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The Delaware Valley is the name of the metropolitan area centered on the city of Philadelphia in the United States. The region is named for the Delaware River which flows through it. The Office of Management and Budget officially defines the region as the Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington metropolitan area.

The Delaware Valley is composed of several counties in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and contains a population of 5.8 million (as of the 2006 Census Bureau estimate). However, if the populations of all Delaware Valley counties is tallied, (see below), then the actual population of the Delaware Valley is 6,220,778. Philadelphia, being the region’s major commercial, cultural, and industrial center, maintains a rather large sphere of influence that affects those counties that immediately surround it. The majority of the region’s populace reside in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the United States and is located towards the southern end of the BosWash megalopolis, the name given for a group of metropolitan areas in the northeastern United States, extending from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Based on commuter flows, a wider labor market region known as the Philadelphia–Camden–Vineland combined statistical area (CSA) is additionally defined. This wider region adds the metropolitan areas of Vineland and Reading and has a total population of 6.3 million.

Despite the area’s size and dominance in 4 states, no state capitals are within the Delaware Valley (Philadelphia) Metropolitan Area. Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, is on the Delaware River and was formerly part of the Delaware Valley, but since 2000 has officially been part of the New York Metro Area.

Character

The area has extensive suburban sprawl. King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Cherry Hill, New Jersey are two of the largest suburban edge cities. Philadelphia’s suburbs contain a high concentration of malls including the King of Prussia Mall, the largest on the East Coast and the Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the first enclosed mall on the East Coast. Malls, office complexes, strip shopping plazas, expressways, and tract housing are common sites, and more and more are continued to be constructed as these replace rolling countryside, farms, woods, and wetlands. However, recent opposition made by residents and political officials, many acres of land have been preserved throughout the Delaware Valley. Older small towns and large boroughs such as Norristown, Jenkintown and West Chester remain while engulfed in suburbia. The fastest growing counties are Chester, Montgomery, Bucks, and Gloucester. Many of the counties outside the metropolitan area are also experiencing rapid growth, such as Lancaster County, Lehigh County, Northampton County, and Berks County. South Jersey is experiencing faster growth than the rest of the state.

Counties making up the Delaware Valley

Delaware

* New Castle County

Maryland

* Cecil County

New Jersey

* Burlington County
* Camden County
* Cumberland County (Vineland metropolitan area)
* Gloucester County
* Salem County

Pennsylvania

* Berks County (Reading metropolitan area) (added by the Census Bureau in 2005)
* Bucks County
* Chester County
* Delaware County
* Montgomery County
* Philadelphia County

Primary Cities

* Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
* Wilmington, Delaware
* Camden, New Jersey
* Reading, Pennsylvania (added by the Census Bureau in 2005)
* Vineland, New Jersey

Counties Adjacent to the Delaware Valley

The counties listed below are not physically or officially part of the Delaware Valley, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, these counties have seen increased growth and growing links to the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area and the Delaware Valley in recent years. This trend is due to increased economic trade and transportation links to the Delaware Valley. In recent decades, there has also been a rapid trend of out migration from Philadelphia and its suburbs by commuters and others seeking lower housing prices and a lower cost of living, further linking these counties with the greater Philadelphia area.

While unlikely in the near future, it is not impossible to assume that some of these counties will one day be considered part of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area and the Delaware Valley if rapid population and economic growth continues. For example, Berks County, which long bordered the Delaware Valley, was recently added to the metropolitan area by the U.S. Census in 2005. Lehigh and Northampton County continue to remain distinct, since they receive more migrants from the New York City metropolitan area than the Delaware Valley.

In contrast, Mercer County, New Jersey had formerly been part of the Delaware Valley Metropolitan Area. However, it was redesignated as part of the New York Metropolitan Area in 2000.

