Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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Harrisburg
State Capital
City of Harrisburg
From top to bottom, left to right: Harrisburg skyline; Market Square in Downtown Harrisburg; Pennsylvania State Capitol; Metro Bank Park; Walnut Street Bridge; Susquehanna River
From top to bottom, left to right: Harrisburg skyline; Market Square in Downtown Harrisburg; Pennsylvania State Capitol; Metro Bank Park; Walnut Street Bridge; Susquehanna River
Official seal of Harrisburg
Seal
Nickname(s): "Pennsylvania's Capital City".
Location in Dauphin County and state of Pennsylvania
Location in Dauphin County and state of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is located in Pennsylvania
Harrisburg
Harrisburg
Location in Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°16′11″N 76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556Coordinates: 40°16′11″N 76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556
Country United States
Commonwealth Pennsylvania
County Dauphin
European settlement About 1719
Incorporated 1791
Charter 1860
Founded by John Harris, Sr.
Named for John Harris, Sr.
Government
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Mayor Eric R. Papenfuse (D)
 • City Controller Daniel C. Miller (D)
 • City Council
 • State Senate Rob Teplitz (D)
 • State Representative Ron Buxton (D)
Area
 • City 11.4 sq mi (26.9 km2)
 • Land 8.1 sq mi (21.0 km2)
 • Water 3.3 sq mi (8.6 km2)
 • Urban 335.4 sq mi (539.7 km2)
Elevation 320 ft (98 m)
Population (2010[2])
 • City 49,528
 • Density 6,114/sq mi (2,361/km2)
 • Urban 383,008
 • Metro 528,892 (97th)
 • CSA 647,390 (56th)
Demonym Harrisburger
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 17101-17113, 17120-17130, 17140, 17177
Area code(s) 717
FIPS code 42-32800[3]
GNIS feature ID

1213649[4]


Interstates I-76, I-78, I-81, I-83, and I-283
Waterways Susquehanna River
Primary Airport Harrisburg International Airport- MDT (Major/International)
Secondary Airport Capital City Airport- CXY (Minor)
Public transit Capital Area Transit
Website www.harrisburgpa.gov

Harrisburg is the capital city of Pennsylvania. As of 2011, the city had a population of 49,673, making it the ninth-largest city in Pennsylvania.[5] Harrisburg is also the county seat of Dauphin County[6] and lies on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, 105 miles (169 km) west-northwest of Philadelphia and 204 miles (328 km) east of Pittsburgh.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry counties, had a population of 509,074 in 2000 and grew to 549,850 in 2010. A July 1, 2007 estimate placed the population at 528,892, making it the fifth largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, AllentownBethlehemEaston (the Lehigh Valley), and ScrantonWilkes Barre.[7] The Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon Combined Statistical Area, including both the Harrisburg-Carlisle and Lebanon Metropolitan Statistical Areas, had an estimated population of 656,781 in 2007 and was the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the state.[8]

Harrisburg played a notable role in American history during the Westward Migration, the American Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution. During part of the 19th century, the building of the Pennsylvania Canal and later the Pennsylvania Railroad allowed Harrisburg to become one of the most industrialized cities in the Northeastern United States. The U.S. Navy ship USS Harrisburg, which served from 1918 to 1919 at the end of World War I, was named in honor of the city.

In the mid-to-late 20th century, the city's economic fortunes fluctuated with its major industries consisting of government, heavy manufacturing including the production of steel, agriculture (the greater Harrisburg area is at the heart of the fertile Pennsylvania Dutch Country), and food services (nearby Hershey is home of the chocolate maker, located just 10 miles (16 km) east of Harrisburg). In 1981, following contractions in the steel and dairy industries, Harrisburg was declared the second most distressed city in the nation.[9] The city subsequently experienced a resurgence under its former mayor Stephen R. Reed,[10] with nearly $3 billion in new investment realized during his lengthy tenure.[11]

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest free indoor agriculture exposition in the United States, was first held in Harrisburg in 1917 and has been held there every early-to-mid January since then.[12] Harrisburg also hosts an annual outdoor sports show, the largest of its kind in North America, as well as an auto show, which features a large static display of new as well as classic cars and is renowned nationwide. Harrisburg is also known for the Three Mile Island accident, which occurred on March 28, 1979 near Middletown.

In 2010 Forbes rated Harrisburg as the second best place in the U.S. to raise a family.[13] Despite the city's recent financial troubles, in 2010 The Daily Beast website ranked 20 metropolitan areas across the country as being recession-proof, and the Harrisburg region landed at No. 7.[14] The financial stability of the region is in part due to the high concentration of state and federal government agencies. The finances of the city itself however, have been poorly managed and its inability to repay its bond debt has created an ongoing fiscal crisis.[15][16]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Harrisburg's site along the Susquehanna River is thought to have been inhabited by Native Americans as early as 3000 BC. Known to the Native Americans as "Peixtin", or "Paxtang", the area was an important resting place and crossroads for Native American traders, as the trails leading from the Delaware to the Ohio rivers, and from the Potomac to the Upper Susquehanna intersected there. The first European contact with Native Americans in Pennsylvania was made by the Englishman, Captain John Smith, who journeyed from Virginia up the Susquehanna River in 1608 and visited with the Susquehanna tribe. In 1719, John Harris, Sr., an English trader, settled here and 14 years later secured grants of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in this vicinity. In 1785, John Harris, Jr. made plans to lay out a town on his father's land, which he named Harrisburg. In the spring of 1785, the town was formally surveyed by William Maclay, who was a son-in-law of John Harris, Sr. In 1791, Harrisburg became incorporated and was named the Pennsylvania state capital in October 1812, and has been since. The assembling here of the Harrisburg Convention in 1827 led to the passage of the high protective-tariff bill of 1828. In 1839, Harrison and Tyler were nominated for President of the United States at the first national convention of the Whig Party of the United States, which was held in Harrisburg.

