Home | Articles | Ghana Articles | Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

By
Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
Pennsylvania

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Listeni/ˌpɛnsɨlˈveɪnjə/ is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to the east. The state's four most populous cities are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Erie. The state capital is Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km) of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles (92 km) of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary. As of the 2000, and 2010 census, Pennsylvania has one of the largest European American populations and a strong African American population.

Geography
Further information: Geography of Pennsylvania and List of counties in Pennsylvania
Counties of Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads

Pennsylvania is 170 miles (274 km) north to south and 283 miles (455 km) east to west. Of a total 46,055 square miles (119,282 km2), 44,817 square miles (116,075 km2) are land, 490 square miles (1,269 km2) are inland waters, and 749 square miles (1,940 km2) are waters in Lake Erie. It is the 33rd largest state in the United States. Pennsylvania has 51 miles (82 km) of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles (92 km) of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary.

The bounds of the state are the Mason-Dixon Line (39° 43' N) to the south, the Twelve-Mile Circle on the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, the Delaware River to the east, 80° 31' W to the west, and the 42° N to the north, with the exception of a short segment on the western end, where a triangle extends north to Lake Erie.

Pennsylvania borders six other states: New York to the north; New Jersey to the east; Delaware and Maryland to the southeast; West Virginia to the southwest, and Ohio to the west. Pennsylvania also shares a water border with Canada. Of the original Thirteen Colonies, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not border the Atlantic Ocean.

It has the cities of Philadelphia, York, Reading and Lancaster in the southeast, Pittsburgh in the southwest, the tri-cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in the central east (known as the Lehigh Valley), the tri-cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Hazleton in the northeast, and Erie in the northwest. Williamsport serves as the "hub" of the commonwealth's north-central region, with state capital Harrisburg on the Susquehanna River in the central region of the commonwealth.

Climate
Main article: Climate of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's diverse topography also produces a variety of climates. Straddling two major zones, the majority of the state, with the exception of the southeastern corner, has a humid continental climate. Greater Philadelphia has some characteristics of the humid subtropical climate that covers much of Delaware and Maryland to the south.

Moving toward the mountainous interior of the state, the climate becomes markedly colder, the number of cloudy days increases, and winter snowfall amounts are greater. Western areas of the state, particularly cities near Lake Erie, can receive over 100 inches (254 cm) of snowfall annually, and the entire state receives plentiful precipitation throughout the year. The state may be subject to severe weather from spring through summer into fall, as an average of 10 tornadoes touch down each year in the state.

Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, East Stroudsburg
See also: Renewable energy law in Pennsylvania

History
Main article: History of Pennsylvania
See also: Province of Pennsylvania, List of Pennsylvania firsts , and List of people from Pennsylvania

Before the Commonwealth was settled by Europeans, the area was home to the Delaware (also known as Lenni Lenape), Susquehannock, Iroquois, Eriez, Shawnee, and other American Indian Nations. Both the Dutch and the English claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands in America. The Dutch were the first to take possession, which has impact on the history of Pennsylvania.

By June 3, 1631, the Dutch had started up the DelMarVa Peninsula by establishing the Zwaanendael Colony on the site of present day Lewes, Delaware. In 1638, Sweden heated up the issue by establishing the New Sweden Colony, centered on Fort Christina, on the site of present day Wilmington, Delaware. New Sweden claimed and, for the most part, controlled the lower Delaware River region (Parts of present Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) but settled few colonists there.
Penn's Treaty with the Indians, by Edward Hicks.

On March 12, 1664, King Charles II of England gave James, Duke of York a grant that included all of the lands included in the original Virginia Company of Plymouth Grant as well as other lands. This grant was – again – in conflict with the Dutch claim for New Netherland, which included parts of today’s Pennsylvania.

On June 24, 1664, The Duke of York sold the portion of his large grant that included present day New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony. As of yet, the land was not in British possession, but the sale boxed in the portion of New Netherland on the West side of the Delaware River. The British conquest of New Netherland was commenced on August 29, 1664, when New Amsterdam was coerced to surrender, facing the cannons on British ships in New York Harbor. This conquest continued, and was completed in October of 1664, when the British captured Fort Casimir in what today is New Castle, Delaware.
John Dickinson

The Peace of Breda between England, France and the Netherlands confirmed the British conquest on July 21, 1667, although there were temporary reversions.

On September 12, 1672, as part of the Third Anglo—Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered New York Colony/New Amsterdam, the Dutch established three County Courts which went on to become original Counties in present day Delaware and Pennsylvania. The one that later transferred to Pennsylvania was Upland. This was partially reversed on February 9, 1674, when the Treaty of Westminster ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War, and reverted all political situations to the Status Quo Ante Bellum. The British retained the Dutch Counties with their Dutch names. By June 11, 1674, New York reasserted control over the outlying colonies, including Upland, but the names started to be changed to British names by November 11, 1674. Upland was partitioned on November 12, 1674, producing the general outline of the current border between Pennsylvania and Delaware.

On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) owed to William's father, Admiral Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. It was called Pennsylvania. William Penn, who wanted it called New Wales or Sylvania, was embarrassed at the change, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant. Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction.

