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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Coordinates: 40°16′11″N 76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556
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Harrisbarrig (Pennsylvania German)
Official seal of Harrisburg
Official logo of Harrisburg
Interactive map of Harrisburg
Harrisburg is located in Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is located in the United States
Coordinates: 40°16′11″N 76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556
Country United States
European settlementc. 1719; 305 years ago (1719)
Incorporated1791; 233 years ago (1791)
CharterMarch 19, 1860; 164 years ago (1860-03-19)
Founded byJohn Harris, Jr.[1]
Named forJohn Harris, Sr.
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorWanda Williams (D)
 • City ControllerCharlie DeBrunner (D)
 • City Council
 • State SenateJohn DiSanto (R)
 • State RepresentativePatty Kim (D)
 • City11.86 sq mi (30.73 km2)
 • Land8.12 sq mi (21.03 km2)
 • Water3.75 sq mi (9.70 km2)
 • Urban
259.7 sq mi (672.6 km2)
Elevation335 ft (102 m)
 • City50,099
 • Estimate 
 • Density6,174.26/sq mi (2,383.98/km2)
 • Urban
490,859 (US: 86th)
 • Urban density1,961.5/sq mi (757.3/km2)
 • Metro
591,712 (US: 98th)
 • CSA
1,295,259 (US: 46th)
Demonym(s)Harrisburger, Harrisburgian
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
17101-17113, 17120-17130, 17140, 17177
Area code717 and 223
FIPS code42-32800[6]
GNIS feature ID1213649[4]
InterstatesI-76, I-81, I-83 and I-283
WaterwaysSusquehanna River
Primary AirportHarrisburg International Airport- MDT (Major/International)
Secondary AirportCapital City Airport- CXY (Minor)
Public transitCapital Area Transit
DesignatedSeptember 23, 1946[7]

Harrisburg (/ˈhærɪsˌbɜːrɡ/, Pennsylvania German: Harrisbarrig) is the capital city of the U.S. commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the seat of Dauphin County. With a population of 50,099 as of 2020, Harrisburg is the ninth-most populous city in Pennsylvania. It is the larger principal city of the Harrisburg–Carlisle metropolitan statistical area, also known as the Susquehanna Valley, which had a population of 591,712 in 2020 and is the fourth-most populous metro area in Pennsylvania.[8] Harrisburg is situated on the east bank of the Susquehanna River and is located 83 miles (134 km) southwest of Allentown and 107 miles (172 km) northwest of Philadelphia.

Harrisburg played a 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 develop into one of the most industrialized cities in the Northeastern United States. In the mid- to late 20th century, the city's economic fortunes fluctuated with its major industries consisting of government, heavy manufacturing, agriculture, and food services. These economic fluctuations contributed to Harrisburg experiencing a decline of nearly half its population between 1950 and 2000. However, the region is seen as financially stable in part due to the high concentration of state and federal government agencies.[9]

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agriculture exposition in the U.S., was first held in Harrisburg in 1917 and has been held there every early to mid-January since.[10] The city also hosts the annual Great American Outdoor Show, the largest of its kind in the world, among many other events. Harrisburg experienced the Three Mile Island accident on March 28, 1979, in nearby Middletown.





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 with trails leading from the Delaware to the Ohio rivers and from the Potomac to the Upper Susquehanna intersecting there.

17th century


The first European contact with Native Americans in Pennsylvania was made by Englishman Captain John Smith, who journeyed from Virginia up the Susquehanna River in 1608 and visited with the Susquehanna tribe.

18th century


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 in October 1812 it was named the Pennsylvania state capital, which it has remained ever since. The assembling here of the highly sectional Harrisburg Convention in 1827 (signaling what may have been the birth of lobbying on a national scale) led to the passage of the high protective-tariff bill of 1828.[11]

In 1839, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were nominated for president and vice president of the United States at the first national convention of the Whig Party of the United States, which was held in Harrisburg.