Pre-industry 1800-1850[edit]

Before Harrisburg gained its first industries, it was a scenic, pastoral town, typical of most of the day: compact and surrounded by farmland. In 1822, the impressive brick capitol building was completed for $200,000.[17]

It was Harrisburg’s strategic location which gave it an advantage over many other towns. It was settled as a trading post in 1719 at a location important to Westward expansion. The importance of the location was that it was at a pass in a mountain ridge. The Susquehanna River flowed generally west to east at this location, providing a route for boat traffic from the east. The head of navigation was a short distance northwest of the town, where the river flowed through the pass. Persons arriving from the east by boat had to exit at Harrisburg and prepare for an overland journey westward through the mountain pass. Harrisburg assumed importance as a provisioning stop at this point where westward bound pioneers transitioned from river travel to overland travel. It was partly because of its strategic location that the state legislature selected the small town of Harrisburg to become the State Capitol in 1812.

The grandeur of the Colonial Revival capitol building dominated the quaint town. The streets were dirt, but orderly and platted in grid pattern. The Pennsylvania Canal was built in 1834 and coursed the length of the town. The residential houses were situated on only a few city blocks stretching southward from the capitol building. They were mostly one story. No factories were present but there were blacksmith shops and other businesses.[18]

American Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War, Harrisburg was a significant training center for the Union Army, with tens of thousands of troops passing through Camp Curtin. It was also a major rail center for the Union and a vital link between the Atlantic coast and the Midwest, with several railroads running through the city and spanning the Susquehanna River. As a result of this importance, it was a target of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during its two invasions. The first time during the 1862 Maryland Campaign, when Lee planned to capture the city after taking Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, but was prevented from doing so by the Battle of Antietam and his subsequent retreat back into Virginia. The second attempt was made during the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863 and was more substantial. A short skirmish took place in June 1863 at Sporting Hill, just 2 miles west of Harrisburg. This is considered by many to have been the northern-most battle of the Civil War. During the first part of the 19th century, Harrisburg was a notable stopping place along the Underground Railroad, as escaped slaves would be transported across the Susquehanna River and were often fed and given supplies before heading north towards Canada.[19]

Industrial rise 1850-1920[edit]

Postcard depicting Market Street in Downtown Harrisburg as it appeared in 1910. Trolley tracks are noticeable along the street.

Harrisburg’s importance in the latter half of the 19th century was in the steel industry. It was an important railroad center as well. Steel and iron became dominant industries. Steel and other industries continued to play a major role in the local economy throughout the latter part of the 19th century. The city was the center of enormous railroad traffic and its steel industry supported large furnaces, rolling mills, and machine shops. The Pennsylvania Steel Company plant, which opened in nearby Steelton in 1866, was the first in the country; later operated by Bethlehem Steel.[20]

Its first large scale iron foundries were put into operation shortly after 1850.[18] As industries nationwide entered a phase of great expansion and technological improvement, so did industries – and in particular the steel industry – in Harrisburg. This can be attributed to a combination of factors that were typical of what existed in other successful industrial cities: rapid rail expansion; nearby markets for goods; and nearby sources for raw product. With Harrisburg poised for growth in steel production, The borough of Steelton became the ideal location for this type of industry. It was a wide swath of flat land located south of the city, with rail and canal access running its entire 4 mile length. There was plenty of room for houses and its own downtown section. Steelton was a company town, opened in 1866 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company. Highly innovative in its steel making process, it became the first mill in the United States to make steel railroad rails by contract. In its heyday Steelton was home to more than 16,000 residents from 33 different ethnic groups. All were employed in the steel industry, or had employment in services that supported it. In the late 19th century, no less than five major steel mills and foundries were located in Steelton. Each contained a maze of buildings; conveyances for moving the products; large yards for laying down equipment; and facilities for loading their product on trains. Stacks from these factories constantly belched smoke. With housing and a small downtown area within walking distance, these were the sights and smells that most Steelton residents saw every day.

The rail yard was another area of Harrisburg that saw rapid and thorough change during the years of industrialization. This was a wide expanse of about two dozen railroad tracks that grew from the single track of the early 1850s. By the late 19th century, this area was the width of about two city blocks and formed what amounted to a barrier along the eastern edge of the city: passable only by bridge. Three large and ornately embellished passenger depots were built by as many rail lines. Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest rail line in Harrisburg. It built huge repair facilities and two large roundhouses in the 1860s and 1870s to handle its enormous freight and passenger traffic and to maintain its colossal infrastructure. Its rails ran the length of Harrisburg, along its eastern border. It had a succession of three passenger depots, each built on the site of the predecessor, and each of high style architecture, including a train shed to protect passengers from inclement weather. At its peak in 1904, it made 100 passenger stops per day. It extended westward to Pittsburgh; across the entire state. It also went eastward to Philadelphia, serving Steelton in route. The vital anthracite coal mines in the Allegheny Mountains were reached by the Northern Central Railroad. The Lebanon Valley Railroad extended eastward to Philadelphia with spurs to New York City. Another rail line was the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad which provided service to Philadelphia and other points east.[21]

Industrial decline 1920-70[edit]

The decades between 1920 and 1970 were characterized by industrial decline and population shift from the city to the suburbs. Like most other cities which faced a loss of their industrial base, Harrisburg shifted to a service-oriented base, with industries such as health care and convention centers playing a big role. Harrisburg’s greatest problem was a shrinking city population after 1950. This loss in population followed a national trend and was a delayed result of the decline of Harrisburg’s steel industry. This decline began almost imperceptibly in the late 1880s, but did not become evident until the early 20th century.

