Brief History of Pennsylvania

By | May 19, 2022

Population: 12,742.886 thousand people (2011)
Area: 119283.0 sq. km

According to, Pennsylvania is one of the US states whose motto is “Virtue, Liberty and Independence”. The Dutch and Swedes were the first Europeans to settle in what is now the state. In 1681, a large territory west of the Delaware River was transferred by the English king Charles II to the young Quaker William Penn, where a year later he founded a Protestant refuge colony. Since then, the colony has been called Pennsylvania, in honor of its founder, Admiral of the Royal Navy – Penn’s father. From the Latin Penn Sylvania means “wooded land of Penn”.

At the same time, the city of Philadelphia was founded (from the ancient Greek “City of Brotherly Love”). This name was given for a reason, since Penn’s father professed the idea of brotherly love among his co-religionists.

For 50 years everything went well, but then clashes with the Indians began, as a result of which many Irish and Germans died. The Quakers, on the other hand, refused to oppose the Indians, as they preached intolerance of war and violence, and were forced to leave.

In the middle of the 18th century, the first hospital was opened here, and the first University was founded, called the University of Pennsylvania. An important step for the development of Pennsylvania was taken in 1790, when the law for the emancipation of slaves was passed. Thus, Pennsylvania was the first to free the slaves among the North American states.

Pennsylvania hosted the most important events of the period of the formation of the United States, which is why it is called the “State of Independence”. During the Revolutionary War, the state was occupied by British troops, and fierce battles took place here.

In 1776, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Constitution was adopted here, which also approved the official name of the state. At the same time, the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia proclaims the Declaration of Independence, according to which Pennsylvania and the remaining 12 North American colonies of Great Britain form the United States of America. During the Civil War, Pennsylvania participated on the side of the north.


Population: 106.732 thousand people (2004)
Area: 46.5 sq. km
Founded: 1762
Time zone: UTC-5, summer UTC-4
Altitude: 103 m

The first settlement of Europeans appeared on the territory of present-day Allentown at the end of the 18th century, and later, after the Erie Canal was dug, the town began to grow and develop at a rapid pace. The result of this was Allentown in the 20th century – a large port, a large industrial city, one of the most significant metropolitan areas in this part of America.

However, from the second half of the century, the importance of Allentown began to decline: the importance of the Erie Canal for trade fell sharply. The positive side of this fact was the improvement of environmental conditions in the city: today’s Allentown is one of the cleanest cities in the United States.┬áSee Pennsylvania counties.

The ancient architecture of the described city is so well preserved that in 2011 entire suburbs of Allentown were included in the American National Register of Historic Places. Among them: Allentown, located north of downtown. The area is characterized by miniature beautiful red brick houses in the Italian style and in the style of the French Second Empire. Among the more notable examples are Tiffts Row. These are the seven buildings on Allen Street. Also noteworthy is the house of William Dorsheimer on Delaware Avenue and the University of Scientology at the intersection of Main and Virginia streets – the former building of the Catholic Institute.

The Civic Theater of Allentown is the city’s historic cinema. The first film shown here after opening in 1928 was Luther Reed’s Sawdust Paradise.

Another area of interest in Allentown is Millionaire Row near Delaware Avenue. A row of the richest houses stretches from North Street to Bryant. Most of the mansions are now allocated for the needs of offices. The most interesting houses are Clement Mansion, Butler Mansion, Richmond Lockwood House, and Charles W. Goodyear House.


Population: 54.577 thousand people (2014)
Area: 26.9 sq. km
Time zone: UTC-5, summer UTC-4
Altitude: 98 m

Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is not a major city. Located in the central part of the state, it lies on the banks of the Susquehanna River, being a river port.

The original inhabitants of this territory are the tribes of the Susquehannock, who remained in memory only thanks to the name of the river. They were hunters and gatherers who farmed and traded goods with the tribes of the Ohio and Delaware rivers. In 1608, the first “whites” came to these parts – the English expedition of John Smith. In 1718, a merchant from Wales, John Harris, settled here, who supported the crossing of the river. The village was originally called Harris Ferry (“Harris Ferry”), but in 1785 it was decided to rename it Louisbourg. However, the name did not stick: since 1791, the name commemorates the founder of the city.

In 1812, the capital of Pennsylvania was transferred to Harrisburg . In the middle of the 19th century, the importance of the city increased due to the construction of the Pennsylvania Canal and the supply of the railroad to Harrisburg. Many immigrants passed through the city on their way to the development of the West. Later, ferrous metallurgy developed in the city. However, these days, heavy industry is no longer dominant in the economy of Harrisburg, giving way to the public sector.

The city is infamous for the 1979 Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant disaster (the largest nuclear power plant disaster before Chernobyl) and for its very high crime rate. There are few attractions in Harrisburg. This is, first of all, the building of the State Capitol, which is made as a copy of the Roman Cathedral of St. Peter. Also noteworthy are the John Harris House Museum and the bridges across the Susquehanna.

Brief History of Pennsylvania