- Capital: Harrisburg
- Abbreviation: PA or Penna
- Cities: 29
- Population: 12,787,209
- State Tree: The Eastern Hemlock Tree (Tsuga Canadensis)
- Climate: Humid Continental – hot, humid summers and cold winters
- Highest Point: Mount Davis (3,213 feet)
- Lowest Point: Delaware River – at sea level
- Demonym: Pennsylvanian
- Motto: “Virtue, Liberty and Independence”
- History: Philadelphia Is Home to the Liberty Bell
- Geography: Harrisburg Replaced Bellefonte as State Capital
- Attractions: Philadelphia Zoo Was Founded by Benjamin Franklin
- History: Pennsylvania Is the Birthplace of Hollywood Actor James Stewart
- History: Indiana Is Known as Christmas Tree Capital of the World
- History: Philadelphia Produced the First Daily Newspaper in 1783
- History: Johann Behrent Built the First Piano in Philadelphia in 1775
- History: The First US Flag Is Reported to Have Been Made in Pennsylvania
- Science: ENIAC – the World’s First Computer Was Built in Philadelphia in 1946
- Food: The Mushroom Capital of the World Is In Kennett Square
- Patients with Oxygen Therapy
- Pennsylvania Is the Chocolate Capital of the United States
- Every Year on Christmas Day, Pennsylvanians Re-enact the Crossing of the Delaware
- Pittsburgh City Has 300 Sets of Maintained Steps
- Kane Borough Is Known as the Black Cherry Capital of the World
Philadelphia Is Home to the Liberty Bell
The first of our Pennsylvania facts centers on an important part of the history of the United States. Philadelphia is the place in which you will find the iconic symbol of American Independence, also known as The Liberty Bell. It was originally placed in the Pennsylvania State House, but is currently housed in the Independence National Historical Park.
The bell itself was commissioned by Lester and Pack, a firm of bell makers based in London, England, in 1752. It was used at first to summon lawmakers and legislators to meetings and to alert members of the public to public meetings and proclamations.
It apparently gained its very distinctive crack when it was rung loudly after the death of John Marshal, the Chief Justice, in 1835.
It also gained real fame as the Liberty Bell after an apocryphal story which claims an elderly bell ringer struck it on 4 July 1776 after the Second Congress voted for US Independence.
Harrisburg Replaced Bellafonte as State Capital
Bellefonte town was once considered to be the heartland of Pennsylvania. Despite having a population of only around 5,000 people, it was considered the capital at the end of the 18th century. Harrisburg became the capital in 1812 after it was felt this was more appropriate due to its better transportation links with the Susquehanna River.
Philadelphia Zoo Was Founded by Benjamin Franklin
However, he did not live to see his plan come to fruition. Franklin died in 1790, nearly 60 years before the zoo was finally built in the Centennial District of the city. The zoo is the oldest in America. The opening was delayed after the outbreak of the American Civil war, and it was finally opened fully in 1874. Today, it is an attraction that aims to look after and care for animals that are currently finding it hard to breed in captivity. It is currently home to around 1,300 different species of animal, many of which are considered rare and endangered.
Pennsylvania Is the Birthplace of Hollywood Actor James Stewart
The next one of our Pennsylvania facts concerns a world famous actor, loved by many. Born in Indiana, Pennsylvania in May 1908, Stewart is probably most well-known for his performance in the classic Frank Capra comedy-drama It’s A Wonderful Life. Stewart was genuinely a rarity amongst Hollywood actors then and now; a family man, devoted to his wife and family and someone who his colleagues describe as being a genuine and true professional. Every year, during the Christmas season, in Indiana, downtown residents of the city will decorate the street in the same theme as “It’s A Wonderful Life” to commemorate not only the film, but also the man who was born and raised in their town.
Indiana Is Known as Christmas Tree Capital of the World
Which perhaps given our last fact is very prescient! The county of Indiana happens to be known as the Christmas tree capital of the world. In fact, it has its own Christmas Tree Growers Association too. This is because the area has soils that are highly suited to growing the many varied different types of evergreen tree species used as Christmas trees.
Philadelphia Produced the First Daily Newspaper in 1783
The next of our Pennsylvania facts tells us that it was the state in which America’s first daily newspaper was produced. The Philadelphia Evening Post was sent to press for the first time in 1783. It was set up and published by a gentleman called Benjamin Towne. It only lasted as a daily paper for some 17 months, however.