What had been Upland on what became the Pennsylvania side of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Border was renamed as Chester County when Pennsylvania instituted their colonial governments on March 4, 1681. The Quaker leader William Penn had signed a peace treaty with Tammany, leader of the Delaware tribe, beginning a long period of friendly relations between the Quakers and the Indians. Additional treaties between Quakers and other tribes followed. The treaty of William Penn was never violated.

Between 1730 and when it was shut down by Parliament with the Currency Act of 1764, the Pennsylvania Colony made its own paper money to account for the shortage of actual gold and silver. The paper money was called Colonial Scrip. The Colony issued "bills of credit", which were as good as gold or silver coins because of their legal tender status. Since they were issued by the government and not a banking institution, it was an interest-free proposition, largely defraying the expense of the government and therefore taxation of the people. It also promoted general employment and prosperity, since the Government used discretion and did not issue too much to inflate the currency. Benjamin Franklin had a hand in creating this currency, of which he said its utility was never to be disputed, and it also met with the "cautious approval" of Adam Smith.
President's House, Philadelphia. The Masters-Penn mansion housed Pennsylvania's governor in the early 1770s. It later served as the presidential mansion of George Washington and John Adams, 1790–1800, while Philadelphia was the temporary national capital.

After the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, Delegate John Dickinson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. The Congress was the first meeting of the thirteen colonies, called at the request of the Massachusetts Assembly, but only nine colonies sent delegates. Dickinson then wrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, which were published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle between December 2, 1767, and February 15, 1768.

When the Founding Fathers of the United States convened in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress, which also met in Philadelphia (in May, 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent colonies into a new nation. Later, the Constitution was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Nation.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, five days after Delaware became the first.

Dickinson College of Carlisle was the first college founded in the United States. Established in 1773, the college was ratified five days after the Treaty of Paris on September 9, 1783. The school was founded by Benjamin Rush and named after John Dickinson.
The "Hills Capitol", used from 1821 until it burned down in 1897

For half a century, the Commonwealth's General Assembly (legislature) met at various places in the general Philadelphia area before starting to meet regularly in Independence Hall in Philadelphia for 63 years. But it needed a more central location, as for example the Paxton Boys massacres of 1763 had made the legislature aware. So, in 1799 the General Assembly moved to the Lancaster Courthouse, and finally in 1812 to Harrisburg.

The General Assembly met in the old Dauphin County Court House until December 1821, when the Federal-style "Hills Capitol" (named for its builder, Stephen Hills, a Lancaster architect) was constructed on a hilltop land grant of four acres set aside for a seat of state government by the prescient, entrepreneurial son and namesake of John Harris, Sr., a Yorkshire native who had founded a trading post in 1705 and ferry (1733) on the east shore of the Susquehanna River.[44] The Hills Capitol burned down on February 2, 1897, during a heavy snowstorm, presumably because of a faulty flue.

The General Assembly met at Grace Methodist Church on State Street (still standing) until the a new capitol could be built. Following an architectural selection contest that many alleged had been "rigged," Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb was charged with designing and building a replacement building; however, the legislature had little money to allocate to the project, and a roughly finished, somewhat industrial building (the Cobb Capitol) was completed. The General Assembly refused to occupy the building. Political and popular indignation in 1901 prompted a second contest that was restricted to Pennsylvania architects, and Joseph Miller Huston of Philadelphia was chosen to design the present Pennsylvania State Capitol that incorporated Cobb's building into magnificent public work finished and dedicated in 1907.
Roosevelt's FERA camp for unemployed women, 1934

The new state Capitol drew rave reviews. Its dome was inspired by the domes of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the United States Capitol. President Theodore Roosevelt called it "the most beautiful state Capitol in the nation" and said, "It's the handsomest building I ever saw" at the dedication. In 1989, the New York Times praised it as "grand, even awesome at moments, but it is also a working building, accessible to citizens ... a building that connects with the reality of daily life".

Pennsylvania accounts for nine percent of wooded areas in the United States. In 1923 President Calvin Coolidge established the Allegheny National Forest under the authority of the Weeks Act of 1911 in the northwest part of the state in Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren Counties for the purposes of timber production and watershed protection in the Allegheny River basin. The Allegheny is the state's only national forest.

James Buchanan, of Franklin County, the only bachelor President of the United States, was the only one to be born in Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg—the major turning point of the Civil War—took place near Gettysburg. An estimated 350,000 Pennsylvanians served in the Union Army forces along with 8,600 African American military volunteers.

Pennsylvania was also the home of the first commercially drilled oil well. In 1859, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin L. Drake successfully drilled the well, which led to the first major oil boom in United States history.

Demographics

As of the 2010 census, the state was 79.5% White, 10.8% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.7% Asian, and 1.9% were two or more races. 5.7% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.