After being held in place for about 5 years by WWII armament production, the population peaked shortly after the war, but then took a long-overdue dive as people fled from the city. Hastening the flight to the suburbs were the cheap and available houses being built away from the crime and deteriorating situation of the city. The reduction in city population coincided with the rise in population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The trend continued until the 1990s.[22]

Beginning of Harrisburg's suburbs: 1880s[edit]

The gradual loss of industry, especially after WWII, coupled with the proliferation of the street car and later the automobile, led to urban flight to the suburbs. Allison Hill was Harrisburg’s first suburb. It was located east of the city on a prominent bluff, accessed by bridges across a wide swath of train tracks. It was developed in the late 19th century and offered affluent Harrisburgers the opportunity to live in the suburbs only a few hundred yards from their jobs in the City. Easy access was achieved via the State Street Bridge leading east from the Capitol complex and the Market Street Bridge leading from the City’s prominent business district. In 1886 a single horse trolley line was established from the city to Allison Hill. The most desirable section of Allison Hill was Mount Pleasant, which was characterized by large Colonial Revival style houses with yards for the very wealthy and smaller but still well-built row houses lining the main street for the moderately wealthy. State Street, leading from the Capitol directly toward Allison Hill, was planned to provide a grand view of the Capitol dome for those approaching the City from Allison Hill. This trend towards outlying residential areas began slowly in the late 19th century and was largely confined to the trolley line, but the growth of automobile ownership quickened the trend and spread out the population.

Early to late 20th century[edit]

Anti-nuclear protest at Harrisburg in 1979, following the Three Mile Island accident.

In the early 20th century, several Harrisburg residents became involved in the City Beautiful movement. Mira Lloyd Dock and Horace McFarland advocated urban improvements which were influenced by European urban planning design and the World's Columbian Exposition. Specifically, their efforts greatly enlarged the Harrisburg park system, creating Riverfront Park, Reservoir Park, the Italian Lake and Wildwood Park. In addition, schemes were undertaken for the burial of electric wires, the creation of a modern sanitary sewer system, and the beautification of an expanded Capitol complex.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agriculture exposition in the United States, was first held in 1917 and has been held every January since then. The present location of the Show is the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Arena, located at the corner of Maclay and Cameron streets.

In June 1972, Harrisburg was hit by a major flood from the remnants of hurricane Agnes.

On March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, along the Susquehanna River located in Londonderry Township which is south of Harrisburg, suffered a partial meltdown. Although the meltdown was contained and radiation leakages were minimal, there were still worries that an evacuation would be necessary. Governor Dick Thornburgh, on the advice of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph Hendrie, advised the evacuation "of pregnant women and pre-school age children ... within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility." Within days, 140,000 people had left the area.[23]

Stephen R. Reed was elected mayor in 1981 and served until 2009, making him the city's longest serving mayor. In an effort to end the city's long period of economic troubles, he initiated several projects to attract new business and tourism to the city. Several museums and hotels such as Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, the National Civil War Museum and the Hilton Harrisburg and Towers were built during his term, along with many office buildings and residential structures. Several semi-professional sports franchises, including the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, the defunct Harrisburg Heat indoor soccer club and the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Second Division began operations in the city during his tenure as mayor. While praised for the vast number of economic improvements, Reed has also been criticized for population loss and mounting debt. For example, during a budget crisis the city was forced to sell $8 million worth of Western and American-Indian artifacts collected by Mayor Reed for a never-realized museum celebrating the American West.[24]

21st century fiscal difficulties and receivership[edit]

Aerial view of Harrisburg

Missing audits, convoluted transactions, including swap agreements make it difficult to state how much debt the city owes. Some estimates put total debt over $1.5 billion which would mean that every resident would owe $30,285.[25] These numbers do not reflect the school system deficit nor the school district's $437 million long term debt,[26] nor unfunded pension and healthcare obligations.

The heart of the city’s financial woes is the trash to electricity plant, the Harrisburg incinerator that was supposed to generate income but instead, because of increased borrowing, has a debt of $320 million.[27]

Harrisburg was the first municipality ever in the history of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to be charged with securities fraud, for misleading statements about its financial health.[28] The city agreed to a plea bargain to settle the case.[29]

In October 2011, Harrisburg filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy when four members of the seven-member City Council voted to file a bankruptcy petition in order to prevent the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from taking over the city's finances.[30][31] Bankruptcy Judge Mary France dismissed the petition on the grounds that the City Council majority had filed it over the objection of Mayor Linda Thompson, reasoning that the filing not only required the mayor's approval but had circumvented state laws concerning financially distressed cities.[32]

Instead, a state appointed receiver took charge of the city's finances.[33] Governor Tom Corbett appointed bond attorney David Unkovic as the city's receiver, but Unkovic resigned after only four months.[15] Unkovic blamed disdain for legal restraints on contracts and debt for creating Harrisburg's intractable financial problem, and said the corrupt influence of creditors and political cronies prevented fixing it.[15][34]

As creditors began to file lawsuits to seize and sell off city assets, a new receiver, William B. Lynch, was appointed.[35] The City Council opposed the new receiver's plans for tax increases and advocated a stay of the creditor lawsuits with a bankruptcy filing, while Mayor Thompson continued to oppose bankruptcy.[36] State legislators crafted a moratorium to prevent Harrisburg from declaring bankruptcy, and after the moratorium expired, the law stripped the city government of the authority to file for bankruptcy and conferred it on the state receiver.[37][38] [39]

After two years of negotiations in August 2013 Receiver Lynch revealed his comprehensive voluntary plan for resolving Harrisburg's fiscal problems.[40] The complex plan calls for creditors to write down or postpone some debt.[41] To pay the remainder, Harrisburg will sell the troubled incinerator, lease for forty years its parking garages, and go further into debt by issuing new bonds.[40][41] Receiver Lynch has also called for setting up nonprofit investment corporations to oversee infrastructure improvement (repairing the city's crumbling roads, water and sewer lines), pensions, and economic development.[42] These are intended to allow nonprofit fundraising, and to reduce the likelihood of mismanagement by the dysfunctional city government.[41][42]

Harrisburg's City Council and the state Commonwealth Court have now approved the plan, and it is in the process of implementation. [43][44][45][46]

Downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania panorama, as seen from the John Harris Bridge (2000).

Geography[edit]

Astronaut Photography of Harrisburg Pennsylvania taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

Topography[edit]

Harrisburg is located at 40°16′11″N 76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556 (40.269789, -76.875613) in South Central Pennsylvania.[47] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.4 square miles (30 km2), of which, 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) of it (29.11%) is water. Bodies of water include Paxton Creek which empties into the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, as well as Wildwood Lake and Italian Lake parks.

