Emmaus is accessible by two Lehigh County highways, Cedar Crest Boulevard, located on the borough's west-side, and Lehigh Street, which is located on the borough's east-side and connects Emmaus with Allentown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Both highways have junctions with Interstate 78.
Emmaus was settled in the 1740s and dates its founding to 1759. For approximately 100 years, until the mid-1800s, it was a closed community of the Moravian Church. The original land on which the town now lies was donated by Sebastian Heinrich Knauss for use by the Moravian church. The founders and original residents of the town were members of the Lutheran and Reformed faiths, who joined the Moravian church when their own denominations were unable to provide ministers. Emmaus was one of the three leading Moravian communities in the northeast United States at the time of its founding.
Iron ore was discovered nearby in the 1800s and served as a source of industrial growth for much of the 1800s and 1900s. In 1859, the East Pennsylvania Railroad (later part of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad) brought trains to Emmaus. That same year, the town was incorporated into a borough. In 1869, the town's first blast furnace opened. The largest iron company was Donaldson Iron Company, which made cast iron pipes and other products until the company closed in 1943. During the 1800s, Emmaus was also a center of silk and cigar manufacturing.
Origin of name
The borough was named for the Israeli village of Emmaus, where, according to Christian teachings, Jesus was seen by disciples following his crucifixion and resurrection. From its founding in 1740 until the 1950s, the borough used the Pennsylvania Dutch spelling of the name, Emaus, to reflect local language and the significant presence of Pennsylvania Dutch in the borough. In the 1950s, however, the town formally changed the name to Emmaus, reflecting the identical spelling as that referenced in the Bible's New Testament.
In 1940, public census statistics showed that 6,731 people lived in Emmaus. The population of the borough has since nearly doubled to 11,313, as of the 2000 census. Housing construction has reached the borough line in all directions, so significant continued population growth in the borough is unlikely. Outside the borough line, however, the local population continues to grow, particularly in neighboring Lower Macungie Township.
Emmaus is home to several residences and other properties that were constructed in the late 1700s and early 1800s and have been labeled historic sites by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under historical preservation Commonwealth laws, the sites are protected from commercial and other development expansion in the borough.
Industry and commerce
Emmaus is the global headquarters of Rodale Press, one of the world's largest publishers of health-related books and magazines, including Men's Health, Prevention, and Runner's World magazines. Buckeye Pipe Line, a United States petroleum distributor, also is headquartered in Emmaus.
Emmaus is also home of Shangy's, one of the nation's largest beer distributors, featuring over 3,000 domestic and import beer brands. Shangy's attracts thousands of beer enthusiasts from around the nation each year.
Yocco's Hot Dogs, the Lehigh Valley-based fast food establishment known for their regionally-famous hot dogs and cheesesteaks, also has one of its six Lehigh Valley restaurants located in Emmaus, on Buckeye Road in west-side Emmaus. Opened in the 1980s, the Emmaus Yocco's is known as Yocco's South. The original Yocco's, founded in 1922, is located in center city Allentown, on West Liberty Street.
The Emmaus Arts Commission, also located in Emmaus, is a premier arts organization. Their mission is to encourage, educate and promote the arts and to develop an appreciation of the arts, which will enrich and enhance the quality of life within Emmaus and its surrounding eastern Pennsylvania region. The commission hosts such events as "Art in the Garden," "Emmaus Art Walk" and the "Student Horror Film Festival."
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 11,313 people, 4,985 households, and 3,155 families residing in the borough. The population density was 1,511.4/km² (3,918.8/mi²). There were 5,186 housing units at an average density of 692.8/km² (1,796.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the borough was 95.89% White, 0.70% African American, 0.06% Native American, 1.81% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.88% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.51% of the population.
There were 4,985 households out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there are 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $44,181, and the median income for a family was $54,120. Males had a median income of $38,659 versus $25,331 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,245. About 2.2% of families and 3.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.
The Borough is served educationally by the East Penn School District, a public school district which accommodates kindergarten through 12th grade.
East Penn School district has two middle schools, Eyer Middle School and Lower Macungie Middle School, for grades six through eight. The district has one high school, Emmaus High School, for grades nine through 12.