History Podcasts

Pennsylvania - History

Pennsylvania - History

Basic Information

Postal Abbreviation: PA
Natives: Pennsylvanian

Population 2020: 12,820,878

Legal Driving Age: 18
(17 w/ Driver's Ed.)
Age of Majority: 21
Median Age: 40.1

State Song: None

Median Household Income:$50,228
Mean Household Income:$67,298

Capital..... Harrisburg
Entered Union..... Dec. 12, 1787 (2nd)

Present Constitution Adopted: 1968

Nickname: Keystone State

Motto:
“Virtue, Liberty, and Independence”

Origin of Name:
Means “Penn's Woodland”. Named
after Adm. Sir William Penn, father
of William Penn.

USS Pennsylvania

Railroad Stations

Pennsylvania Economy

AGRICULTURE: cattle, corn, eggs,
hay, milk, mushrooms.

MINING: coal, limestone, natural gas,
petroleum, sand and gravel, stone.

MANUFACTURING: chemicals, clothing,
electrical equipment, food processing,
machinery, metal products, steel.


Pennsylvania Geography

Total Area: 45,759 sq. miles
Land area: 44,820 sq. miles
Water Area: 939 sq. miles
Geographic Center: Centre
2.5 mi. SW of Bellefonte
Highest Point: Mount Davis
(3,213 ft.)
Lowest Point: Delaware River
(sea level)
Highest Recorded Temp.: 111˚ F (7/10/1936)
Lowest Recorded Temp.: –42˚ F (1/5/1904)

Pennsylvania's physical characteristics divide into three parts: The southeastern section (from the Delaware River to the Blue Mountains) is a narrow level plain near the river, with rolling hill inland from the river. The mountain area, with broad mountains crosses the state form northeast to southwest. This range, which is part of the Appalachian, is 75 to 160 miles wide. The western part of the state slopes north and eastward toward New York and Lake Erie and the Ohio River.

Cities

Philadelphia, 1,526,006
Pittsburgh, 305,704
Allentown, 118,032
Erie , 101,786
Reading, 88,082
Scranton, 76,415
Bethlehem, 71,329
Lancaster, 56,348
Harrisburg, 48,950
Altoona, 49,523

Pennsylvania History

1681 William Penn, a Quaker is granted nearly all of Pennsylvania. The next
year he arrives and founds the colony.
1688 Quakers in Germantown came out against slavery.
1774 The first Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.
1776 The members of the Second constitutional Congress issue the Declaration
of Independence.
1777 General Washington’s troops are defeated at the Battle of Brandywine
1777-78 The American Army is forced to camp at Valley Forge.
1787 The Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia.
1859 The first commercial oil well was drilled in Titusville.
1863 Battle of Gettysburg is fought. It is a decisive Union victory.
President Lincoln gives his Gettysburg address at the dedication of the
cemetery there.
1876 The US centennial exhibition is held in Philadelphia.
1889 When a dam fails Johnstown is destroyed.
1979 A major accident occurs at the Three mile nuclear plant.

Famous People

Daniel Boone
James Buchanan
Rachel Carson
Robert Fulton
Alexander Haig
Lee Iacocca
Reggie Jackson
George C. Marshall
George McClellan
Margaret Mead
Arnold Palmer
Robert E. Peary
James Stewart
Anthony Wayne

Pennsylvania National Sites

1) Allegheny Portage Railroad
The first railroad to circumvent the Allegheny Mountains, the Allegheny Portage Railroad was the finishing piece of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. "The Portage," opened in 1834, marking the first time that there was one, direct route between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. All things to all people, it served merchants, passengers, slaves in pursuit of freedom, and soldiers from the Mexican War

2) Delaware & Lehigh
Come journey through five Pennsylvania counties bursting with heritage and brimming with outdoor adventure. You will find something for everyone. Follow a history trail marked with stories about hearty lumberjacks, coal miners, lock tenders, and railroaders. Explore quiet canal paths, challenging bike trails and the rippling waters of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.

3) Deshler-Morris House
Twice this house sheltered George Washington. In October 1793, he found refuge during the deadly Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia. The following summer, it was a welcome retreat from the heat of the capital city.

4) Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
Described as horrifying, mystifying, and full of genius, Poe’s writing has engaged readers all over the globe. The six years Poe lived in Philadelphia were his happiest and most productive. Yet Poe also struggled with bad luck, personal demons and his wife’s tuberculosis. In Poe’s humble home, reflect on the human spirit surmounting crushing obstacles, and celebrate Poe’s astonishing creativity.

5) Eisenhower National Monument
This National Monument is located in Southwestern Oregon. The temperature in the cave is between 38 to 47 degrees and the walk through it is like climbing a 25 story building.

6) Flight 93
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, the U.S. came under attack when four commercial airliners were hijacked and used to strike targets on the ground. Nearly 3,000 people tragically lost their lives. Because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard one of the planes, Flight 93, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted.

7) Fort Necessity National Battlefield
The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War. This war was a clash of British, French and American Indian cultures. It ended with the removal of French power from North America. The stage was set for the American Revolution.

8)Gettysburg National Military Park
The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion", Gettysburg was the war's bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties. It was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln's immortal "Gettysburg Address".is like climbing a 25 story building.

9) Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site
Before Pennsylvania there was New Sweden. Discover this last historic link to a forgotten past. Visit the church's pastoral surroundings and its burial ground of patriots and ordinary citizens alike.

10) Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
Hopewell Furnace showcases an early American industrial landscape from natural resource extraction to enlightened conservation. Operating from 1771-1883, Hopewell and other "iron plantations" laid the foundation for the transformation of the United States into an industrial giant. The park's 848 acres and historic structures illustrate the business, technology and lifestyle of our growing nation.

11)Independence National Historical Park
Independence Hall echoes these words. Nearby the old cracked Bell proclaims liberty. The spirit of Franklin is alive in his adopted city. Become part of America's journey in discovering its past.

12)Johnstown Flood National Memorial
The South Fork dam failed on Friday, May 31, 1889 and unleashed 20,000,000 tons of water that devastated Johnstown, PA. The flood killed 2,209 people but it brought the nation and the world together to aid the "Johnstown sufferers." The story of the Johnstown Flood reminds us all, "...that we must leave nothing undone for the preservation and protection of our brother men."

13) Steamtown National Historic Sit
Feel the heat from the firebox. Hear the bell and whistle. Smell the hot steam and oil. Feel the ground vibrate under your feet. See the one ton drive rods turn the wheels. Hear the chuff-chuff of the smokestack. Today, you can relive the era of steam as the engines come back to life. The cinders and grease, the oil and steam, the people and stories of railroading have returned.

14)Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
Visit the house where wounded Polish freedom fighter Thaddeus Kosciuszko lived and hear how this brilliant military engineer designed successful fortifications during the American Revolution. See the room where he received notable visitors such as Chief Little Turtle and Thomas Jefferson.

15)Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. The park commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation and honors the ability of citizens to pull together and overcome adversity during extraordinary times.


Pennsylvania

Archaeologists don’t agree on when the first humans came to the area we now call Pennsylvania, but they’ve found artifacts that are at least 19,400 years old. Native American tribes including the Lenape, Susquehannocks, Erie, Seneca, and Oneida, lived on the land that’s now Pennsylvania thousands of years later.

In 1681 Englishman William Penn, a member of a Christian group called the Quakers, founded the British colony of Pennsylvania. Because Penn’s colony offered settlers religious freedom, it attracted people of other denominations. A wave of German immigrants including Quakers, Mennonites, and Amish moved to the area. These settlers eventually developed their own dialect and their descendants are now called the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The French and English fought for control of the land during the French and Indian War, which lasted from 1754 to 1763. The English won but ended up in debt from fighting. To make back the money, they taxed the colonists—something many people didn’t think was fair. Anger over this action helped lead to the Revolutionary War, which started in 1775.

In 1775 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, held the second Continental Congress. This was when representatives from each of the colonies met for the second time after deciding to go to war with Britain. And it was during this time that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. That same year George Washington led the colonial forces known as the Continental Army across the Delaware River—and to an important victory—in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In 1787, after the war ended, Pennsylvania became the second U.S. state.

Pennsylvania supported the Union during the Civil War. One of the most important battles took place at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863. The Union won the battle, marking a turning point toward eventual victory in the war.

WHY’S IT CALLED THAT?

Pennsylvania is a combination of Latin words that together mean “Penn’s woods.” The name was created by William Penn to honor his father.

Some think Pennsylvania’s nickname comes from its central location among the 13 colonies.


Pennsylvania History Timeline

Native Americans live in the geographical region now known as Pennsylvania long before Europeans explore the area. The two primary groups are the Algonquin and the Iroquois. Native Americans travel around the area by canoe or on foot. Although some farming is done, most food is acquired through hunting and gathering.

One of the original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn as a haven for his fellow Quakers. After the American Revolution, Pennsylvania became the second state, after Delaware, to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

15th Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

1497 - The English based their claims in North America on the discoveries of the Cabots

16th Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

1520 - The Spanish claim was founded on Columbus' discovery of the West Indies, but there is evidence that Spanish ships sailed up the coast of North America as early as 1520. It is uncertain, however, that any of these explorers touched land that became Pennsylvania.

1524 - French based their claims on the voyage of Verrazano in 1524.

17th Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

1608 - Captain John Smith journeyed from Virginia up the Susquehanna River, visiting the Susquehannock Indians.

1609 - Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the Dutch service, sailed the Half Moon into Delaware Bay, thus giving the Dutch a claim to the area.

1610 - Captain Samuel Argall of Virginia visited the bay and named it for Lord de la Warr, governor of Virginia.

1616 - After Hudson's time, the Dutch navigators Cornelis Hendricksenm explored the Delaware region

1623 - After Hudson's time, Cornelis Jacobsen explored the Delaware region

1643 - Although the Lutheran Church was established by the Swedes on Tinicum Island

1647 - trading posts were established

1637-1638 - The Swedes were the first to make permanent settlement, beginning with the expedition of 1637-1638, which occupied the site of Wilmington, Delaware.

1638-1655 - The Colony of New Sweden
1643 - Governor Johan Printz of New Sweden established his capital at Tinicum Island within the present limits of Pennsylvania, where there is now a state park bearing his name.

1644 - William Penn was born in London on October 24, 1644, the son of Admiral Sir William Penn.

1647 - The origins of the Society of Friends lie in the intense religious ferment of 17th Century England. George Fox, the son of a Leicestershire weaver, is credited with founding it in 1647, though there was no definite organization before 1668.
1655-1664 - Dutch Dominion on the Delaware

1664-1681 - Duke of York's Rule

1655 - Trouble broke out between the Swedes and the Dutch, who had trading posts in the region. In 1655 Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Netherlands seized New Sweden and made it part of the Dutch colony.

1664 - In 1664 the English seized the Dutch possessions in the name of the Duke of York, the king's brother. Except when it was recaptured by the Dutch in 1673-1674, the Delaware region remained under his jurisdiction until 1681.

1675 - Quakers held their first meeting at Upland (now Chester)

1676 - English laws and civil government were introduced by The Duke of Yorke's Laws in 1676.

1681 - March 4 - King Charles II owed William Penn £16,000, money which Admiral Penn had lent him. Seeking a haven in the New World for persecuted Friends, Penn asked the King to grant him land in the territory between Lord Baltimore's province of Maryland and the Duke of York's province of New York. With the Duke's support, Penn's petition was granted. The King signed the Charter of Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681, and it was officially proclaimed on April 2. The King named the new colony in honor of William Penn's father. It was to include the land between the 39th and 42nd degrees of north latitude and from the Delaware River westward for five degrees of longitude. Other provisions assured its people the protection of English laws and, to a certain degree, kept it subject to the government in England. Provincial laws could be annulled by the King.

1681 - April - Penn made his cousin William Markham deputy governor of the province and sent him to take control. In England, Penn drew up the First Frame of Government, his proposed constitution for Pennsylvania. Penn's preface to First Frame of Government has become famous as a summation of his governmental ideals.

  • Duke of York deeded to Penn his claim to the three lower counties on the Delaware, which are now the state of Delaware.
  • October, the Proprietor arrived in Pennsylvania on the ship Welcome. He visited Philadelphia, just laid out as the capital city, created the three original counties
  • December 4 - the Proprietor summoned a General Assembly to Chester
  • December 7 - This first Assembly united the Delaware counties with Pennsylvania, adopted a naturalization act and, on December 7, adopted the Great Law, a humanitarian code that became the fundamental basis of Pennsylvania law and which guaranteed liberty of conscience.

1683 - The second Assembly reviewed and amended Penn's First Frame with his cooperation and created the Second Frame of Government.