Pennsylvania's Hispanic population grew by 82.6% between 2000 and 2010, making it one of the largest increases in a state's Hispanic population. The significant growth of the Hispanic population is due to immigration to the state mainly from Puerto Rico, which is a US territory, and from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and various Central and South American nations, as well as from the wave of Hispanics fleeing New York and New Jersey for safer and more affordable living. The Asian population swelled by almost 60%, which was fueled by Indian, Vietnamese, and Chinese immigration, as well the many Asian transplants moving to Philadelphia from New York. The rapid growth of this community has given Pennsylvania one of the largest Asian populations in the nation by numerical values. The Black and African American population grow by 13%, which was the largest increase in that population amongst the state's peers (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan).The White population declined by 0.7%, a trend that is beginning to reverse itself. Twelve other states saw decreases in their White populations.

The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Perry County, in the borough of Duncannon.
State population from 1790 to 2000
Pennsylvania's population distribution.

As of 2006, Pennsylvania has an estimated population of 12,440,621, which is an increase of 35,273 from the previous year and an increase of 159,567 since the year 2000. Net migration from other states resulted in a decrease of 27,718, and immigration from other countries resulted in an increase of 127,007. Net migration to the Commonwealth was 98,289. Migration of native Pennsylvanians resulted in a decrease of 100,000 people. In 2006, 5.00% of Pennsylvanians were foreign born (621,480 people). The state has an estimated 2005 poverty rate of 11.9%. The state also has the 3rd highest proportion of elderly (65+) citizens in 2005.

Foreign born Pennsylvanians are largely from Asia (36.0%), Europe (35.9%), Latin America (30.6%), Africa (5%), North America (3.1%), and Oceania (0.4%).

Pennsylvania's reported population of Hispanics, especially among the Asian, Hawaiian and White races, has markedly increased in recent years. The Hispanic population is greatest in Allentown, Lancaster, Reading, Hazleton, and around Philadelphia, with over 20% being Hispanic. It is not clear how much of this change reflects a changing population and how much reflects increased willingness to self-identify minority status. As of 2010, it is estimated that about 85% of all Hispanics in Pennsylvania live within a 150 miles (240 km) radius of Philadelphia, and about 20% within the city itself.

Pennsylvania's population was reported as 5.9% under 5 and 23.8% under 18, with 15.6% aged 65 or older. Females made up 51.7% of the population.The largest ancestry groups are listed below, expressed as a percentage of total people who responded with a particular ancestry for the 2006–2008 census:

    28.5% German
    18.2% Irish
    12.8% Italian
    10.3% African American
    8.5% English
    7.2% Polish
    4.2% French Canadian
    2.8% Puerto Rican
    2.2% Dutch
    2.0% Slovak
    2.0% Scotch Irish
    1.7% Scottish
    1.6% Russian
    1.5% Welsh
    1.2% Hungarian
    1.0% Ukrainian

The five largest estimated ancestry groups in Pennsylvania are: German (28.5%), Irish (18.2%), Italian (12.8%), English (8.5%) and Polish (7.2%).
Historical populations
Census     Pop.         %±
1790     434,373        

1800     602,365         38.7%
1810     810,091         34.5%
1820     1,049,458         29.5%
1830     1,348,233         28.5%
1840     1,724,033         27.9%
1850     2,311,786         34.1%
1860     2,906,215         25.7%
1870     3,521,951         21.2%
1880     4,282,891         21.6%
1890     5,258,113         22.8%
1900     6,302,115         19.9%
1910     7,665,111         21.6%
1920     8,720,017         13.8%
1930     9,631,350         10.5%
1940     9,900,180         2.8%
1950     10,498,012         6.0%
1960     11,319,366         7.8%
1970     11,793,909         4.2%
1980     11,863,895         0.6%
1990     11,881,643         0.1%
2000     12,281,054         3.4%
2010     12,702,379         3.4%

Religion
“     The new sovereign also enacted several wise and wholesome laws for his colony, which have remained invariably the same to this day. The chief is, to ill–treat no person on account of religion, and to consider as brethren all those who believe in one God.
– Voltaire, speaking of William Penn ”

Of all the colonies, only Rhode Island had religious freedom as secure as in Pennsylvania, and one result was a wide religious diversity, one which continues to this day.

Pennsylvania's population in 2000 was 12,281,054. Of these, 8,448,193 were estimated to belong to some sort of organized religion. According to the Association of religion data archives at Pennsylvania State University, reliable data exists for 7,116,348 religious adherents in Pennsylvania in 2000 following 115 different faiths. Their affiliations, including percentage of all adherents, were:

    Roman Catholic: 3,802,524 (53.43%)
    Orthodox: 75,354 (1.06%)
    Mainline Protestant: 2,140,682 (30%)
        United Methodist Church: 659,350 (9.27%)
        Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 611,913 (8.60%)
        Presbyterian Church: 324,714 (4.56%)
        United Church of Christ: 241,844 (3.40%)
        American Baptist Churches in the USA: 132,858 (1.87%)
        Episcopal Church: 116,511 (1.64%)
    Evangelical Protestant: 704,204 (10%)
        Assemblies of God: 84,153 (1.18%)
        Church of the Brethren: 52,684 (0.74%)
        Mennonite Church USA: 48,215 (0.68%)
        Christian and Missionary Alliance: 45,926 (0.65%)
        Southern Baptist Convention: 44,432 (0.62%)
        Independent Non-charismatic churches: 42,992 (0.60%)
    Other theology: 393,584 (5.53%)
        Jewish estimate: 283,000 (3.98%)(4th largest in the United States) (Could be as high as 350,000)
        Muslim estimate: 71,190 (1.00%)
        The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 31,032 (0.44%)
        Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations: 6,778 (0.10%)

While Pennsylvania has a very numerous Amish population, Holmes County, Ohio has the largest Amish population in the world. While Pennsylvania owes its existence to Quakers and many of the older trappings of the Commonwealth are rooted in the teachings of the Religious Society of Friends (as they are officially known), practicing Quakers are a small minority today.

