Norristown is a small residential borough in Montgomery County, in the Philadelphia-Camden metro area. The town is about 6 miles outside of Philadelphia, between two greater communities of King of Prussia and Plymouth Meeting.
This article also covers the nearby communities of Bridgeport, Gladwyne, Jeffersonville, Conshohocken and Lafayette Hill.
It is considered the county seat or administrative center of Montgomery County nestled alongside the Schuylkill River. It was home to 34,000 people in 2019.
Norristown was named after Isaac Norris, who was mayor of Philadelphia in 1724 and was named trustee of the province of Pennsylvania in the will of Willaim Penn. Before Penn faced legal issues involving his arrest in 1706, Norris brought the land from Penn which subsequently was named after Norris after the purchase. In his lifetime Norris was greatly successful in politics and business which he carried over in the development of Norristown. Today, with a number of old cigar and lumber factories still standing, Norristown shows much of the aftermath the rich history in agriculture manufacturing that began there, but is no longer prominent.
To understand Norristown is to understand its residents. Many people have a misconception or false stereotype about Norristown and its people, yet none of these ideas are true. Because it is a suburb of Philadelphia many outsiders assume that it is a rural area occupied by suburban neighborhoods. But because the diverse ethnic population has always been larger than that of surrounding townships (Methacton, East Norriton, Upper Merion, etc.), many people mistake the town for a "ghetto" where "other" races reside. This concept is supposedly reflected in the learning ability of the students and job opportunities for the residents, because all are working class.
Norristown is a center for emerging diverse cultures and ethnic backgrounds. The students of the schools in the Norristown Area School District are above average, with over half ranging from proficient to advanced in math and reading assessments. The crime level is very low and though do not keep your door unlocked at night. It is a safe community in which to raise a family. The town is very family-oriented and is mostly residential, with several business districts scattered throughout, particularly on Main Street between Swede and Markley Streets and on Marshall Street west of Markley Street. Main Street is the central east-west corridor in town, and Markley is the main north-south route.
Norristown hosts major annual celebrations such as Community Day and the Food Family and Fun Festival. A farmer's market operates on Main Street near the County Court House on Thursday afternoons in the summer.
- Norristown Business Development, 266 East Main Street - Suite 3, ☏ . Pennsylvania's 300-year-old historic, multicultural community and center of commerce has reinvented itself. Walk the same streets that Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Daniel Webster did. Shop, dine, browse, discover.
The main east-west route to Norristown is Ridge Pike, also known as Main Street within the boundaries of Norristown and part of West Norriton Township. (Ridge Pike is the same as Ridge Avenue once it enters Philadelphia.) The main north-south routes are US 202, which becomes Dekalb Street once it enters Norristown northbound from King of Prussia. The alternate route is Markley Street, which runs both north- and southbound in Norristown.
Most people own their own vehicles, but a large percentage rely on public transportation run by SEPTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (www.septa.org). The main transportation hub in Norristown is the Norristown Transportation Center at the intersection of Lafayette and Swede Streets. SEPTA offers three public transportation choices to and from Norristown: buses from most surrounding towns and Philadelphia, the Manayunk/Norristown regional rail line to Philadelphia, and the Norristown High Speed light rail line, which travels from Norristown to the Main Line (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, etc.) to 69th Street in Upper Darby and continuing on to Philadelphia via the Market-Frankford El.
Norristown has a long historic background. The settlement was established with a few homes and businesses in the late 1700s and was incorporated as a borough in 1830. It one of the oldest towns in Pennsylvania. On the Schuylkill River, Norristown was named a Central Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It features 19th- and 20th-century structures, both homes and industrial buildings. Most of the original 1784 Town of Norris is included in the old business and government center, whose focal point is the Montgomery County Courthouse. The past and present vitality of the borough's core is indicated by the variety of buildings in this part of the District: the County jail, the YMCA, the mid-19th-century Odd Fellows Hall, three historic 19th-century churches, and a number of old commercial buildings.
One of Norristown's main modern attractions is the Elmwood Park Zoo on Harding Boulevard. The zoo is clean, safe, and a manageable size to take in for an afternoon. Visitors can get close to the animals (most of which are North American species). The otter exhibit is a particular favorite with children. There is a walk-through butterfly exhibit where butterflies fly about freely and land on your clothes.
- Woodmont Palace Mission Inc., 1622 Spring Mill Rd, Gladwyne, ☏ . National Historic Landmark. 1892 French Gothic manor house, gardens, ponds, woodland. Headquarters of Father Divine's International Peace Mission Movement. Modest dress required.
- Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd, ☏ . North and South American wild animals in naturalistic settings. Focus on educating young children. Daily live animal shows during season, education programs, summer camp, birthday parties, playground, cafe, nature shop year-round.
Norristown is not a very happening place when it comes to activities, although the Marshall Street shopping corridor can get very lively, with many stores and restaurants open relatively late. Because Norristown is mainly residential, most people find their entertainment just beyond the borders.
On the Schuylkill River Trail, Norristown also provides excellent walking and bicycling routes to Valley Forge National Park (approximately 3.5 miles) and eastward to the attractions of Manayunk (11 miles) and the Philadelphia Art Museum (approximately 18 miles).
