Delaware Valley

Culturally, the Delaware Valley is taken by various commercial media and advertising venues to mean the Philadelphia metropolitan area, but geographically, geologically, and historically the term used to refer to the valley through which the Delaware River flows. In geology and geography, a strict sense of the term would incorporate the Delaware River's main drainage basin, so encompass major tributaries such as the Schuylkill River and Lehigh River and their valleys or sub-basins. These extensions also apply culturally with decreasing degree gradually decreased by proximal distance because the ease of land travel enables a great deal of daily interaction; for example, the large number of commuters which travel daily 45â€"90 minutes creates cultural blends and parallel values.

However, this article discusses the economic region centered on the cities on the tidal part of the Delaware Valley, including the metropolitan areas centered on Philadelphia; Reading, Pennsylvania; Camden, New Jersey; Trenton, New Jersey and Wilmington, Delaware. It is roughly the Philadelphiaâ€"Readingâ€"Trenton-Camdenâ€"Wilmington, Pennsylvaniaâ€"New Jerseyâ€"Delawareâ€"Maryland (PA-NJ-DE-MD) Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The Delaware Valley as discussed here is composed of several counties in Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey, one county in northern Delaware and one county in northeastern Maryland. The area has a population of over 7.1 million (as of the 2010 Census Bureau count). Philadelphia, being the region's major commercial, cultural, and industrial center, maintains a rather large sphere of influence that affects the counties that immediately surround it. The majority of the region's populace resides in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

As of March 2011, the Philadelphiaâ€"Camdenâ€"Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Statistical Area and its CSA is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the United States and is located towards the southern end of the Northeast megalopolis extending from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Based on commuter flows, the OMB also defines a wider labor market region that adds Berks County, Pennsylvania to the Philadelphiaâ€"Camdenâ€"Wilmington CSA bringing the total metropolitan population to 6.53 million.

Philadelphia's media ranks fourth, behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, in Nielsen Media Market size rankings.

Such educational institutions as Delaware Valley Regional High School in Alexandria Township and Delaware Valley College in Doylestown Township are such examples of regional naming. Likewise, Frenchtown's now defunct newspaper The Delaware Valley News is another example of the usage.

Counties making up the Delaware Valley

Delaware Valley


  • Kent County (Dover Metropolitan Area, in the CSA not in the MSA )
  • New Castle County


  • Cecil County

New Jersey

  • Atlantic County (Atlantic City-Hammonton Metropolitan Area, in the CSA not in the MSA )
  • Burlington County
  • Camden County
  • Cape May County (Ocean City Metropolitan Area, in the CSA not in the MSA )
  • Cumberland County (Vineland Metropolitan Area, in the CSA not in the MSA )
  • Gloucester County
  • Salem County
  • Mercer County


  • Berks County (Reading metropolitan area, in the CSA, not the MSA )
  • Bucks County
  • Chester County
  • Delaware County
  • Montgomery County
  • Philadelphia County

Principal cities

The following metropolitan areas (MSAs) are included in the Combined Statistical Area (CSA). The principal cities in each MSA are as follows:

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

  • Camden, New Jersey
  • Trenton, New Jersey
  • Philadelphia
  • Wilmington, Delaware

Reading Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

  • Reading, Pennsylvania

Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

  • Bridgeton, New Jersey
  • Millville, New Jersey
  • Vineland, New Jersey

Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

  • Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Hammonton, New Jersey

Dover, Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

  • Dover, Delaware

Ocean City, New Jersey Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

  • Ocean City, New Jersey


Delaware Valley

The Delaware Valley is home to extensive populations of Irish Americans, German Americans, Ukrainian Americans, Italian Americans, Polish Americans, African Americans (over 40% of the city of Philadelphia's residents are black), Asians such as Chinese, Indian, Korean and Vietnamese, Armenians, Arabs and Turks, Indians and Pakistanis, Israelis (while American Jews form a significant ethno-religious community), Hispanics. Within the Hispanic population, the vast majority are Puerto Ricans, though other groups include Dominicans and Mexicans. There is a significant West Indian community. There is even a small Native American community known as Lenapehoking for Lenni-Lenape Indians of West Philadelphia.

Philadelphia's suburbs contain a high concentration of malls, the two largest of which have at least 5,000,000 square feet (460,000 m2) of office space, and at least 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) of retail. These are the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which is the largest in the United States (leasable sq. feet of retail space), and the Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill Township, New Jersey, which was the first enclosed mall on the East Coast. Malls, office complexes, strip shopping plazas, expressways, and tract housing are common sights, and more and more continue to replace rolling countryside, farms, woods, and wetlands. However, due to strong opposition by residents and political officials, many acres of land have been preserved throughout the Delaware Valley. Older townships and large boroughs such as Cheltenham, Norristown, Jenkintown, Upper Darby and West Chester retain distinct community identities while engulfed in suburbia. The fastest-growing counties are Chester, Montgomery, Bucks, and Gloucester. Upper Darby, in Delaware County is the largest township in the United States. Sometimes Reading is included in the Delaware Valley Metro Area.