Pennsylvania Dutch

The term "Dutch," when referring to the Pennsylvania Dutch, means "German" or "Teutonic" rather than "Netherlander." Germans, in their own language, call themselves "Deutsch," which in English became, misleadingly, "Dutch." The Pennsylvania Dutch language is a descendant of German, in the West Central German dialect family. Although it is still spoken as a first language among some Old Order Amish and Mennonites (principally in the Lancaster County area), the language is almost extinct as an everyday language among the non-religious, though a few words have passed into English usage.

Economy
Bethlehem Steel's closed manufacturing facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This site later became a new multi-million dollar Sands Casino Resort in 2009 and became the site of the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks, Levitt Pavilion Steelstacks, and PBS 39 in 2011.

Pennsylvania's 2010 total gross state product (GSP) of $570 billion ranks the state 6th in the nation. If Pennsylvania were an independent country, its economy would rank as the 18th largest in the world. On a per-capita basis, Pennsylvania's per-capita GSP of $39,830 ranks 29th among the 50 states.Philadelphia in the southeast corner, Pittsburgh in the southwest corner, Erie in the northwest corner, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in the northeast corner, and Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton in the east central region are urban manufacturing centers. Much of the Commonwealth is rural; this dichotomy affects state politics as well as the state economy. Philadelphia is home to six Fortune 500 companies, with more located in suburbs like King of Prussia; it's a leader in the financial and insurance industry.

Pittsburgh is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, including U.S. Steel, PPG Industries, and H.J. Heinz. In all, Pennsylvania is home to fifty Fortune 500 companies. Erie is also home to GE Transportation Systems, which is the largest producer of train locomotives in the United States.

As in the US as a whole and in most states, the largest private employer in the Commonwealth is Wal-Mart, followed by the University of Pennsylvania.

As of July 2011, the state's unemployment rate is 7.4%.

Banking

The first nationally chartered bank in the United States, the Bank of North America, was founded in 1781 in Philadelphia. After a series of mergers, the Bank of North America is part of Wells Fargo, which uses national charter 1.

Pennsylvania is also the home to the first nationally-chartered bank under the 1863 National Banking Act. That year, the Pittsburgh Savings & Trust Company received a national charter and renamed itself the First National Bank of Pittsburgh as part of the National Banking Act. That bank is still in existence today as PNC Financial Services, and remains based in Pittsburgh. PNC is the state's largest bank, and the sixth-largest in the United States.

Agriculture

Pennsylvania ranks 19th overall in agricultural production, but 1st in mushrooms, 3rd in Christmas trees and layer chickens, 4th in nursery and sod, milk, corn for silage, grapes grown (including juice grapes), and horses production. It also ranks 8th in the nation in Winemaking.

Gambling

Casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2004. Currently, there are nine casinos across the state with three under construction or in planning. Only horse racing, slot machines and electronic table games were legal in Pennsylvania, although a bill to legalize table games was being negotiated in the fall of 2009. Tables games such as poker, roulette, black jack and dice were finally approved by the state legislature in January 2010, being signed into law by the Governor on January 7. Sports betting is illegal.

Governor Ed Rendell had considered legalizing video poker machines in bars and private clubs in 2009, since an estimated 17,000 operate illegally across the state. Under this plan, any establishment with a liquor license would be allowed up to 5 machines. All machines would be connected to the state's computer system, like commercial casinos. The state would impose a 50% tax on net gambling revenues, after winning players have been paid, with the remaining 50% going to the establishment owners.

Governance

Government
Main article: Government of Pennsylvania
See also: Commonwealth (U.S. state)

Pennsylvania has had five constitutions during its statehood: 1776, 1790, 1838, 1874, and 1968. Prior to that, the province of Pennsylvania was governed for a century by a Frame of Government, of which there were four versions: 1682, 1683, 1696, and 1701. The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg. The legislature meets in the State Capitol there.

In recent elections, Pennsylvania has leaned Democratic; however, in 2010, Republicans recaptured a U.S. Senate seat, with the election of Pat Toomey, as well as a majority of the state's congressional seats and control of both chambers of the state legislature. Additionally, Republicans regained control of the governor's office when Tom Corbett was sworn in on January 18, 2011.

