Samuel (also reported as James) Gettys settled at the Shippensburg–Baltimore and Philadelphia–Pittsburgh crossroads with a 1761 tavern where soldiers and traders came to rest. To the southwest is the 1776 Dobbin House Tavern within the subsequent 1786 border established for the borough. After a "Strabane" township location between "Hunter's and Getty's towns" was planned as the county seat in 1790, in 1791 "Revd. Alexander Dobbin and David Moore Sr. were appointed trustees for the county of Adams to erect public buildings in…Gettysburg." The founder of the Studebaker Corporation was born in 1833 in Gettysburg.
In 1858 the Gettysburg Railroad completed construction of a railroad line from Gettysburg to Hanover. The Gettysburg Railroad Station opened in 1859. Passenger train service to the town ended in 1942. The station was restored in 2006. In 2011, Senator Robert Casey introduced S. 1897, which would include the railroad station within the boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park.
By 1860, the borough "had around 450 buildings [which] housed carriage manufacturing, shoemakers, and tanneries".
The Battle of Gettysburg, one of the largest battles during the American Civil War, was fought between July 1 and 3, 1863, across the fields and heights south of the town. In the end, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia retreated into Virginia, while George G. Meade and the Army of the Potomac tried but failed to pursue Lee and his men. Casualties were high; there were over 27,000 Confederate and 23,000 Union losses. The residents of Gettysburg were left to care for the wounded and bury the dead following the Confederate retreat. Approximately 8,000 men and 3,000 horses lay under the summer sun. The soldiers' bodies were gradually reinterred in what is today known as Gettysburg National Cemetery, where, on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln attended a ceremony to officially consecrate the grounds and delivered his Gettysburg Address.
A 20-year-old woman, Jennie Wade, was the only civilian killed during the battle. She was hit by a stray bullet that passed through her kitchen door while she was making bread on July 3.
Physical damage can still be seen in some of the houses throughout the town, notably the Schmucker House located on Seminary Ridge.
The furniture manufacturing grew in Gettysburg in the early 1900s. The Gettysburg Manufacturing Company was formed in 1902 to manufacture a variety of residential furniture. It had become the Gettysburg Furniture Company by 1912. Another local furniture company was the Warner Furniture company and its successor, the Engle Furniture Company, which commenced making residential furniture in 1905. Engle became the Reaser Furniture Company in 1907, and continued to produce dozens of styles. In 1917 the joint venture Stouck-Reaser Company formed to buy, sell and deal in wholesale lumber products. The company continued to appear in local newspapers through the 1920s.
Furniture production remained an important industry in the area through the 1920s. In 1920 the Gettysburg Panel Company formed to manufacture veneer panels for the other firms. In 1923, the Gettysburg Chair Company was chartered to supply chairs that the local factories needed to complete their bedroom and dining room suites.
In 1923, the borough's production of furniture totaled almost 71,000 pieces. In 1927 there were 522 employees in the three plants: 261 in Gettysburg, 153 in Reaser, and 108 in Panel.
The industry declined in the mid-1900s, however. In 1951, the Stouck-Reaser company obtained a permit for a new office building, and the other companies were sold. The Gettysburg Furniture Company factory closed in 1960, becoming a warehouse and distribution point for other furniture factories outside Pennsylvania. A facility of the Dolly Madison Industries, Furniture Division, was located in Gettysburg in 1966.
Gettysburg manufacturing associated with tourism included a late 19th-century foundry that created gun carriages, bridgeworks and cannons for the Gettysburg Battlefield, as well as a construction industry for hotels, stables, and other buildings for tourist services. Early tourist buildings in the borough included museums (like the 1881 Danner Museum), souvenir shops, buildings of the electric trolley (preceded by a horse trolley from the Gettysburg Railroad Station to the Springs Hotel), and stands for hackmen who drove visitors in jitneys (horse-drawn group taxis) on tours. Modern tourist services in the borough include ghost tours, bed and breakfast lodging, and historical interpretation (reenactors, etc.).