The region also has a large and growing ethnic population, thanks to job growth and proximity to major cities other than Philadelphia, such as New York City (90 miles or a 1.5 hour trip away) and Washington D.C (140 miles and about a 2.5 hour trip away).


The Delaware Valley has four distinct seasons with ample precipitation and is divided by the 0 °C (32 °F) January isotherm. Most of Philadelphia and the NJ portion, almost all of the DE and MD portions, part of Delaware County, and extreme southern portions of Bucks and Chester Counties have a humid subtropical climate (Cfa.) The remainder of the Delaware Valley has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa.) Snow amounts may vary widely year-to-year and normally do vary widely within the Delaware Valley. The region has only two ski areas: Bear Creek Ski and Recreation Area in eastern Berks County and Spring Mountain in central Montgomery County.

Using the -3 °C January isotherm as a boundary, all of the Delaware Valley is humid subtropical except for portions of Berks County and higher areas of northern Chester County. The warm-summer humid continental climate (Dfb) only exists in higher areas of Berks where all monthly temperatures average below 22 °C.

Colonial history

The valley was the territory of the Susquehannock and Lenape, who are recalled in place names throughout the region. The region became part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland after the exploration of Delaware Bay in 1609. The Dutch called the Delaware River the Zuyd Rivier, or South River, and considered the lands along it banks and those of its bay to be the southern flank of its province of New Netherland. In 1638, it began to be settled by Swedes, Finns, Dutch, and Walloons and became the colony of New Sweden, though this was not officially recognized by the Dutch Empire who re-asserted control in 1655. The area was taken by the English in 1664. The name Delaware comes from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, who had arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1610, just as original settlers were about to abandon it, and thus maintaining the English foothold on the North American continent.


Many residents commute to jobs in Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington with the help of expressways and trains. Commutes from one suburb to another are also common, as office parks have sprung up in new commercial centers such as King of Prussia, Fort Washington, Cherry Hill, and Plymouth Meeting.

Commuter rail

  • SEPTA Regional Rail
    • Airport Line connecting Central Philadelphia with Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties.
    • Wilmington/Newark Line connecting the Wilmington, DE area (with limited weekday service to Newark, DE), via Chester City and Delaware County.
    • Warminster Line serving southeastern Montgomery County and Warminster in Bucks County.
    • West Trenton Line connecting Central Philadelphia north to the Trenton, NJ area, serving Montgomery and Bucks County, PA between Jenkintown, PA and Yardley, PA, with the final stop in Ewing, NJ.
    • Media/Elwyn Line connecting Philadelphia to central Delaware County.
    • Paoli/Thorndale Line connecting Philadelphia with the affluent Main Line area and western Chester County near Coatesville.
    • Lansdale/Doylestown Line connecting Philadelphia with Lansdale in central Montgomery County and Doylestown in Bucks County.
    • Manayunk/Norristown Line connecting Philadelphia with Conshohocken and Norristown in Montgomery County.
    • Cynwyd Line connecting Philadelphia with Bala Cynwyd on the Philadelphia/Montgomery County line (limited weekday service)
    • Trenton Line connecting Philadelphia to Trenton, NJ, serving Bucks County.
    • Fox Chase Line connecting Central Philadelphia with the Fox Chase area in Philadelphia.
    • Chestnut Hill East Line and Chestnut Hill West Line connecting Central Philadelphia with the Chestnut Hill area of the city.
  • New Jersey Transit
    • Atlantic City Line connecting Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NJ with connections to PATCO Speedline in Lindenwold, NJ.
    • River Line connecting Camden (NJ) to Trenton (NJ) running along the east bank of the Delaware River.
  • MARC
    • Penn Line connecting Perryville, MD to Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C., and in the future will connect to SEPTA at Newark, DE.
  • PATCO Speedline connecting Philadelphia to Lindenwold, NJ in Camden County with connections to NJT's Atlantic City Line.

