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The Pennsylvania Coal Company built a gravity railroad in the 1850s through the city for the purpose of transporting coal.The gravity railroad was replaced by a steam railroad built in 1886 by the Erie and Wyoming Valley Railroad (later absorbed by the Erie Railroad).Thus they could transport manufactured rails from the Lackawanna Valley to New York and the Midwest.They also invested in coal mining operations in the city to fuel their steel operations, and to market it to businesses.Twelve years later in 1878, the state passed a law enabling creation of new counties where a county's population surpassed 150,000, as did Luzerne's.The law appeared to enable the creation of Lackawanna County, and there was considerable political agitation around the authorizing process.National, ethnic, religious and class differences were wrapped into political affiliations, with many new immigrants joining the Democratic Party (and, for a time in the late 1870s, the Greenbacker-Labor Party.) In 1856, the Borough of Scranton was officially incorporated.
The city was designated as the county seat when Lackawanna County was established in 1878, and a judicial district was authorized in 1879.With a population of 77,291, it is the largest city in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of about 570,000.The city is conventionally divided into 8 districts: North Scranton, Southside, Westside, the Hill Section, Central City, Minooka, East Mountain, and Green Ridge, though these areas do not have legal status.The Scrantons' firm decided to switch its focus to producing T-rails for the Erie; the company soon became a major producer of rails for the rapidly expanding railroads.
In 1851, the Scrantons built the Lackawanna and Western Railroad (L&W) northward, with recent Irish immigrants supplying most of the labor, to meet the Erie Railroad in Great Bend, Pennsylvania.
In 1856, they expanded the railroad eastward as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W), in order to tap into the New York City metropolitan market.