Directly to the north of Harrisburg is the Blue Mountain ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Cumberland Valley lies directly to the west of Harrisburg and the Susquehanna River, stretching into northern Maryland. The fertile Lebanon Valley lies to the east. Harrisburg is the northern fringe of the historic Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

The city is the county seat of Dauphin County. The adjacent counties are Northumberland County to the north; Schuylkill County to the northeast; Lebanon County to the east; Lancaster County to the south; and York County to the southwest; Cumberland County to the west; and Perry County to the northwest.

Adjacent municipalities[edit]

Harrisburg, with the state capitol dome, as viewed from across the Susquehanna River in Wormleysburg

Harrisburg's western boundary is formed by the west shore of the Susquehanna River (the Susquehanna runs within the city boundaries), which also serves as the boundary between Dauphin and Cumberland counties. The city is divided into numerous neighborhoods and districts. Like many of Pennsylvania's cities and boroughs that are at "build-out" stage, there are several townships outside of Harrisburg city limits that, although autonomous, use the name Harrisburg for postal and name-place designation. They include the townships of: Lower Paxton, Middle Paxton, Susquehanna, Swatara and West Hanover in Dauphin County. The borough of Penbrook, located just east of Reservoir Park, was previously known as East Harrisburg. Penbrook, along with the borough of Paxtang, also located just outside of the city limits, maintain Harrisburg zip codes as well. The United States Postal Service designates 26 zip codes for Harrisburg, including 13 for official use by federal and state government agencies.[48]

Climate[edit]

Harrisburg has a variable, four-season climate lying at the beginning of the transition between the humid subtropical and humid continental zones (Köppen Cfa and Dfa, respectively) but being categorized in the former. The hottest month of the year is July with a daily average of 75.9 °F (24.4 °C). Summer is usually hot and humid and occasional heat waves can occur. The city averages around 21 days per year with 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs although temperatures reaching 100 °F (38 °C) are rare. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Harrisburg is 107 °F (42 °C) on July 3, 1966. Summer thunderstorms also occur relatively frequently. Fall is a pleasant season when the humidity and temperatures fall to more comfortable values.

Winter in Harrisburg is rather cold: January averages 29.9 °F (−1.2 °C). A major snowstorm can also occasionally occur, and some winters snowfall totals can exceed 60 inches (152 cm) while in other winters the city may receive very little snowfall. The snowiest month recorded on record was in February 2010 when 42 in (107 cm) of snow was recorded at Harrisburg International Airport.[49] Overall Harrisburg receives an average of 30.6 in (77.7 cm) of snow annually. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Harrisburg was −22 °F (−30 °C) on January 21, 1994. Spring is also a nice time of year for outdoor activities. Precipitation is well-distributed and generous in most months, though September is clearly the wettest.

Climate data for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg Int'l), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1888–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
(23)
78
(26)
87
(31)
93
(34)
97
(36)
100
(38)
107
(42)
104
(40)
102
(39)
97
(36)
84
(29)
75
(24)
107
(42)
Average high °F (°C) 37.0
(2.8)
40.7
(4.8)
50.4
(10.2)
62.4
(16.9)
72.1
(22.3)
81.0
(27.2)
85.5
(29.7)
83.4
(28.6)
75.6
(24.2)
64.1
(17.8)
53.1
(11.7)
41.3
(5.2)
62.2
(16.8)
Average low °F (°C) 22.8
(−5.1)
25.1
(−3.8)
33.0
(0.6)
41.9
(5.5)
52.1
(11.2)
62.0
(16.7)
66.3
(19.1)
64.5
(18.1)
56.2
(13.4)
44.6
(7)
35.1
(1.7)
26.6
(−3)
44.2
(6.8)
Record low °F (°C) −22
(−30)
−13
(−25)
5
(−15)
11
(−12)
31
(−1)
40
(4)
49
(9)
45
(7)
30
(−1)
23
(−5)
10
(−12)
−8
(−22)
−22
(−30)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.88
(73.2)
2.39
(60.7)
3.37
(85.6)
3.10
(78.7)
3.79
(96.3)
3.60
(91.4)
4.61
(117.1)
3.20
(81.3)
4.07
(103.4)
3.27
(83.1)
3.23
(82)
3.23
(82)
40.74
(1,034.8)
Snowfall inches (cm) 8.8
(22.4)
10.5
(26.7)
5.2
(13.2)
0.4
(1)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.6
(1.5)
5.1
(13)
30.6
(77.7)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.6 9.9 10.9 10.8 12.2 11.1 10.7 9.1 9.2 8.8 9.0 9.7 122.0
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 5.2 5.0 2.6 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.9 2.8 16.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 154.9 167.2 213.8 235.7 266.7 288.5 310.1 285.4 226.7 199.2 139.6 126.0 2,613.8
Percent possible sunshine 52 56 58 59 60 64 68 67 61 58 47 43 59
Source: NOAA (sun 1961–1990)[50][51]

Cityscape[edit]

Neighborhoods[edit]

Center City Harrisburg, which includes the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex, is the central core business and financial center for the greater Harrisburg metropolitan area and serves as the seat of government for Dauphin County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are over a dozen large neighborhoods and historic districts within the city.

Architecture[edit]

Harrisburg is home to the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Completed in 1906, the central dome rises to a height of 272 feet (83 m) and was modeled on that of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. The building was designed by Joseph Miller Huston and is adorned with sculpture, most notably the two groups, Love and Labor, the Unbroken Law and The Burden of Life, the Broken Law by sculptor George Grey Barnard; murals by Violet Oakley and Edwin Austin Abbey; tile floor by Henry Mercer, which tells the story of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The state capitol is only the third-tallest building of Harrisburg. The five tallest buildings are 333 Market Street with a height of 341 feet (104 m), Pennsylvania Place with a height of 291 feet (89 m), the Pennsylvania State Capitol with a height of 272 feet (83 m), Presbyterian Apartments with a height of 259 feet (79 m) and the Fulton Bank Building with a height of 255 feet (78 m).[52]

A city skyline, including the Pennsylvania State Capitol, beyond a river with bridges extending across the river on both sides of the photograph. An island is prominent in the right mid-ground.
A panoramic of downtown Harrisburg from Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania, across the Susquehanna River from downtown. The view extends from the M. Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge on the far left, across the cityscape including the Pennsylvania State Capitol and City Island, to the Walnut Street Bridge and the Market Street Bridge, as seen in March 2013.