  • By the time of Penn's return to England late in 1684, the foundations of the Quaker Province were well established.
  • William Penn and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn were made the third and fourth honorary citizens of the United States, by act of Congress.

1685 - May 8 - the Penns were granted honorary citizenship of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

1688 - . As a result of the English Revolution of 1688 which overthrew King James II, Penn was deprived of his province from 1692 until 1694.

1696 - A popular party led by David Lloyd demanded greater powers for the Assembly, and in 1696 Markham's Frame of Government granted some of these.

1699 - December, the Proprietor again visited Pennsylvania and, just before his return to England in 1701, agreed with the Assembly on a revised constitution, the Charter of Privileges, which remained in effect until 1776.

18th Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

1720 - The first Catholic congregation was organized in Philadelphia and the first chapel was erected in 1733

1727 - German immigration increased after 1727

1730 - About 4,000 slaves were brought to Pennsylvania by 1730

1739 and 1749 - The Longueuil and Celoron expeditions of the French in 1739 and 1749 traversed this region, and French traders competed with Pennsylvanians for Indian trade.

1740 - Mikveh Israel Congregation was established in Philadelphia

1746 - The Reformed Church owed its expansion to Michael Schlatter, who arrived in 1746.

1750s - exceptionally prosperous farming area had developed in southeastern Pennsylvania. Wheat and corn were the leading crops, though rye, hemp, and flax were also important.

1753 - Washington failed to persuade the French to leave.

1754-1763 - The French efforts in 1753 and 1754 to establish control over the upper Ohio Valley led to the last and conclusive colonial war, the French and Indian War (1754-1763).

  • Gen. Braddock's British and colonial army was slaughtered on the Monongahela
  • An academy that held its first classes in 1740 became the College of Philadelphia in 1755, and ultimately grew into the University of Pennsylvania.

1758 - Gen. John Forbes recaptured the site of Pittsburgh in 1758.

1760 - Defeat of the French and Indian war alliance

1763 - After the war, the Indians rose up against the British colonies in Pontiac's War, but in August 1763, Colonel Henry Bouquet defeated them at Bushy Run, interrupting the threat to the frontier in this region.

1764 - Crushing of Chief Pontiac's Indian alliance

1765 - The American Revolution had urban origins, and Philadelphia was a center of ferment. Philadelphia was a center of resistance to the Stamp Act (1765)

1768 -Although William Penn was granted all the land in Pennsylvania by the King, he and his heirs chose not to grant or settle any part of it without first buying the claims of Indians who lived there. In this manner, all of Pennsylvania except the northwestern third was purchased by 1768.

1769 - Methodism began late in the colonial period. St. George's Church, built in Philadelphia in 1769, is the oldest Methodist building in America.

1773 - Deputy or lieutenant governors (addressed as "governor") resided in Pennsylvania and represented the Penn family proprietors who themselves remained in England until 1773. After 1763, these governors were members of the Penn family. From 1773 until independence, John Penn was both a proprietor and the governor.

1773 - There were eleven counties. Westmoreland, the last new county created before the Revolution, was the first county located entirely west of the Allegheny Mountains.

1774 - Support Boston in opposition to the Intolerable Acts

  • Stagecoach lines reached from Philadelphia into the southcentral region.
  • Province's imports and exports were worth several million dollars.
  • Province of Pennsylvania had become the third largest English colony in America, though next to the last to be founded, Philadelphia had become the largest English-speaking city in the world next to London. There were originally only three counties: Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks.

October 1777 - June 1778 - While Congress was sitting in York ( it approved the Articles of Confederation, the first step toward a national government. After the war, the capital was moved to New York, 1790 until the opening of the District of Columbia in 1800, Philadelphia was again the capital.

1780 - The Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 was the first emancipation statute in the United States.

1784 and 1789 - The Commonwealth bought the Six Nations' claims to the remainder of the land in 1784 and 1789

1785 - The Commonwealth bought bought the claims of the Delawares and Wyandots

1787 - the US Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia.

1790 - The census of 1790 showed that the number of African-Americans had increased to about 10,000, of whom about 6,300 had received their freedom.

1775 - August - Pennsylvania troops took part in almost all the campaigns of the Revolution. A rifle battalion joined in the siege of Boston in August 1775.
1776 - Pennsylvania troops fought bravely in the ill-fated Canadian campaign of 1776 and in the New York and New Jersey campaigns.

1777 - Summer - The British naturally considered Philadelphia of key importance and, invaded the state and captured the capital.

The battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Whitemarsh were important engagements of this period.

1777 to June 1778 - Following these battles, Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge from December 1777 to June 1778. 1778 - Spring - News of the French alliance, which Benjamin Franklin had helped to negotiate, and the adoption of new strategy caused the British to leave Philadelphia in the spring

1779 - Frontier Pennsylvania suffered heavily from British and Indian raids until they were answered i by John Sullivan's and Daniel Brodhead's expeditions against the Six Nations Indians.

1780 - the state had contributed more than $6 million to the Congress and, when the American states had reached financial exhaustion, ninety Philadelphians subscribed a loan of £300,000 to supply the army.

1782 - the Bank of North America was chartered to support government fiscal needs. Robert Morris and Haym Salomon were important financial supporters of the Revolution.

1776 - June - Extralegal committees gradually took over the reins of government, and in June 1776 these committees called a state convention to meet on July 15,1776.

1776 -September 28 - The convention superseded the old government completely, established a Council of Safety to rule in the interim, and drew up the first state constitution, adopted on September 28, 1776. This provided an assembly of one house and a supreme executive council instead of a governor. The Declaration of Rights section has been copied in subsequent constitutions without significant change. Many patriot leaders were bitterly opposed to the new Pennsylvania constitution. Led by such men as John Dickinson, James Wilson, Robert Morris, and Frederick Muhlenberg, they carried on a long fight with the Constitutional party, a radical group. Joseph Reed, George Bryan, William Findley, and other radicals governed Pennsylvania until 1790.

1780 - Their most noteworthy accomplishments were the act for the gradual abolition of slavery

1779 - Act which took over the public lands owned by the Penn family (but allowed them some compensation in recognition of the services of the founder). The conservatives gradually gained more strength, helped by the Constitutionalists' poor financial administration.
1789 - the conservatives felt strong enough to rewrite the state constitution, and the Assembly called a convention to meet in November. In the convention, both the conservative majority and the radical minority showed a tendency to compromise and to settle their differences along moderate lines. As a result, the new constitution embodied the best ideas of both parties and was adopted with little objection. It provided for a second legislative house, the State Senate, and for a strong governor with extensive appointing powers.

1787. -The Pennsylvania Assembly sent eight delegates to the Federal Convention. Four of these had been signers of the Declaration of Independence. The delegation included the venerable Benjamin Franklin, whose counsels of moderation on several occasions kept the convention from dissolving the brilliant Gouverneur Morris, who spoke more often than any other member and the able lawyer James Wilson, who, next to Madison of Virginia, was the principal architect of the Constitution. Pennsylvania's delegation supported every move to strengthen the national government and signed the finished Constitution on September 17. The conservatives in the Pennsylvania Assembly took swift action to call a ratifying convention, which met in Philadelphia on November 21. The Federalists, favoring ratification, elected a majority of delegates and, led by Wilson, made Pennsylvania the second state to ratify, on December 12,1787.

1790 to 1800, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. While Washington was president, the state supported the Federalist Party, but grew gradually suspicious of its aristocratic goals. From the beginning, Senator William Maclay of Pennsylvania was an outspoken critic of the party. When Thomas Jefferson organized the Democrat-Republican Party, he had many supporters in Pennsylvania. Thomas Mifflin, Pennsylvania's first governor under the Constitution of 1790, was a moderate who avoided commitment to any party but leaned toward the Jeffersonians.

1790 - Large areas of the northern and western parts of the state were undistributed or undeveloped, and many other sections were thinly populated.

1794 - The Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania in 1794 hastened the reaction against the Federalists and provided a test of national unity. The insurrection was suppressed by an army assembled at Carlisle and Fort Cumberland and headed by President Washington. Partly as a result, Jefferson drew more votes than Adams in Pennsylvania in the presidential election in 1796. It was a foreboding sign for the Federalists, who were defeated in the national election of 1800.

1799 - Mifflin was succeeded by Thomas McKean, a conservative Jeffersonian Democrat-Republican, who governed until 1808.

19th Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

1840 - There was increased urbanization, although rural life remained strong and agriculture involved large numbers of people. The immigrant tide swelled because of large numbers of Irish fleeing the potato famine of the late 1840s and Germans fleeing the political turbulence of their homeland about the same time.

1837 - convention was called to revise the state's laws and draft a new constitution. The resulting constitution, in 1838, reduced the governor's appointive power, increased the number of elective offices, and shortened terms of office. The voters were given a greater voice in government and were better protected from abuses of power. However, free African Americans were disenfranchised. The burning of Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia, a center for many reform activities, in the same year, showed that the new constitution coincided with an awakened hostility toward abolition and racial equality.

1833 - Lucretia Mott, a Quaker preacher and teacher, was one of four women to participate at the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1833, and became president of the Female Anti-Slavery Society.

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton launched the campaign for women's rights at Seneca Falls, New York.
  • Jane Grey Swisshelm, abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, used newspapers and lectures. e launched her abolitionist paper, The Saturday Visiter, which featured antislavery propaganda and women's rights. Her essays influenced the state legislature to grant married women the right to own property, in 1848.1856 - Pennsylvania took the lead in the organization of the new Republican Party, with former Democratic leader Simon Cameron throwing his support to the new party.

1860 - there were more than two hundred textile mills. Leathermaking, lumbering, shipbuilding, publishing, and tobacco and paper manufacture also prospered in the 1800s.

1861 - Factory system had largely replaced the domestic system of home manufacture, and the foundation of the state's industrial greatness was established.

1862 - Bethlehem Company was organized in 1862.

1854 - The Cambria Works at Johnstown were established, by the end of the Civil War, were the largest mills in the country.

  • Bethlehem Company was organized in 1862.
  • October 10 - After the Battle of Antietam, General J.E.B. Stewart's cavalry rode around General George McClellan's army and reached Chambersburg There they seized supplies and horses, burned a large storehouse, and then withdrew as rapidly as they had come.

1863 - June - General Robert E. Lee turned his 75,000 men northward on a major invasion of Pennsylvania. The state called up reserves and volunteers for emergency duty. At Pittsburgh the citizens fortified the surrounding hills, and at Harrisburg fortifications were thrown up on both sides of the Susquehanna. Confederate forces captured Carlisle and advanced to within three miles of Harrisburg the bridge at Wrightsville had to be burned to prevent their crossing. These outlying forces were recalled when the Union army under General George G. Meade met Lee's army at Gettysburg. In a bitterly fought engagement on the first three days of July, the Union army threw back the Confederate forces, a major turning point in the struggle to save the Union. Not only was the battle fought on Pennsylvania soil, but nearly a third of General Meade's army were Pennsylvania troops. Governor Curtin led the movement to establish the battlefield as a memorial park.

1864 - In retaliation for Union raids on Virginia, a Confederate force under General John McCausland advanced to Chambersburg and threatened to burn the town unless a large ransom was paid. The citizens refused, and Chambersburg was burned on July 20, leaving two-thirds of its people homeless and causing damage of almost two million dollars.

1872-1973 - Pearl S. Buck, won both a Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer Prize. She made her home in Perkasie.

1874 - The fourth constitution of the Commonwealth was partly a result of a nationwide reform movement in the 1870s and partly a result of specific corrections to the previous constitution. It provided for the popular election of judges, the State Treasurer, and the Auditor General. It created an office of Lieutenant Governor and a Department of Internal Affairs

1889-1987 - Marquerite de Angelis wrote and illustrated books that thrilled generations of children, such as Thee, Hannah! and Yonie Wondernose.

20th Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

1945 -State Museum and State Archives were placed under the Historical and Museum Commission.

1947 - Tax Equalization Board was created to review school tax assessments so that the burden of public education would fall evenly on all districts.

1950 to 1953 - Iindividual Pennsylvanians were among the many Americans who fought with the South Koreans against the North Koreans and their Red Chinese allies.

1951 - Council on Civil Defense was created, and in 1978 it became the Emergency Management Agency.

1955 - The Human Relations Commission was established in 1955 to prevent discrimination in employment.

  • In the field of dance the Pennsylvania Ballet, founded by Barbara Weisberger in 1964, has an international reputation, and the Pittsburgh Ballet is also widely known.
  • Conflict developed in Vietnam. American troops fought beside the South Vietnamese against the North Vietnamese and their supporters until 1973, and many Pennsylvanians served and died there. The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., includes 1,449 Pennsylvanians among the 58,715 who died as a result of combat.