19th century

Five dollar bill. The illustration includes female figure with a rake and grain; and a seated Justice with sword and scales. The inscription reads Inscription: "THE HARRISBURG BANK Promises to pay FIVE dollars on demand to or bearer."
An 1848 Bank of Harrisburg five dollar bill

Before Harrisburg gained its first industries, it was a scenic, pastoral town: compact and surrounded by farmland. In 1822, the impressive brick capitol was completed for $200,000 (~$5.78 million in 2023).[12]

Harrisburg's strategic location gave it an advantage over many other towns; it was settled as a trading post in 1719 at a location important to westward expansion, past the Blue Mountain range. 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 capital in 1812.

The grandeur of the Colonial Revival capitol 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. They were mostly one story. No factories were present but there were blacksmith shops and other businesses.[13]

During the first part of the 19th century, Harrisburg was a notable stopping place along the Underground Railroad, as persons escaping slavery utilized the Susquehanna River to access food and supplies before heading north towards Canada.[14]

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. Under orders from Gen. Robert E. Lee directly, Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps were tasked with capturing Harrisburg and disrupting the vital Union supply and rail lines. However, Ewell's forces were intercepted by the forces of the Department of the Susquehanna under the command of Union Maj. Gen. Darius N. Couch in a series of skirmishes surrounding the city, such as the Skirmish of Sporting Hill in Camp Hill, just 2 miles (3 km) west of Harrisburg. The Second Corp were ultimately unsuccessful in both overcoming the local Union defenses and crossing the rain bloated Susquehanna into Harrisburg itself, and were forced to retreat southward to regroup with Lee's main Confederate force. This attempt marked the northernmost advance of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

On July 3, 1863, the artillery barrage that marked the beginning of Pickett's Charge of the Battle of Gettysburg was heard from Harrisburg, almost 40 miles away.[15]

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.[16]

Its first large scale iron foundries were put into operation shortly after 1850.[13] 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, 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 west to Pittsburgh, across the entire state, and east to Philadelphia, serving Steelton along the route. The anthracite coal mines in the Allegheny Mountains were reached by the Northern Central Railroad. The Lebanon Valley Railroad extended east 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.[17]

Allison Hill, Harrisburg's first suburb, is 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 Harrisburg residents the opportunity to live in the suburbs only a few hundred yards from their jobs in the city. As the city expanded, it incorporated Allison Hill in its boundaries. In 1886, a single horse trolley line was established from the city to Allison Hill. Easy access was later 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. Among the most desirable sections of Allison Hill at the time 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 growing prevalence of automobile ownership quickened the trend and spread out the population in the 20th century.

20th century

An anti-nuclear protest in Harrisburg in 1979, following the Three Mile Island accident

In the early 20th century, the city of Harrisburg was in need of change. Without proper sanitation, diseases such as typhoid began killing many citizens of Harrisburg. Seeing these necessary changes, several Harrisburg residents became involved in the City Beautiful movement. The project focused on providing better transportation, spaces for recreation, sanitation, landscaping, and parks for those living in cities, as research showed that a person with access to amenities would be a happier person.[18] In December 1900, a reformer named Mira Lloyd Dock, who had recently encountered well-ordered urban centers on an international trip to Europe, gave a lecture on "The City Beautiful" to Harrisburg's Board of Trade.[18] Other prominent citizens of the city such as J. Horace McFarland and Vance McCormick advocated urban improvements which were influenced by European urban planning design and the World's Columbian Exposition. Warren Manning was hired to help bring about these changes. 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 new water filtration, burial of electric wires, the paving of roads, and the creation of a modern sanitary sewer system. The efforts to improve the city also paralleled the construction of an expanded monumental Capitol complex in 1906 which led, in turn, to the displacement of the Old Eighth Ward, one of the most ethnically and racially diverse communities in Harrisburg.[19]

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 white 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.[20]

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 Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, located at the corner of Maclay and Cameron streets.

