Introduction to Altoona, Pennsylvania

Altoona, Pennsylvania, in Blair county, is 84 miles E of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It's located in the Allegheny Mountains. Altoona developed around the railroad industry and was one of the nations most important rail facilities. Altoona's industries have experienced a severe decline and it's regarded as a rust belt city. A lot of the older districts include a mix of individual houses and row homes.

The Downtown is regarded as the commercial and cultural center. It has a large number of sites included in the National Registry of Historic Places. The municipality is a primary center for the Norfolk Southern Railroad's Pittsburgh Line. A vast number of trains travel through on a daily basis.

Altoona History

The city was established in 1849 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Railroad's Altoona Works complex had a vast number of buildings and became a major employer. The Pennsylvania Railroad constructed a large number of its own locomotives at the complex. The city experienced substantial growth due to the demand of locomotives during the Civil War. After World War II ended the railroad industry significantly declined.

Altoona Attractions

  • Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament features baroque architecture.
  • Altoona Symphony Orchestra.
  • Gables Building.
  • Horseshoe Curve is a well known curved portion of railroad track and is a popular tourist attraction.
  • Leap the Dips, is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world.
  • Mishler Theatre.
  • Jaffa Mosque.
  • Penn Alto Building.
  • City Hall.
  • The Railroaders Memorial Museum is a popular destination.
  • Hollidaysburg National Historic District.
  • Baker Mansion Museum is a Greek Revival type mansion.
  • Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona.
  • Altoona Community Theatre.

Altoona Activities

The Del Grosso's Amusement Park and the Lakemont Amusement Park are popular with families. The nearby Canoe Creek State Park includes a forest area, a lake filled with a variety of fish and it's popular with bird watchers. Trough Creek State Park offers natural and geologic beauty and features hiking trails.

Warriors Path State Park is filled with wildlife and is used for boating, fishing and hiking. The scenic southern Allegheny Mountains attract a large number of visitors. The Blue Knob Ski Resort is enjoyed by skiing enthusiasts. The nearby Chimney Rocks Park includes trails and picnic areas. The Oak Spring Winery is popular with tourists.

Altoona Transportation

The Altoona-Blair County Airport provides air travel.

Altoona Higher Education

The Pennsylvania State University, Ivyside Park campus is located in the city.


Total Population 45,814
Male Share of the Population 49.7%
Female Share of the Population 50.3%
Senior Citizens 16.2%
Employed Population 16+ 19,340
Age of the Population 39


% of people married 44.1%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 17.1%
Median Earnings25+ $27,806
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $14,086
Median Earnings With High School Degree $23,125


Median Family Income $48,840
% Above Poverty Level 77.9%
% Below Poverty Level 22.1%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 17 minutes
% Working from Home 1.4%
% Walking and Biking to Work 4%
% Using Public Transportation 1.1%


People Living Alone 33.7%
Median Gross Rent $569
Median House Value $85,400


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 13.2%
US/American 0%
English 6.1%
Irish 19.7%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Altoona Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 84 miles E of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
County Blair
Metro Area Altoona
Standard Zip Codes 16601, 16602
P.O. Box Zip Codes 16603
Phone Area Codes 814
Time Zone Eastern (-5 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 40.518
Longitude -78.395

Altoona Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Station ALTOONA 3 W
Distance 4 miles
Jan Temp 18 to 35 F
Apr Temp 38 to 60 F
Jul Temp 60 to 82 F
Oct Temp 41 to 63 F
Annual Precip 42.6 inches
Distance 12.2 miles
Jan Temp 16 to 33 F
Apr Temp 35 to 59 F
Jul Temp 58 to 81 F
Oct Temp 37 to 62 F
Annual Precip 38.5 inches
Distance 32.5 miles
Jan Temp 16 to 31 F
Apr Temp 35 to 57 F
Jul Temp 57 to 78 F
Oct Temp 39 to 58 F
Annual Precip 41.8 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Ashville 199 $47,500
Bellwood 1,811 $56,875
Duncansville 1,283 $60,302
Gallitzin 1,495 $46,083
Hollidaysburg 5,812 $65,982

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Altoona Public Libraries

Altoona Area Public Library
Altoona, Pennsylvania
(814) 946-0417
Library Web Site

library logo

More Information for Librarians

Altoona Hospitals

(Voluntary non-profit - Other)
(814) 889-2011
Emergency Service: Yes

Altoona - James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center
2907 Pleasant Valley Boulevard
(814) 943-8164
Emergency Service:

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Altoona High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 1,898 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 17.1

A Charter School.
Serves 168 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.8

A Title I School.
Serves 101 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 13.3

Additional Details
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