1968 - the number of school districts had been compressed from over 2,000 to 742 today there are only 500. Centralization and improved spending had the desired effects

1971 - Voters amended the state constitution to guarantee that equal rights could not be denied because of sex.

1972 - Dec. 6, the State Constitution so amended was declared to be henceforth known and cited as the Constitution of 1968.

1975 - February - State's Commission for Women was created.

  • Rreplacement of the Council on Aging with a Department of Aging
  • The establishment of an Ethics Commission

1977 - Pennsylvania began to be the site of the filming of an ever increasing number of major motion pictures. Slapshot and The Deer Hunter were among the first of these productions.

1981 - David Bradley's novel The Chaneysville Incident won acclaim as a profound and sensitive analysis of the African American male in American life.

1982 - Independent Regulatory Review Commission

1987 - Pennsylvania was sixth among the states in the number of business firms owned by women, and these generated over 29 billion dollars in sales and receipts.

1990 and 1991 - Pennsylvania units sent to Saudi Arabia, as part of the international force confronting Iraqi aggression, included the 121st and 131st Transportation Companies of the Pennsylvania National Guard, the 193rd Squadron of the Air National Guard and the 316th Strategic Hospital Reserve.

1990 - Census showed 9.17 percent of the population to be African American, including 40 percent of the population of Philadelphia, 15 percent of Dauphin County, and 11 percent of both Allegheny and Delaware Counties. People of Hispanic origin (regardless of race) comprised 1.95 percent of Pennsylvania's population. There are about 16,000 Native Americans.

1992 - February 25 - 13 members of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, US Army Reserves, a Greensburg unit, were killed by an Iraqi scud missile attack.

  • Sixth largest number of women in the work force but rated 47th among the states in the ratio of women workers to total workers.
  • November - US Representative Tom Ridge defeated Lieutenant Governor Singel and third-party candidate Peg Luksic of Johnstown in the gubernatorial election.
  • Pennsylvania's population was estimated by the US Census Bureau as 12,071,842 in mid-1995.
  • Pennsylvania's 1,363,000 veterans population still included 600 veterans of World War 1 446,490 veterans of World War II 229,930 veterans of the Korean Conflict, 376,240 veterans of the Vietnam era, and 67,320 veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

1996 -June - Departments of Commerce and Community Affairs were merged to form the Department of Economic and Community Development.

21st Century Pennsylvania History Timeline

  • Tropical Storm Allison moved into Pennsylvania, killed four
  • United Airlines flight 93, directed by hijackers, crashed southeast of Pittsburgh, killed all 45 passengers, crew
  • Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania named to direct office of Homeland Security
  • multi-vehicle accident occured on I-80, covered by ice, snow, five killed

2002 - Somerset coal miners, trapped by flooding, rescued after 77 hours

  • Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, demolished in 62 seconds with 2,800 explosions
  • slot machines authorized
  • Pennsylvania legislators increased salaries in secret session
  • oil painting by Jackson Pollock and silkscreen by Andy Warhol stolen from Everhart Museum
  • Philadelphia won first NHL scoreless game by a shootout
  • Gunman killed students at Amish school
  • over 200,000 evacuated from homes in Wilkes-Barre area due to flooding
  • Ice kept major highways closed, hundreds of drivers stranded
  • Gov. Rendell ordered range of government services shut down due to budget stalemate, over 24,000 workers off the job

2008 - Philadelphia Phillies won baseball World Series

  • Pittsburgh Steelers won sixth Super Bowl
  • Penguins won Stanley Cup G-20 Summit held in Pittsburgh
  • Casino gambling legalized
  • Blizzards caused airports to shut down, over 7,000 flights cancelled

2011 - Alleged sex abuse scandal at Penn State resulted in firings of several staff, including legendary coach, Joe Paterno

2012 - Joe Paterno, legendary Penn State football coach, died at 85


Famous Birthdays

Birthdays 1 - 100 of 1,283

    William Penn, English admiral and politician, father of the founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, born in St. Thomas Parish, Bristol (d. 1670)

William Penn

1644-10-14 William Penn, English Philosopher, Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, born in London, England (d. 1718)

    William Bradford, English-born colonial printer (Pennsylvania's first printing press), born in Leicestershire, England (d. 1752) Conrad Weiser, Pennsylvania's ambassador to the Native Americans, born in Herrenberg, Germany (d. 1760) John Bartram, naturalist and explorer, father of American botany, born near Darby, Pennsylvania (d. 1777)

William Allen

1704-08-05 William Allen, American loyalist, Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania and Mayor of Philadelphia, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1780)

    William Shippen, American physician and delegate to the Continental Congress, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1801) Charles Humphreys, American delegate to the Continental Congress, born in Haverford, Pennsylvania (d. 1786) Benjamin Chew, Chief Justice of colonial Pennsylvania, born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland (d. 1810) David Rittenhouse, American astronomer, inventor, and mathematician, born in Paper Mill Run, Pennsylvania (d. 1796)

John Dickinson

1732-11-13 John Dickinson, American lawyer and Governor of Delaware and Pennsylvania, born in Talbot County, Maryland (d. 1808)

Daniel Boone

1734-11-02 Daniel Boone, American frontiersman and explorer (US Hall of Fame 1915), born in Reading, Pennsylvania (d. 1820)

    John Morgan, American physician-in-chief of Continental Army and co-founder of the Medical College at the University of Pennsylvania, the first medical school in Colonial America, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1789) Benjamin West, Anglo-American painter (Death of General Wolfe), born in Springfield, Province of Pennsylvania (d. 1820) John Antes, American composer and missionary, born in Frederick, Pennsylvania (d. 1811) Elias Boudinot, American lawyer and patriot, President of the Continental Congress, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1821)

Anthony Wayne

1745-01-01 Anthony Wayne, American Military Leader (Legion of the United States), born in Easttown Township, Province of Pennsylvania (d. 1796)

Betsy Ross

1752-01-01 Betsy Ross [Elizabeth Griscom], American seamstress widely credited with making the first American flag, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1836)

    Samuel Smith, American politician, Senator and Representative from Maryland, born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (d. 1839) William Cooper, American judge and developer (founded Cooperstown, New York), born in Smithfield, Pennsylvania (d. 1809) William Rush, American sculptor (Spirit of the Schuylkill), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1833) Jacob Albright, German-American Christian leader, founder of Albright's People (Evangelical Association), born in Fox Mountain, Pennsylvania (d. 1808) Richard Allen, 1st African American ordained by Methodist-Episcopal church, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1831) James Geddes, American Engineer (Erie Canal), born in Carlisle Pennsylvania (d. 1838)

Robert Fulton

1765-11-14 Robert Fulton, American inventor and engineer (first commercial steamboat), born in Little Britain, Pennsylvania (d. 1815)

    Patrick Gass, sergeant of Lewis and Clark Expedition, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1870) Johnny Appleseed [John Chapman], American pioneer nurseryman (introduced apple trees to Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois), born in Leominster, Massachusetts (d. 1845) Joseph Funk, early American composer, born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (d. 1862) James Pollard Espy, American meteorologist (Philosophy of Storms), born in Pennsylvania (d. 1860) Thomas Say, American naturalist and father of descriptive entomology, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1834) Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, American pioneer of educating the deaf, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1851)

James Buchanan

1791-04-23 James Buchanan, 15th US President (1857-61), born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania (d. 1868)

    George Mifflin Dallas, American politician (11th Vice President of the United States) and United States Minister to Russia, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1864) James Madison Porter, American politician, born in Norristown, Pennsylvania (d. 1862) Henry Charles Carey, American economist (Principles of Poli Economy), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1879) George Catlin, American author and painter (American Indian scenes), born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (d. 1872) James Lick, American land baron in California, born in Stumpstown, Pennsylvania (d. 1876) Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator and Secretary of War (Union), born in Maytown, Pennsylvania (d. 1889) William McKean, American naval officer (Union Navy), born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (d. 1865) George Archibald McCall, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1868) James L. Lardner, American naval officer (American Civil War), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1881) Emma Smith, Inaugural President of the Women's Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, born in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1879) Samuel Peter Heintzelman, American Major General (Union Army), born in Manheim, Pennsylvania (d. 1880) Edwin Forrest, American actor and philanthropist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1872) George C. Cadwalader, American Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1879) Charles Ferguson Smith, American Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1862) Thomas Green Clemson, American politician and founder of Clemson University, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1888) Henry Darwin Rogers, American Geologist (theory of mountain building, first geological mapping of Pennsylvania), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1866) Thomas Algeo Rowley, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 1892) Cornelia Connelly, American foundress (Society of the Holy Child Jesus), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1879) John A. Dahlgren, US Navy officer and inventor (Civil war Dahlgren-cannon), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1870) Jeremiah S. Black, American statesman & lawyer, born in Stony Creek, Pennsylvania (d. 1883) Thomas Jefferson McKean, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Burlington, Pennsylvania (d. 1870) Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, American Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1883) William Kelly, American inventor (pneumatic process of steelmaking), born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania (d. 1888) Fernando Wood, American politician, New York City mayor (1855-58 and 1860-62), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1881) David Dixon Porter, United States Navy admiral, born in Chester, Pennsylvania (d. 1891) William High Keim, American politician and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Reading, Pennsylvania (d. 1862) William Henry Fry, American composer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1864) Conrad Feger Jackson, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Alsace Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1862) Henry Morris Naglee, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1886) James Curtis Hepburn, American missionary and linguist, born in Milton, Pennsylvania (d. 1911) Alexander Ramsey, American politician (1st Governor of Minnesota Territory), born in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania (d. 1903) Stephen Miller, American politician (Governor of Minnesota) Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Perry County, Pennsylvania (d. 1881) Israel Vogdes, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Chester County, Pennsylvania (d. 1889) James Craig, American lawyer, politician and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Washington County, Pennsylvania (d. 1888) Herman Haupt, American civil engineer and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1905) Joseph K Barnes, American Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1883) James Blair Steedman, American Major General (Union Army), born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (d. 1883) Tom Hyer, American bare-knuckle boxer (unsanctioned world heavyweight champion 1841-51), born in Caernarvon Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1864)

Christopher Latham Sholes

1819-02-14 Christopher Latham Sholes, American newspaper man, politician and inventor of the typewriter, born in Mooresburg, Pennsylvania (d. 1890)

    David Henry Williams, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (d. 1891) Alexander Hays, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Franklin, Pennsylvania (d. 1864) John Geary, American lawyer & politician (1st SF postmaster 1st mayor), born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania (d. 1873) John White Geary, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania (d. 1873) George Law Curry, American newspaper publisher and Governor of Oregon, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1878) Andrew Porter, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (d. 1872) George Washington Morgan, American lawyer, politician, and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Washington County, Pennsylvania (d. 1893) John Fulton Reynolds, American Major General (Union Army), born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (d. 1863) Alfred Washington Ellet, American civil engineer and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (d. 1895) Gustavus Adolphus Smith, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania(d. 1885) [George] Hector Tyndale, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1880) Alfred Sully, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1879) Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs, American politician (Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction of Florida) and Presbyterian minister, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 1874) Thomas Leiper Kane, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1883) James Nagle, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Reading, Pennsylvania (d. 1866) William Stephen Walker, American Brigadier General (Confederate Army), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 1899) Samuel Davis Sturgis, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania (d. 1889) Charles Adam Heckman, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Easton, Pennsylvania (d. 1896) William Buel Franklin, American Major General (Union Army), born in York, Pennsylvania (d. 1903) Samuel Kosciusko Zook, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1863) Joseph Farmer Knipe, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania (d. 1901) John H. Balsley, American carpenter and inventor (a practical folding wooden stepladder), born in Connellsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania (d. 1895) Charles Thomas Campbell, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1895) Thomas Alexander Scott, American businessman and Assistant Secretary of War (Civil War), born in Peters Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1881) Winfield Scott Hancock, American politician and Major General (Union Army), born in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania (d. 1886) George B. Vashon, American, lawyer, academic and poet, first African American lawyer in NY, born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (d. 1878) Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn, American Baptist Minister and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Webster, Pennsylvania (d. 1901) Thomas Hewson Neill, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1885)

Stephen Foster

1826-07-04 Stephen Foster, American composer (Oh! Susanna, Swanee River), born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania (d. 1864)


Contents

Historically, as of 1600, the tribes living in Pennsylvania were the Algonquian Lenape (also Delaware), the Iroquoian Susquehannock, and Petun (also Tionontati, Kentatentonga, Tobacco, Wenro) [9] and the presumably Siouan Monongahela Culture, who may have been the same as a little known tribe called the Calicua, or Cali. [10] Other tribes who entered the region during the colonial era were the Trockwae, [11] Tutelo, Saponi, Shawnee, Nanticoke, Conoy Piscataway, Iroquois Confederacy—likely among others. [12] [13] [14] [15]

Other tribes, like the Erie, may have once held land in Pennsylvania, but no longer did so by the year 1600. [16]

17th century Edit

Both the Dutch and the English claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands in America. [17] [18] [19] The Dutch were the first to take possession. [19]

By June 3, 1631, the Dutch had begun settling the Delmarva Peninsula by establishing the Zwaanendael Colony on the site of present-day Lewes, Delaware. [20] In 1638, Sweden established the New Sweden Colony, in the region of Fort Christina, on the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. New Sweden claimed and, for the most part, controlled the lower Delaware River region (parts of present-day Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) but settled few colonists there. [21] [22]

On March 12, 1664, King Charles II of England gave James, Duke of York a grant that incorporated all lands included in the original Virginia Company of Plymouth Grant plus other lands. This grant was in conflict with the Dutch claim for New Netherland, which included parts of today's Pennsylvania. [23]

On June 24, 1664, the Duke of York sold the portion of his large grant that included present-day New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony. The land was not yet in British possession, but the sale boxed in the portion of New Netherland on the West side of the Delaware River. The British conquest of New Netherland began on August 29, 1664, when New Amsterdam was coerced to surrender while facing cannons on British ships in New York Harbor. [24] [25] This conquest continued, and was completed in October 1664, when the British captured Fort Casimir in what today is New Castle, Delaware.