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.[21]

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 minor league professional sports franchises, including the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, the Harrisburg Heat indoor soccer club, and Penn FC of the United Soccer League 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.[22]

21st century

An aerial view of Harrisburg

During the nearly 30-year tenure of former Mayor Stephen Reed from 1981 to 2009, city officials ignored legal restraints on the use of bond proceeds, as Reed spent the money pursuing interests including collecting Civil War and Wild West memorabilia – some of which was found in Reed's home after his arrest on corruption charges.[23] Infrastructure was left unrepaired, and the heart of the city's financial woes was a trash-to-electricity plant, the Harrisburg incinerator, which was supposed to generate income but instead, because of increased borrowing, incurred a debt of $320 million.[24]

Missing audits and 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, the school district's $437 million long-term debt,[26] nor unfunded pension and healthcare obligations.

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.[27] The city agreed to a plea bargain to settle the case.[28]

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 Pennsylvania State Government from taking over the city's finances.[29][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.[34] 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.[34][35]

As creditors began to file lawsuits to seize and sell off city assets, a new receiver, William B. Lynch, was appointed.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38][39][40]

After two years of negotiations, in August 2013 Receiver Lynch revealed his comprehensive voluntary plan for resolving Harrisburg's fiscal problems.[41] The complex plan called for creditors to write down or postpone some debt.[42] To pay the remainder, Harrisburg sold the troubled incinerator, leased its parking garages for 40 years, and was to briefly go further into debt by issuing new bonds.[41][42] Receiver Lynch had also called for setting up nonprofit investment corporations to oversee infrastructure improvement, repairing the city's crumbling roads and water and sewer lines, and pensions and economic development.[43] These were intended to allow nonprofit fundraising and to reduce the likelihood of mismanagement by the city government.[42][43]

Harrisburg's City Council and the state Commonwealth Court approved the plan, and became implemented.[44][45][46][47] The city balanced its budget in the late 2010s, was expected to have a surplus of $1 million in 2019, and maintained a surplus in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.[48][49]

Downtown Harrisburg with City Island in the foreground as seen from the West Shore of the Susquehanna River in August 2015


Harrisburg and the surrounding vicinity seen from the International Space Station on July 6, 2022



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,[50] within a two-hour drive of the metro areas of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and three-hour drive of New York and Pittsburgh. 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) is land and 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) (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. In land area Harrisburg (proper) is also the third smallest of the United States capital cities.

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

Harrisburg with the dome of the Pennsylvania State Capitol seen from across the Susquehanna River in Wormleysburg

Harrisburg's western boundary is formed by the west shore of the Susquehanna River, which runs within the city boundaries and serves as the boundary between Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Harrisburg 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 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.[51]


Climate chart for Harrisburg

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). The city limits fall within the Cfa Humid subtropical climate classification, while the suburban areas and rural surroundings fall just into the Dfa Humid continental climate classification. The hottest month of the year is July, with a daily mean temperature of 77.5 °F (25.3 °C).[52] Summer is usually hot and humid and occasional heat waves can occur. The city averages around 32 days per year with 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, although temperatures reaching 100 °F (38 °C) are rare. Seven months average above 50 °F (10 °C) and three months average above 22 °C (72 °F). The hottest temperature ever recorded in Harrisburg is 107 °F (42 °C) on July 3, 1966.[52] Summer thunderstorms also occur relatively frequently. Autumn is a pleasant season, when the humidity and temperatures fall to more comfortable values. The hardiness zone is 7a/7b.

Winter in Harrisburg is mild to cool: January, the coolest month, remains above freezing, as it experiences a daily mean temperature of 32.6 °F (0.3 °C).[52] A major snowstorm can also occasionally occur, and some winters snowfall totals can exceed 40 inches (102 cm), while in other winters, the region may receive very little snowfall. Snow that does fall often melts away quickly. The largest snowfall on a single calendar day was 26.4 in (67 cm) on January 23, 2016,[52] recorded at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, while the snowiest month on record was February 2010, with 42.1 in (107 cm), recorded at the same location.[53] Overall Harrisburg receives an average of 29.9 in (75.9 cm) of snow per winter.[52] The coldest temperature ever recorded in Harrisburg was −22 °F (−30 °C) on January 21, 1994.[52] Spring is also a pleasant time of year for outdoor activities. Precipitation is well-distributed and generous in most months, though July is clearly the wettest and February the driest.

