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Martinsburg is a city in and the county seat of Berkeley County, West Virginia, United States, in the tip of the state's Eastern Panhandle region. Its population was 17,687 in the 2016 census estimate, making it the largest city in the Eastern Panhandle and the ninth-largest municipality in the state. Martinsburg is part of the Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Martinsburg was established by an act of the Virginia General Assembly that was adopted in December 1778 during the American Revolutionary War. Founder Major General Adam Stephen named the gateway town to the Shenandoah Valley along Tuscarora Creek in honor of Colonel Thomas Bryan Martin, a nephew of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.
Aspen Hall is a Georgian mansion, the oldest house in the city. Part was built in 1745 by Edward Beeson, Sr. Aspen Hall and its wealthy residents had key roles in the agricultural, religious, transportation, and political history of the region. Significant events related to the French and Indian War; the Revolution, and the Civil War took place on the property. Three original buildings are still standing, including the rare blockhouse of Mendenhall's Fort.
The first United States post office in what is now West Virginia was established at Martinsburg in 1792. At that time, Martinsburg and the larger territory were still part of Virginia.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) reached Martinsburg in 1842. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Martinsburg Shops were constructed in 1849 and rebuilt after the American Civil War.
According to William Still, "The Father of the Underground Railroad" and its historian, Robert Brown, alias Thomas Jones, escaped from slavery in Martinsburg on Christmas night, 1856. He rode a horse and had it swim across the freezing Potomac River. After riding forty miles, he walked in cold wet clothes for two days, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He received assistance there from the Underground Railroad and traveled by train to Philadelphia, and the office of William Still with the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Brown's wife and four children had been sold; he sought help to find them. He had a likeness of his wife, and locks of hair from each of them.
In 1854, ten-year-old Isabelle Boyd, known as "Belle" and later a noted spy for the Confederacy, moved to Martinsburg with her family; where her father Benjamin operated a general merchandise store. After the Civil War began, Benjamin joined the Second Virginia Infantry, which was part of the Stonewall Brigade. His wife Mary was thus in charge of the Boyd home when Union forces under General Robert Patterson took Martinsburg. When a group of Patterson's men tried to raise a Union flag over the Boyd home, Mary refused. One of the soldiers, Frederick Martin, threatened Mary, and Belle shot him. She was acquitted.
She soon became involved in espionage, sending information to Confederate generals Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and J.E.B. "Jeb" Stuart. Often she was helped by Eliza Corsey, a Boyd family slave whom Belle had taught to read and write. In 1863, Belle was arrested in Martinsburg by the Union Army and imprisoned. Boyd's Greek Revival home, which he had built in 1853 and sold in 1855, had numerous owners over the decades. In 1992 it was purchased by the Berkeley County Historical Society. The historical society renovated the building and now operates it as the Berkeley County Museum. It is also known as the Belle Boyd House.
Most residents of West Virginia were yeomen farmers who supported the Union and, during the Civil War, they voted to separate from Virginia. The new state was admitted to the Union during the war. The city of Martinsburg was incorporated by an act of the new West Virginia Legislature on March 30, 1868.
Martinsburg became a center of the railroad industry and its workers. The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began July 14, 1877 in this city at the B&O shops and spread nationwide.
Telephone service was established in Martinsburg in 1883. In 1889, electricity began to be furnished to Martinsburg as part of a franchise granted to the United Edison Manufacturing Company of New York.
The Interwoven mills began operations in Martinsburg in 1891; it grew to be the largest manufacturer of men's hosiery in the world.
Construction of the "Apollo Civic Theatre" was completed in 1913.
Over one thousand (1,039) men from Berkeley County participated in World War I. Of these, forty-one were killed and twenty-one were wounded in battle. A monument to those who fell in battle was erected in Martinsburg in 1925.
During World War II, the Newton D. Baker Hospital in Martinsburg treated thousands of soldiers wounded in the war. In 1946 this military hospital became a part of the Veterans Administration (VA). The VA Medical Center in Martinsburg still provides care to United States veterans.
Due to restructuring beginning in the late 1940s and continuing through the 1970s, many of the mills and factories operating in Martinsburg shut down and went out of business, dealing a major blow to the local economy. Jobs were moved to the Deep South and later offshore.