The Peace of Breda between England, France and the Netherlands confirmed the English conquest on July 21, 1667, [26] [27] although there were temporary reversions.

On September 12, 1672, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered New York Colony/New Amsterdam, establishing three County Courts, which went on to become original Counties in present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania. The one that later transferred to Pennsylvania was Upland. [28] This was partially reversed on February 9, 1674, when the Treaty of Westminster ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War, and reverted all political situations to the status quo ante bellum. The British retained the Dutch Counties with their Dutch names. [29] By June 11, 1674, New York reasserted control over the outlying colonies, including Upland, but the names started to be changed to British names by November 11, 1674. [30] Upland was partitioned on November 12, 1674, producing the general outline of the current border between Pennsylvania and Delaware. [31]

On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter [32] to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 [33] (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) [34] owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. [35] The King named it Pennsylvania (literally "Penn's Woods") in honor of Admiral Penn the Admiral's son who proposed that the land be called New Wales and then, after objections, Sylvania (from the Latin silva: "forest, woods"), was embarrassed at the change from the latter proposed form, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant. [36] Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction. [35]

What had been Upland on what became the Pennsylvania side of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Border was renamed as Chester County when Pennsylvania instituted their colonial governments on March 4, 1681. [37] [38] The Quaker leader William Penn had signed a peace treaty with Tammany, leader of the Delaware tribe, beginning a long period of friendly relations between the Quakers and the Indians. [39] Additional treaties between Quakers and other tribes followed. The treaty of William Penn was never violated. [40] [41] [42]

18th century Edit

Between 1730 and when it was shut down by Parliament with the Currency Act of 1764, the Pennsylvania Colony made its own paper money to account for the shortage of actual gold and silver. The paper money was called Colonial Scrip. The Colony issued "bills of credit", which were as good as gold or silver coins because of their legal tender status. Since they were issued by the government and not a banking institution, it was an interest-free proposition, largely defraying the expense of the government and therefore taxation of the people. It also promoted general employment and prosperity, since the Government used discretion and did not issue too much to inflate the currency. Benjamin Franklin had a hand in creating this currency, of which he said its utility was never to be disputed, and it also met with the "cautious approval" of Adam Smith. [43]

James Smith wrote that in 1763, "the Indians again commenced hostilities, and were busily engaged in killing and scalping the frontier inhabitants in various parts of Pennsylvania." Further, "This state was then a Quaker government, and at the first of this war the frontiers received no assistance from the state." [44] The ensuing hostilities became known as Pontiac's War.

After the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, Delegate John Dickinson of Philadelphia wrote the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. The Congress was the first meeting of the Thirteen Colonies, called at the request of the Massachusetts Assembly, but only nine colonies sent delegates. [45] Dickinson then wrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, which were published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle between December 2, 1767, and February 15, 1768. [46]

When the Founding Fathers of the United States convened in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress. [47] The Second Continental Congress, which also met in Philadelphia (in May 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, [48] but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they and its primary author, John Dickinson, drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent States [49] into a new union. Later, the Constitution was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Union. [50] The Constitution was drafted and signed at the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, and the same building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. [51]

Pennsylvania became the first large state, and the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, [52] five days after Delaware became the first. At the time it was the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the thirteen States. Because one-third of Pennsylvania's population spoke German, the Constitution was presented in German to include those citizens in the discussion. Reverend Frederick Muhlenberg acted as the chairman of the state's ratifying convention. [53]

Dickinson College of Carlisle was the first college founded after the States united. Established in 1773, the college was ratified five days after the Treaty of Paris on September 9, 1783. The school was founded by Benjamin Rush and named after John Dickinson.

For half a century, the Commonwealth's General Assembly (legislature) met at various places in the general Philadelphia area before starting to meet regularly in Independence Hall in Philadelphia for 63 years. [54] But it needed a more central location, as for example the Paxton Boys massacres of 1763 had made the legislature aware. So, in 1799 the General Assembly moved to the Lancaster Courthouse, [54] and finally in 1812 to Harrisburg. [54]

19th century Edit

The General Assembly met in the old Dauphin County Court House until December 1821, [54] when the Federal-style "Hills Capitol" (named for its builder, Stephen Hills, a Lancaster architect) was constructed on a hilltop land grant of four acres set aside for a seat of state government by the prescient, entrepreneurial son and namesake of John Harris, Sr., a Yorkshire native who had founded a trading post in 1705 and ferry (1733) on the east shore of the Susquehanna River. [55] The Hills Capitol burned down on February 2, 1897, during a heavy snowstorm, presumably because of a faulty flue. [54] The General Assembly met at Grace Methodist Church on State Street (still standing) until a new capitol could be built. Following an architectural selection contest that many alleged had been "rigged", Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb was charged with designing and building a replacement building however, the legislature had little money to allocate to the project, and a roughly finished, somewhat industrial building (the Cobb Capitol) was completed. The General Assembly refused to occupy the building. Political and popular indignation in 1901 prompted a second contest that was restricted to Pennsylvania architects, and Joseph Miller Huston of Philadelphia was chosen to design the present Pennsylvania State Capitol that incorporated Cobb's building into magnificent public work finished and dedicated in 1907. [54]

The new state Capitol drew rave reviews. [54] Its dome was inspired by the domes of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the United States Capitol. [54] President Theodore Roosevelt called it "the most beautiful state Capital in the nation" and said, "It's the handsomest building I ever saw" at the dedication. In 1989, The New York Times praised it as "grand, even awesome at moments, but it is also a working building, accessible to citizens . a building that connects with the reality of daily life". [54]

James Buchanan, of Franklin County, the only bachelor president of the United States (1857–1861), [56] was the only one to be born in Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg—the major turning point of the Civil War—took place near Gettysburg. [57] An estimated 350,000 Pennsylvanians served in the Union Army forces including 8,600 African American military volunteers.

Pennsylvania was also the home of the first commercially drilled oil well. In 1859, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake successfully drilled the well, which led to the first major oil boom in United States history.

20th century Edit

At the beginning of the 20th century, Pennsylvania's economy centered on steel production, logging, coal mining, textile production and other forms of industrial manufacturing. A surge in immigration to the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided a steady flow of cheap labor for these industries, which often employed children and people who could not speak English.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge established the Allegheny National Forest under the authority of the Weeks Act of 1911. [58] The forest is located in the northwest part of the state in Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren Counties for the purposes of timber production and watershed protection in the Allegheny River basin. The Allegheny is the state's only national forest. [59]

The Three Mile Island accident was the most significant nuclear accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. [60] [61]

21st century Edit

Within the first half of 2003, the annual Tekko commences in Pittsburgh. [62]

Pennsylvania is 170 miles (274 km) north to south and 283 miles (455 km) east to west. [64] Of a total 46,055 square miles (119,282 km 2 ), 44,817 square miles (116,075 km 2 ) are land, 490 square miles (1,269 km 2 ) are inland waters, and 749 square miles (1,940 km 2 ) are waters in Lake Erie. [65] It is the 33rd-largest state in the United States. [66] Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km) [67] of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles (92 km) [8] of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary. Of the original Thirteen Colonies, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not border the Atlantic Ocean.

The boundaries of the state are the Mason–Dixon line (39°43' N) to the south, the Twelve-Mile Circle on the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, the Delaware River to the east, 80°31' W to the west and the 42° N to the north, except for a short segment on the western end, where a triangle extends north to Lake Erie.

Cities include Philadelphia, Reading, Lebanon and Lancaster in the southeast, Pittsburgh in the southwest, and the tri-cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in the central east (known as the Lehigh Valley). The northeast includes the former anthracite coal mining cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Nanticoke, and Hazleton. Erie is located in the northwest. State College serves the central region while Williamsport serves the commonwealth's north-central region as does Chambersburg the south-central region, with York, Carlisle, and the state capital Harrisburg on the Susquehanna River in the east-central region of the Commonwealth and Altoona and Johnstown in the west-central region.

Adjacent states and province Edit

    (Province of Canada) (Northwest) (North and Northeast) (East and Southeast) (Extreme Southeast) (South) (Southwest) (West)

Climate Edit

Pennsylvania's diverse topography also produces a variety of climates, though the entire state experiences cold winters and humid summers. Straddling two major zones, the majority of the state, except for the southeastern corner, has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa). The southern portion of the state has a humid subtropical climate. The largest city, Philadelphia, has some characteristics of the humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) that covers much of Delaware and Maryland to the south.

Summers are generally hot and humid. Moving toward the mountainous interior of the state, the winter climate becomes colder, the number of cloudy days increases, and snowfall amounts are greater. Western areas of the state, particularly locations near Lake Erie, can receive over 100 inches (250 cm) of snowfall annually, and the entire state receives plentiful precipitation throughout the year. The state may be subject to severe weather from spring through summer into autumn. Tornadoes occur annually in the state, sometimes in large numbers, such as 30 recorded tornadoes in 2011 generally speaking, these tornadoes do not cause significant damage. [68]

Monthly Average High and Low Temperatures For Various Pennsylvania Cities (in °F)
City Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Scranton 33/19 37/21 46/28 59/38 70/48 78/56 82/61 80/60 72/52 61/41 49/33 38/24
Erie 34/21 36/21 44/27 56/38 67/48 76/58 80/63 79/62 72/56 61/45 50/37 38/27
Pittsburgh 36/21 39/23 49/30 62/40 71/49 79/58 83/63 81/62 74/54 63/43 51/35 39/25
Harrisburg 37/23 41/25 50/33 62/42 72/52 81/62 85/66 83/64 76/56 64/45 53/35 41/27
Philadelphia 40/26 44/28 53/34 64/44 74/54 83/64 87/69 85/68 78/60 67/48 56/39 45/30
Allentown 36/20 40/22 49/29 61/39 72/48 80/58 84/63 82/61 75/53 64/41 52/33 40/24
Sources: [69] [70] [71] [72] [73]

Municipalities Edit

Pennsylvania is divided into 67 counties. [74] Counties are further subdivided into municipalities that are either incorporated as cities, boroughs, or townships. [75] One county, Philadelphia County, is coterminous with the city of Philadelphia after it was consolidated in 1854. The most populous county in Pennsylvania is Philadelphia, while the least populous is Cameron (5,085). [76]

There are a total of 56 cities in Pennsylvania, which are classified, by population, as either first-, second-, or third-class cities. [74] [77] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, has a population of 1,526,006 and is the state's only first-class city. [75] Pittsburgh (305,704) and Scranton (76,089) are second-class and second-class 'A' cities, respectively. [75]

The rest of the cities, like the third and fourth-largest—Allentown (120,443) and Erie (98,593)—to the smallest—Parker with a population of only 820—are third-class cities. [78] First- and second-class cities are governed by a "strong mayor" form of mayor–council government, whereas third-class cities are governed by either a "weak mayor" form of government or a council–manager government. [75]

Boroughs are generally smaller than cities, with most Pennsylvania cities having been incorporated as a borough before being incorporated as a city. [75] There are 958 boroughs in Pennsylvania, all of which are governed by the "weak mayor" form of mayor-council government. [74] [75] The largest borough in Pennsylvania is State College (41,992) and the smallest is Centralia.