Climate data for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg Int'l), 1991–2020 normals,[a] extremes 1888–present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Mean maximum °F (°C) 59.3
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 38.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 30.8
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 23.0
Mean minimum °F (°C) 7.4
Record low °F (°C) −22
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.03
Average snowfall inches (cm) 9.1
Average extreme snow depth inches (cm) 5.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.9 10.4 11.0 11.4 13.0 11.5 10.9 10.0 9.2 9.2 8.5 10.3 126.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 5.1 4.8 2.7 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 2.7 16.3
Average ultraviolet index 2 3 4 6 8 9 9 8 6 4 2 2 5
Source 1: NOAA[55][56]
Source 2: Weather Atlas (UV data)[57]
Climate data for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg Capital City Airport) 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1939–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Mean maximum °F (°C) 61.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 40.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 32.6
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 24.9
Mean minimum °F (°C) 8.0
Record low °F (°C) −9
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.64
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.4 9.3 10.7 12.1 13.7 11.9 11.8 11.1 9.5 11.0 8.8 10.1 129.4
Average relative humidity (%) 64.4 63.2 60.7 59.2 65.2 67.7 68.6 72.2 73.8 70.5 68.2 66.4 66.7
Average dew point °F (°C) 17.4
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 (relative humidity, dew point and sun 1961–1990)[52][58][59]

See or edit raw graph data.





Downtown Harrisburg, which includes the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex, is the central core business and financial center for the Harrisburg–Carlisle metropolitan statistical 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.



Harrisburg's architecture spans over 200 years of evolving construction and design and thus contains a breadth of various architectural styles. Six Municipal Historic Districts, multiple National Historic Districts, and Architectural Conservation Overlay Districts have in turn have been established to preserve and guide any new development of areas with respect to their character.[60]

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, including 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 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).[61]

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 across the Susquehanna River. M. Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge is on the far left across from the Pennsylvania State Capitol, City Island and the Walnut Street Bridge and Market Street bridges, March 2013.


Historical population
2022 (est.)50,183[5]0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[62]
Harrisburg city, Pennsylvania – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 1980[64] Pop 1990[65] Pop 2000[66] Pop 2010[67] Pop 2020[63] % 1980 % 1990 % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 27,493 21,313 13,988 12,290 11,405 51.62% 40.69% 28.58% 24.81% 22.76%
Black or African American alone (NH) 23,007 25,904 26,292 24,727 21,263 43.19% 49.46% 53.71% 49.93% 42.44%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 171 120 157 146 107 0.32% 0.23% 0.32% 0.29% 0.21%
Asian alone (NH) 345 863 1,370 1,692 1,768 0.65% 1.65% 2.80% 3.42% 3.53%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) N/A N/A 20 4 19 N/A N/A 0.04% 0.01% 0.04%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 135 154 115 97 403 0.25% 0.29% 0.23% 0.20% 0.80%
Mixed Race or Multi-Racial (NH) N/A N/A 1,284 1,633 2,230 N/A N/A 2.62% 3.30% 4.45%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 2,113 4,022 5,724 8,939 12,904 3.97% 7.68% 11.69% 18.05% 25.76%
Total 53,264 52,376 48,950 49,528 50,099 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

The six largest ethnic groups in the city are: African American (52.4%), German (15.0%), Irish (6.5%), Italian (3.3%), English (2.4%), and Dutch (1.0%). While the metropolitan area is approximately 15% German-American, 11.4% are Irish-American and 9.6% English-American. Harrisburg has one of the largest Pennsylvania Dutch communities in the nation, and also has the nation's ninth-largest Swedish-American communities in the nation.[citation needed]

There were 20,561 households, out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 13 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 13 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 13 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 $90,670 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 13 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.[68] 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.[69] 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.



Harrisburg is the metropolitan center for some 400 communities.[70] 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 and international firms with major operations include Ahold Delhaize, ArcelorMittal Steel, HP Inc., IBM, Hershey Foods, Harsco Corporation, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, Rite Aid Corporation, Tyco Electronics, and Volvo Construction Equipment.[71] The largest employers, the federal and state governments, provide stability to the economy. The region's extensive transportation infrastructure has allowed it to become a prominent center for trade, warehousing, and distribution.[70]



Top 10


According to the Region Economic Development Corporation, 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, 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 UPMC Pinnacle, including Harrisburg Hospital and Polyclinic Medical Center 3,997 Health-care and hospital system

People and culture



Harrisburg's Market Square, formerly a market, is a public transport hub and commercial center in the city.