Economy[edit]

Harrisburg is the metropolitan center for some 400 communities.[53] Its economy and more than 45,000 businesses are diversified with a large representation of service-related industries, especially health-care and a growing technological and biotechnology industry to accompany the dominant government field inherent to being the state's capital. National firms either headquartered in the region or with major operations include Ahold USA, Arcelor Mittal Steel, HP, IBM, Hershey Foods, Harsco Corporation, Rite Aid Corporation, Tyco Electronics, and Volvo Heavy Machinery.[54] The largest employers, the federal and state governments, provide stability to the economy. The regions extensive transportation infrastructure has allowed it become a prominent center for trade, warehousing, and distribution.[53]

Top employers[edit]

According to the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation,[55] the top employers in the region are:

# Employer # of Employees Industry
1 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 21,885 Government
2 United States Federal government, including the military 18,000 Government
3 Giant Food Stores, 8,902 Grocery store
4 Penn State Hershey Medical Center, 8,849 Hospital, Medical research
5 Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, including Hersheypark 7,500 Entertainment and amusement parks
6 The Hershey Company 6,500 Food manufacturer
7 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 6,090 Retail store chain
8 Highmark 5,200 Health insurance
9 TE Connectivity 4,700 Electronic component manufacturer
10 PinnacleHealth System, including Harrisburg Hospital and Polyclinic Medical Center 3,997 Health-care and hospital system

People and culture[edit]

Culture[edit]

Harrisburg's Market Square. Formerly the site of a market in Downtown Harrisburg, today it is a public transport hub and commercial center.
The Kunkel Building, built in 1913, was home to the Susquehanna Art Museum until December 2010.

Downtown Harrisburg has two major performance centers. The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, which was completed in 1999, is the first center of its type in the United States where education, science and the performing arts take place under one roof. The Forum, a 1,763-seat concert and lecture hall built in 1930-31, is a state-owned and operated facility located within the State Capitol Complex. Since 1931, The Forum has been home to the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.

Beginning in 2001, downtown Harrisburg saw a surge of commercial nightlife development. This has been credited with reversing the city's financial decline, and has made downtown Harrisburg a destination for events from jazz festivals to Top-40 nightclubs.

Harrisburg is also the home of the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest agricultural exhibition of its kind in the nation. Farmers from all over Pennsylvania come to show their animals and participate in competitions. Livestock are on display for people to interact with and view. In 2004, Harrisburg hosted CowParade, an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major cities all over the world. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city centre, in public places such as train stations and parks. They often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 875
1800 1,472 68.2%
1810 2,287 55.4%
1820 2,990 30.7%
1830 4,312 44.2%
1840 5,980 38.7%
1850 7,834 31.0%
1860 13,405 71.1%
1870 23,104 72.4%
1880 30,762 33.1%
1890 39,385 28.0%
1900 50,167 27.4%
1910 64,186 27.9%
1920 75,917 18.3%
1930 80,339 5.8%
1940 83,893 4.4%
1950 89,544 6.7%
1960 79,697 −11.0%
1970 68,061 −14.6%
1980 53,264 −21.7%
1990 52,376 −1.7%
2000 48,950 −6.5%
2010 49,528 1.2%
Est. 2012 49,279 −0.5%
United States Census Bureau[56][57]

As of the 2010 census, the city was 30.7% White, 52.4% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 3.5% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian, and 5.2% were two or more races. 18.0% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.

In the census[3] of 2000, there were 48,950 people, 20,561 households, and 10,917 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,035.6 people per square mile (2,330.4/km²). There were 24,314 housing units at an average density of 2,997.9 per square mile (1,157.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.83% Black or African American, 31.72% White, 0.37% Native American, 2.83% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 6.54% from other races, and 3.64% from two or more races. 11.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Harrisburg is the 6th most populous city in eastern Pennsylvania.

There were 20,561 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 23.4% were married couples living together, 24.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.9% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,920, and the median income for a family was $29,556. Males had a median income of $27,670 versus $24,405 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,787. About 23.4% of families and 24.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.9% of those under age 18 and 16.6% of those age 65 or over.

The very first census taken in the United States occurred in 1790. At that time Harrisburg was a small, but substantial colonial town with a population of 875 residents.[58] With the increase of the city's prominence as an industrial and transportation center, Harrisburg reached its peak population build up in 1950, topping out at nearly 90,000 residents. Since the 1950s, Harrisburg, along with other northeastern urban centers large and small, has experienced a declining population that is ultimately fueling the growth of its suburbs, although the decline – which was very rapid in the 1960s and 1970s – has slowed considerably since the 1980s.[59] Unlike Western and Southern states, Pennsylvania maintains a complex system of municipalities and has very little legislation on either the annexation/expansion of cities or the consolidating of municipal entities.

Reversing fifty years of decline, 2007 Census Bureau estimates show that Harrisburg's population has actually grown. Between 2006 and 2007, Harrisburg gained 22 people. In 2009 the urban population of the Harrisburg area increased to 383,008 from 362,782 in 2000, a change of 20,226 people.[60] In 2010, the Harrisburg area was listed with Lebanon and York as an urban agglomeration, or a contiguous area of continuously developed urban land,[61] signifying a future merger of the York-Hanover and Harrisburg metropolitan areas, which would create a metropolitan area of over 1 million.

Media[edit]

The Harrisburg area has two daily newspapers. The Patriot-News is published in Harrisburg and has a tri weekly circulation of over 100,000. The Sentinel, which is published in Carlisle, roughly 20 miles west of Harrisburg, serves many of Harrisburg's western suburbs in Cumberland County. The Press and Journal, published in Middletown, is one of many weekly, general information newspapers in the Harrisburg area. Harrisburg has several monthly community newspapers, including MODE Magazine (publishing since 1996), Urban Connection, and TheBurg. There are also numerous television and radio stations in the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York area, which makes up the 43rd largest media market in the nation.[62] Only one non-municipal portal website exists for the city of Harrisburg, HarrisburgPA.com.