Townships are the third type of municipality in Pennsylvania and are classified as either first-class or second-class townships. There are 1,454 second-class townships and 93 first-class townships. [79] Second-class townships can become first-class townships if they have a population density greater than 300 inhabitants per square mile (120/km 2 ) and a referendum is passed supporting the change. [79] Pennsylvania's largest township is Upper Darby Township (82,629), and the smallest is East Keating Township.

There is one exception to the types of municipalities in Pennsylvania: Bloomsburg was incorporated as a town in 1870 and is, officially, the only town in the state. [80] In 1975, McCandless Township adopted a home-rule charter under the name of "Town of McCandless", but is, legally, still a first-class township. [81]

The total of 56 cities, 958 boroughs, 93 first-class townships, 1,454 second-class townships, and one town (Bloomsburg) is 2,562 municipalities.

Demographics Edit

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790434,373
1800602,365 38.7%
1810810,091 34.5%
18201,049,458 29.5%
18301,348,233 28.5%
18401,724,033 27.9%
18502,311,786 34.1%
18602,906,215 25.7%
18703,521,951 21.2%
18804,282,891 21.6%
18905,258,113 22.8%
19006,302,115 19.9%
19107,665,111 21.6%
19208,720,017 13.8%
19309,631,350 10.5%
19409,900,180 2.8%
195010,498,012 6.0%
196011,319,366 7.8%
197011,793,909 4.2%
198011,863,895 0.6%
199011,881,643 0.1%
200012,281,054 3.4%
201012,702,379 3.4%
202013,011,844 2.4%
Source: 1910–2020 [83]

As of 2019, Pennsylvania has an estimated population of 12,801,989, which is a decrease of 5,071 from the previous year and an increase of 99,610 since the year 2010. Net migration to other states resulted in a decrease of 27,718, and immigration from other countries resulted in an increase of 127,007. Net migration to the Commonwealth was 98,289. Migration of native Pennsylvanians resulted in a decrease of 100,000 people. From 2008 to 2012, 5.8% of the population was foreign-born. [84]

Place of origin Edit

Of the people residing in Pennsylvania, 74.5% were born in Pennsylvania, 18.4% were born in a different U.S. state, 1.5% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 5.6% were foreign born. [89] Foreign-born Pennsylvanians are largely from Asia (36.0%), Europe (35.9%), and Latin America (30.6%), with the remainder from Africa (5%), North America (3.1%), and Oceania (0.4%).

The largest ancestry groups are listed below, expressed as a percentage of total people who responded with a particular ancestry for the 2010 census: [90] [91]

Racial breakdown Edit

Pennsylvania Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990 [92] 2000 [93] 2010 [94]
White 88.5% 85.4% 81.9%
Black 9.2% 10.0% 10.9%
Asian 1.2% 1.8% 2.8%
Native 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
Other race 1.0% 1.5% 2.4%
Two or more races 1.2% 1.9%

As of 2011, 32.1% of Pennsylvania's population younger than age 1 were minorities. [95]

Pennsylvania's Hispanic population grew by 82.6% between 2000 and 2010, making it one of the largest increases in a state's Hispanic population. The significant growth of the Hispanic population is due to immigration to the state mainly from Puerto Rico, which is a US territory, but to a lesser extent from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and various Central and South American nations, as well as from the wave of Hispanics leaving New York and New Jersey for safer and more affordable living. The Asian population swelled by almost 60%, which was fueled by Indian, Vietnamese, and Chinese immigration, as well the many Asian transplants moving to Philadelphia from New York. The rapid growth of this community has given Pennsylvania one of the largest Asian populations in the nation by numerical values. The Black and African American population grew by 13%, which was the largest increase in that population amongst the state's peers (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan). Twelve other states saw decreases in their White populations. [96] The state has a high in-migration of black and Hispanic people from other nearby states, with eastern and south-central portions of the state seeing the bulk of the increases. [76] [97]

The majority of Hispanics in Pennsylvania are of Puerto Rican descent, having one of the largest and fastest-growing Puerto Rican populations in the country. [98] [99] Most of the remaining Hispanic population is made up of Mexicans and Dominicans. Most Hispanics are concentrated in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and South Central Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania's reported population of Hispanics, especially among the Black race, has markedly increased in recent years. [100] The Hispanic population is greatest in Bethlehem, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, York, and around Philadelphia. It is not clear how much of this change reflects a changing population and how much reflects increased willingness to self-identify minority status. As of 2010, it is estimated that about 85% of all Hispanics in Pennsylvania live within a 150-mile (240 km) radius of Philadelphia, with about 20% living within the city itself.

Of the black population, the vast majority in the state are African American, being descendants of African slaves brought to the US south during the colonial era. There are also a growing number of blacks of West Indian, recent African, and Hispanic origins. [101] Most blacks live in the Philadelphia area, Pittsburgh, and South Central Pennsylvania. Whites make up the majority of Pennsylvania they are mostly descended from German, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Italian, and English immigrants. Rural portions of South Central Pennsylvania are famous nationwide for their notable Amish communities. The Wyoming Valley, consisting of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, has the highest percentage of white residents of any metropolitan area (with a population of 500,000 or above) in the U.S., with 96.2% of its population claiming to be white with no Hispanic background.

The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Perry County, in the borough of Duncannon. [102]

Age and poverty Edit

The state had the fourth-highest proportion of elderly (65+) citizens in 2010—15.4%, as compared to 13.0% nationwide. [103] According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the state's poverty rate was 12.5% in 2017, compared to 13.4% for the United States as a whole. [104]

Population Aged 65 and Older: Top 10 States [103]
State % of population
Florida 17.3
West Virginia 16.0
Maine 15.9
Pennsylvania 15.4
Iowa 14.9
Montana 14.8
Vermont 14.6
North Dakota 14.5
Rhode Island 14.4
Arkansas 14.4

Birth data Edit

Note: Births in table do not add up because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin have not been collected, but included in one Hispanic group persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Languages Edit

Top 10 Non-English Languages Spoken in Pennsylvania
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010) [112]
Spanish 4.1%
German (including Pennsylvania German) 0.9%
Chinese (including Mandarin) 0.5%
Italian 0.4%
French 0.3%
Russian 0.3%
Vietnamese 0.3%
Korean 0.3%
Polish 0.2%
Arabic 0.2%
Hindi 0.2%

As of 2010, 90.2% (10,710,239) of Pennsylvania residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 4.1% (486,058) spoke Spanish, 0.8% (103,502) German (which includes Pennsylvania Dutch) and 0.5% (56,052) Chinese (which includes Mandarin) of the population over the age of five. In total, 9.9% (1,170,628) of Pennsylvania's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English. [112]

Pennsylvania German language Edit

Pennsylvania German is often—even though misleadingly—called "Pennsylvania Dutch". The term Dutch used to mean "German" [113] (including the Netherlands), before the Latin name for them replaced it (but stuck with the Netherlands). When referring to the language spoken by the Pennsylvania Dutch people (Pennsylvania German) it means "German" or "Teutonic" rather than "Netherlander". Germans, in their own language, call themselves "Deutsch", (Pennsylvania German: "Deitsch"). The Pennsylvania German language is a descendant of German, in the West Central German dialect family. It is closest to Palatine German. Pennsylvania German is still very vigorous as a first language among Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites (principally in the Lancaster County area), whereas it is almost extinct as an everyday language outside the plain communities, though a few words have passed into English usage.

Religion Edit

Of all the colonies, only Rhode Island had religious freedom as secure as in Pennsylvania. [115] Voltaire, writing of William Penn in 1733, observed: "The new sovereign also enacted several wise and wholesome laws for his colony, which have remained invariably the same to this day. The chief is, to ill-treat no person on account of religion, and to consider as brethren all those who believe in one God." [116] One result of this uncommon freedom was a wide religious diversity, which continues to the present.

Pennsylvania's population in 2010 was 12,702,379. Of these, 6,838,440 (53.8%) were estimated to belong to some sort of organized religion. According to the Association of religion data archives (ARDA) at Pennsylvania State University, the largest religions in Pennsylvania by adherents are the Roman Catholic Church with 3,503,028 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 591,734 members, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 501,974 members.

Pennsylvania, especially in the west and in the Pittsburgh area, has one of the largest communities of Presbyterians in the nation, being the third highest by percentage of population and the largest outright in membership. [117] The Presbyterian Church (USA), with about 250,000 members and 1,011 congregations, is the largest church, while the Presbyterian Church in America is also significant, with 112 congregations and 23,000 adherents the EPC has around 50 congregations, as well as the ECO. The fourth-largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ, has 180,000 members and 627 congregations. American Baptist Churches USA (Northern Baptist Convention) is based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania was the center state of the German Reformed denomination from the 1700s. [118] Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is one of the headquarters of the Moravian Church in America. Pennsylvania also has a very large Amish population, second only to Ohio among the states. [119] In the year 2000 there was a total Amish population of 47,860 in Pennsylvania and a further 146,416 Mennonites and 91,200 Brethren. The total Anabapist population including Bruderhof [120] was 232,631, about two percent of the population. [121] While Pennsylvania owes its existence to Quakers, and much of the historic character of the Commonwealth is ideologically rooted in the teachings of the Religious Society of Friends (as they are officially known), practicing Quakers are a small minority of about 10,000 adherents in 2010. [122]

As of 2014 [update] , the religious affiliations of the people of Pennsylvania are: [114]

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 38% of Pennsylvanians are very religious, 29% are moderately religious, and 34% are non-religious. [123]

Pennsylvania's 2018 total gross state product (GSP) of $803 billion ranks the state 6th in the nation. [124] If Pennsylvania were an independent country, its economy would rank as the 19th-largest in the world. [125] On a per-capita basis, Pennsylvania's 2016 per-capita GSP of $50,665 (in chained 2009 dollars) ranks 22nd among the fifty states. [124]

Total employer establishments

Philadelphia in the southeast corner, Pittsburgh in the southwest corner, Erie in the northwest corner, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in the northeast corner, and Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton in the east central region are urban manufacturing centers. Much of the Commonwealth is rural this dichotomy affects state politics as well as the state economy. [127] Philadelphia is home to six Fortune 500 companies, [128] with more located in suburbs like King of Prussia it is a leader in the financial [129] and insurance industry.

Pittsburgh is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, including U.S. Steel, PPG Industries, and H.J. Heinz. [128] In all, Pennsylvania is home to fifty Fortune 500 companies. [128] Hershey is home to The Hershey Company, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. Erie is also home to GE Transportation, which is the largest producer of train locomotives in the United States.

As in the US as a whole and in most states, the largest private employer in the Commonwealth is Walmart, followed by the University of Pennsylvania. [130] [131] Pennsylvania is also home to the oldest investor-owned utility company in the US, The York Water Company.

As of May 2020, the state's unemployment rate is 13.1%. [132]

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
GDP in mil. US$ [133] 506.505 525.979 559.876 579.432 573.964 596.662 615.411 637.896 659.792 684.781 708.402 724.936
GDP per capita in real 2009 US$ [133] 45,035 45,021 46,330 46,862 45,312 46,387 46,872 47,540 48,278 49,155 50,418 50,997
Real growth rate in % [134] 1.3% 0.5% 3.3% 1.5% −2.9% 2.7% 1.3% 1.6% 1.6% 2.0% 2.6% 0.9%
unemployment rate (in July) [135] 4.9% 4.7% 4.4% 5.2% 8.2% 8.3% 8.0% 7.9% 7.3% 5.8% 5.3% 5.5%

Banking Edit

The first nationally chartered bank in the United States, the Bank of North America, was founded in 1781 in Philadelphia. After a series of mergers, the Bank of North America is part of Wells Fargo, which uses national charter 1.

Pennsylvania is also the home to the first nationally chartered bank under the 1863 National Banking Act. That year, the Pittsburgh Savings & Trust Company received a national charter and renamed itself the First National Bank of Pittsburgh as part of the National Banking Act. That bank is still in existence today as PNC Financial Services and remains based in Pittsburgh. PNC is the state's largest bank and the sixth-largest in the United States.

Agriculture Edit

Pennsylvania ranks 19th overall in agricultural production. [136]

  • The 1st is mushroom production,
  • The 2nd is apples,
  • The 3rd is Christmas trees and layer chickens,
  • The 4th is nursery and sod, milk, corn for silage, grapes grown (including juice grapes), and horses production.

It also ranks 8th in the nation in winemaking. [137]

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture worked with private companies to establish "PA Preferred" as a way to brand agricultural products grown or made in the state to support and promote Pennsylvania products and locally grown food. [138]

The financial impact of agriculture in Pennsylvania [139] includes employment of more than 66,800 people employed by the food manufacturing industry and over $1.7 billion in food product export (in 2011).

