes-Barre (Lowe's Home Improvement and King's College respectively). My father works in a downtown office on Public Square, and my mother travels for work in and around the "Diamond City", so we're all quite familiar with what Wilkes-Barre has to offer.

I can blab on and on for hours about Wilkes-Barre, but I'll keep if brief tonight since Desperate Housewives is about to start! LOL! First of all, you asked about the crime rate. Well, Wilkes-Barre, in my opinion, seems to have more crime than Scranton, its larger sister city to the north, but it's still not the type of city where you need to keep a gun on you at all times. While the Scranton/Lackawanna County area has not had a single homicide since mid-2005, the Wilkes-Barre/Luzerne County area (which includes crime-infested Hazleton), has somewhere around 18 homicides, if I'm not mistaken, in 2006. Then again, not one of these appeared to be a random act (with the possible exception of the most recent one in 2007 in which a local gay pornography pioneer was found murdered inside of his charred home in the very well-to-do suburb of Dallas, but that investigation is ongoing). I have to walk through a rather seedy area between my commuter parking lot and campus on the north end of the city's downtown, and if you don't walk around there alone at night, you don't have anything to worry about. I've personally never once felt threatened by Wilkes-Barre's crime rate, regardless of what the local media says.

The public drinking water around here is fine, but I still prefer bottled water. Ever since a major giardiasis outbreak attributed to the local water supply back in the 1980s, many locals have opted for Brita and PUR Water systems or use bottled water, but when I'm in a pinch for time (as I often am living in this congested commuter hell of a suburb), I think nothing of filling up a glass with some tap water and guzzling it down.

As far as shopping is concerned, the city's main shopping area is located along I-81, about a mile east of downtown, in Wilkes-Barre Township. Here you'll find Barnes & Noble, Lowe's, Home Depot, Pier 1 Imports, Target, Wegman's, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Applebee's, Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, FedEx/Kinko's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, and dozens of other national retailers and restaurants. There's also the Wyoming Valley Mall, which is anchored by Macy's, JCPenney, The Bon-Ton, and Sears, and is home to around 90 specialty stores. Wilkes-Barre Township is a shopaholic's dream, but traffic congestion in this area can be intense on weekends (as can be expected). This area is also home to the Wachovia Arena, which is home to the Pittsburgh Penguins' AAA hockey team, as well as an Arena 2 Football League team. The downtown itself has been blighted since the major Hurricane Agnes flood of 1972, but, in the past two years, revitalization has been surging forward. Just in 2006 alone, the downtown welcomed a new Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Bart & Urby's Bistro, a new 14-screen movie theater, Mardi Gras Nightclub, Campus Billiards, La Poblanita Spanish Bakery, and a few others. Currently, the old Hotel Sterling complex is being razed and/or renovated to house around 50 new condominiums, office space, retail boutiques, and restaurants. Also, the new "RiverWalk" project, which will link Center City to the riverfront via portals through the levee wall, is well underway and will be completed next year. King's College and Wilkes University have helped to bring a "college-town" flair to the downtown, especially as of late. The city's downtown is beginning to shimmer like a jewel once again, and once its revitalization is complete, you'll begin to see that positive growth radiate outwards into the city's neighborhoods.

Finally, as far as the economy is concerned, there aren't many white-collar opportunities to be had in the entire region. We're more of a service-based area, but the new "Wall Street West" movement should have some NYC financial firms in our area within the next few years. Our major "in-demand" career paths include nursing, truck driving, retail/dining, and customer service, but there are a few opportunities for I/T (my father), engineering (my brother-in-law), teaching (my sister), management (my mother), accounting (my next-door neighbor), etc.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you'd like about my area!
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Old 01-28-2007, 08:53 PM
 
Location: where you sip the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica
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Thanks, that helps a lot! I'll probably ask more questions when I know for sure that I'll be moving there.
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:17 AM
 
Location: S.W.PA
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'Lived there from about '87 to '97, so I'm a bit out of the loop but have been back to visit my mother-in-law in Luzerne about once a year, and it doesn't seem to have changed all that much. These are less studied impressions: crime may be on the rise but it is still relatively low. This is PA after all! People outside of downtown commonly keep their doors unlocked. Downtown vacancy rate seems a bit worse now than it did back then...it seems to be a constant struggle to keep the downtown vibrant and fully occupied. In terms of the physical environment it is like a lot of PA cities....it has its depressing streets and its nice streets. Franklin St. for the most part is very nice with some fine old examples of turn of the century architecture, particularly in the Wilkes College area. Kingston and Forty Fort also have some beautiful old homes. The bulk of the homes in "the Valley" look like a siding salesman's dream however. Wilkes-Barre was underwater in '72 and some of the houses and commercial buildings got repaired in sometimes less than sensitive ways. The hills to the south (plateau really) are sparsely populated...there is Mountaintop with its commercial strip and not a lot else in terms of towns. 'Wild country really. To the north there is the "back mountain" including Trucksville, Shavertown, Dallas ,and Lehman. This has a different feel and I think it is because one is up and away from the coal mining areas and into what was historically more agricultural/timbering based. There is a lot of new housing development and some nice older housing particularly around Dallas. Culturally I always found the Valley to be a bit depressed...remember you have a very old population as well as the decendants of an abusive mining culture, however there are some bright spots, such as the symphony, and the theater, and the Sordoni Gallery (if that still exists?!) and a small community of artistic types trying to make things happen. The countryside all around can be breathtakingly beautiful.
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