Butler is a small city with a population of about 14,000. The city is the county seat of Butler County and should not be confused with Butler Township, another municipality in the same county. Butler is located on the west side of Pennsylvania, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh. This artsy community is home to a large number of historic buildings, many of which are very well-preserved.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Butler is not just a blue-collar or white-collar town. The city has a good mix of local and national businesses, providing jobs of all sorts. The dominant industries in Butler are health care, retail, manufacturing, hospitality and professional services.
Major employers in the area include AK Steel, Armstrong Group of Companies, Butler Memorial Hospital and Butler Health System, and Butler County Community College.
Butler has a high poverty level, with almost 20 percent of its population making less than is needed to cover basic necessities. The per capita income for the city's residents is considered lower middle class.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
There are more renters in Butler than there are homeowners. About 50 percent of the housing units here are single-family homes. Almost 60 percent of the dwellings in Butler were built before 1940. The cost of living in the city is very low compared to the national average. A public bus service runs five different routes through the city, connecting residents with employers, shopping, and recreation.
Although Butler is small, there are several districts within it:
- Benjamin Franklin Highway/Main Street: This upscale area is located on the north and northwest sides of Butler. The majority of the homes here are medium-sized single-family houses. The median home value in this district is high for the city.
- Center Avenue/Ziegler Avenue: Located on the southeast side of town, this is a walkable neighborhood with lower-middle-income residents. Most of the homes here are historic, small single-family houses. Rental rates here are very low, and the median home value is average.
- City Center: Low-income seniors are the most common residents of this urban district. There are quite a few historic apartment complexes here. There are mostly renters in this district, where rental rates are very low. This area begins downtown and extends east.
- Highfield: Located on the west side of town, this district includes Alameda Park. This suburban district is centered on New Castle Road and mostly consists of single-family homes. The residents here are mostly middle income and rental rates are average.
- Main Street/Pearl Street: This walkable urban district is located just northeast of City Center. Most of the houses here are historic single-family homes.
- Meadowood: This area is located on the south and east sides of town, forming an L-shape. Upper-middle-income executives and professionals live in this suburban district.
Visitors to Butler can check out these and other attractions:
- Butler County Heritage Center: This museum preserves local history and puts it on display for visitors to see. This small facility is open only on Sundays and by appointment.
- Maridon Museum: There are no other museums like this in western Pennsylvania. It showcases artifacts from China and Japan and seeks to celebrate those cultures. Exhibits include tapestries, sculptures, paintings, and scrolls. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.
- Moraine State Park: Located about 10 miles northwest of the city, this park sits on more than 16,000 acres of natural land. Visitors can hike, bike, ride horses, and play disc golf. Lake Arthur is part of this park, providing additional activities such as boating, sailing, swimming, and fishing. The park is open during the winter, so visitors can enjoy winter sports as well.
- Golfing: There are nine golf courses in the Butler area. Mount Chestnut Driving Range & 9 Hole Executive Course has only nine holes and offers a driving range for practice.
- Walking Tours: Several walking tours let visitors take in the historic architecture of the town at a leisurely pace.
Annual events in the artsy community include Ring in the Arts, in which local and regional musicians celebrate the New Year. The festivities are held downtown and in several other venues, including restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
Each summer Big Butler Fair is held just outside of town at the county's fairgrounds. The local fair includes livestock shows, exhibitions and classes—not to mention a variety of food.
DID YOU KNOW?
- American Bantam Car Co. created the prototype for the Jeep in Butler back in the 1930s.
- Bret Michaels of the band Poison was born in Butler.
- The city has six buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Butler County Courthouse, located downtown.