Wilkes-Barre (wĭlks-bârˈē) [key], city (1990 pop. 47,523), seat of Luzerne co., E Pa., on the east bank of the Susquehanna River; settled 1769, inc. as a city 1871. Once a major anthracite coal center, Wilkes-Barre has plants that produce processed food; machinery; metal, vinyl, wire, and plastic products; electrical goods; footwear; chemicals; transportation equipment; and textiles and apparel. The city was named for John Wilkes and Isaac Barré, defenders of the colonies before Parliament. The settlement was burned in 1778 by the British and Native Americans, just after the Wyoming Valley massacre; it was again burned in 1784 by Connecticut settlers when Congress confirmed Pennsylvania's claim to the area. Much of Wilkes-Barre was severely damaged by the flooding of the Susquehanna in 1972. Wilkes-Barre is the seat of Wilkes Univ., King's College, Misericordia Univ., and a campus of Pennsylvania State Univ. The Swetland Homestead (early 1800s) is of historical interest. A gambling casino and racetrack are nearby.
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