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Harrisburg - History

Harrisburg - History


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Harrisburg


Harrisburg: History

Topics include Dining Scene, United States: For Foreign Visitors & more!

The first European to visit the area that is now Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was the Englishman Captain John Smith during his famous journey north from Virginia in 1608. Captain Smith did not settle there, but is known to have made contact with the native people. The first person from the Old World to settle the area was also an Englishman, John Harris, who founded a trading post and ferry service in 1710 because of the area's access to the Susquehanna River. The area was eventually heavily settled by German immigrants who farmed the land, and were so successful at it that they were not allowed to join the army during the Revolution, but asked to continue farming in order to feed it.

Harrisburg became a major business center and eventually the state capital in 1812. It was a major hub connecting the North and the South with its waterways and railroads and would become an important strategic point during the American Civil War as an army training center for the Union. It was the aim of General Robert E. Lee to march on the city when he changed his mind and diverted his troops to nearby Gettysburg.

Today Harrisburg is still the state's capital and a major Pennsylvania business city.


Coming 2020-2021 — a curated collection of social and historical datasets of Harrisburg available for download. Harrisburg Population Population Data Census Table 1900 (.xls) Census Table 1910 (.xls) Municipal League for Civic Improvement members (.xls) Residents of Bellevue Park in 1920 and 1930 (.xls) Geospatial Data 1901 Geospatial Population Data (.zip) Spanish Influenza Outbreak 1918&hellip


The Capitol A National Historic Landmark

Pennsylvania's Capitol is, first and foremost, a public building belonging to the citizens of the Commonwealth. It is also a priceless architectural and artistic treasure, a majestic symbol of history and power, and an icon of democracy and freedom.

When President Theodore Roosevelt attended the dedication of the building on October 4, 1906, he said, "This is the handsomest building I ever saw." The Capitol was designed in the American Renaissance style by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), who envisioned the building as a "Palace of Art."

Built and furnished at a cost of $13 million, the Capitol features paintings, stained glass and furnishings by some of the best artisans of the day. The building incorporates various Renaissance designs in some of its largest rooms: Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor's Reception Room. It also reflects Greek, Roman and Victorian influences in its art and ornamentation. Throughout the building, Huston blended the various styles with motifs featuring Pennsylvania's achievements in labor, industry and history, making the Capitol uniquely American. Its five-story exterior is faced with handsome Vermont granite, and the roof is composed of green glazed terra cotta tile.

The Capitol's centerpiece is a spectacular 272-foot, 52 million-pound dome inspired by Michelangelo's design for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Following its completion, the building was the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for 80 years. While the building has been modernized over time, efforts to blend form and function continue today, and a special Capitol Preservation Committee ensures that as the building evolves, the artistic elements are never lost. The seat of Pennsylvania's government continues to inspire visitors with its wealth of art, its outstanding architecture, and its strong connection to the vision of the Commonwealth's founder, William Penn, who sought to establish a land that would be governed by just laws and tolerant of all religious faiths.


Gristmills and sawmills were established in Harrisburg, and along the Paxton Creek, brickyards were installed. Paxton Creek became more industrialized after the state allowed the establishment of the Pennsylvania Canal and a railroad line in 1826 and 1837 respectively. The railroad line, later on, turned into the famous Pennsylvania Railroad.

Harrisburg grew into the spotlight during the American Civil War. Since it was the capital of the state and was also located just forty miles away from the Mason-Dixon Line, it served as a central point where Union troops were assembled and dispatched. Camp Curtin was named after Pennsylvania’s wartime governor, where a huge number of Union troops were recruited into service.


Harrisburg - History

Like other Midwest towns in the late 1800s, Harrisburg owes much of its existence to the railroad. Pembina division of the Dakota Southern Railroad passed through the Harrisburg territory August 1, 1879, and a post office was established at the depot. Throughout the early years of Harrisburg’s territory, the post office went through a few names: Saline, Springdale, and finally in 1890, the post office was named Harrisburg and the city was born. The original plat for the town of Harrisburg was recorded on September 26, 1892 with Thomas and Jessie Thorson listed as owners of the land.

