Hazleton lies in the Appalachian Highland of northeastern Pennsylvania, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Located atop Spring Mountain at 1,886 feet, it has the highest elevation of any city in Pennsylvania. At one time a center of anthracite coal mining, its economy was shattered with the decline of coal as a fuel. Aggressive action on the part of community leaders and volunteers beginning in the 1950s diversified the city's economy and turned the city's fortunes around.
The city was first settled in 1780 and incorporated in 1851. Its name derives from the abundance of Hazel bushes in the area.
Hazleton's modest skyline is remarkable for a city its size. Almost unaffected by examples of modern architecture, it provides an interesting window on American urbanism prior to World War II.