Wilkes-Barre wĭlks-bâr´ē [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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