Governor
Main article: List of Governors of Pennsylvania

The current Governor is Tom Corbett, former Attorney General of Pennsylvania. The other elected officials composing the executive branch are the Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Attorney General Linda Kelly, Auditor General Jack Wagner, and State Treasurer Robert McCord.
See also: List of Pennsylvania state agencies

General Assembly
Main article: Pennsylvania General Assembly

Pennsylvania has a bicameral legislature set up by Commonwealth's constitution in 1790. The original Frame of Government of William Penn had a unicameral legislature. The General Assembly includes 50 Senators and 203 Representatives. Joe Scarnati is currently President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, Dominic Pileggi the Majority Leader, and Jay Costa the Minority Leader. Sam Smith is Speaker of the House of Representatives, with Mike Turzai as Majority Leader and Frank Dermody as Minority Leader. As of the 2010 elections, the Republicans hold the majority in the State House and Senate.

Judiciary
Main article: Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts, most of which (except Philadelphia) have magisterial district judges (formerly called district justices and justices of the peace), who preside mainly over preliminary hearings in felony and misdemeanor offenses, all minor (summary) criminal offenses, and small civil claims. Most criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas, which also serve as appellate courts to the district judges and for local agency decisions. The Superior Court hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court. It also has original jurisdiction to review warrants for wiretap surveillance. The Commonwealth Court is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected; the chief justice is determined by seniority.

Taxation

Pennsylvania has the 10th highest tax burden in the United States. Residents pay a total of $83.7 billion in state and local taxes with a per capita average of $6,640 annually. Residents share 76% of the total tax burden. Many state politicians have tried to increase the share of taxes paid by out of state sources. Suggested revenue sources include taxing natural gas drilling as Pennsylvania is the only state without such a taxation on gas drilling. Additional revenue prospects include trying to place tolls on interstate highways; specifically Interstate 80 which is used heavily by out of state commuters with high maintenance costs.

Sales tax provides 39% of Commonwealth's revenue; personal income tax 34%; motor vehicle taxes about 12%, and taxes on cigarettes and alcohol beverage 5%. Personal income tax is a flat 3.07%. An individual's taxable income is based on the following eight types of income: compensation (salary); interest; dividends; net profits from the operation of a business, profession or farm; net gains or income from the dispositions of property; net gains or income from rents, royalties, patents and copyrights; income derived through estates or trusts; and gambling and lottery winnings (other than Pennsylvania Lottery winnings).

Counties, municipalities, and school districts levy taxes on real estate. In addition, some local bodies assess a wage tax on personal income. Generally, the total wage tax rate is capped at 1% of income but some municipalities with home rule charters may charge more than 1%. Thirty-two of the Commonwealth's sixty-seven counties levy a personal property tax on stocks, bonds, and similar holdings.

Representation in the 112th Congress

Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senators in the 112th Congress are Bob Casey, Jr. and Pat Toomey.

Pennsylvania's U.S. Representatives for the term beginning January 2011 are Bob Brady (1st), Chaka Fattah (2nd), Mike Kelly (3rd), Jason Altmire (4th), Glenn "G.T." Thompson (5th), Jim Gerlach (6th), Pat Meehan (7th), Mike Fitzpatrick (8th), Bill Shuster (9th), Tom Marino (10th), Lou Barletta (11th), Mark Critz (12th), Allyson Schwartz (13th), Mike Doyle (14th), Charlie Dent (15th), Joe Pitts (16th), Tim Holden (17th), Tim Murphy (18th), and Todd Platts (19th).

See map of congressional districts

Regional strength

In the past decade, no political party has been clearly dominant in Pennsylvania. This, combined with Pennsylvania's rank of 6th in the country in population, has made it one of the most important swing states. Democrats are strong in Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Erie County, Allegheny County, and Lackawanna County. Republicans are strong in Lancaster County, York County, Franklin County, Westmoreland County, Butler County, Blair County, Lycoming County, and Cumberland County. Swing counties in the state include Lehigh County, Northampton County, Bucks County, Chester County, Dauphin County, Cambria County, Beaver County, Mercer County, and Monroe County. In general, the Democrats are strongest in the large metro areas, particularly Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre,and Allentown, while Republican support is widespread in rural areas in the central Allegheny Mountains and in the northern counties.

Since 1992, Pennsylvania has been trending Democratic in Presidential elections (though the Pittsburgh metropolitan area trended more Republican in the 2008 Presidential election), voting for Bill Clinton twice by large margins, and slightly closer in 2000 for Al Gore. In the 2004 Presidential Election, Senator John F. Kerry beat President George W. Bush in Pennsylvania 2,938,095 (50.92%) to 2,793,847 (48.42%). Most recently, in the 2008 Presidential Election, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in Pennsylvania, 3,184,778 (54%) to 2,584,088 (44%). The state holds 21 electoral votes.
Further information: Political party strength in Pennsylvania

The 2010 elections witnessed Republican victories throughout the state. Republicans captured control of the governor's office and both chambers of the state legislature. Republican Pat Toomey defeated Democrat Joe Sestak for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Democratic senator Arlen Specter (Specter had won the previous election as a Republican, but switched parties in 2009). Republicans also won five previously Democratic-held House seats, creating a 12–7 Republican majority congressional delegation.

Municipalities

Pennsylvania is divided into 67 counties. Counties are further subdivided into municipalities that are either incorporated as cities, boroughs, or townships. One county, Philadelphia County, is coterminus with the city of Philadelphia after it was consolidated in 1854.