Delaware

* Kent County
* Sussex County

New Jersey

* Atlantic County
* Cape May County
* Mercer County (part of the New York Metropolitan Area)
* Monmouth County (part of the New York Metropolitan Area)
* Ocean County (part of the New York Metropolitan Area)

Pennsylvania

* Lancaster County
* Lehigh County
* Northampton County

Transportation

Many residents commute to jobs in Philadelphia, Camden, Wilmington, and increasingly as far as New York City, 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
o R1 Airport Route connecting Central Philadelphia with Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties and R1 Glenside route serving North Philadelphia and Montgomery County
o R2 Marcus Hook/Wilmington/Delaware route connecting the Wilmington, DE area (with limited weekday service to Newark, DE), via Chester City and Delaware County and R2 Warminster route serving southeastern Montgomery County.
o R3 West Trenton connecting Central Philadelphia northern to the Trenton, NJ area, serving Bucks County, PA between Jenkintown, PA and Yardley, PA, with the final stop in West Trenton, NJ. R3 Media/Elwyn (southern) route connecting Philadelphia to central Delaware County.
o R5 Paoli/Downingtown/Thorndale route connecting Philadelphia with the affluent Main Line area and western Chester County near Coatesville and R5 Lansdale/Doylestown connecting Philadelphia with Lansdale in central Montgomery County and Doylestown in Bucks County.
o R6 Norristown route connecting Philadelphia with Conshohocken and Norristown in Montgomery County and R6 Cynwyd route connecting Philadelphia with Bala Cynwyd on the Philadelphia/Montgomery County line.
o R7 Trenton Route connecting Philadelphia to the Trenton, NJ, serving Bucks County and R7 Chestnut Hill East line connecting Central Philadelphia with Chestnut Hill area of city.
o R8 Chestnut Hill West route connecting Central Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill area and R8 Fox Chase connecting Central Philadelphia with Fox Chase area in Philadelphia.

* New Jersey Transit
o Atlantic City Line connecting Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NJ with connections to PATCO Speedline in Lindenwold, NJ
o River Line connecting Camden (NJ) to Trenton (NJ) running along the east bank of the Delaware River

* PATCO Speedline connecting Philadelphia to Lindenwold, NJ in Camden County with connections to NJT’s Atlantic City Line

Major highways

* Interstate 95
* Interstate 76
* Interstate 176
* Interstate 476
* Interstate 676
* Interstate 295 (Delaware & New Jersey)
* Interstate 495
* Delaware Turnpike
* New Jersey Turnpike
* Pennsylvania Turnpike
* U.S. Route 1
* U.S. Route 9
* U.S. Route 13
* U.S. Route 30
* U.S. Route 40
* U.S. Route 130
* U.S. Route 202
* U.S. Route 301
* U.S. Route 322
* U.S. Route 422
* Del. Route 1 Turnpike
* N.J. Route 42/Atlantic City Expressway
* N.J. Route 55

Airports

* Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
* Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE)
* New Castle Airport (ILG)
* Reading Regional Airport (RDG)

Colleges and Universities

Delaware

* University of Delaware
* Goldey-Beacom College
* Widener University School of Law
* Wilmington University

New Jersey

* University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
* Rowan University
* Rutgers University (Camden)
* Rutgers School of Law – Camden

Pennsylvania

* Alvernia College
* Arcadia University
* University of the Arts (Philadelphia)
* Bryn Mawr College
* Cabrini College
* Curtis Institute of Music
* Chestnut Hill College
* Cheyney University
* Delaware Valley College
* DeVry University
* Drexel University
* Eastern University
* Gwynedd-Mercy College
* Harcum College
* Haverford College
* Holy Family University
* Immaculata University
* Thomas Jefferson University
* Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
* LaSalle University
* Manor College
* Moore College of Art and Design
* Neumann College
* Peirce College
* University of Pennsylvania
* Penn State Abington
* Penn State Brandywine
* Penn State Great Valley
* Philadelphia University
* Philadelphia Biblical University
* Rosemont College
* Saint Joseph’s University
* University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
* Swarthmore College
* Temple University
* Ursinus College
* Valley Forge Military Academy and College
* Valley Forge Christian College
* Villanova University
* West Chester University
* Widener University

Lexicon note

Some believe that the term “Delaware Valley” is subtly different than “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 doesn’t 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 their view that Philadelphia is the center of the region, and that the suburbs are only relevant as, in GPTMC’s terms, “Philadelphia’s countryside.”

Many who work and live in the suburbs and rarely if ever visit the city don’t agree and tend to use the term “Delaware Valley,” which lacks the dominant city vs. dependent suburbs subtext.

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.

The Delaware Valley is also sometimes called “the Tri-State area,” referring to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.