Martinsburg is located at 39°27′33″N 77°58′4″W (39.459207, −77.967814). Martinsburg is approximately 24 miles (39 km) southeast of Hagerstown, 89 miles (143 km) west of Baltimore, 92 miles (148 km) northwest of Washington, D.C., and 138 miles (222 km) east of Morgantown. U.S. Route 11 runs through the center of town, and Interstate 81 passes along the northern side of the town.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.67 square miles (17.28 km2), of which 6.65 square miles (17.22 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 17,227 people, 7,293 households, and 4,106 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,590.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,000.2/km2). There were 8,408 housing units at an average density of 1,264.4 per square mile (488.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 77.5% White, 14.9% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.2% of the population.
There were 7,293 households of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 15.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.7% were non-families. Of all households, 35.4% were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 3.00.
The median age in the city was 37 years. 23.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.3% were from 25 to 44; 26.3% were from 45 to 64; and 13.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,972 people, 6,684 households, and 3,689 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,977.4 people per square mile (1,149.2/km²). There were 7,432 housing units at an average density of 1,478.0/sq mi (570.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 99.7% White, 0.2% African American, 0% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 0%% from other races, and 0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.7% of the population.
There were 6,684 households out of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.7% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.8% were non-families. 37.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the city, the population was spread out with 23.1% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,495, and the median income for a family was $36,954. Males had a median income of $29,697 versus $22,212 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,314. About 14.7% of families and 20.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.8% of those under age 18 and 15.1% of those age 65 or over.
Martinsburg lies in the transition from a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) to a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), with four distinct seasons. Winters are cool to cold with a January daily mean temperature of 30.9 °F (−0.6 °C) and an average seasonal snowfall of 26.6 inches (68 cm), while summers are hot and humid with a July daily mean temperature of 74.7 °F (23.7 °C) and 27 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ readings annually. Precipitation is moderate, with winter being the driest period and May thru July the wettest. Extreme temperatures range from −18 °F (−28 °C) on January 21, 1994 up to 112 °F (44 °C) on July 11, 1936.
Major private employers in and around Martinsburg include Quad/Graphics, Ecolab, Orgill, Macy's, and FedEx. In February 2015, it was announced that Procter & Gamble plans to build a $500 million facility near the city.
The city also has numerous federal government employers, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Coast Guard Operations Systems Center, U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Martinsburg VA Medical Center.
The Martinsburg IRS Facility, one of the two Enterprise Computing Centers of the Internal Revenue Service (the other is in Memphis, Tennessee), processes most of the country's electronically filed tax documents from businesses, and about one-third of electronically-filed tax returns.
The area is also home to the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard, based in Eastern WV Regional Airport.
Martinsburg had its own automobile company from 1912 to 1922, called Norwalk, which assembled the longest-made known cars to be built in the state of West Virginia.
Future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Hack Wilson began his storied professional career in his adopted hometown with the Martinsburg Blue Sox, a low-level minor-league baseball team. Wilson would go on to set the yet-to-broken major league record for RBI in a season (191) with the Chicago Cubs in 1930.
After his playing career ended in 1935, Hack went back home to Martinsburg, played some ball with the town’s semipro team and opened a recreation and pool hall in town with a partner. He later moved to Baltimore in 1941 where he later died November 23, 1948. Originally scheduled to be interred in Baltimore, Wilson was buried — in a donated plot — in Martinsburg at Rosedale Cemetery.
Retail centers/areas in Martinsburg include:
Amtrak provides service to Martinsburg. The city's passenger rail station is located downtown at 229 East Martin Street. MARC, Maryland's commuter rail system, operates trains on weekdays on its Brunswick Line which terminates in Martinsburg. Service is provided to Union Station in Washington, D.C.
Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority operates public bus transit routes in Martinsburg, surrounding Berkeley County, and neighboring Jefferson County, West Virginia.
Eastern WV Regional Airport, south of the city, handles general aviation and Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base is located at this airport. The closest airport with commercial air service is Hagerstown Regional Airport, that is about 25 miles (40 km) driving distance north. The closest international airport is Washington Dulles International Airport near D.C., which is about 60 miles (97 km) driving distance east.
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