There are a total of 56 cities in Pennsylvania, which are classified, by population, as either first, second, or third class cities. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, has a population of 1,547,297 and is the state's only first class city. Pittsburgh (305,647) and Scranton (76,072) are second class and second class 'A' cities, respectively.

The rest of the cities, like the third and fourth largest—Allentown (107,815) and Erie (103,571)—to the smallest—Parker with a population of only 738—are third class cities. First and second class cities are governed by a "strong mayor" form of mayor–council government, whereas third class cities are governed by either a "weak mayor" form of government or a council–manager government.

Boroughs are generally smaller than cities, with most Pennsylvania cities having been incorporated as a borough before being incorporated as a city.There are 958 boroughs in Pennsylvania, all of which governed by the "weak mayor" form of mayor–council government.

Townships are the third type of municipality in Pennsylvania and are classified as either first class or second class townships. There are 1,454 second class townships and 93 first class townships. Second class township can become first class townships if it has a population density greater than 300 inhabitants per square mile (120 /km2) and a referendum is passed supporting the change.

There is one exception to the types of municipalities in Pennsylvania: Bloomsburg was incorporated as a town in 1870 and is, officially, the only town in the state. In 1975, McCandless Township adopted a home-rule charter under the name of "Town of McCandless", but is, legally, still a first class township.

Education
Main article: Education in Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania quadrangle in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania has 500 public school districts, thousands of private schools, publicly funded colleges and universities, and over 100 private institutions of higher education.

Primary and secondary education

In general, under state law, school attendance in Pennsylvania is mandatory for a child from the age of 8 until the age of 17, or until graduation from an accredited high school, whichever is earlier.[99] As of 2005, 83.8% of Pennsylvania residents age 18 to 24 have completed high school. Among residents age 25 and over, 86.7% have graduated from high school. Additionally, 25.7% have gone on to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher. State students consistently do well in standardized testing. In 2007, Pennsylvania ranked 14th in mathematics, 12th in reading, and 10th in writing for 8th grade students.

In 1988, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 169, which allows parents or guardians to homeschool their children as an option for compulsory school attendance. This law specifies the requirements and responsibilities of the parents and the school district where the family lives.

Higher education
See also: List of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the public university system of the Commonwealth, with 14 state-owned schools. The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is organizing body of the 4 state-related schools in Pennsylvania, these schools are independent institutions that receive some state funding. There are also 15 publicly funded two-year community colleges and technical schools that are separate from the PASSHE system. Additionally there are many private two- and four-year technical schools, colleges and universities.

Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh, are members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation only organization of leading research universities. Pennsylvania State University is the Commonwealth's Land-grant university, Sea Grant College and, Space Grant College. The University of Pennsylvania is considered the first university in the United States and established the first medical school in the United States, as well as being the only Ivy League school in the state. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the first and oldest art school in the United States. Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now a part of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, was the first pharmacy school in the United States.

Recreation
Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom's Steel Force and Thunderhawk roller coasters in Allentown

Pennsylvania is home to the nation's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. Other long-accredited AZA zoos include the Erie Zoo and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Lehigh Valley Zoo and ZOOAMERICA are other notable zoos. The Commonwealth boasts some of the finest museums in the country, including the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and several others. One unique museum is the Houdini Museum in Scranton, the only building in the world devoted to the legendary magician. Pennsylvania is also home to the National Aviary, located in Pittsburgh.
Baughman's Rock Overlook.ogv
Ohiopyle State Park timelapse

All 121 state parks in Pennsylvania feature free admission.

Pennsylvania offers a number of notable amusement parks, including Camel Beach, Conneaut Lake Park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Dutch Wonderland, DelGrosso Amusement Park, Hersheypark, Idlewild Park, Kennywood, Knoebels, Lakemont Park, Sandcastle Waterpark, Sesame Place, Great Wolf Lodge and Waldameer Park. Pennsylvania also is home to the largest indoor waterpark resort on the East Coast, Splash Lagoon in Erie.

There are also notable music festivals that take place in Pennsylvania. These include Musikfest and NEARfest in Bethlehem, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Creation Festival, the Great Allentown Fair, and Purple Door.

There are nearly one million licensed hunters in Pennsylvania. Whitetail deer, cottontail rabbits, squirrel, turkey, and grouse are common game species. Pennsylvania is considered one of the finest wild turkey hunting states in the Union, alongside Texas and Alabama. Sport hunting in Pennsylvania provides a massive boost for the Commonwealth's economy. A report from The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (a Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly) reported that hunting, fishing, and furtaking generated a total of $9.6 billion statewide.

The Boone and Crockett Club shows that five of the ten largest (skull size) black bear entries came from the state. The state also has a tied record for the largest hunter shot black bear in the Boone & Crockett books at 733 lb (332 kg) and a skull of 23 3/16 tied with a bear shot in California in 1993. The largest bear ever found dead was in Utah in 1975, and the second largest was shot by a poacher in the state in 1987. Pennsylvania holds the second highest number of Boone & Crockett-recorded record black bears at 183, second only to Wisconsin's 299.

