Pottstown (population 21,859) was founded in 1752 by John Potts, an iron master who moved to the area with his family and set up one of the first iron forges in the region. The first blast furnace was in operation by the 1730's, and the production of cast iron and wrought iron, as well as the subsequent establishment of steel works, helped Pottstown become a recognized leader in the industry.
The area was incorporated into a borough in 1815. By 1842, the Reading Railroad created a link between Philadelphia and Mt. Carbon, expanding opportunities for trade in raw materials, including coal, and other business opportunities.
By 1850, the growing Borough of Pottstown was divided into wards with representatives for each section. In 1944, a new form of government was adopted, and administrative responsibility for the operation of the borough was given to a professional manager. Pottstown had flourished in its business enterprises, and the downtown was booming. The 1970s and‘80s proved to be a challenging era in the production of commodities in Pottstown, and, like many small industrial towns in Pennsylvania, it was faced with new shifts in the economy.
Pottstown has three historic districts, created following the formation of the Historic Architecture Review Board (HARB) in 1987. The HARB works to protect local history and inspire businesses and homeowners to take pride in the maintenance of their properties.
The HARB recently worked to coordinate the renovation and rehabilitation of the former Newberry Department Store into a performing arts center. The project was completed in 2008 and retained many of the building's original features and designs. The nonprofit TriCounty Performing Arts Center, which runs the center, offers frequent productions, educational opportunities, technical workshops, and community outreach programs, giving the building new life as a lively attraction in Pottstown's downtown.
The borough became a Main Street Community in 2006. The Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority administers the borough's Façade Improvement loan and grant programs, as well as maintaining the general downtown area.
Many residents are involved in preserving and sharing the borough's history, as is demonstrated by the Pottstown Historical Society (PHS), which is entirely made up of volunteers. The society provides a walking tour which informs participants about Pottstown's history and ongoing activities at historic landmarks. The PHS also has a working library of borough history, ancestry, film, literature, and other resources available to the public.
Designated a Preserve America Community in February 2010.