Downtown skyline of Philadelphia at twilight
In the last installment of the pure Mid-Atlantic portion of our trip, Gildhsire’s “America the Beautiful” tour fills its lungs with fresh air and sets out for Pennsylvania.
The geographic namesake of William Penn, The Keystone State is larger than its surrounding states, which belies its relatively small size. Pennsylvania is the 17th smallest state in the Union. It is the 4th most populated.
The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg and the largest city is Philadelphia.
Stretching 280 miles west to east, Pennsylvanians on either end of the state have distinctly different worldview from each other. Pittsburghers have a Midwestern sensibility. Philadelphians are hardcore East Coasters. Each side of the state is passionate about its hometown, sports and culture.
The 4th largest state needs lots of international airports to move people around. Pennsylvania is served by six such aerodromes. Lehigh Valley International, Harrisburg International, Erie International, Pittsburgh International, Philadelphia International and Wilkes-Barre International Airports all serve Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania is bordered by New York and Lake Erie to the north and northwest respectively. In the south, Pennsylvania shares borders with West Virginia, and Maryland. Delaware bounds Pennsylvania on the southeast and New Jersey on the east.
Exterior Pennsylvania State Capitol building in Harrisburg
President: James Buchanan
Actors: Jimmy Stewart, Tom Mix, Gene Kelly, John Barrymore and Bill Cosby
Politics/Military: George McCellan, George C. Marshall, and Gen. Alexander Haig
Entertainers: Ethel Waters, Mario Lanza, Marilyn Horne, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, and W. C. Fields and Steven Vincent Benet
Authors: Louisa May Alcott, Steven Vincent Benet, John Updike, and Gertrude Stein
Athletes: Reggie Jackson, Arnold Palmer, Tara Lipinski, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, and Jim Kelly
The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn or UPenn)
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Pennsylvania
Hershey is considered the Chocolate Capital of the United States.
Pittsburgh was the location of the nation’s first service station. It opened in 1913.
Philadelphia is where the first computer was built in 1943.
The first daily newspaper was published in Philadelphia on September 21, 1784.
The world’s first oil well was drilled in Titusville in 1859.
Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in Pennsylvania.
The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776.
Each year on Christmas day the “Crossing of the Delaware” is reenacted at Washington Crossing.
Pennsylvania is the only original colony not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
The geographic center of Pennsylvania is located in Centre County, 2.5 miles south-west of Bellefonte (pop. 6,224).
State College Area High School was the first school in the country to teach drivers education in 1958.
The city of North East PA is the home to Welch’s juices and jams.
Punxsutawney’s most famous resident is the world-renowned weather forecasting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.
Evening view of Pittsburgh from the top of the Duquesne Incline in Mount Washington
Let’s take a Trip Through Pennsylvania:
Get up! Get up! We’re going to cross the state from west to east. Along the way we’ll see some cool sites, eat some chocolate (Oh, you’re up! And dressed!) and take in a spot of history and a TastyKake (You’re already in the car! Wow!)
We’re starting our 313 mile trip in Pittsburgh. Built on the steel industry (Their most famous sport’s team is called the Steelers, after all) Pittsburgh has been rebuilt and remade with aesthetics in mind. The confluence of the Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers to form the Ohio River makes for a lush setting.
View of battlefields and autumn color in Gettysburg
We are going to take the Duquesne Incline to get a look around. It is a 100+-year-old incline that climbs, by trolley, Mt. Washington just across the river from downtown Pittsburgh. The views are fantastic. The three rivers which make up the structure of Pittsburgh are very apparent. Good restaurants at the top too.
Later visit the Carnegie Museum of Art. One of the nation’s finest art museums, it benefits from contributions made by the Carnegie Foundations and the steel barons that inhabited Pittsburgh in the early part of the 20th century.
Stay at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown. Rooms from $94 a night.
Away we go the next day. We are going to cross some of America’s most bucolic landscape in Amish Country. Adherents of a lifestyle all their own the Amish want, more than anything else, to be left alone with their beliefs. We will respect their wishes.
Hershey Park in Hershey, PA is our next stop. It was a 215 mile trip without stopping. But the wait was worth it. A year-round theme park, Hershey Park tells the tale of the famous chocolate and throws in an amusement park to boot. Have you ever had (wait for it), deep fried peanut butter and jelly. You will have today.
We didn’t get into Hershey until late afternoon. So plan for two nights at the Howard Johnson, Hershey. Rooms for $60 a night.
Statues at Eakins Oval and the Museum of Art in Philadelphia
Just 95 miles left and we are in Philly! What a city. Of all the cities we will visit only Boston is as chockablock with history. Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell. Christ Church, where you can sit in the same pew George Washington inhabited.
Finish the trip at the National Constitution Center. It is an exhibit showing how the document is designed to be for all the people. As a living document, it continues to grow and breathe new rights for the citizens of this great nation.
Lodging in major cities is expensive. We have already learned that in cities like Miami and New Orleans.You will need a minimum of two nights in Philadelphia. Three would be better. Gildshire likes the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District for convenience and value for your $105 a night.
Pennsylvania is a fascinating state. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. Next up: New Jersey.