Newspapers[edit]

Harrisburg Magazine (monthly city/regional magazine)

  • Only Harrisburg Independent Art/Photography Magazine

[64]

Television[edit]

The Harrisburg TV market is served by:

Radio[edit]

According to Arbitron, Harrisburg's radio market is ranked #78th in the nation.[65]

This is a list of FM stations in the greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania metropolitan area.

Callsign MHz Band "Name" Format, Owner City of license
WDCV 88.3 FM Indie/College Rock, Dickinson College Carlisle
WXPH 88.7 FM WXPN relay, University of Pennsylvania Harrisburg
WSYC 88.7 FM Alternative, Shippensburg University Shippensburg
WITF-FM 89.5 FM NPR Harrisburg
WVMM 90.7 FM Indie/College Rock, Messiah College Grantham
WJAZ 91.7 FM WRTI relay, Classical/Jazz, Temple University Harrisburg
WTPA 92.1 FM Classic Rock Mechanicsburg
WKZF 92.7 FM "92.7 KZF" Classic Rock Starview
WWKL 93.5 FM "Hot 92", CHR Palmyra
WRBT 94.9 FM "Bob" Country Harrisburg
WLAN 96.9 FM "FM 97" CHR Lancaster
WRVV 97.3 FM "The River" Classic Hits and the Best of Today's Rock Harrisburg
WYCR 98.5 FM "98.5 The Peak" Classic Hits York
WQLV 98.9 FM 98.9 WQLV Millersburg
WHKF 99.3 FM "Kiss-FM" CHR Harrisburg
WQIC 100.1 FM Adult Contemporary Lebanon
WROZ 101.3 FM " 101 The Rose" Hot AC Lancaster
WARM 103.3 FM "Warm 103" Hot Ac York
WNNK 104.1 FM "Wink 104" Hot AC Harrisburg
WQXA 105.7 FM "105.7 The X" Active Rock York
WZCY-FM 106.7 FM "Channel 106.7" Adult Hits Hershey
WGTY 107.7 FM "Great Country" York

This is a list of AM stations in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania metropolitan area:

Callsign kHz Band Format City of license
WHP (AM) 580 AM Conservative News/Talk Harrisburg
WHYF 720 AM EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network Shiremanstown
WSBA (AM) 910 AM News/Talk York
WADV 940 AM Gospel Lebanon
WHYL 960 AM Adult Standards Carlisle
WIOO 1000 AM Classic Country Carlisle
WKBO 1230 AM Christian Contemporary Harrisburg
WQXA 1250 AM Country York
WLBR 1270 AM Talk Lebanon
WHGB 1400 AM Now ESPN Radio (Formerly Adult R&B: The Touch) Harrisburg
WTKT 1460 AM sports: "The Ticket" Harrisburg
WEEO (AM) 1480 AM Oldies Shippensburg
WLPA 1490 AM sports Lancaster
WWSM 1510 AM Classic Country Annville
WPDC 1600 AM Sport Elizabethtown
Penndot 1670 AM NOAA Weather and Travel Several

Portal Internet Websites[edit]

Harrisburg in film[edit]

Several feature films and television series have been filmed or set in and around Harrisburg and the greater Susquehanna Valley.

Museums, art collections, and sites of interest[edit]

Pennsylvania Holocaust Memorial along Harrisburgs' Riverfront Park/Capital Area Greenbelt

Parks and recreation[edit]

Sports[edit]

Harrisburg serves as the hub of professional sports in South Central Pennsylvania. A host of teams compete in the region including three professional baseball teams, the Harrisburg Senators, the Lancaster Barnstormers, and the York Revolution. The Senators are the oldest team of the three, with the current incarnation playing since 1987. The original Harrisburg Senators began playing in the Eastern League in 1924. Playing its home games at Island Field, the team won the league championship in the 1927, 1928, and 1931 seasons. The Senators played a few more seasons before flood waters destroyed Island Field in 1936, effectively ending Eastern League participation for fifty-one years. In 1940, Harrisburg gained an Interstate League team affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates; however, the team remained in the city only until 1943, when it moved to nearby York and renamed the York Pirates. The current Harrisburg Senators, affiliated with the Washington Nationals, have won the Eastern League championship in the 1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 seasons.

Club League Venue Founded Titles
Harrisburg Senators EL, Baseball Metro Bank Park 1987 6
Central Penn Piranha BNEFF, Football Skyline Sports Complex 1995 5
Harrisburg City Islanders USL, Soccer Skyline Sports Complex 2004 1
Harrisburg Heat PASL, Indoor soccer Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex 2012 0
Harrisburg Stampede PIFL, Indoor football Giant Center 2009 1
Central PA Vipers IWFL, Women's football Susquehanna Township High School 2006 0
Keystone Assault WFA, Women's football TBA 2009 0
Harrisburg Horizon EBA, Basketball Manny Weaver Gym 1998 5
Harrisburg Lunatics PIHA, Inline hockey Susquehanna Sports Center 2001 0
Harrisburg RFC EPRU, MARFU, Rugby Cibort Park, Bressler 1969 1

Government[edit]

City of Harrisburg[edit]

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. City Government Center, the only city hall in the United States named for a civil rights leader, serves as a central location for the administrative functions of the city.[68] Harrisburg has been served since 1970 by the "strong mayor" form of municipal government, with separate executive and legislative branches. The Mayor serves a four-year term with no term limits. As the full-time chief executive, the Mayor oversees the operation of 34 agencies, run by department and office heads, some of whom comprise the Mayor's cabinet, including the Departments of Public Safety (police and fire bureaus), Public Works, Business Administration, Parks and Recreation, Incineration and Steam Generation, Building & Housing Development and Solicitor. The city has 721 employees (2003).[69] The current mayor of Harrisburg is Eric R. Papenfuse whose term expires January 2018.

