April 26th story from the Times-Tribune linked HERE.
Luzerne county, home to NEPA's second largest city, Wilkes-Barre, is home to Pennsylvania's third highest murder rate. Yes, thank God for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
By way of comparison, the article points out that there have been four murders in Wilkes-Barre year to date, but only one in all of Lackawanna County during the same period (that murder took place in Scranton).
The bigger question in all of this is why. Why is the murder rate so much higher in Wilkes-Barre than in Scranton? After all there are more people here, and the 17 mile difference between the two cities can't create that much of a boundary. I actually think this would make for a decent study by one of our universities, perhaps by a Sociology Department.
The even bigger question in all of this also a "why", but it's a different why: Why are two communities, so close together, seemingly so different? Scranton and Wilkes-Barre are separated by 17 miles, but in my experience, that's the longest 17 miles in the known universe. While I hesitate to use words like "culture", I think that's as good a catch-phrase as one can find to blanket describe these differences: Simply put, there are different "cultures" between the two cities. While they both same some similarities (an older population for example), there are marked differences as well, including...
...Wilkes-Barre seems to be more socially conservative
...the Catholic Church as always seemed to have more influence in Scranton
...Wilkes-Barre seems to be more of an "old money" town...the Westmoreland Club comes to mind
...Scranton never had the "re-development via flood" thing going on
...Wilkes-Barre is actually in the corner/margin of Luzerne County
...Scranton is almost at the geographic center of Lackawanna County
...Wilkes-Barre was founded in 1769 and incorporated in 1806
...Scranton was incorporated as a borough in 1856 and as a city in 1866
There has also been something of a wary eye cast by residents of Wilkes-Barre towards the "up starts" in Scranton, as if the larger city to the northeast was just a fad that was eventually going to go away.
The term "Chinese Wall" is used in the financial services business to describe technical barriers designed to a conflict of interest. It's also a pretty good description of the 17 miles between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre...good as in there is no real wall, other than what people have created in their own minds. However it's clear that there are differences, not just in murder rates either.