Cities and Townships and Boroughs-Central PA Municipalities Explained

Traveling through any portion of the state and especially in Central PA you Cities and Townships and Boroughs-Central PA Municipalities Explainedwill find signs welcoming you to boroughs, townships, and larger cities. The state is broken up into many different geographical units and some have overlapping boundaries. What do these different areas mean?


A majority of the cities that exist in Pennsylvania today originated as boroughs that developed and grew more populous and as they did so sought out recognition to become a city with the state government. If a borough has a population of at least 10,000 people they can petition to become a city through the process of questioning voters within the boundaries. The number of cities in Pennsylvania is relatively low as there's often not huge motivation for areas to become classified as cities.

In Pennsylvania, there are four different types of cities. These cities are sorted into class types. A first-class city has over 1 million residents within its boundaries, the only city of this classification in the state is Philadelphia. There are two second-class cities in the state but both have different class categories. Pittsburgh is the only second-class city in the commonwealth and Scranton was the sole second-class A city. Scranton used to be classified in the same category as Pittsburgh but wanted to differentiate itself in 1921 and have a different operating system. Just recently it has been reclassified into a thrid class city.

The rest of the cities in Pennsylvania are all classified as third-class cities. Each of these class types has its own code of operations for how the city is run.


There is a large number of boroughs in the state of Pennsylvania. A borough is a defined incorporated political subdivision that is much smaller than a city. In a large portion of Pennsylvania, boroughs have a population of under 5000 people. Though there are a few boroughs with larger populations. The governmental system is run through the borough code and the system directs a large portion of governmental power to the council instead of the mayor.


Pennsylvania has even more townships than there are boroughs. There are more than 1,500 townships in Pennsylvania that are separated into two classifications. All townships are automatically classified as second-class townships. If a township has 300 people per square mile they can ask the residents to vote on becoming a first class Township.

The township is actually the oldest form of municipal government in the United States and the decision making power falls to the supervisors or commissioners within the township. A township can have a different number of elected commissioners depending upon its classification. 

All of these municipalities and defined political subdivision units in the state, can become confusing when you first move into central Pennsylvania. A great way to get to know each municipality of Central Pennsylvania is to take a look at our locations pages on our blog. If you have further questions about an area of central Pennsylvania, please contact me. I am happy to help you find the area of Central Pennsylvania that fits you the best and to help you with any and all of your central Pennsylvania real estate needs.

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