Even as far back as 1904 Harrisburg was known for having an independent school district with two substantial school buildings already erected - something to which no other South Dakota town this size or larger came close. Already engrained in 1904 was the fact that Harrisburg had nothing more to be proud of than their schools and churches, which remains true today with an exemplary education system. The first school built was a small white schoolhouse in 1894 with Miss Maude Brown as teacher.

Throughout history, farming and grain export have been the backbone of Harrisburg. Becuase of this, the town has depended on the railway system with main connections in Sioux City and Sioux Falls. In the early years, the main exports consisted of: cattle, hogs, horses, hay, seeds, wheat, corn, oats, barley, flax, potatoes, cheese, butter, eggs, and poultry. In 1905, Harrisburg was seen as the main grain and livestock market producer, far advanced than most of its competition, with 240 cars per year.

One of the early businesses in Harrisburg was the State Bank, circa 1901-1945. The bank’s building is still located in its original spot at 101 Railroad Avenue. Over the years, restorations have taken place in this building with careful consideration to restore the north section of the original bank building to remain as it was in the 1940s. Three vaults, night deposit box, and safety deposit boxes remain in the original spots.

There is much mystery surrounding the bank building, including whether or not the infamous bandit, John Dillinger, robbed it. According to the popular legend, after Dillinger robbed the bank, he fired a round into the teller counter as a reminder not to follow him. That bullet hole remains there today. However, this story has been disputed and it is said that one of John Dillinger’s gang, Baby Face Nelson, was the gunman in the bank. No one knows if it was Dillinger or Nelson who shot the bullet into the teller counter but the bullet hole remains proof and is part of Harrisburg’s history.


Harrisburg history marked by moments of racial unrest | Opinion

When abolitionist Frederick Douglass attended an anti-slavery meeting in Harrisburg in 1847, a white mob interrupted his speech, throwing rotten eggs, shouting racial slurs and setting off firecrackers. Douglass was struck in the back with a stone. "To the everlasting shame, and infamy of the people of Harrisburg, I record the fact that they are at this moment under the dominion of mob law," he wrote to a friend. Getty Images

Two noted abolitionists visited Harrisburg before the Civil War, but their fame did not protect them from violence (or an egging and stoning).

In August 1847, Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison attended an anti-slavery meeting at the Dauphin County Courthouse.

While Douglass spoke, a mob outside the courthouse hurled rotten eggs through the windows, shouted racial slurs and set off firecrackers. An egg smashed into the back of Garrison’s head.

The mob continued its attack as the abolitionists and the audience left the courthouse. A stone struck Douglass in the back, and a brick grazed his head.

Instances of racial unrest have marked Harrisburg’s story for years.

Now there’s a new chapter being written with the recent largely peaceful protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Here are glimpses of racial strife in Harrisburg’s history.

1825 and 1850: Blacks seek to free escaped slaves

As a major transportation hub, 19th-century Harrisburg drew many former enslaved people.

Blacks in Harrisburg sought to free captured fugitive slaves at least twice.


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Pennsylvania's Capitol is, first and foremost, a public building belonging to the citizens of the Commonwealth. It is also a priceless architectural and artistic treasure, a majestic symbol of history and power, and an icon of democracy and freedom.

When President Theodore Roosevelt attended the dedication of the building on October 4, 1906, he said, "This is the handsomest building I ever saw." The Capitol was designed in the American Renaissance style by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), who envisioned the building as a "Palace of Art."

Built and furnished at a cost of $13 million, the Capitol features paintings, stained glass and furnishings by some of the best artisans of the day. The building incorporates various Renaissance designs in some of its largest rooms: Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor's Reception Room. It also reflects Greek, Roman and Victorian influences in its art and ornamentation. Throughout the building, Huston blended the various styles with motifs featuring Pennsylvania's achievements in labor, industry and history, making the Capitol uniquely American. Its five-story exterior is faced with handsome Vermont granite, and the roof is composed of green glazed terra cotta tile.

