You only have to go a few miles northwest of Philadelphia’s city limits to find Norristown—the second most populous borough in the state, and a community rich with a long, storied past. While the history of Norristown is centered around the rise of industry in the area, and later the arts, today it remains a quaint, thriving area that blends its past with a push towards revitalization and the future.
Over Two Hundred Years of History in Norristown
By the 1700s, William Penn owned much of the land in the area, and it was from his original tract of land that Norristown was formed. Purchased in 1704 by Isaac Norris—the namesake of the borough, a prominent Quaker, and Philadelphia’s former mayor— this land quickly grew into the small community of Norristown. When Montgomery County was formed in 1784, Norristown was named the county seat—although it wasn’t officially incorporated as the county’s first borough until 1812.
Through the 1800s, Norristown boomed due to its convenient location and the rise of industry in the area—including factories, textile mills, lumber yards, foundries, and breweries. However, just as this community was expanding, so was the rest of the region. As nearby towns grew in size and amenities, the downtown of Norristown began a decline that escalated after World War II.
While Norristown took a direct hit from the shift away from local manufacturing and industry, it has come back from the ashes through a community-wide effort in revitalization. Many of the historic buildings have been restored and honored, while today’s population of Norristown has grown to over 34,000 residents.
Exciting Attractions Steeped in History and Family Fun
While history buffs have plenty to explore in Norristown, there is much more to this borough than what is found in the past. The area has continued to evolve through the difficult economic times, and from unique shops and attractions to gorgeous natural places to explore, you’re going to want to make the following stops when seeing what this community has to offer:
- Norristown Farm Park: This historic, still-in-operation farm is located on 690 acres around the Norristown State Hospital. Buildings on the farm date from the mid-1700s to the early-1900s, and with a trout stream, rolling hills, hiking trails, and picnic areas, it remains one of the most beautiful and popular parks in the area.
- Selma Mansion: As one of the most historic buildings in Norristown, the Selma Mansion was built by Andrew Porter—a prominent, decorated military general—on land purchased in 1794. The original house was built in Federal style at the turn of the century, and it served as a beautiful, well-known family home through the 1900s. After being abandoned in the 2000s, the stunning structure was finally put on the road to restoration in 2016.
- Rittenhouse School: Officially opened in 1928, the Rittenhouse School was a junior high school designed by renowned architects Ritter and Shay in Colonial Revival style. Over the years, the school produced several locally and nationally recognized talents until the it closed in the early 1980s. Today, the building remains one of the top examples of early 20th century architectural design and has been converted into unique apartments.
- Elmwood Park Zoo: Norristown’s local zoo opened in 1924 on 16 acres, and it has received elite status with accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. With over 100 different species of animals from all over the world, there is plenty to see at the zoo, and the facility also does educational work within the community.
- Norristown Arts Hill: Culture and the arts have always been at the core of Norristown’s unique community spirit, and that dedication towards inspiring people through the arts lives on today in Norristown’s Arts Hill. This vibrant area of the borough is home to the Montgomery County Cultural Center, the Centre Theatre, and Theatre Horizon, as well as art galleries and creative firms that make up the core of this cultural center.
Helping You Settle Into Your New Home with Norristown Moving Services
With easy access to the big city and plenty of small-town appeal, it’s easy to see why Norristown is continuing to grow. At O’Brien’s Moving & Storage, we’re been a part of the area since 1928, and we’re proud to be a trusted, award-winning Norristown moving company and agent for Allied Van Lines.
By providing custom services for any size relocation, we simplify your moving process by offering:
- Local, Long Distance, and International Moving
- Commercial Relocation Services
- Complete Packing and Crating Options
- Specialized Moving for Vehicles, Boats, and More
- Trained, Screened, and Experienced Norristown Movers
- Flexible Storage Plans in Secured Facilities
When it’s time to hire a team of movers, Norristown, PA residents know that O’Brien’s Moving & Storage is the company that will put them first—whether you are staying right here in town or taking your family across the country. Just call today to find out more, or fill out our online form to request your free quote and consultation.
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