Johann Behrent Built the First Piano in Philadelphia in 1775
The piano as we know it today, as we’ll find out in the next of our Pennsylvania facts, was built in its most recognizable form by Johann Behrent in Philadelphia in 1775. He originally called it the piano forte. Indeed, some musicians and scholars still do call it by that name today, even though most of us will shorten it to piano.
The First US Flag Is Reported to Have Been Made in Pennsylvania
Legend has it that a woman called Betsy Ross was the first woman to make the US flag, in 1776 in Philadelphia. This was reportedly done on the orders of George Washington, and there is a famous portrait by Edward Percy Moran depicting the scene in which she presents the flag to Washington after she has made it. However, it may simply be the stuff of legend as there is little archival evidence to support this story.
ENIAC – the World’s First Computer Was Built in Philadelphia in 1946
The next of our fascinating Pennsylvania facts tells us about this marvel of modern technology. ENIAC, the world’s first proper computer, was unveiled to the public at the University of Pennsylvania in February 1946. It cost $500,000 to build and was capable of performing complex calculations. It was originally built to help with the US Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory to calculate artillery fire. Interestingly, the six people involved in learning to program the machine were a group of women. Kay McNulty, Fran Bilas, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff and Ruth Lichterman learned how to properly code and debug the machine.
The Mushroom Capital of the World Is In Kennett Square
Kennett Square is in Chester County. It is known as the mushroom capital of the world because as many as 1 million mushrooms are produced there every single week. The area also plays host to an annual mushroom festival. People can tour mushroom farms and buy all sorts of mushroom related foodstuffs during this time. Delicious!
Pennsylvania Was the First State to Treat Pneumonia Patients with Oxygen Therapy
In 1885 a patient named Frederick Gable was suffering with pneumonia so badly that he is alleged to have cried out “Doctor, if you do not give me something to help with my breathing, I am going to stop!” The patient’s doctor was called George Holtzapple and the scene took place in a town called Loganville. Holtzapple did not want to lose any more of his patients to this killer disease and so decided to try treating the young man with the first known application of oxygen therapy. He saved the life of Frederick and became world famous for his new treatment method.
Pennsylvania Is the Chocolate Capital of the United States
The next of our interesting Pennsylvania facts tells us about a yummy treat many of us love. The next time you sink your teeth into a delicious Hershey bar, give thanks to Pennsylvania, which is considered the chocolate capital of the USA. The Hershey Company was founded there in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey. He had initially had a business called the Lancaster Caramel Company which he sold on for the equivalent of $28 million in today’s money! With the proceeds, he set up a chocolate making plant in his home town of Hershey. He provided a proper community for his workers, giving them accommodation and affordable living. The chocolate was a success and the company grew rapidly. Today, the company has an annual turnover of around $7.1 billion!
Every Year on Christmas Day, Pennsylvanians Re-enact the Crossing of the Delaware
The next of our fascinating Pennsylvania facts centers on the American Civil War. On the evening of 25 December 1776, George Washington led a troop of army soldiers across the Delaware River to attack the Hessian Forces (German fighting troops who were enlisted by the British Army to fight for them) over in New Jersey. They defeated the forces there and returned with many prisoners. Each year at Washington Crossing Historic Park, the crossing is reenacted, on Christmas day, and the people taking part use exact replica boats. These are called Durham Boats, and are large vessels that were used to transport Pig Iron along the Delaware River.
Pittsburgh City Has 300 Sets of Maintained Steps
Handy if you want to keep fit and on the move! It is believed that if you were to stack all the city’s steps on top of each other they would reach a height of 26,000 feet, higher than most of the Himalayan Mountains!
Kane Borough Is Known as the Black Cherry Capital of the World
The last of our Pennsylvania facts tells us about the Borough of Kane. It is known as the black cherry capital of the world, but it isn’t about the fruit, as the name might suggest. Rather, it is because the area produces a large amount of very good quality black cherry timber, highly prized and sought after for making cabinets and furniture from.
Pennsylvania Facts – Facts about Pennsylvania Summary
Facts about Pennsylvania tell us that as well as being the home of Hershey’s chocolate, the state also produces more mushrooms than anywhere else in the USA. It’s a home of serious inventions – the piano and the world’s first working computer were built there. Finally, it’s also a home of medical innovation, being the place where oxygen therapy was first used to treat a patient with pneumonia.