In the mid-20th century, Harrisburg was home to many nightclubs and other performance venues, including the Madrid Ballroom, the Coliseum, the Chestnut Street Hall. and the Hi-Hat. These venues featured performances from Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, and other jazz greats. Segregationist policy forbade these musicians from staying overnight in downtown Harrisburg, however, making the Jackson Hotel in Harrisburg's 7th Ward a hub of black musicians prior the 1960s.[72]

Several organizations support and develop visual arts in Harrisburg. The Art Association of Harrisburg was founded in 1926 and continues to provide education and exhibits throughout the year. Additionally, the Susquehanna Art Museum, founded in 1989, offers classes, exhibits and community events. A local urban sketching group, Harrisburg Sketchers, convenes artists monthly.[73]

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. Other performance centers include The Capitol Room at House of Music, Arts & Culture, Open Stage of Harrisburg, Harrisburg Improv Theatre, Gamut Theatre Group, Popcorn Hat Players Children's Theatre and Theatre Harrisburg.[74]

Beginning in 2001, downtown Harrisburg saw a resurgence 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.

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 center, 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.

With gradual but steady increases in the number and variety of multi-purpose venues, bars, and restaurants since the mid-2010s, as well as large concerts sponsored by Harrisburg University, the live music and entertainment scene expanded to a "mini-explosion" by 2022 of big artists with a wide draw from both near and far.[75]



Harrisburg notably is home to large events occurring throughout the year which attracts visitors from across the country and internationally.

  • The annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has been held in Harrisburg for over a decade usually in July.
  • The annual Pennsylvania Farm Show held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex is 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.
  • The Great American Outdoor Show, the world's largest outdoor recreation show, is held each February at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors and includes demonstrations, seminars, calling competitions, education and safety programs, and a country music concert.
  • Motorama, the nation's largest all-indoor motorsports event, is held annually and features over 2,000 racers.
  • The Ice & Fire Festival, occurring each March downtown, exhibits ice sculptures, fire dancers, food trucks, and an ice skating rink with live music.
  • The Pennsylvania Auto Show is held annually at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.
  • ArtsFest, held each spring, features juried artisans and craftsmen from across the state and country selling art and unique crafts.
  • Pride Festival of Central PA is the area's three-day annual LGBT pride event regularly attracting over 5,000 LGBTQ and straight allied supporters.
  • The Antique Fire Apparatus Show & Muster along Riverfront Park features displays of regional fire engines from past and present, a flea market, and firefighting competitions.
  • Harrisburg's Independence Day Celebration, under various names (formerly "MusicFest"), occurs each Independence Day weekend along Riverfront Park and City Island with food, live music, activities and fireworks.
  • Kipona Festival, inaugurated in 1916 and held each Labor Day Weekend, celebrates the Susquehanna River as a three-day festival on Riverfront Park and City Island featuring food, fireworks, live music, artist markets, canoe races, wire walkers, pet areas, and family carnival activities.
  • The Greenbelt's Tour de Belt is a weekend-long series of bike-related events and includes an art show and craft breweries.
  • Cultural Fest, put on each summer by Dauphin County and held at City Island, celebrates the multicultural diversity of the area.
  • Riverfront Park Concert Series, a summer pop-up concert, features national music acts each summer.
  • The Harrisburg Marathon runs along the riverfront and City Island and is a two-day event usually held each fall.
  • WoofStock, the celebration of all-things canine along with music, food and prizes, is held each September at Riverfront Park and is the largest pet adoption event on the East Coast.
  • BrewFest, held each October at Fort Hunter Park, features local craft beers, food and vendors.
  • Harrisburg's New Year's Eve Celebration downtown has live music, children's activities, and the strawberry drop and fireworks at midnight.[76]



Harrisburg area is part of the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York media market which consists of the lower counties in south central Pennsylvania and borders the media markets of Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is the 43rd largest media market in the United States.[77]

The Harrisburg area has several newspapers. The Patriot-News, which is published in Cumberland County, serves the Harrisburg area 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. There are also numerous television and radio stations in the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York area.





