Bradford, Pennsylvania

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Bradford is a small city located in rural McKean County, Pennsylvania, in the United States 78 miles (126 km) south of Buffalo, New York. Settled in 1823, Bradford was chartered as a city in 1879 and emerged as a wild oil boomtown in the Pennsylvanian oil rush in the late 19th century. The area's Pennsylvania Grade crude oil has superior qualities and is free of asphaltic constituents, contains only trace amounts of sulfur and nitrogen, and has excellent characteristics for refining into lubricants. World-famous Kendall racing oils were produced in Bradford.

The population peaked at 17,691 in 1940, but as of the 2000 census had dropped to 9,175 and was still declining at mid-decade according to census bureau estimates. Two adjoining townships, home to approximately 9,000 people, make the population of Greater Bradford about 18,000. Famous Bradfordians include opera singer Marilyn Horne and Hall of Fame baseball player Rube Waddell. A famous Perpetual Motion machine hoax was created in Bradford in 1897 by J M Aldrich; it was exposed in the July 1, 1899 issue of the Scientific American magazine, leading to a four month prison sentence in the county jail.



Bradford is well known as the home of Zippo, a manufacturer of collectible pocket lighters, and Case, which is owned by Zippo and makes collectible knives. As of February 2009, the two companies employed 1,117 people. But significant layoffs have taken place since then. After Zippo and Case, the second largest employer is Bradford Regional Medical Center, which employed 759 as of February 2009. BRMC underwent a significant campus expansion in 2006. Other major employers as of February 2009 include Beacon Light (682), Bradford Area School District (474) and Wal-Mart (378). The nearby Federal Prison employed 301 as of that time.

The city also boasts an American Refining Group oil refinery, the oldest continuously operating refinery in the United States, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2006. Since ARG purchased the refinery in the mid 1990s, employment has almost doubled, to just less than 300 as of February 2009.

Bradford is home to a growing four-year college, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pitt-Bradford), which as of the fall term 2009 had 1,455 full-time students and 202 part-time students for a total enrollment of 1,657, 217 full-time employees and 106 part-time employees. Almost 900 students live on campus. The university's campus has grown significantly in recent years. Current building projects include a new residence hall, a chapel and laboratory upgrades to the science building.

The median income for a household in the city in 1999, according to the 2000 census, was $26,463, and the median income for a family was $32,828. Males had a median income of $30,661 versus $21,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,537. About 16.9% of families and 20.7% of the population was below the poverty line, including 28.1% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over. Median incomes were significantly higher, and poverty rates significantly lower, in the adjoining townships.

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