Gambling Edit

Casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2004. Currently, there are nine casinos across the state with three under construction or in planning. Only horse racing, slot machines and electronic table games were legal in Pennsylvania, although a bill to legalize table games was being negotiated in the fall of 2009. [140] Table games such as poker, roulette, blackjack, and craps were finally approved by the state legislature in January 2010, being signed into law by the Governor on January 7.

Former Governor Ed Rendell had considered legalizing video poker machines in bars and private clubs in 2009 since an estimated 17,000 operate illegally across the state. [141] Under this plan, any establishment with a liquor license would be allowed up to five machines. All machines would be connected to the state's computer system, like commercial casinos. The state would impose a 50% tax on net gambling revenues, after winning players have been paid, with the remaining 50% going to the establishment owners.

Film Edit

The Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit began in 2004 and stimulated the development of a film industry in the state. [142]

Pennsylvania has had five constitutions during its statehood: [143] 1776, 1790, 1838, 1874, and 1968. Before that the province of Pennsylvania was governed for a century by a Frame of Government, of which there were four versions: 1682, 1683, 1696, and 1701. [143] The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg. The legislature meets in the State Capitol there.

Executive Edit

The current Governor is Tom Wolf. The other elected officials composing the executive branch are the Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Attorney General Joshua Shapiro, Auditor General Timothy DeFoor, and Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor run as a ticket in the general election and are up for re-election every four years during the midterm elections. The elections for Attorney General, Auditor General, and Treasurer are held every four years coinciding with a Presidential election. [144]

Legislative Edit

Pennsylvania has a bicameral legislature set up by Commonwealth's constitution in 1790. The original Frame of Government of William Penn had a unicameral legislature. [145] The General Assembly includes 50 Senators and 203 Representatives. Joe Scarnati is currently President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, Jake Corman the Majority Leader, and Jay Costa the Minority Leader. [146] Bryan Cutler is Speaker of the House of Representatives, with Kerry A. Benninghoff as Majority Leader and Frank Dermody as Minority Leader. [147] As of the 2018 elections, the Republicans hold the majority in the State House and Senate.

Judiciary Edit

Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts, [148] most of which (except Philadelphia) have magisterial district judges (formerly called district justices and justices of the peace), who preside mainly over preliminary hearings in felony and misdemeanor offenses, all minor (summary) criminal offenses, and small civil claims. [148] Most criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas, which also serve as appellate courts to the district judges and for local agency decisions. [148] The Superior Court hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court. It also has original jurisdiction to review warrants for wiretap surveillance. [148] The Commonwealth Court is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas. [148] The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected the chief justice is determined by seniority. [148]

State law enforcement Edit

The Pennsylvania State Police is the chief law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Politics Edit

Since the latter half of the 20th century, Pennsylvania has been a powerful swing state. It supported the losing candidate in a presidential election only twice between 1932 to 1988, faltering in 1932 and 1968 with Herbert Hoover and Hubert Humphrey, respectively. Between 1992 and 2016, Pennsylvania trended Democratic in presidential elections, voting for Bill Clinton twice by large margins, and by a slightly closer margin for Al Gore in 2000. In the 2004 presidential election, Senator John F. Kerry beat President George W. Bush in Pennsylvania, 2,938,095 (50%) to 2,793,847 (48%). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in Pennsylvania, 3,184,778 (54%) to 2,584,088 (44%). By the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump broke the Democratic streak of the state, winning by 2,970,733 (48%) votes to 2,926,441 (47%) votes. [149] The state returned to the Democratic column in 2020 by narrowly voting for Joe Biden over Trump, 3,458,229 (50%) to 3,377,674 (48%). The state holds 20 electoral votes. [150]

In recent national elections since 1992, Pennsylvania had leaned for the Democratic Party. The state voted for the Democratic ticket for president in every election between 1992 and 2012. During the 2008 election campaign, a recruitment drive saw registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 1.2 million. However, Pennsylvania has a history of electing Republican senators. From 2009 to 2011, the state was represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since 1947 after Republican Senator Arlen Specter switched party affiliation. In 2010, Republicans recaptured a U.S. Senate seat as well as a majority of the state's congressional seats, control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governor's mansion. Democrats won back the governor's mansion four years later in the 2014 election. It was the first time since a governor became eligible to succeed himself that an incumbent governor had been defeated for reelection.

Voter Registration Totals as of November 3, 2020 [151]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 4,228,888 ( +169,024 ) 47.59%
Republican 3,543,070 ( +297,091 ) 38.05%
Minor parties /
Unaffiliated
1,319,004 ( +93,864 ) 14.36%
Total 9,090,962 ( +559,979 ) 100%
* Gain between November 5, 2019 and November 3, 2020.

Historically, Democratic strength was concentrated in Philadelphia in the southeast, the Pittsburgh and Johnstown areas in the southwest, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the northeast. Republican strength was concentrated in the Philadelphia suburbs, as well as the more rural areas in the central, northeastern, and western portions. The latter counties have long been among the most conservative areas in the nation. Since 1992, however, the Philadelphia suburbs have swung Democratic the brand of Republicanism there was traditionally a moderate one. The Pittsburgh suburbs, historically a Democratic stronghold, have swung more Republican since the turn of the millennium.

Democratic political consultant James Carville once pejoratively described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in the middle". Political analysts and editorials refer to central Pennsylvania as the "T" in statewide elections. The Three Valleys (Delaware, Lehigh, and Wyoming) and greater Pittsburgh generally vote for Democratic candidates, while the majority of the counties in the central part of the state vote Republican. As a result, maps showing the results of statewide elections invariably form a "T" shape.

Taxation Edit

Pennsylvania had the 15th-highest state and local tax burden in the United States in 2012, according to the Tax Foundation. [152] Residents paid a total of $83.7 billion in state and local taxes with a per capita average of $4,589 annually. Residents share 76% of the total tax burden. Many state politicians have tried to increase the share of taxes paid by out-of-state sources. Suggested revenue sources include taxing natural gas drilling as Pennsylvania is the only state without such a tax on gas drilling. [153] Additional revenue prospects include trying to place tolls on interstate highways specifically Interstate 80, which is used heavily by out of state commuters with high maintenance costs. [154]

Sales taxes provide 39% of the Commonwealth's revenue personal income taxes 34% motor vehicle taxes about 12%, and taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages 5%. [155] The personal income tax is a flat 3.07%. An individual's taxable income is based on the following eight types of income: compensation (salary) interest dividends net profits from the operation of a business, profession or farm net gains or income from the dispositions of property net gains or income from rents, royalties, patents and copyrights income derived through estates or trusts and gambling and lottery winnings (other than Pennsylvania Lottery winnings). [156]

Counties, municipalities, and school districts levy taxes on real estate. In addition, some local bodies assess a wage tax on personal income. Generally, the total wage tax rate is capped at 1% of income but some municipalities with home rule charters may charge more than 1%. Thirty-two of the Commonwealth's sixty-seven counties levy a personal property tax on stocks, bonds, and similar holdings.

With the exception of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, municipalities and school districts are allowed to enact a local earned income tax within the purview of Act 32. Residents of these municipalities and school districts are required to file a local income tax return in addition to federal and state returns. This local return is filed with the local income tax collector, a private collection agency appointed by a particular county to collect the local earned income and local services tax (the latter a flat fee deducted from salaried employees working within a particular municipality or school district). [157] [158] [159] [160]

The City of Philadelphia has its own local income taxation system. Philadelphia-based employers are required to withhold the Philadelphia wage tax from the salaries of their employees. Residents of Philadelphia working for an employer are not required to file a local return as long as their Philadelphia wage tax is fully withheld by their employer. If their employer does not withhold the Philadelphia wage tax, residents are required to register with the Revenue Department and file an Earnings Tax return. Residents of Philadelphia with self-employment income are required to file a Net Profits Tax (NPT) return, while those with business income from Philadelphia sources are required to obtain a Commercial Activity License (CAL) and pay the Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) and the NPT. Residents with unearned income (except for interest from checking and savings accounts) are required to file and pay the School Income-tax (SIT). [161]

The complexity of Pennsylvania's local tax filing system has been criticized by experts, who note that the outsourcing of collections to private entities is akin to tax farming and that many new residents are caught off guard and end up facing "failure to file" penalties even if they did not owe any tax. Attempts to transfer local income tax collections to the state level (i.e. by having a separate local section on the state income tax return, currently the method used to collect local income taxes in New York, Maryland, Indiana, and Iowa) have been unsuccessful. [162]

Federal representation Edit

Pennsylvania has a mixed health record, and is ranked as the 29th-overall-healthiest state according to the 2013 United Health Foundation's Health Rankings. [164]

Pennsylvania has 500 public school districts, thousands of private schools, publicly funded colleges and universities, and over 100 private institutions of higher education.

Primary and secondary education Edit

In general, under state law, school attendance in Pennsylvania is mandatory for a child from the age of 8 until the age of 17, or until graduation from an accredited high school, whichever is earlier. [165] As of 2005, 83.8% of Pennsylvania residents age 18 to 24 have completed high school. Among residents age 25 and over, 86.7% have graduated from high school.

The following are the four-year graduation rates for students completing high school in 2016: [166]

Cohort All Students Male Female White Hispanic Black Asian Special Education
% graduating 86.09 84.14 88.13 90.48 72.83 73.22 91.21 74.06

Additionally, 27.5% have gone on to obtain a bachelor's degree or higher. [167] State students consistently do well in standardized testing. In 2007, Pennsylvania ranked 14th in mathematics, 12th in reading, and 10th in writing for 8th grade students. [168]

In 1988, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 169, which allows parents or guardians to homeschool their children as an option for compulsory school attendance. This law specifies the requirements and responsibilities of the parents and the school district where the family lives. [169]

Higher education Edit

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the public university system of the Commonwealth, with 14 state-owned schools. West Chester University has by far the largest student body of the 14 universities. The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is an organizing body of the four state-related schools in Pennsylvania these schools (Pennsylvania State University, Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Temple University) are independent institutions that receive some state funding. There are also 15 publicly funded two-year community colleges and technical schools that are separate from the PASSHE system. Additionally, there are many private two- and four-year technical schools, colleges, and universities.

Carnegie Mellon University, The Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh are members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only organization of leading research universities. Lehigh University is a private research university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State University is the Commonwealth's land-grant university, Sea Grant College and, Space Grant College. The University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, is considered the first university in the United States and established the country's first medical school. The University of Pennsylvania is also the Commonwealth's only, and geographically most southern, Ivy League school. The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) is a private graduate school of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy with a main campus in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a branch campus located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (with two other campuses outside of Pennsylvania). With over 2,200 enrolled medical students, the College of Osteopathic Medicine at LECOM is the largest medical school in the United States. [170] [171] [172] [173] The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the first and oldest art school in the United States. [174] Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now a part of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, was the first pharmacy school in the United States. [175]

Pennsylvania is home to the nation's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. [176] Other long-accredited AZA zoos include the Erie Zoo and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Lehigh Valley Zoo and ZOOAMERICA are other notable zoos. The Commonwealth boasts some of the finest museums in the country, including the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and several others. One unique museum is the Houdini Museum in Scranton, the only building in the world devoted to the legendary magician. [177] Pennsylvania is also home to the National Aviary, located in Pittsburgh.

All 121 state parks in Pennsylvania feature free admission.

There are also notable music festivals that take place in Pennsylvania. These include Musikfest and NEARfest in Bethlehem, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Creation Festival, the Great Allentown Fair, and Purple Door.

There are nearly one million licensed hunters in Pennsylvania. Whitetail deer, black bear, cottontail rabbits, squirrel, turkey, and grouse are common game species. Pennsylvania is considered one of the finest wild turkey hunting states in the Union, alongside Texas and Alabama. Sport hunting in Pennsylvania provides a massive boost for the Commonwealth's economy. A report from The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (a Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly) reported that hunting, fishing, and furtaking generated a total of $9.6 billion statewide.

The Boone and Crockett Club shows that five of the ten largest (skull size) black bear entries came from the state. [178] The state also has a tied record for the largest hunter shot black bear in the Boone & Crockett books at 733 lb (332 kg) and a skull of 23 3/16 tied with a bear shot in California in 1993. [178] The largest bear ever found dead was in Utah in 1975, and the second-largest was shot by a poacher in the state in 1987. [178] Pennsylvania holds the second-highest number of Boone & Crockett-recorded record black bears at 183, second only to Wisconsin's 299. [178]

Road Edit

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, abbreviated as PennDOT, owns 39,861 miles (64,150 km) of the 121,770 miles (195,970 km) of roadway in the state, making it the fifth-largest state highway system in the United States. [179] The Pennsylvania Turnpike system is 535 miles (861 km) long, with the mainline portion stretching from Ohio to Philadelphia and New Jersey. [179] It is overseen by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Another major east–west route is Interstate 80, which runs primarily in the northern tier of the state from Ohio to New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap. Interstate 90 travels the relatively short distance between Ohio and New York through Erie County, in the extreme northwestern part of the state.