The Harrisburg TV market is served by:



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

This is a list of FM stations in the greater Harrisburg 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 University Grantham
WJAZ 91.7 FM WRTI relay, Classical/Jazz, Temple University Harrisburg
WKHL 92.1 FM "K-Love" Contemporary Christian Palmyra
WPPY 92.7 FM "Happy 92.7" Adult Contemporary Starview
WTPA-FM 93.5 FM "93.5 WTPA" Classic Rock Mechanicsburg
WRBT 94.9 FM "BOB 94.9" 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
WFVY 100.1 FM "Froggy Valley 100.1" Country Lebanon
WROZ 101.3 FM Christian Lancaster
WARM 103.3 FM "Warm 103.3" Hot AC York
WNNK 104.1 FM "Wink 104" Hot AC Harrisburg
WQXA 105.7 FM "105.7 The X" Active Rock York
WWKL 106.7 FM "Hot 106.7" CHR Hershey
WGTY 107.7 FM "Great Country" York

This is a list of AM stations in the greater Harrisburg 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 ESPN Radio (Formerly Adult R&B: The Touch) Harrisburg
WTKT 1460 AM Sports: "The Ticket" Harrisburg
WRDD 1480 AM Country Shippensburg
WRKY 1490 AM Classic rock Lancaster
WPDC 1600 AM Sport Elizabethtown
Penndot 1670 AM NOAA Weather and Travel Several

Harrisburg in film


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

The Pennsylvania Holocaust Memorial in Harrisburg's Riverfront Park and the Capital Area Greenbelt

Parks and recreation


The following is a list of the major parks of Harrisburg:


FNB Field

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 Eastern League, Baseball FNB Field 1987 6
Hershey Bears AHL, Ice hockey Giant Center 1932 11
Penn FC USL, Soccer FNB Field 2004 1
Harrisburg Heat MASL, Indoor soccer Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex 2012 0
Keystone Assault WFA, Women's football TBA 2009 1
Harrisburg Lunatics PIHA, Inline hockey Susquehanna Sports Center 2001 0
Harrisburg RFC EPRU, MARFU, Rugby Cibort Park, Bressler 1969 1



City of Harrisburg

Harrisburg Market Square showing the Penn National Insurance Building (left) and Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center (right)

The Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center, the first government building and only city hall in the United States named after the Civil Rights Movement leader, serves as a central location for the city's administrative functions.[86][87] 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 form the Mayor's cabinet, including the Department of Public Safety (which includes the Bureau of Police, Bureau of Fire, and Bureau of Codes), Public Works, Business Administration, Parks and Recreation, Incineration and Steam Generation, Building & Housing Development, and Solicitor. The city had 424 full-time employees in 2019 (Water and Sewer employees were transferred to Capital Region Water effective 2013).[88] The current mayor of Harrisburg is Wanda Williams whose term expires January 2026.

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.

The city government had been in financial distress for many years in the 2000s. It has operated under the state's Act 47 Harrisburg Strong Plan provisions since 2011. The Act provides for municipalities that are in a state akin to bankruptcy.[89] The city balanced its budget in the late 2010s, was expected to have a surplus of $1 million in 2019, and maintained a surplus in 2020 despite COVID-19.[48][49]

Property tax reform


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.[90] 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%.[90]

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).[91] 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,[92] 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[93] 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.[94][95]

Dauphin County

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


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


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)





Domestic and international airlines provide service via Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), which is located southeast of the city in Middletown. HIA is the third-busiest commercial airport in Pennsylvania, in terms of both passengers served and cargo shipments. Generally, due to the lack of an airline hub, the more popular airports in the region are Baltimore, Dulles, and Philadelphia. However, nearly 1.2 million people fly out of Harrisburg each year.[96] Passenger carriers that serve HIA include American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Air. 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.