There are seven city council members, all elected at large, who serve part-time for four-year terms. There are two other elected city posts, city treasurer and city controller, who separately head their own fiscally related offices.

Property tax reform[edit]

Harrisburg is also known nationally for its use of a two tiered land value taxation. Harrisburg has taxed land at a rate six times that on improvements since 1975, and this policy has been credited by its former mayor, Stephen R. Reed, as well as by the city's former city manager during the 1980s with reducing the number of vacant structures located in downtown Harrisburg from about 4,200 in 1982 to fewer than 500 in 1995.[70] During this same period of time between 1982 and 1995, nearly 4,700 more city residents became employed, the crime rate dropped 22.5% and the fire rate dropped 51%.[70]

Harrisburg, as well as nearly 20 other Pennsylvania cities, employs a two-rate or split-rate property tax, which requires the taxing of the value of land at a higher rate and the value of the buildings and improvements at a lower one. This can be seen as a compromise between pure LVT and an ordinary property tax falling on real estate (land value plus improvement value).[71] Alternatively, two-rate taxation may be seen as a form that allows gradual transformation of the traditional real estate property tax into a pure land value tax.

Nearly two dozen local Pennsylvania jurisdictions, such as Harrisburg,[72] use two-rate property taxation in which the tax on land value is higher and the tax on improvement value is lower. In 2000, Florenz Plassmann and Nicolaus Tideman wrote[73] that when comparing Pennsylvania cities using a higher tax rate on land value and a lower rate on improvements with similar sized Pennsylvania cities using the same rate on land and improvements, the higher land value taxation leads to increased construction within the jurisdiction.[74][75]

Dauphin County[edit]

Dauphin County Courthouse located along the Susquehanna River at Front and Market Streets in downtown Harrisburg.

Dauphin County Government Complex, in downtown Harrisburg, serves the administrative functions of the county. The trial court of general jurisdiction for Harrisburg rests with the Court of Dauphin County and is largely funded and operated by county resources and employees.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania[edit]

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex dominates the city's stature as a regional and national hub for government and politics. All administrative functions of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are located within the complex and at various nearby locations.

The Commonwealth Judicial Center houses Pennsylvania's three appellate courts, which are located in Harrisburg. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which is the court of last resort in the state, hears arguments in Harrisburg as well as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania are located here. Judges for these courts are elected at large.

Federal government[edit]

The Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse, located in downtown Harrisburg, serves as the regional administrative offices of the federal government. A branch of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is also located within the courthouse. Due to Harrisburg's prominence as the state capital, federal offices for nearly every agency are located within the city.

The United States military has a strong historic presence in the region. A large retired military population resides in South Central Pennsylvania and the region is home to a large national cemetery at Indiantown Gap. The federal government, including the military, is the top employer in the metropolitan area.

Military bases in the Harrisburg area include:

Installation Name City Type, Branch, or Agency
Carlisle Barracks Carlisle Managed by the Army, it is home to the United States Army War College
Eastern Distribution Center New Cumberland Managed by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), it is part of the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna (DDSP)
Fort Indiantown Gap Fort Indiantown Gap Managed by the Army, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania National Guard (PANG), it serves as a military training and staging area. It is home to the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (EAATS) and Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC)
Harrisburg Air Guard Base Middletown Home to the 193rd Special Operations Wing, it is located on the former Olmsted Air Force Base, which closed in the early 1970s and became Harrisburg International Airport
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Mechanicsburg Part of the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna (DDSP)

Transport[edit]

Airports[edit]

Domestic and International airlines provide services via Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), which is located southeast of the city in Middletown. HIA is the third-busiest commercial airport in Pennsylvania, both in terms of passengers served and cargo shipments.[76] Passenger carriers that serve HIA include US Airways, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, and Frontier Airlines. Capital City Airport (CXY), a moderate-sized business class and general aviation airport, is located across the Susquehanna River in the nearby suburb of New Cumberland, south of Harrisburg. Both airports are owned and operated by the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA), which also manages the Franklin County Regional Airport in Chambersburg and Gettysburg Regional Airport in Gettysburg.

Public transit[edit]

Harrisburg is served by Capital Area Transit (CAT) which provides public bus, paratransit, and commuter rail service throughout the greater metropolitan area. Construction of a commuter rail line designated the Capital Red Rose Corridor (previously named CorridorOne) will eventually link the city with nearby Lancaster in 2010.[77][dated info]

Long-term plans for the region call for the commuter rail line to continue westward to Cumberland County, ending at Carlisle. In early 2005, the project hit a roadblock when the Cumberland County commissioners opposed the plan to extend commuter rail to the West Shore. Due to lack of support from the county commissioners, the Cumberland County portion, and the two new stations in Harrisburg have been removed from the project. In the future, with support from Cumberland County, the commuter rail project may extend to both shores of the Susquehanna River, where the majority of the commuting base for the Harrisburg metropolitan area resides.[78]

In 2006, a second phase of the rail project designated CorridorTwo was announced to the general public. It will link downtown Harrisburg with its eastern suburbs in Dauphin and Lebanon counties, including the areas of Hummelstown, Hershey and Lebanon, and the city of York in York County.[78] Future passenger rail corridors also include Route 15 from the Harrisburg area towards Gettysburg, as well as the Susquehanna River communities north of Harrisburg, and the Northern Susquehanna Valley region.[78]

Intercity bus service[edit]

The lower level of the Harrisburg Transport Center serves as the city's intercity bus terminal. Daily bus services are provided by Greyhound, Bieber Tourways, Capitol Trailways, Fullington Trailways, and Susquehanna Trailways. They connect Harrisburg to other Pennsylvania cities such as Allentown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, State College, Williamsport, and York and nearby, out-of-state cities such as Baltimore, Binghamton, New York, Syracuse, and Washington, D.C., plus many other destinations via transfers.[79]

Curbside intercity bus service is also provided by Megabus from the parking lot of the Harrisburg Mall in nearby Swatara Township, with direct service to Philadelphia, State College, and Pittsburgh.