Gettysburg is located on U.S. Route 30 about 25 miles (40 km) west of York, Pennsylvania. Rock Creek, a tributary of the Monocacy River and part of the Potomac River watershed, flows along its eastern edge. According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.3 km2), all land.
Gettysburg lies in the transition zone between the humid continental climate of northern and central Pennsylvania to the north and the humid subtropical climate of central Maryland to the south, with hot, humid summers and cool winters. On average, January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 30 °F (−1 °C). Winters range from cool to moderately cold, with relatively frequent snowfalls. July is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 74.5 °F (23.6 °C), and June is the wettest month. The hottest temperature recorded in Gettysburg was 104 °F (40 °C) in 1988; the coldest temperature recorded was −25 °F (−32 °C) in 1994.
As of the 2010 census, Gettysburg had a population of 7,620, and was 79.6% non-Hispanic white, 10.9% Hispanic or Latino, 5.4% African American, 1.9% Asian, 2.2% all other.
At the 2000 census, the Gettysburg Urban Cluster population was 15,532. At the 2010 census, Gettysburg was included within the Hanover Urban Area, which had a population of 66,301. Gettysburg is the principal city of the Gettysburg, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area.
At the 2000 census, there were 7,490 people, 2,541 households and 1,229 families residing in the borough. The racial makeup of the borough was 85.46% White, 5.79% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.67% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. 8.02% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,541 households of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.6% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 42.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.94.
16.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 36.2% from 18 to 24, 19.1% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.
The median household income was $29,840 and the median family income was $40,489. Males had a median income of $30,341 compared with $21,111 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $14,157. About 13.2% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 17 and 5.2% of those age 77 or over.
The Gettysburg Borough is governed by seven locally elected, council members. The borough is divided into three electoral wards. Three members of Council are elected from each Ward. The Borough Council has multiple committees including: College/Community, Ordinance, Public Safety, Public Works, Legislative, Human Resources, and Finance. Three council members serve on each committee, but the powerful chairs are held by just five members with several council members chairing more than one committee. There is an elected mayor and tax collector. The borough operates a police department.
Three, elected at large, Adams County Commissioners. In 2014, they are: Randy Phiel, Chairman; Jim Martin, Vice Chairman; and Marty Karsteter Qually.
The main industry of the borough is tourism associated with such historic sites as Gettysburg National Military Park (including the Gettysburg National Cemetery) and Eisenhower National Historic Site. Gettysburg has many activities and tours to offer to vacationers and tourists who are interested in the Gettysburg area and the history of the community and the battle. Tourists for the annual reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg use borough facilities, which include the Dobbin House Tavern and Hotel Gettysburg.
Every year from July 1–3 volunteers reenact the Battle of Gettysburg. Each day re-enactors display a different part of the battle as well as commentary regarding the hardships of the battles. The battles are narrated by the battlefield guides of the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Many roads radiate from Gettysburg, providing hub-like access to Washington, D.C. 75 miles (121 km), Baltimore 55 miles (89 km), Harrisburg 37 miles (60 km), Carlisle 27 miles (43 km), Frederick and Hagerstown, Maryland 32 miles (51 km) and Hanover, Pennsylvania 14 miles (23 km). York is 30 miles (48 km) east on the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30), the first transcontinental U.S. highway, and Chambersburg is 25 miles (40 km) west on it. Today the borough is a 2 1⁄2 hour drive from Philadelphia and a 3 1⁄2 hour drive from Pittsburgh via the Pennsylvania Turnpike and U.S. Route 15. Gettysburg Regional Airport, a small general aviation airport, is located 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Gettysburg.
The main east-west road through downtown Gettysburg is U.S. Route 30, which is known as York Street east of Lincoln Square and Chambersburg Street west of Lincoln Square.
York Adams Transportation Authority (YATA) operates public transportation in Adams County. Freedom Transit, implemented in 2009, The hub of the bus system, the new Gettysburg Transit Center, is under construction on Carlisle Street. Beginning in 2011, a Rabbit Transit commuter bus to Harrisburg runs four times each weekday in each direction.
