According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.92 square miles (4.97 km), all land. It is situated in a valley on the south side of the North Branch of the Potomac River at its junction with New Creek. New Creek forms most of the eastern boundary of the town. On the immediate eastern bank of New Creek is New Creek Mountain, peaking at 1,552 feet above sea level on the eastern side of Keyser (though the long mountain itself has higher peaks far south of Keyser). On Keyser’s western edge is the Allegheny Front, rising 2,631 feet above sea level at this point along its range. The northern edge of Keyser is bounded by the North Branch of the Potomac River. Immediately across the river, in McCoole, Maryland, another portion of the New Creek Mountain ridge features a massive outcropping of Oriskany or Ridgeley sandstone known as Queens Point, a popular cliff from which to take in views of Keyser. The cliff is approximately 400 feet above the river. The southern edge of Keyser is not bound by geology, as the valley here stretches further south than the city limits. Beyond its southern limits is the unincorporated community of New Creek.
Today, Keyser’s western horizon is dotted with wind turbines. The NedPower Mount Storm Wind Farm began construction in 2006, installing 132 wind turbines atop the Allegheny Front, many of them overlooking Keyser. Eventually, the wind farm reached 162 turbines, making it the largest east of the Mississippi.
Keyser’s oldest section is its downtown with the 1868 courthouse and two main commercial streets: Main and Armstrong. Armstrong runs parallel to the CSX (formerly B&O) railroad tracks, across which is a neighborhood known as the North End, sandwiched between the tracks and the river, where homes were constructed beginning in the late 1910s. Not far from downtown is Fort Hill, a small hill in the center of the city crowned with the campus of Potomac State College. The south end of Keyser features a relatively newer neighborhood, on the west side of U.S. Route 220, with most of the homes built in the 1960s and 1970s, known as Airport Addition, as it was once the site of a small airfield. An area sandwiched between Airport Addition and Potomac State College is known as “Radical Hill,” which was the name of Thomas Carskadon’s farm in the same location, so named by Carskadon because of his self-described radical opinions. The most recent commercial development for the city has been south of the city, where shopping centers, a hotel, the new high school, and the new hospital have been constructed in recent years.
The main thoroughfares for the city are U.S. Route 220 and West Virginia Route 46. U.S. Route 220 eventually intersects with U.S. Route 50 south of Keyser. At its north end, 220 crosses the Potomac via newly reconstructed Memorial Bridge, heading toward Cumberland, Maryland. West Virginia Route 46 enters the east side of Keyser from the direction of Fort Ashby, West Virginia, becoming Armstrong Street and then West Piedmont Street before continuing on to Piedmont, West Virginia.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,439 people, 2,224 households, and 1,253 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,832.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,093.8/km). There were 2,525 housing units at an average density of 1,315.1 per square mile (507.8/km). The racial makeup of the city was 88.4% White, 8.6% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.
There were 2,224 households of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.6% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.7% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.88.
The median age in the city was 36.1 years. 19.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 19% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 19.8% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 17.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,303 people, 2,241 households, and 1,333 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,791.7 people per square mile (1,077.6/km²). There were 2,542 housing units at an average density of 1,338.2 per square mile (516.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.55% Euro American, 7.07% Black, 0.40% Asian, 0.32% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.72% of the population.
There were 2,241 households out of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.3% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 36.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the city, the population was spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 13.5% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 21.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,718, and the median income for a family was $32,708. Males had a median income of $29,034 versus $20,818 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,813. About 16.3% of families and 18.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.2% of those under age 18 and 11.0% of those age 65 or over.