Regional scheduled line bus service[edit]

The public transit provider in York County, Rabbit Transit, operates its RabbitEXPRESS bus service on weekdays between the city of York and both downtown Harrisburg and the main campus for Harrisburg Area Community College. The commuter-oriented service is designed to serve York County residents who work in Harrisburg, though reverse commutes are possible under the current schedule. Buses running this route make limited stops in the city of York and at two park and rides along Interstate 83 between York and Harrisburg before making various stops in Pennsylvania's capital city. As of May 2007, the RabbitEXPRESS operates three times in the morning and three times in the afternoon.

A charter/tour bus operator, R & J Transport, also provides weekday, scheduled route commuter service for people working in downtown Harrisburg. R & J, which is based in Schuylkill County, operates two lines, one between Frackville and downtown Harrisburg and the other between Minersville, Pine Grove, and downtown Harrisburg.

Rail[edit]

The Pennsylvania Railroad's main line from New York to Chicago passed through Harrisburg. The line was electrified in the 1930s, with the wires reaching Harrisburg in 1938. They went no further. Plans to electrify through to Pittsburgh and thence to Chicago never saw fruition; sufficient funding was never available. Thus, Harrisburg became where the PRR's crack expresses such as the Broadway Limited changed from electric traction to (originally) a steam locomotive, and later a diesel locomotive. Harrisburg remained a freight rail hub for PRR's successor Conrail, which was later sold off and divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Freight rail[edit]

Norfolk Southern acquired all of Conrail's lines in the Harrisburg area and has continued the city's function as a freight rail hub. Norfolk Southern considers Harrisburg one of many primary hubs in its system, and operates 2 intermodal (rail/truck transfer) yards in the immediate Harrisburg area.[80] The Harrisburg Intermodal Yard (formerly called Lucknow Yard) is located in the north end of Harrisburg, approximately 3 miles north of downtown Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Transport Center, while the Rutherford Intermodal Yard is located approximately 6 miles east of downtown Harrisburg in Swatara Township, Dauphin County. Norfolk Southern also operates a significant classification yard in the Harrisburg area, the Enola Yard, which is located across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County.

Intercity passenger rail[edit]

Amtrak provides service to and from Harrisburg. The passenger rail operator runs its Keystone and Pennsylvanian services between New York, Philadelphia, and the Harrisburg Transportation Center daily. The Pennsylvanian route, which operates once daily, continues west to Pittsburgh. As of April 2007, Amtrak operates 14 weekday roundtrips and 8 weekend roundtrips daily between Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Philadelphia 30th Street Station; most of these trains also travel to and from New York Penn Station. The Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia was improved in the mid-first decade of the 21st century, with the primary improvements completed in late 2006. The improvements included upgrading the electrical catenary, installing continuously welded rail, and replacing existing wooden railroad ties with concrete ties. These improvements increased train speeds to 110 mph along the corridor and reduced the travel time between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to as little as 95 minutes. It also eliminated the need to change locomotives at 30th Street Station (from diesel to electric and vice-versa) for trains continuing to or coming from New York. As of Federal Fiscal Year 2008, the Harrisburg Transportation Center was the 2nd busiest Amtrak station in Pennsylvania and 21st busiest in the United States.[81][82]

Bridges[edit]

Western span of the Walnut Street Bridge crossing the Susquehanna River, after it collapsed during the 1996 flood.

Harrisburg is the location of over a dozen large bridges, many up to a mile long, that cross the Susquehanna River. Several other important structures span the Paxton Creek watershed and Cameron Street, linking Center City with neighborhoods in East Harrisburg. These include the State Street Bridge, also known as the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Bridge, and the Mulberry Street Bridge. Walnut Street Bridge, now used only by pedestrians and cyclists, links the downtown and Riverfront Park areas with City Island but goes no further as spans are missing on its western side due to massive flooding resulting from the North American blizzard of 1996.

Education[edit]

Public schools[edit]

The City of Harrisburg is served by the Harrisburg School District. The school district provides education for the city's youth beginning with all-day kindergarten through twelfth grade. A multi-year restructuring plan is aimed at making the district a model for urban public schools. The district has been troubled for years with management fiascos and poor test scores. In the summer of 2007, more than 2,000 city students were enrolled in educational programs offered by the Harrisburg School District as remediation.[83]

The city also maintains one public charter school, the Sylvan Heights Science Charter School. In addition, Harrisburg is home to an arts-focused magnet school, the Capital Area School for the Arts. In 2003, SciTech High, a regional math and science magnet school affiliated with Harrisburg University, opened its doors to students. A growing number of virtual public charter schools provide residents with many alternative to the bricks and mortar public school system.

The Central Dauphin School District, the largest public school district in the metropolitan area and the 13th largest in Pennsylvania, uses several Harrisburg postal addresses for many of the districts schools.

Private schools[edit]

Harrisburg is home to an extensive Catholic educational system. There are nearly 40 parish-driven elementary schools and seven Catholic high schools within the region administered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, including Bishop McDevitt High School and Trinity High School. Numerous other private schools, such as The Londonderry School and The Circle School, which is a Sudbury Model school, also operate in Harrisburg. Harrisburg Academy, founded in 1784, is one of the oldest independent college preparatory schools in the nation. The Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva Academy, founded in 1944, is a progressive, modern Jewish day school. Also, Harrisburg is home to Harrisburg Christian School, founded in 1955.[84]

Higher education[edit]

In Harrisburg[edit]

Near Harrisburg[edit]

Libraries[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Harrisburg has two official sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International:

Notable people[edit]

Since the early 18th century, Harrisburg has been home to many people of note. Because it is the seat of government for the state and lies relatively close to other urban centers, Harrisburg has played a significant role in the nation's political, cultural and industrial history. Harrisburgers have also taken a leading role in the development of Pennsylvania's history for over two centuries. Two former U.S. Secretaries of War, Simon Cameron and Alexander Ramsey and several other prominent political figures, such as former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich, hail from Harrisburg. The actor Don Keefer was born near Harrisburg, along with the actor Richard Sanders, most famous for playing Les Nessman in WKRP in Cincinnati . Many notable individuals are interred at Harrisburg Cemetery and East Harrisburg Cemetery.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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