Harrisburg Pennsylvania is a modern, thriving and picturesque city established along the Susquehanna River banks just two hours northwest of Philadelphia. A couple of hours further northwest is the town of State College, a small village-cum-university-town established in 1896 and home to Penn State University. With more than a half-million residents, Harrisburg is one of the five largest cities in Pennsylvania following the well-known cities of Pittsburgh and Scranton. It is considered one of the best places to live and raise a family in the United States. The local economy began thriving at the onslaught of heavy industry beginning in the mid-twentieth century.
The Susquehanna River has always been Harrisburg’s guiding light; it is what first drew Native Americans to its riverbanks circa 3000 B.C. The location was appealing as a crossroads for the Natives; it was here that important river trails connect leading from the Potomac, Ohio, and Delaware Rivers to the Upper Susquehanna River. Englishman John Harris Senior acquired 800 acres of land in 1719 which his son, John Harris Junior, incorporated into Harrisburg in 1791. It became the state capital in 1812. In the early to mid 19th century, Harrisburg was mainly reliant on farming and thus surrounded by farmland. The first capital building was constructed in 1822 and the Union Army trained there prior to the American Civil War. The city was a major connection point between the Midwest and the Atlantic, and also a railroad link favored by the Union. Harrisburg eventually became an important center for steel production and railroad accessibility between 1850 and 1920 and experienced a fairly major industrial decline after the war. The deterioration and abandonment of the inner city led to a significant suburb movement in the 1880 where present day visitors see great examples of Colonial Revival style architecture.
Museums & Attractions
Museums & Attractions
For those who love museums, Harrisburg is an excellent destination worth a time investment of at least a few days. The Harrisburg State Museum alongside the State Capital building presents magnificent collections and exhibits on Pennsylvania history. The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum exhibits the history on firefighting complete with the history, sights, and sound of the profession; the National Civil War Museum and The Doll Museum round off the list. Enjoying the outdoors is easy with Harrisburg attractions like City Island Park, historical Fort Hunter Mansion and Park, and 200+ acres at Wildwood Park including trails and wetland. Metro Bank Park sports complex offers AA baseball games while the Pride of the Susquehanna features cruises down the river from downtown. Broad Street Market continues the farming tradition in Harrisburg by offering an urban farmer’s market in the city center. Strawberry Square near North front Street is the city’s premier entertainment complex where dining, shopping, and entertainment are offered.
Harrisburg International Airport
Harrisburg International Airport Image: Hey Paul (flickr)
East of the suburb of Middle Town and off the Pennsylvania Turnpike is Harrisburg International Airport. The public airport is southeast of the central business district and less then ten miles away in the township of Lower Swatara. As one of the top three busiest airports in the state, the airport hosts almost 20 major airlines offering in and out of country flights to destinations including Toronto, Canada, Chicago-O’Hare, Cleveland, Boston, and Detroit.
Harrisburg PA Hotels & Lodging
Hotels and lodging in Harrisburg is mostly convenient to the central business district and downtown core as well major attractions. The majority of hotels are located off the Harrisburg expressway (Highway 83), with several close to the scenic Susquehanna River. Visitors wishing to stay directly on the river for the best views have a choice between the Days Inn Harrisburg North at Hersey Park, and the Comfort Inn Riverfront near the national Civil War Museum. Near Broad Street Market and the Capital building are accommodation options Inn where high speed internet, spacious suites, and onsite dining are available.