Major highways


  • I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway)
  • I-78 / US 22
  • I-95 (Delaware Expressway)
  • I-176
  • I-76 / I-276 / Penna Turnpike
  • I-476 (Blue Route)
  • I-476 / Penna Turnpike NE Extension
  • I-676 / US 30 (Vine Street Expressway)
  • US 1 (Lincoln Expressway/Roosevelt Boulevard/City Line Avenue/Kennett-Oxford Bypass)
  • US 13
  • US 30 (Lancaster Avenue/Lincoln Highway)
  • US 202
  • US 222 (Outer Bypass/Shillington Bypass)
  • US 322
  • US 422 (Pottstown Expressway/West Shore Bypass)
  • PA 12 (Warren Street Bypass)
  • PA 61 (Centre Avenue)
  • PA 63 (Woodhaven Road/Welsh Road)
  • PA 100
  • PA 309 (Fort Washington Expressway/Sellersville-Souderton Bypass)
  • PA 611 (Doylestown Bypass)

New Jersey

  • N.J. Turnpike
  • G.S. Parkway
  • A.C. Expressway
  • Iâ€'76
  • Iâ€'295
  • Iâ€'676 (North-South Freeway)
  • US 9
  • US 30
  • US 40
  • US 130
  • US 206
  • US 322
  • Route 42 (North-South Freeway)
  • Route 55
  • Route 70
  • Route 73
  • Route 90


  • Iâ€'95 / Delaware Turnpike
  • Iâ€'295
  • Iâ€'495
  • US 13
  • US 40
  • US 113
  • US 202
  • US 301
  • DE 1
  • DE 141


  • I-95
  • US 1
  • US 40
  • US 222

Delaware River Bridges

  • New Hope-Lambertville Bridge
  • Scudder Falls Bridge (no toll)
  • Delaware River â€" Turnpike Toll Bridge
  • Burlingtonâ€"Bristol Bridge
  • Taconyâ€"Palmyra Bridge
  • Betsy Ross Bridge
  • Ben Franklin Bridge
  • Walt Whitman Bridge
  • Commodore Barry Bridge
  • Delaware Memorial Bridge


  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE)
  • New Castle Airport (ILG)
  • Reading Regional Airport (RDG)
  • Atlantic City International Airport (ACY)

Colleges and universities


  • Delaware College of Art and Design
  • Delaware State University
  • Goldey-Beacom College
  • University of Delaware
  • Wesley College
  • Widener University School of Law
  • Wilmington University

New Jersey

  • Stockton University
  • Rowan University
  • Rutgers School of Law - Camden
  • Rutgers University (Camden)
  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (Branch campuses in South Jersey)



Sports teams

Listing of the professional sports teams in the Delaware Valley

  • National Basketball Association (NBA)
    • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Major League Baseball (MLB)
    • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Minor League Baseball (MiLB)
    • Lakewood BlueClaws
    • Reading Fightin Phils
    • Wilmington Blue Rocks
  • National Football League (NFL)
    • Philadelphia Eagles
  • National Hockey League (NHL)
    • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Major League Soccer (MLS)
    • Philadelphia Union
  • Arena Football (AFL)
    • Philadelphia Soul
  • NBA Developmental League (D-League)
    • Delaware 87ers


The two main newspapers are The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, owned by the Philadelphia Media Network. Local television channels include KYW-TV 3 (CBS), WPVI 6 (ABC), WCAU 10 (NBC), WHYY-TV 12 (PBS), WPHL-TV 17 (MyNetworkTV), WTXF 29 (FOX), WPSG 57 (CW), and WPPX 61 (Ion). Radio stations serving the area include: WRTI, WIOQ, WDAS (AM), and WIP (AM).

Area codes

  • 215/267: The City of Philadelphia and its northern suburbs
  • 610/484: Southeastern Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia, including the western suburbs, the Lehigh Valley, and most of Berks County
  • 856: Southwestern New Jersey, including Camden, Cherry Hill, and Vineland
  • 609: Central and Southeastern New Jersey, including Trenton, Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore
  • 302: Delaware
  • 410/443/667: Eastern half of Maryland, including Cecil County
  • 717: South Central Pennsylvania, including Western Berks County

Lexicon note

Some believe that the term "Delaware Valley" is not entirely a synonym for "Greater Philadelphia". "Greater Philadelphia" implies that the region is centered on the city in an economic and cultural context, while "Delaware Valley" is a more generic geographic term that does not imply that any part is of more consequence than any other. Several organizations, such as KYW Radio and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, consciously use the term "Greater Philadelphia" to assert that Philadelphia is the center of the region, referring to the less urbanized areas as "Philadelphia's countryside". Others note that the customary media usage of the term omits the majority of the length of the Delaware River's valley that is not in metropolitan Philadelphia.

WPVI-TV uses the slogan, "The Delaware Valley's leading news program" for their Action News broadcast, since that program has led the ratings for news programs in the Philadelphia market for over 30 years.

See also

  • Central Delaware Valley AVA
  • Northeast megalopolis



Further reading

  • Mark L. Thompson, The Contest for the Delaware Valley: Allegiance, Identity, and Empire in the Seventeenth Century. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2013.

External links

  • Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
  • Delaware River Basin Commission

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