The Capitol's centerpiece is a spectacular 272-foot, 52 million-pound dome inspired by Michelangelo's design for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Following its completion, the building was the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for 80 years. While the building has been modernized over time, efforts to blend form and function continue today, and a special Capitol Preservation Committee ensures that as the building evolves, the artistic elements are never lost. The seat of Pennsylvania's government continues to inspire visitors with its wealth of art, its outstanding architecture, and its strong connection to the vision of the Commonwealth's founder, William Penn, who sought to establish a land that would be governed by just laws and tolerant of all religious faiths.


25 must-see vintage photos of Harrisburg through the years

Remember when Italian Lake was the place to be to promenade after church on Easter Sunday? Remember when Sears was a large store on Market Square? These must-see photos taken in Harrisburg, Pa., between the early 1900s and 1960s, feature John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon on the campaign trail, the last trolley, some notable bridges and a view of Market Square you might not have seen before.

John F. Kennedy visited Harrisburg multiple times. This iconic photo was taken on Sept. 15, 1960 when he was running for president of the United States. In the background you can clearly see the beloved Spot restaurant.

(Roosevelt Dedication, MG-152, Pennsylvania State Archive) ITEM MG152 PENNSYLVANIA STATE ARCHIVES

President Theodore Roosevelt dedicates the (then) new Pennsylvania State Capitol at State and North Third streets in Harrisburg, Pa., on Oct. 4, 1906. The hatless man at right is Pennsylvania Governor Samuel Pennypacker.

A musical reception greeted Pennsylvania soldiers on return from recent maneuvers in South Carolina. Playing in front of Penn-Harris Hotel, the 104th Cavalry band enlivened 'homecoming' for Keystone State units when they traveled through city on way to Indiantown Gap. Photo dated 1942 and stamped The Scrantonian, Scranton, Pa.

The $1.3 million, 10-story Penn-Harris Hotel at North Third and Walnut streets opened Dec. 31, 1918. “Lush with dark wood, crystal chandeliers, wrought iron, marble and rich draperies and staffed with liveried attendants, the Penn-Harris was the first 20th-century high-rise hotel in Harrisburg,” wrote former staff writer Mary O. Bradley.

(Historical Society of Dauphin County) PN

In this photo, Harrisburg school girls are making baskets on McCormick’s Island in Harrisburg, Pa., in the early 1900s. James McCormick had gifted the island to the city for parks and recreation. In July 1912 a summer camp for girls was held there. They learned cooking, baking, sewing, embroidery and making raffia baskets.

Commonwealth Hotel in Harrisburg was destroyed by a fire on April 12, 1921. At this time it was called the Dauphin Building. This fire burned for 12 hours and destroyed the building. It was rebuilt.

Photo by T. B. Keene dated April 15, 1926.

The Old State Street Bridge, also known as the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Bridge, was built in 1873. Construction on the current bridge began in 1926.

One-way traffic heads west on the Walnut Street Bridge in Harrisburg, Pa., toward Wormleysburg, September 1958. The Walnut Street Bridge – also known as Old Shakey - was built in 1890 as an alternative to the tolled Market Street Bridge. It was damaged during Tropical Storm Agnes and was designated for use by bicycles and pedestrians only. Then in 1996, flood and ice destroyed western spans of the bridge, disconnecting it from the West Shore.

(Provided by Richard L. Tritt of the Cumberland County Historical Society from the book series on the History of Cumberland County Book 5 page 81b.) Cumberland County Historical Society

The Market Street Bridge under construction from Harrisburg, Pa., in 1905. The Market Street Bridge replaced the Camelback Bridge, opening Feb. 27, 1904. It was a toll bridge until 1957. The columns are from the old state Capitol, which burned in February 1897. In 1926, the eastern span of the steel Market Street Bridge was floated on boats to the west side of City Island where it was placed alongside the existing bridge to widen it. The present stone arch bridge was constructed on the east side. The completed structure opened in 1928.


Watch the video: History of the HCS - Part 1 Harrisburg in 1895 (June 2022).


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