A post office Was opened in the main building, whose simple address of "Farm School" by 1860 denoted a hamlet of about twnety-five permanent residents and 110 students. The growth of the community paralleled the fortunes of the College. By 1890, the village had barely 200 year-round inhabitants, nearly all of whom relied directly or indirectly upon Penn State and its 200 or so students for their livelihood. As enrollment began to rise rapidly late in the Atherton era, so did the local population. On August 29, 1896, the citizens incorporated their community as the borough of State College, a name that had been its postal address since the Agricultural College had become The Pennsylvania State College in 1874.
The townspeople had incorporated in order to secure better streets and street lighting, an adequate school, improved utilities, and other amenities not then associated with rural living. They were undoubtedly pleased with the first ordinance passed by the borough council, which authorized the Central Pennsylvania Telephone and Supply Company to erect and maintain telephone lines in the community. However, another early ordinance-one prohibiting the grazing of cows and horses in borough streetswas apparently too "citified" for most residents; after a popular outcry, council repealed it. Nevertheless, the town was fast maturing, as evidenced by the establishment of its first newspaper in 1898 (the State College Times, forerunner of the Centre Daily Times), a Western Union Office in 1902 (previously all telegrams had to be sent and received at Bellefonte), and its first movie theatre in 1909 (the Pastime). Faculty were the prime movers behind many civic enterprises, including the State College Water Company, the Nittany Light, Heat and Power Company, the Commercial Telephone Company (a rival to the Bell system), and the first bank (1904).