From the 1940s to 1960s, the Harrisburg Seaplane Base on the West Shore of the Susquehanna River facilitated the landing and docking of seaplanes in the river between the M. Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge and the Walnut Street Bridge, until it was converted into a marina and boat dealership.[97]

Public transit

A Capital Area Transit bus at the Market Square Transfer Center in Harrisburg

Harrisburg is served by Capital Area Transit (CAT), which provides public bus and paratransit service throughout the greater metropolitan area. Construction of a commuter rail line designated the Capital Red Rose Corridor, previously named CorridorOne, was planned to link the city with nearby Lancaster until plans went dormant in 2011.[98][99]

Long-term plans for the region called 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–Carlisle metropolitan statistical area resides.[100]

In 2006, a second phase of the rail project designated CorridorTwo was announced to the general public. It was planned to 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.[100] Other planned passenger rail corridors also included Route 15 from the Harrisburg area towards Gettysburg, as well as the Susquehanna River communities north of Harrisburg, and the Northern Susquehanna Valley region.[100]

Intercity bus service


The lower level of the Harrisburg Transportation Center serves as the city's intercity bus terminal. Daily bus services are provided by Greyhound, Capitol Trailways, and Fullington 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.[101]

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


The public transit provider in York County, Rabbit Transit, operates its RabbitEXPRESS bus service from York via Route 83N and from Gettysburg via Route 15N which serves both downtown Harrisburg and the main campus for Harrisburg Area Community College. The commuter-oriented service is designed to serve residents from these areas who work in Harrisburg, though reverse commutes are possible under the current schedule. Route 83N makes limited stops in the city of York and at two park and rides along Interstate 83 between York and Harrisburg before making multiple stops in Harrisburg, while Route 15N makes two stops in Gettysburg and at two park and rides along U.S. Route 15 between Gettysburg and Harrisburg before making multiple stops in Harrisburg.

Lebanon Transit operates the Commute King A and Commute King B express bus routes which connect Lebanon to Harrisburg via U.S. Route 422 and Interstate 81 respectively.

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.


Harrisburg Transportation Center

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


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 two intermodal (rail/truck transfer) yards in the immediate Harrisburg area.[102] The Harrisburg Intermodal Yard (formerly called Lucknow Yard) is located approximately three miles north of downtown Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Transport Center, while the Rutherford Intermodal Yard is located approximately six 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


Amtrak provides service to and from Harrisburg. The passenger rail operator runs its Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian routes 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 30th Street Station in Philadelphia; 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 City.

As of 2008, the Harrisburg Transportation Center was the 2nd busiest Amtrak station in Pennsylvania and 21st busiest in the United States.[103][104]

Roads and bridges

Walnut Street Bridge, which crosses the Susquehanna River, following its collapse during the 1996 blizzard

Harrisburg is served by several major highways, including Interstate 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike), which passes south of the city and accesses two interchanges, running west to Pittsburgh and east to Philadelphia. Interstate 81 passes to the north of Harrisburg and heads southwest toward Carlisle and northeast toward Hazleton. Interstate 83 begins at I-81 near Harrisburg and heads south and west through the center of Harrisburg before continuing south toward York and Baltimore. Interstate 283 connects I-76 and I-83 southeast of Harrisburg. U.S. Route 11 and U.S. Route 15 pass through the western suburbs of Harrisburg, heading north concurrent from Camp Hill up the west bank of the Susquehanna River toward Selinsgrove. South of Camp Hill, US 11 heads southwest toward Carlisle and US 15 heads south toward Gettysburg. U.S. Route 22 and U.S. Route 322 head northwest concurrent from Harrisburg toward Lewistown. US 22 passes through the northern portion of Harrisburg before it heads northeast toward Allentown. US 322 bypasses Harrisburg along I-81 and I-83 before heading east toward Hershey. Pennsylvania Route 230 heads south from US 22 in the northern part of Harrisburg and passes through the city along Cameron Street. Pennsylvania Route 283 heads southeast from I-283 on a freeway toward Lancaster. Pennsylvania Route 581 connects I-81 and I-83 on a freeway through the western suburbs of Harrisburg. I-81, I-83, and PA 581 form the Capital Beltway that circles Harrisburg.[105][106]

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 Downtown 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.