Transportation
The Allegheny Mountain Tunnel is the longest of the five tunnels on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, abbreviated as PennDOT, owns 39,861 miles (64,150 km) of the 121,770 miles (195,970 km) of roadway in the state, making it the fifth largest state highway system in the United States. The Pennsylvania Turnpike system is 535 miles (861 km) long, with the mainline portion stretching from Ohio to Philadelphia and New Jersey. It is overseen by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Another major east–west route is Interstate 80, whichs runs primarily in the northern tier of the state from Ohio to New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap. Interstate 90 travels the relatively short distance between Ohio and New York through Erie County, in the extreme northwestern part of the state.

Primary north–south highways are Interstate 79 from its terminus in Erie through Pittsburgh to West Virginia, Interstate 81 from New York through Scranton, Lackawanna County and Harrisburg to Maryland and Interstate 476, which begins 7 miles (11 km) north of the Delaware border, in Chester, Delaware County and travels 132 miles (212 km) to Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, where it joins I-81. All but 20 miles (32 km) of I-476 is the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, while the highway south of the main line of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is officially called the "Veterans Memorial Highway", but is commonly referred to by locals as the "Blue Route".

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the sixth largest transit agency in the United States and operates the commuter, heavy and light rail transit, and transit bus service in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The Port Authority of Allegheny County is the 25th largest transit agency and provides transit bus and light rail service in and around Pittsburgh.

Intercity passenger rail transit is provided by Amtrak, with the majority of traffic occurring on the Keystone Service in the high-speed Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station before heading north to New York City; the Pennsylvanian follows the same route from New York City to Harrisburg, but extends out to Pittsburgh. The Capitol Limited also passes through Pittsburgh, as well as Connellsville, on its way from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Traveling between Chicago and New York City, the Lake Shore Limited passes through Erie once in each direction. There are 67 short-line, freight railroads operating in Pennsylvania, the highest number in any U.S. state.

Pennsylvania has six major airports: Philadelphia International, Pittsburgh International, Lehigh Valley International, Harrisburg International, Erie International, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International. A total of 134 public-use airport are located in the state. The port of Pittsburgh is the second largest inland port in the United States and the 18th largest port overall; the Port of Philadelphia is the 24th largest port in the United States. Pennsylvania's only port on the Great Lakes is located in Erie.

The Allegheny River Lock and Dam Two is the most-used lock operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers of its 255 nationwide. The dam impounds the Allegheny River near Downtown Pittsburgh.

Sports

Pennsylvania is home to many professional sports teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League, the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer, the Erie Bayhawks of the National Basketball Association Development League, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, the Philadelphia Soul and the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League, and the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League. Among them, these teams have accumulated 7 World Series Championships (Pirates 5, Phillies 2), 16 National League Pennants (Pirates 9, Phillies 7) 3 pre-Super Bowl era NFL Championships (Eagles), 6 Super Bowl Championships (Steelers), 1 Arena Bowl Championship (Soul), 2 NBA Championships (76ers), 5 Stanley Cups (Penguins 3, Flyers 2), 11 Calder Cups (Bears), and 6 Champion's Cups (Wings).

There are many minor league baseball teams located throughout the state; several of these teams are associated with either the Phillies or the Pirates. In 2008, the Phillies moved their AAA-level team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, from Ottawa, Ontario, in Canada, to a newly-constructed stadium, Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. The Lehigh Valley is a core fan base for both the Phillies and the Philadelphia Eagles, who conduct their pre-season training camp on the practice fields of Lehigh University. Therefore, expectations are that the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (named after pig iron, an instrumental part in the construction of steel which used to be a large part of the local economy for decades), is likely to prove popular among Allentown and Lehigh Valley Phillies fans.

The Phillies' AA team, also called the Phillies, is located in Reading, while the short-season A-level affiliate, called the Crosscutters, is located in Williamsport. The Pirates' AA team, the Curve, is located in Altoona. The short-season A-level affiliate, the State College Spikes, is located in State College. The Spikes share a stadium with the Penn State University baseball team. Other Major League Baseball teams have a presence in the state as well. The New York Yankees' AAA team, also called the Yankees, is located in Moosic, between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in the northeastern part of the state. The Detroit Tigers' AA team, the SeaWolves, is located in Erie, and the Washington Nationals' AA affiliate, the Senators, plays in the capital of Harrisburg. Two independent-league teams, the Lancaster Barnstormers and York Revolution of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, are located in south-central Pennsylvania, while the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League are located in the south-western corner of the state.
Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Each summer, the Little League World Series is held in South Williamsport, near where Little League Baseball was founded in Williamsport. Also, the first World Series between the Boston Pilgrims (which became the Boston Red Sox) and Pittsburgh Pirates was played in Pittsburgh in 1903.

College football is very popular in Pennsylvania. The Penn State University Nittany Lions were coached by Joe Paterno who has led Penn State to two national championships (1982 & 1986) as well as five undefeated seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994). Penn State plays its home games in the second largest stadium in the United States, Beaver Stadium, which seats 107,282. In addition, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers have won nine national championships (1915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1937 and 1976) and have played eight undefeated seasons (1904, 1910, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1920, 1937 and 1976). Pitt plays its home games at Heinz Field, a facility it shares with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Other Pennsylvania schools that have won national titles in football include Lafayette College (1896), Villanova University(2009), and the University of Pennsylvania (1895, 1897, 1904 and 1908). In professional football, the Philadelphia Eagles hold their training camp annually, each July and August, at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem.