Residents of Gettysburg may attend the local, public schools operated by Gettysburg Area School District which provides full day kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2013, the Gettysburg Area School District's enrollment had declined to 2,997 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times ranked Gettysburg Area School District 171st out of 498 public schools for academic achievement of its pupils. In 2012, Gettysburg Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), even though the Gettysburg Area High School was in Making Progress: in School Improvement II AYP status, under the federal No Child Left Behind, due to lagging student achievement, especially in reading. Several of the District's schools are located in Gettysburg. Gettysburg Area High School is located at 1130 Old Harrisburg Road. Gettysburg Area Middle School is located at 37 Lefever Street. Lincoln Elementary School is located at 98 Lefever Street. James Gettys Elementary School is located at 898 Biglerville Road.
High school aged students can attend the taxpayer funded Adams County Tech Prep for training in the building trades, the culinary arts, Diesel Mechanics, allied health including Emergency Medical Technician certification and other areas. The school is located on the Gettysburg Area High School campus at 1130 Old Harrisburg Road. Adams County Tech Prep is funded by a consortium of the school districts, which includes: Gettysburg Area School District, Littlestown Area School District, Fairfield Area School District, Conewago Valley School District and Bermudian Springs School District.
Gettysburg residents may also choose between two local, public charter schools: Vida Charter School and Gettysburg Montessori Charter School. In Pennsylvania, residents may attend public charter schools at no cost to the parents. The tuition is paid by their public school system. By Commonwealth law, if the public school district provides transportation for its own students, then the district must also provide transportation to any school that lies within 10 miles of its borders, as well as, all schools within its borders.
Vida Charter School is a public school operating in the former Eisenhower Elementary School, 120 E. Broadway, Gettysburg. Vida Charter School offers full day kindergarten through 6th grade. In 2013, Vida Charter School achieved a score 81.1 of out of 100 for student achievement. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. In 2012, Vida Charter School achieved Adequate yearly Progress (AYP).
Children residing in Gettysburg may also attend Gettysburg Montessori Charter School which offers full day Kindergarten through 6th grade. This public charter school operates at 120 E Broadway, Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Montessori Charter School achieved AYP in both 2011 and 2012. In 2013, Gettysburg Montessori Charter School achieved a score of 64 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement.
Gettysburg school-aged residents may also apply to attend any of the Commonwealth's 14 public cyber charter schools (in 2013) at no additional cost to the parents. The resident’s public school district is required to pay the charter school and cyber charter school tuition for residents who attend these public schools. Residents may also seek admission for their school aged child to any other public school district. When accepted for admission, the student's parents are responsible for paying an annual tuition fee set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 2012, the tuition fees for Gettysburg Area School District were: Elementary Schools - $9,935.50, High School - $11,168.47.
Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12 provides a wide variety of services to children living in its region which includes Gettysburg Borough. Early screening, special educations services, speech and hearing therapy, Head Start preschool classes and many other services like driver education are available. Services for children during the preschool years are provided without cost to their families when the child is determined to meet eligibility requirements. The IU12 has a satellite office at 57 North Fifth Street, Gettysburg which provides language services to migrant workers. Additionally, the Adams County Literacy Council is located at 34 Foth Alley, Gettysburg.
Libraries Community members have access to the Adams County Public Library which is located on 140 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg; Fairfield Area Library located at 31 Worts Drive in Fairfield; the Adams County Historical Society Library which is located on 111 Seminary Ridge, in Gettysburg; the Adams County Law Library located in the Court House, 117 Baltimore Street, Room 305 in Gettysburg and to the statewide PA Power Library which is an online library funded with tax dollars from the state's education budget.
Gettysburg College, Harrisburg Area Community College, and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg employ thousands of people in the borough. At Harrisburg Area Community College Gettysburg Campus, Gettysburg residents have access to college courses at a discounted tuition rate for state residents. Gettysburg Area School District is not a tax funding district of the College. Resident contribute to the community college through state taxation and funding.