Primary north–south highways are Interstate 79 from its terminus in Erie through Pittsburgh to West Virginia, Interstate 81 from New York through Scranton, Lackawanna County and Harrisburg to Maryland and Interstate 476, which begins 7 miles (11 km) north of the Delaware border, in Chester, Delaware County and travels 132 miles (212 km) to Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, where it joins I-81. All but 20 miles (32 km) of I-476 is the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, while the highway south of the mainline of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is officially called the "Veterans Memorial Highway", but is commonly referred to by locals as the "Blue Route".

Rail Edit

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the sixth-largest transit agency in the United States and operates the commuter, heavy and light rail transit, and transit bus service in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The Port Authority of Allegheny County is the 25th-largest transit agency and provides transit bus and light rail service in and around Pittsburgh. [180]

Intercity passenger rail transit is provided by Amtrak, with the majority of traffic occurring on the Keystone Service in the high-speed Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station before heading north to New York City, as well as the Northeast Regional providing frequent high-speed service up and down the Northeast Corridor. The Pennsylvanian follows the same route from New York City to Harrisburg, but extends out to Pittsburgh. The Capitol Limited also passes through Pittsburgh, as well as Connellsville, on its way from Chicago to Washington, D.C. [181] Traveling between Chicago and New York City, the Lake Shore Limited passes through Erie once in each direction. [181] There are 67 short-line, freight railroads operating in Pennsylvania, the highest number in any U.S. state. [181]

Bus and coach Edit

Intercity bus service is provided between cities in Pennsylvania and other major points in the Northeast by Bolt Bus, Fullington Trailways, Greyhound Lines, Martz Trailways, Megabus, OurBus, Trans-Bridge Lines, as well as various Chinatown bus companies. In 2018, OurBus began offering service from West Chester, PA – Malvern, PA – King of Prussia, PA – Fort Washington, PA – New York, NY.

Air Edit

Pennsylvania has seven major airports: Philadelphia International, Pittsburgh International, Lehigh Valley International, Harrisburg International, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International, Erie International, and University Park Airport. A total of 134 public-use airports are located in the state. [181] The port of Pittsburgh is the second-largest inland port in the United States and the 18th-largest port overall the Port of Philadelphia is the 24th-largest port in the United States. [182] Pennsylvania's only port on the Great Lakes is located in Erie.

Water Edit

Arts Edit

Sports Edit

Pennsylvania is home to many major league professional sports teams: the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, and the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. Among them, these teams have accumulated 7 World Series Championships (Pirates 5, Phillies 2), 16 National League Pennants (Pirates 9, Phillies 7), 3 pre-Super Bowl era NFL Championships (Eagles), 7 Super Bowl Championships (Steelers 6, Eagles 1), 2 NBA Championships (76ers), and 7 Stanley Cups (Penguins 5, Flyers 2).

Pennsylvania also has minor league and semi-pro sports teams: the Triple-A baseball Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Triple-A East the Double-A baseball Altoona Curve, Erie SeaWolves, Harrisburg Senators, and Reading Fightin Phils of the Double-A Northeast the collegiate summer baseball State College Spikes and Williamsport Crosscutters of the MLB Draft League the independent baseball Lancaster Barnstormers and York Revolution of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball the independent baseball Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League the Erie BayHawks of the NBA G League the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League the Reading Royals and of the ECHL and the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. Among them, these teams have accumulated 12 triple and double-A baseball league titles (RailRiders 1, Senators 6, Fightin Phils 4 Curve 1), 3 Arena Bowl Championships (Soul), and 11 Calder Cups (Bears).

The first World Series between the Boston Pilgrims (which became the Boston Red Sox) and Pittsburgh Pirates was played in Pittsburgh in 1903. Since 1959, the Little League World Series is held each summer in South Williamsport, near where Little League Baseball was founded in Williamsport. [184]

Soccer is gaining popularity within the state as well. With the addition of the Philadelphia Union in the MLS, the state now boasts three teams that are eligible to compete for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup annually. The other two teams are Philadelphia Union II and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. However, Penn FC (formally Harrisburg City Islanders) used to be one of these teams before they announced they'd be on hiatus in 2019 although they would be returning for the 2020 season. [185] Both of the United Soccer League (USL). Within the American Soccer Pyramid, the MLS takes the first tier, while the USL-2 claims the third tier.

Arnold Palmer, one of the 20th century's most notable pro golfers, comes from Latrobe, while Jim Furyk, a current PGA member, grew up near in Lancaster. PGA tournaments in Pennsylvania include the 84 Lumber Classic, played at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, in Farmington and the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, played at Glenmaura National Golf Club, in Moosic.

Philadelphia is home to LOVE Park, once a popular spot for skateboarding, and across from City Hall, host to ESPN's X Games in 2001 and 2002. [186]

Racing Edit

In motorsports, the Mario Andretti dynasty of race drivers hails from Nazareth in the Lehigh Valley. Notable racetracks in Pennsylvania include the Jennerstown Speedway in Jennerstown, the Lake Erie Speedway in North East, the Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, the Motordome Speedway(closed) in Smithton, the Mountain Speedway in St. Johns, the Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth (closed) the Lernerville Speedway in Sarver and the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, which is home to two NASCAR Cup Series races and an IndyCar Series race. The state is also home to Maple Grove Raceway, near Reading, which hosts major National Hot Rod Association sanctioned drag racing events each year.

There are also two motocross race tracks that host a round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championships in Pennsylvania. High Point Raceway is located in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, and Steel City is located in Delmont, Pennsylvania.

Horse racing courses in Pennsylvania consist of The Meadows near Pittsburgh, Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, and Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester, which offer harness racing, and Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park) in Bensalem, and Presque Isle Downs near Erie, which offer thoroughbred racing. Smarty Jones, the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, had Philadelphia Park as his home course.

College sports Edit

College football is popular in Pennsylvania. [ citation needed ] There are three colleges in Pennsylvania that play at the highest level of collegiate football competition, the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Two play in Power Five conferences, the Penn State University Nittany Lions of the Big Ten Conference and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the Temple University Owls play in the American Athletic Conference. Penn State claims two national championships (1982 & 1986) as well as seven undefeated seasons (1887, 1912, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994). Penn State plays its home games in the second-largest stadium in the United States, Beaver Stadium, which seats 106,572, and is currently led by head coach James Franklin. The University of Pittsburgh Panthers claims nine national championships (1915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1937 and 1976) and has played eight undefeated seasons (1904, 1910, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1920, 1937 and 1976). [187] Pitt plays its home games at Heinz Field, a facility it shares with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is led by current head football coach Pat Narduzzi. Other Pennsylvania schools that have won national titles in football include Lafayette College (1896), Villanova University (FCS 2009), the University of Pennsylvania (1895, 1897, 1904 and 1908) [188] and Washington and Jefferson College (1921).

College basketball is also popular in the state, especially in the Philadelphia area where five universities, collectively termed the Big Five, have a rich tradition in NCAA Division I basketball. National titles in college basketball have been won by La Salle University (1954), Temple University (1938), University of Pennsylvania (1920 and 1921), University of Pittsburgh (1928 and 1930), and Villanova University (1985, 2016, and 2018). [189] [190]

Food Edit

Author Sharon Hernes Silverman calls Pennsylvania the snack food capital of the world. [191] It leads all other states in the manufacture of pretzels and potato chips. The Sturgis Pretzel House introduced the pretzel to America, and companies like Anderson Bakery Company, Intercourse Pretzel Factory, and Snyder's of Hanover are leading manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Two of the three companies that define the U.S. potato chip industry are based in Pennsylvania: Utz Quality Foods, which started making chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania, in 1921 and Wise Foods, which started making chips in Berwick also in 1921. The third, Frito-Lay is part of PepsiCo, and is based in Plano, Texas. Other companies such as Herr's Snacks, Martin's Potato Chips, Snyder's of Berlin (not associated with Snyder's of Hanover) and Troyer Farms Potato Products are popular chip manufacturers.

The U.S. chocolate industry is centered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with Mars, Godiva, and Wilbur Chocolate Company nearby, and smaller manufacturers such as Asher's [192] in Souderton, [193] and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates of Dunmore. Other notable companies include Just Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, makers of Hot Tamales, Mike and Ikes, the Easter favorite marshmallow Peeps, and Boyer Brothers of Altoona, Pennsylvania, which is well known for its Mallo Cups. Auntie Anne's Pretzels began as a market-stand in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and now has corporate headquarters in Lancaster City. [194] Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods include chicken potpie, ham potpie, schnitz un knepp (dried apples, ham, and dumplings), fasnachts (raised doughnuts), scrapple, pretzels, bologna, chow-chow, and Shoofly pie. Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc., headquartered in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, specializes in potato bread, another traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food. D.G. Yuengling & Son, America's oldest brewery, has been brewing beer in Pottsville since 1829.

Among the regional foods associated with Philadelphia are cheesesteaks, hoagie, soft pretzels, Italian water ice, Irish potato candy, scrapple, Tastykake, and strombolis. In Pittsburgh, tomato ketchup was improved by Henry John Heinz from 1876 to the early 20th century. Famous to a lesser extent than Heinz ketchup is the Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers Restaurant sandwiches, pierogies, and city chicken. Outside of Scranton, in Old Forge there are dozens of Italian restaurants specializing in pizza made unique by thick, light crust and American cheese. Erie also has its share of unique foods, including Greek sauce and sponge candy. Sauerkraut along with pork and mashed potatoes is a common meal on New Year's Day in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has been known as the Keystone State since 1802, [195] based in part upon its central location among the original Thirteen Colonies forming the United States, and also in part because of the number of important American documents signed in the state (such as the Declaration of Independence). It was also a keystone state economically, having both the industry common to the North (making such wares as Conestoga wagons and rifles) [196] [197] and the agriculture common to the South (producing feed, fiber, food, and tobacco). [198]

Another one of Pennsylvania's nicknames is the Quaker State in colonial times, it was known officially as the Quaker Province, [199] in recognition of Quaker [200] William Penn's First Frame of Government [201] constitution for Pennsylvania that guaranteed liberty of conscience. He knew of the hostility [202] Quakers faced when they opposed religious ritual, taking oaths, violence, war and military service, and what they viewed as ostentatious frippery. [203]

"The Coal State", "The Oil State", "The Chocolate State", and "The Steel State" were adopted when those were the state's greatest industries. [204]

"The State of Independence" currently appears on many road signs entering the state.


Welcome to Pennsylvania

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53 Pennsylvania Facts that You Probably Didn’t Know

Throughout my four years traveling PA, I’ve visited hundreds of amazing places and learned many amazing facts about Pennsylvania. I’ve compiled my favorite Pennsylvania facts below. While you might know some of them, I bet you’ll learn something new.

Here are some of the most interesting Pennsylvania facts you’ll find on the internet.

William Penn was given the land that would become Pennsylvania by King Charles II in 1681 to satisfy a debt the king had with Penn’s father.

Pennsylvania is not named after William Penn…at least not the one you think it was. It is named after his father (who was also named William Penn).

From 1894-1908, Philadelphia City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world (at 548 feet in height). It is taller and has more rooms than the U.S. Capitol.

The smiley face emoticon was invented in Pittsburgh by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Scott Fahlman on September 19, 1982.

The only time George Washington surrendered his army was when he was a 22-year-old colonel in the British Army. His battle and surrender marked the first battle of the French and Indian War.

Potter County, Pennsylvania, is home to the only Triple Continental Divide east of the Mississippi. At this spot, water flows into the Gulf of Mexico (through the Allegheny River), the Chesapeake Bay (through Pine Creek), and the Gulf of St. Lawrence (through the Genesee River).

The polio vaccine was created in Pittsburgh in 1955. Children in the city were the first to be given the new vaccine.

Erie, Pennsylvania, was the snowiest city in the United States (with a population over 100,000) during the 2013-2014 winter. They city received 138.4 inches of snow.

When it opened in 1882, the Kinzua Bridge in McKean County, Pennsylvania, was the longest and tallest railroad bridge in the world.

In 1943, the Steelers and Eagles formed a combined team because neither could field a full team due to World War II. The team was called the Steagles and they finished with a winning record, something the Eagles had yet to achieve.

The highest point in PA (Mount Davis at 3,213 feet) is at a lower elevation than the lowest point in the entire state of Colorado (3,315 feet).