College basketball is also popular in the state, especially in the Philadelphia area where five universities, collectively termed the Big Five, have a rich tradition in NCAA Division I basketball. National titles in college basketball have been won by the following Pennsylvania universities: La Salle University (1954), Temple University (1938), University of Pennsylvania (1920 and 1921), University of Pittsburgh (1928 and 1930) and Villanova University (1985).

Soccer is gaining popularity within the state of Pennsylvania as well. With the addition of the Philadelphia Union in the MLS, the state now boasts three teams that are eligible to compete for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup annually. The other two teams are the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Harrisburg City Islanders, both of the United Soccer Leagues Second Division (USL-2). Within the American Soccer Pyramid, the MLS takes the first tier, while the USL-2 claims the third tier.
The Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond

In motorsports, the Mario Andretti dynasty of race drivers hails from Nazareth in the Lehigh Valley. Notable Racetracks in Pennsylvania include the Jennerstown Speedway in Jennerstown, the Lake Erie Speedway in North East, the Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, the Motordome Speedway in Smithton, the Mountain Speedway in St. Johns, the Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth; and the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, which is home to both the NASCAR sanctioned Pennsylvania 500 and Pocono 500 stock car races. The state is also home to Maple Grove Raceway, near Reading, which hosts major National Hot Rod Association sanctioned drag racing events each year.

There are also two motocross race tracks that host a round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championships in Pennsylvania. [High Point Raceway]High Point in located in Mt. Morris, PA, and Steel City is located in Delmont, PA.

Horse racing courses for horses in Pennsylvania consist of The Meadows Racetrack, south of Pittsburgh, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, in Wilkes-Barre and Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack in Chester which offer harness racing, and Penn National Race Course in Grantville and Philadelphia Park, in Bensalem, and Presque Isle Downs, south of Erie, which offer thoroughbred racing. Smarty Jones, the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, had Philadelphia Park as his home course.

Arnold Palmer, one of the 20th century's most notable pro golfers, comes from Latrobe, while Jim Furyk, a current PGA member, grew up near in Lancaster. PGA tournaments in Pennsylvania include the 84 Lumber Classic, played at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, in Farmington and the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, played at Glenmaura National Golf Club, in Moosic.

Philadelphia is home to LOVE Park, once a skateboarding mecca, and across from City Hall, host to ESPN's X Games in 2001 and 2002.

Food

In his book Yo Mama Cooks Like a Yankee, author Sharon Hernes Silverman calls Pennsylvania the snack food capital of the world. It leads all other states in the manufacture of pretzels and potato chips. The Sturgis Pretzel House introduced the pretzel to America, and companies like Anderson Bakery Company, Intercourse Pretzel Factory, and Snyder's of Hanover are leading manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Two of the three companies that define the U.S. potato chip industry are based in Pennsylvania: Utz Quality Foods, Inc., which started making chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1921, and Wise Snack Foods which started making chips in Berwick in 1921 (the third, Lay's Potato Chips, is a Texas company). Other companies such as Herr Foods, Martin's Potato Chips, Snyder's of Berlin (not associated with Snyder's of Hanover) and Troyer Farms Potato Products are popular chip manufacturers.

The U.S. chocolate industry is centered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with Mars, Godiva, and Wilbur Chocolate Company nearby, and smaller manufacturers such as Asher's near Lansdale and Gertrude Hawk of Dunmore. Other notable companies include Just Born in Bethlehem, PA, makers of Hot Tamales, Mike and Ikes, and the Easter favorite marshmallow Peeps, Benzel's Pretzels and Boyer Brothers of Altoona, PA, which is well known for its Mallo Cups. Auntie Anne's Pretzels began as a market-stand in Downingtown, PA and now has corporate headquarters in Lancaster City. Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods include chicken potpie, schnitz un knepp (dried apples, hame, and dumplings), fasnachts (raised doughnuts), scrapple, pretzels, bologna, and chow-chow. Shoofly pie is another traditional Pennsylvanian Dutch food. D.G. Yuengling & Son, America's oldest brewery, has been brewing beer in Pottsville since 1829.

Among the regional foods associated with Philadelphia are cheesesteaks, hoagie, soft pretzels, liver on a stick, Italian water ice, scrapple, Tastykake, and strombolis. In Pittsburgh, tomato ketchup was improved by Henry John Heinz from 1876 to the early 20th century. Famous to a lesser extent than Heinz ketchup are the Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers Restaurant sandwiches, pierogies, and city chicken. Outside of Scranton, in Old Forge there are dozens of Italian restaurants specializing in pizza made unique by thick, light crust and American cheese. Erie also has its share of unique foods, including Greek sauce, sponge candy, pepperoni balls, and ox roast. Sauerkraut along with pork and mashed potatoes is a common meal on New Year's Day in Pennsylvania.

  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Tagged as:

Ghana, Ghana Articles, Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Mid-Atlantic

Rate this article

0