Public schools


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. In 2003, SciTech High, a regional math and science magnet school affiliated with Harrisburg University, opened its doors to local students.

Public Charter Schools

The city also has several public charter schools: Infinity Charter School, Sylvan Heights Science Charter School, Premier Arts and Science Charter School, and Capital Area School for the Arts.

The Central Dauphin School District, the largest public school district in the Harrisburg–Carlisle metropolitan statistical area and the 13th-largest in Pennsylvania, has several Harrisburg postal addresses for many of the District's schools. Steelton-Highspire School District borders much of the Harrisburg School District.

Private schools


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.[107]

Private Schools in Harrisburg[108]
School Grades Type Location
Alternative Rehabilitation Communities 7-12 Alternative 2742 North Front Street
Bishop McDevitt High School 9-12 Religious 1 Crusader Way
Cathedral Consolidated School PK-8 Religious 212 State Street
Cornell Abraxas Group 7-12 2950 North 7th Street
Covenant Christian Academy NS-12 Religious 1982 Locust Lane
East Shore Montessori School NS Montessori 6130 Old Jonestown Road
Follow Me Christian Child Care Center PK-1 Religious 6003 Jonestown Road
Hansel & Gretel Early Learning Center PK-K Preschool 4820 Londonderry Road
Harrisburg Adventist School NS-9 Religious 424 North Progress Avenue
Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School PK-8 Religious 555 South 25th Street
Harrisburg Christian School K-12 Religious 2000 Blue Mountain Parkway
Hildebrandt Learning Center K Preschool 1500 Elmerton Avenue
Hillside Seventh-day Adventist School K-8 Religious 1301 Cumberland Street
Holy Name of Jesus School NS-8 Religious 6190 Allentown Boulevard
Jonestown Road KinderCare NS-PK Preschool 6006 Jonestown Road
Little Learners Child Development Center PK-K Preschool 2300 Vartan Way
Londonderry Road KinderCare NS-PK Preschool 4075 Londonderry Road
Londonderry School PK-8 1800 Bamberger Road
New Story School K-12 Special Ed 2700 Commerce Drive
Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva Academy PK-8 Religious 3301 North Front Street
St. Catherine Laboure School PK-8 Religious 4020 Derry Street
St. Margaret Mary School NS-8 Religious 2826 Herr Street
St. Stephen's Episcopal School PK-8 Religious 215 North Front Street
Samuel School PK-8 Religious 411 South 40th Street
Strawberry Garden Day Care Center PK-K Preschool 1616 Herr Street
Susquehanna Township KinderCare NS-PK Preschool 3701 Vartan Way
The Circle School PK-12 Alternative 727 Wilhelm Road
The Goddard School NS-K Preschool 4397 Sturbridge Drive
The Nativity School of Harrisburg 6-8 Alternative 2135 North 6th Street
Wordsworth Academy 2-12 Special Ed 1745 North Cameron Street

Higher education




Notable people


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.



Artists, designers




Politics, military, activism





  • James Boyd, a resident of Front Street, wrote a novel about the city in 1935, Roll River.[117]
  • Thomas Morris Chester, prominent Black journalist, lawyer, and soldier in the Civil War, was born here.
  • Carmen Finestra, television producer and writer.
  • Jimmy Gownley, New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of Amelia Rules!.
  • John O'Hara, author, a native of Pottsville, lived in Harrisburg briefly to write his novel about the city, A Rage to Live.[117]
  • Adam Resnick, comedic author, wrote about growing up in Harrisburg in his book Will Not Attend, and wrote the screenplay for Lucky Numbers (2000), a film taking place in Harrisburg.
  • Will Stanton, long-published humor writer.
  • John Wyeth, publisher of Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music (1810; Second Part 1813).



See also



  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. ^ Official records for Harrisburg kept at downtown from July 1888 to December 1938, Capital City Airport from January 1939 to September 1991, and at Harrisburg Int'l in Middletown since October 1991.[54]


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