The Big Mac was invented by Jim Delligatti, who owned several McDonald’s restaurants near Pittsburgh. It was first served in Uniontown in 1967, and there is even a Big Mac Museum that you can visit.

Frontiersman Daniel Boone was born in what is now Berks County, Pennsylvania. His home is open for tours.

Baseball Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Ken Griffey, Jr. were both born in Donora, Pennsylvania, on September 21 (though separated by 49 years). Stan Musial played on a high school basketball team with Griffey’s grandfather.

The Jeep was invented by the Bantam Car Company in Butler, PA. However, the U.S. military didn’t think they could produce enough models and gave the plans to Ford.

The world’s first purposefully-dug oil well was dug by Colonel Edwin Drake in 1859 near Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Here’s another surprising fact about Pennsylvania’s oil industry. In 1881, Pennsylvania produced more than 75% of the world’s oil.

There is only one town in Pennsylvania: Bloomsburg. Everywhere else is either a city, borough, or township.

One of four surviving Apollo command module boilerplates still in existence once sat in front of a Dairy Queen in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Sadly, it was moved in late 2018.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County, Pennsylvania, is the oldest-known site of human habitation in North America dating back 16,000 years.

Until the early 1800s, the largest shipping port in North America was in Philadelphia.

The only piece of Abraham Lincoln’s tomb that was ever removed sits at the base of the Civil War Memorial in Lewistown, PA. It was given to the community in honor of Logan Guard, which were the first soldiers to volunteer to fight in the Civil War.

The first complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

The Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson, PA, was the largest concrete structure in the world when it was completed in 1915.

Half of America’s mushrooms are grown in and around Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Hugh J. Ward invented Bingo in Pittsburgh in the early 1920s. He originally called the game Beano and used beans as markers.

Leap the Dips at Altoona’s Lakemont Park is the oldest, still-operating roller coaster in the world. It first ran in 1902.

The Warner Brothers got their start leasing the Cascade Theater in New Castle from 1906-1907. They borrowed chairs from the nearby funeral home, but had to return them (and thus were not able to show films) when someone died.

The Foxburg Country Club in Clarion County is the oldest, continually-used golf course in the United States. It first opened in 1887.

Things created by Benjamin Franklin and first tried in Philadelphia: the postal service, libraries, zoos, and lightning rods.

The first European settlers in Pennsylvania were from Sweden. Their settlement, Fort Nya Gothenburg, started in 1643 on Tinicum Island near Philadelphia International Airport.

The Byler Amish in the Big Valley of Mifflin County use yellow-topped buggies. This is in stark contrast to the black and grey buggies that are more commonly used, as well as the plain image that the Amish maintain.

The Fair Play Men were illegal squatters along the West Bank of the Susquehanna near Jersey Shore, PA, from 1773-1785. Without knowledge of the events in Philadelphia, they declared their own independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia had indoor plumbing before the White House did.

There are 19 Baseball Hall of Famers buried in Pennsylvania. Only California (20) has more. This number includes two of the first five men inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Pittsburgh area was the childhood home of six Hall of Fame quarterbacks: Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, and George Blanda.

Writer Charles Dickens traveled from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh along the Main Line Canal in 1842. He wrote about his journey in his book, “American Notes.”

Crayola Crayons makes all of their products in Pennsylvania. They produce nearly three billion crayons each year, enough to encircle the globe six times.

The Wanamaker Organ is the largest, still-operational pipe organ in the world. It is located inside a Macy’s Department Store in Center City Philadelphia. Free concerts are offered six days a week.

The first drive-in gas station was a Gulf Station that opened in Pittsburgh in 1913.

C.F. Martin Guitars Company in Nazareth is the world’s oldest guitar manufacturer. They have been making their guitars in this Lehigh Valley community since 1833.

The world’s first computer, ENIAC, was built and used at the University of Pennsylvania. It was dedicated on February 15, 1946 and weighed 28 tons.

The Losh Run Box Huckleberry in Perry County is estimated to be 13,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living organisms in the world. It was cut in half and nearly killed by the widening of Route 322 in the 1970s.

Ricketts Glen State Park was on track to become a National Park in the 1930s until World War II diverted funds. It was instead made a state park in 1944.

The world’s first wire cable suspension bridge was built in 1816 over the Falls of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Before he became an assassin , actor John Wilkes Booth invested a significant sum of money into an oil venture in Venango County, Pennsylvania. He lost all of his investment.

The exterior of the Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe was the inspiration for the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World. The mansion is open for events and also functions as a bed and breakfast.

Between 1834 and 1854, the time to travel from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was cut from 20+ days to just 15 hours thanks to advances such as the Allegheny Portage Railroad and the Horseshoe Curve near Altoona.

Beaver Stadium at Penn State University is the third largest stadium in the world. When it is full, there are more people inside the stadium than in all but three Pennsylvania cities.

The world’s first commercial radio station, KDKA, began broadcasting in Pittsburgh on November 2, 1920. The first programming was announcing the presidential election results.

The Patriot & Union Newspaper in Harrisburg (the precursor to The Patriot-News) wrote in November 1863 that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was “silly” and deserving “a veil of oblivion.” The paper issued a retraction in November 2013. The review was also mocked by Saturday Night Live.

George Washington’s first military mission was to deliver a message from the British to the French at Fort LeBeouf (at present-day Waterford in Erie County). The 21-year-old delivered his message, but it was ignored. Today, Waterford has the only statue of Washington in a British military uniform.

Here’s a final, but surprising fact about Pennsylvania. Bison roamed portions of central and western Pennsylvania until the late 1700s.

Do you have a favorite Pennsylvania fact that you didn’t see on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.


News & Views

Sarah Gordon (UPenn), and Kevin Waite (Durham Univ-UK) - California is finally confronting its history of slavery. Here’s how. Los Angeles is finding success at reshaping its commemorative landscape

The newest monument to Black history in Los Angeles is small enough to fit in your pocket. Rather than a physical structure, the monument is projected onto the landscape through the viewer’s phone using augmented reality (AR) technology.

Nick Foretek - In a riveting story of rebellion, intrigue, love, betrayal, and exile, a Syrian revolutionary finds solace in the philosopher Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s wine.

A month after jihadists had caged and beaten him using a slab of wood studded with nails that punctured and gnashed his flesh, and two years before he would affix two nooses from his ceiling — one for himself and one for his starving dog — he drank all the phil

Jared Farmer and other Penn Professors on THE WORLD AT OUR FEET. It’s our tiny oasis in a vast universe, and it’s feeling fragile. Five faculty give us the latest on Earth and its prospects.

Our habitat is a spheroid mostly made up of iron, oxygen, silicon, and magnesium that masses about 6.6 sextillion tons. Seventy-one percent of its surface is covered with water, and its surface temperatures can vary by more than 260 degrees Fahrenheit.

2021 HUAB Teaching Awards go to Kathy Peiss and Shang Yasuda

After an initial round of nominations from all History Majors, the Department of History’s student-run Undergraduate Advisory Board (HUAB) is pleased to announce the winners of this year's departmental teaching awards:

Two Ph.D History students - VanJessica Gladney & Kimberly St Julian Varnon - among the Inaugural Presidential Ph.D. Fellows.

President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett

Hope and help for wrongfully incarcerated Pennsylvanians

With Project HOPE, President’s Engagement Prize winners Carson Eckhard(History Major), Natalia Rommen, and Sarah Simon will address the lack of support to wrongfully incarcerated people in Philadelphia and across the state.

Historian Walter Licht – President Biden’s big plans through the lens of history. The American Jobs Plan and how it compares to national projects of the past

President Biden introduced a $2 trillion plan last month to rebuild America’s infrastructure and reshape the economy in the wake of the pandemic.

2020-21 Undergraduate Research Prizes

Adolph G. Rosengarten, Jr. Prize for the most outstanding Honors thesis E. Carson Eckhard Ragged Battalions, Plotting Liberty: Convict Leasing and the Construction of Carceral Capitalism in Florida, 1875-1925

Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon - My joy over the Derek Chauvin verdict was fleeting because I know America

No Black mother has ever had the privilege of living in ignorance of the dangers America poses to her children.


Pennsylvania - History

General Pennsylvania State History

William Penn, as proprietor of Penn's Woods, was an aggressive and active promoter of his new land. "The country itself," he wrote, "its soil, air, water, seasons and produce, both natural and artificial, is not to be despised." Pennsylvania still contains a rich diversity of natural and geological features.

One of the original thirteen colonies, Pennsylvania is today surrounded by the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. It has a land area of 44,820 square miles and 735 square miles of the area of Lake Erie. It ranks 33rd in area among the 50 states. Pennsylvania has an average width of 285 miles, east to west, and an average north-to-south distance of 156 miles.

Only the Delaware River on the east and about 40 miles of Lake Erie in the northwest corner form natural boundaries. Elsewhere borders are based on those established in the charter granted to William Penn by King Charles II of England, although it was 1787 before land and border disputes with other states were settled and Pennsylvania took clear title to its land. The most famous border dispute was with Maryland and was ultimately settled when the English Crown accepted the Mason-Dixon Line in 1769, a border which, in subsequent years, became the symbolic demarcation in the United States between the North and the South.

A dissected plateau covers Pennsylvania's northern and western sections, ranging from about 2,000 feet above sea level in the northern tier of counties to about 1,200 feet south of Pittsburgh. A broad belt of wide valleys, alternating with narrow mountains, stretches across the state from the south-central boundary to the northeast corner. To the east of this section is the Great Valley, which is divided into southern, central, and eastern sections - the Cumberland, Lebanon, and Lehigh valleys, respectively. Further to the east is a line of discontinuous mountains, as well as lowlands of irregular form and a deeply dissected plateau of moderate height which gradually slopes to the Delaware River. There is also another lowland along the shores of Lake Erie. Pennsylvania's highest peak is Mt. Davis on Negro Mountain in Somerset County which has an elevation of 3,213 feet above sea level.

Pennsylvania has three major river systems, the Delaware, the Susquehanna, and the Ohio. The Delaware's important tributaries are the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers. The Susquehanna has north and west branches as does the Juniata River. In the west, the Ohio River begins at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela, and its tributaries include the Youghiogheny, Beaver, and Clarion Rivers. The Ohio system provides thirty-five percent of all the water emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The state has a great variety of soils, ranging from extremely rich in Lancaster County to very poor in the mountain regions. Through advanced agricultural methods, a large part of Pennsylvania soil which was only marginally fertile has been made very productive. Originally Pennsylvania was a transition zone between northern and southern primeval forests. In the northern plateau area the original species were white pine and hemlock, mixed with beech and sugar maple. In the southern region, white oak, American chestnut, hickory, and chestnut oak dominated. Innumerable forest fires and storms, unrecorded by man, led to gradual change because they altered the soil composition and the degree of shade from sunlight. Because much land was later cleared by settlement and by lumber operations, very little virgin timber remains, but even today half the state is wooded.

Animal and bird life, including the wild pigeon, panther, black bear, and Canada lynx, was abundant in the primeval forest. The first of these species is now extinct, the second has been exterminated, and the last two are no longer abundant. Raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, and woodchucks are still common, as are most of the smaller birds. Today, deer, pheasants, rabbits, ducks, and turkeys are popular with hunters. Pennsylvania's rivers were originally filled with sturgeon, shad, salmon, trout, perch and, surprisingly, mussels. State and federal agencies keep streams and ponds well stocked, and trout, salmon and, walleyed pike are caught in large numbers.

Pennsylvania ranks tenth in value of mineral production among all the states. Coal, petroleum, natural gas, and cement are the principal products. Others are fire clay, iron ore, lime, slate, and stone.

In spite of its proximity to the ocean, Pennsylvania has a continental climate because the prevailing winds are from the west. This makes for extremes of heat and cold but not with so marked a variation as in the central states. There are minor climatic differences within the state because of altitude and geological features. The frost-free period, for example, is longest in southeastern Pennsylvania, in the Ohio and Monongahela valleys in southwestern Pennsylvania, and in the region bordering Lake Erie. The higher lands have only three to five months free from frost. Rainfall throughout the state is usually adequate for temperate zone crops.

Pennsylvania's location and its characteristics of climate, waters, minerals, flora, and fauna helped shape the growth not only of the state but of the entire nation. Midway between the North and the South, the fledgling colony prospered and became the keystone of the young nation.


FREE Pennsylvania State History Printable


It’s had a long history, from its days as one of the original colonies to the nuclear age. It’s home to the first profitable oil well drilled in the United States, a major battle of the Civil War, and the first Little League World Series. But how much do you really know about Pennsylvania history? This free seven-page printable is a fun way to create a timeline of Pennsylvania history, create a map of the state, and explore even deeper with bonus research prompts. Download this free printable today!

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