The “Happy Valley” is a nickname for the State College area. Apparently, the term was coined during the Great Depression when the town was not hit as hard by the economic situation due to Penn State University’s influence.
The Shawnee and Delaware Indians were State College’s earliest inhabitants. The valley and its famous landmark, Mount Nittany, are named for the mythical princess Nita-Nee, a Lenni-Lenape of the Delaware tribe. The earliest record of the word Nittany is found in an Indian deed dated 1768. Other famous local Native Americans were Bald Eagle, a Musee chief of the Lenni-Lenape, and James Logan, chief of the Mingos of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The first white man reportedly to see our area was Captain James Potter in 1764. The first white man to settle in the Centre region was Abraham Elder in 1784. Early settlers included English, German, Mennonites, French Huguenots, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. Later Italian and African groups arrived.
Before the 19th century began, iron furnaces sprang up in the region, using timber, ore, and flowing streams. The furnaces have been preserved and still can be seen today. It wasn’t long before higher education took the place of iron as the new area industry. The Farmer’s High School, founded in 1855, would later become Penn State University.
As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 38,420, (estimated 39,898 in 2009) and roughly double that total lived in the borough plus the surrounding townships. Of that population, 20,011 or 52.1% are males and 18,409 or 47.9% are females.
Other Interesting Facts:
State College was ranked No. 1 as the lowest stress city in the United States by Psychology Today.
State College was rated by Places rated Almanac as the seventh safest city.
In Money magazine, State College was rated fifth as best place to live among northeast small cities.
Performance Magazine named the Bryce Jordan Center the nation’s top-grossing venue of its size for the first half of 1996.