- Norristown Farm Park, 2500 Upper Farm Rd, ☏ . Pennsylvania has breath-taking beauty combined with a historical legacy that is second to none in the country. Has an abundance of both in Norristown Farm Park. Located in East and West Norriton Townships and Norristown Borough, the main entrance is off Germantown Pike. A 700-acre park where a visitor can bicycle, walk, hike, run, jog, picnic, fish in a stocked trout stream, walk their dog, or view wildlife in their natural habitats. The Farm Park is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is operated and maintained by Montgomery County. This unique relationship blends recreational opportunities and agricultural activities. Activities: hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, jogging/running, skateboarding, roller blading/skating, wildlife viewing, nature photography, dog walking, sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
- The Centre Theater, 208 DeKalb Street, ☏ . Non-profit 75-seat professional theater features main-stage and children's productions. New 40-seat blackbox theater showcases small companies and emerging artists. Also offer performing arts education for youth.
- Tees Golf Center, 707 Conshohocken Rd, Conshohocken. miniature golf, driving ranges, batting cages, golf lessons, and an extreme skate park.
- Jeffersonville Golf Club, 2400 West Main Street, Jeffersonville, ☏ . Affordable yet challenging 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course with banquet and meeting space, full-service catering that can accommodate up to 200 guests for groups, outings and events.
In the general area of Norristown there is much to do especially spending wise. With the King of Prussia Mall in close range of the area there is always a lot of people who tend to take their money into the area. The large population creates a great influx of new stores and retail lots that create a nice revenue to the county. Places such as Designed Treasures, Larry's Thrift Shop, Main Line Hobbies, Main Changes Changes Clothing and Caliente Boutique are great examples of some of the great shopping that can be done in Norristown.
- Crossroad Gift & Thrift, and Ten Thousand Villages, 139 West Main Street, ☏ . Reasonably-priced imported handcrafted items; jewelry, pottery, brass, baskets, more. Sales support artisans in impoverished countries.
- 1 Plaza Flowers (Philadelphia Flower Delivery), 417 Egypt Rd (corner of Egypt Rd and Trooper Rd), ☏ . M-F 7AM - 8PM, Sa 8AM - 8PM, Su 10AM - 5PM. Worldwide delivery of fine quality flowers, plants, gift baskets, Godiva Chocolate, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Bridgewater candles. Specializes in parties, conventions, banquets, weddings, and corporate gifts.
- Edwards - Freeman Nut Company, 441 E. Hector St, Conshohocken, ☏ . Turn-of-the-20th-century nostalgia "old days" outlet store roasts peanuts and makes peanut, almond and cashew butter. Variety of candies, chocolate, fudge, nuts and gourmet coffee.
- Country Club Editions (Golf Art Gallery), 203 DeKalb St, Bridgeport, ☏ . Only shop in the world dedicated exclusively to golf art. Outstanding collection of more than 2,000 prints, photographs and sculptures.
Food is never hard to come by in Norristown. It is hard to go wrong with the wide variety of ethnic cuisines. The opening of so many new restaurants has established Norristown as a food-lover's dream. Here is a break down of some of the different choices you have if you are looking into dining in the Norristown area:
- Taqueria La Michoacana, ☏ .
- El Puerto Jarocho, ☏ .
- LA Poblanita Mexican Bar, ☏ .
- Alfredo's Restaurant, ☏ .
- Maggiano's, ☏ .
- T'Dori, ☏ .
- Taylor's at the Olde Mill, 200 West Marshall Street, ☏ . Savory New Southern Cuisine, live jazz and blues performed by nationally renowned musicians, in a renovated, historic mill.
- Rey Azteca, ☏ .
- Lucky Dog Saloon & Grille, ☏ .
- Famous George's Pizzeria, ☏ .
- Local pizzerias Via Veneto (Markley Street, Norristown) and Franzone's (Dekalb Street, Bridgeport) have established loyal customer bases for decades.
- Shula's 347 at the Marriott Philadelphia West, 111 Crawford Street - Philadelphia Marriott West, West Conshohocken, ☏ . Shula's 347 prepares a classic American cuisine, serving gourmet salads, fresh fish and Certified Angus Beef. Top shelf cocktails and wines make this restaurant perfect for social and business occasions.
- Uno's Chicago Bar & Grill - Conshohocken, 1009 Ridge Pk, Conshohocken, ☏ . Casual dining, Chicago style deep dish pizza. The original established in 1943. Pizza, chicken, steak, salads, a special kid's menu, something for everyone.
The bar scene in Norristown is one of depth but also one of up rising. Bars were not very common in the area in the past. There are some hot spots, like any town, that bring in the money and the customer base. These bars are top knotch and do their jobs. With an abundance of cab companies, train stops, and bus availability there is definitely a big need for good and enjoyable drinking areas or bars. Some solid choices include:
- Steppy's Sports Bar & Grill - +1 610 272-6547
- Sunrise Bar & Grill- +1 610 277-4090
- Frank's Pub- +1 610 539-9822
- Black Horse Tavern- +1 610 279-1928
- Francesca's Main Street Pub- +1 610 674-1744
- Papa Guidos 637 West Main Street, +1 610 275-7272
A wider variety of nearby hotel options are available in King of Prussia and Plymouth Meeting.
- Norristown Budget Inn, 830 W. Main St., ☏ . Only motel in town. Decidedly mixed reviews.
- Chubb Hotel & Conference Center, 800 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, ☏ . Deluxe hotel, fabulous dining, championship golf course, and state-of-the-art conference center on 300 acres located just minutes from Philadelphia and Valley Forge.
Norristown is nestled between King of Prussia and Plymouth Meeting, no more than 15 minutes from either. These two towns are major entertainment and shopping districts in the area.
Norristown is a quick drive or train ride from Center City Philadelphia, which offers a wider variety of food, shopping, and cultural activities than the malls.
|Routes through Norristown|
|Doylestown ← Blue Bell ←||N S||→ Bridgeport → King of Prussia|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Conshohocken → West Philadelphia|
|END ←||N S||→ Bridgeport → Upper Darby|