Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
City of Harrisburg
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From top to bottom, left to right: Harrisburg skyline, Pennsylvania State Capitol, "Harrisburg" Mural in Midtown, Walnut Street Bridge, Pride of the Susquehanna , FNB Field, Broad Street Market
City of Harrisburg Logo.png
"En la rou Justita"
Dauphin County Pennsylvania incorporated and unincorporated areas Harrisburg highlighted.svg
Location of Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
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Location within Pennsylvania
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Location within the United States
Coordinates: 40°16′11″N76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556 Coordinates: 40°16′11″N76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Pennsylvania.svg  Pennsylvania
County Dauphin
European settlementc. 1719;303 years ago (1719)
Incorporated 1791;231 years ago (1791)
Charter March 19, 1860;162 years ago (1860-03-19)
Founded by John Harris, Sr.
Named for John Harris, Sr.
  Type Mayor-Council
   Mayor Wanda Williams (D)
   City Controller Charlie DeBrunner (D)
   City Council
   State Senate John DiSanto (R)
   State Representative Patty Kim (D)
  City11.86 sq mi (30.73 km2)
  Land8.12 sq mi (21.03 km2)
  Water3.75 sq mi (9.70 km2)
259.7 sq mi (672.6 km2)
320 ft (98 m)
 (2021) [3]
  Density6,174.26/sq mi (2,383.98/km2)
444,474 (86th)
596,305 (98th)
Demonym(s) Harrisburger, Harrisburgian
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
17101-17113, 17120-17130, 17140, 17177
Area code 717 and 223
FIPS code 42-32800 [4]
GNIS feature ID1213649 [5]
Interstates I-76, I-81, I-83 and I-283
Waterways Susquehanna River
Primary Airport Harrisburg International Airport- MDT (Major/International)
Secondary Airport Capital City Airport- CXY (Minor)
Public transit Capital Area Transit
Website harrisburgpa.gov
DesignatedSeptember 23, 1946 [6]

Harrisburg is the capital city of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States, and the county seat of Dauphin County. With a population of 50,135 as of the 2021 census, Harrisburg is the 15th largest municipality in Pennsylvania. [7]


Harrisburg lies on the east bank of the Susquehanna River. It is the larger principal city of the Harrisburg–Carlisle metropolitan statistical area, also known as the Susquehanna Valley, which had a 2021 population of 596,305, [8] making it the fourth most populous metropolitan area in Pennsylvania after the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lehigh Valley metropolitan areas.

Harrisburg played a role in American history during the Westward Migration, the American Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. During part of the 19th century, the building of the Pennsylvania Canal and later the Pennsylvania Railroad allowed Harrisburg to become one of the most industrialized cities in the Northeastern United States. In the mid-to-late 20th century, the city's economic fortunes fluctuated with its major industries consisting of government, heavy manufacturing, agriculture, and food services (nearby Hershey is home of the chocolate maker, just 10 miles (16 km) to the east).

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agriculture exposition in the United States, was first held in Harrisburg in 1917 and has been held there every early-to-mid January since then. [9] The city also hosts the annual Great American Outdoor Show, the largest of its kind in the world, among many other events. Harrisburg is also known for the Three Mile Island accident, which occurred on March 28, 1979, near Middletown.

In 2010 Forbes rated Harrisburg as the second-best place in the U.S. to raise a family. [10] Despite the city's past financial troubles, in 2010 The Daily Beast website ranked 20 metropolitan areas across the country as being recession-proof, and the Harrisburg region was ranked seventh. [11] The financial stability of the region is in part due to the high concentration of state and federal government agencies.

Harrisburg is located 83 miles (134 km) miles southwest of Allentown, Pennsylvania's third-largest city, and 107 miles (172 km) northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city.



Harrisburg's site along the Susquehanna River is thought to have been inhabited by Native Americans as early as 3000 BC. Known to the Native Americans as "Peixtin", or "Paxtang", the area was an important resting place and crossroads for Native American traders, as the trails leading from the Delaware to the Ohio rivers, and from the Potomac to the Upper Susquehanna intersected there. The first European contact with Native Americans in Pennsylvania was made by the Englishman, Captain John Smith, who journeyed from Virginia up the Susquehanna River in 1608 and visited with the Susquehanna tribe. In 1719, John Harris, Sr., an English trader, settled here and 14 years later secured grants of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in this vicinity. In 1785, John Harris, Jr. made plans to lay out a town on his father's land, which he named Harrisburg. In the spring of 1785, the town was formally surveyed by William Maclay, who was a son-in-law of John Harris, Sr. In 1791, Harrisburg became incorporated, and in October 1812 it was named the Pennsylvania state capital, which it has remained ever since. The assembling here of the highly sectional Harrisburg Convention in 1827 (signaling what may have been the birth of lobbying on a national scale) led to the passage of the high protective-tariff bill of 1828. [12] In 1839, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were nominated for president and vice president of the United States at the first national convention of the Whig Party of the United States, which was held in Harrisburg.

Pre-industry: 1800–1850

1848 Bank of Harrisburg 5 dollar bill Recto Harrisburg Bank (Pennsylvania) 5 dollars 1848 urn-3 HBS.Baker.AC 1142145.jpeg
1848 Bank of Harrisburg 5 dollar bill

Before Harrisburg gained its first industries, it was a scenic, pastoral town, typical of most of the day: compact and surrounded by farmland. In 1822, the impressive brick capitol was completed for $200,000. [13]

It was Harrisburg's strategic location which gave it an advantage over many other towns. It was settled as a trading post in 1719 at a location important to Westward expansion. The importance of the location was that it was at a pass in a mountain ridge. The Susquehanna River flowed generally west to east at this location, providing a route for boat traffic from the east. The head of navigation was a short distance northwest of the town, where the river flowed through the pass. Persons arriving from the east by boat had to exit at Harrisburg and prepare for an overland journey westward through the mountain pass. Harrisburg assumed importance as a provisioning stop at this point where westward bound pioneers transitioned from river travel to overland travel. It was partly because of its strategic location that the state legislature selected the small town of Harrisburg to become the state capital in 1812.

The grandeur of the Colonial Revival capitol dominated the quaint town. The streets were dirt, but orderly and platted in grid pattern. The Pennsylvania Canal was built in 1834 and coursed the length of the town. The residential houses were situated on only a few city blocks stretching southward from the capitol. They were mostly one story. No factories were present but there were blacksmith shops and other businesses. [14]

American Civil War

During the first part of the 19th century, Harrisburg was a notable stopping place along the Underground Railroad, as persons escaping slavery utilized the Susquehanna River to access food and supplies before heading north towards Canada. [15]

During the American Civil War, Harrisburg was a significant training center for the Union Army, with tens of thousands of troops passing through Camp Curtin. It was also a major rail center for the Union and a vital link between the Atlantic coast and the Midwest, with several railroads running through the city and spanning the Susquehanna River. As a result of this importance, it was a target of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during its two invasions. The first time during the 1862 Maryland Campaign, when Lee planned to capture the city after taking Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, but was prevented from doing so by the Battle of Antietam and his subsequent retreat back into Virginia. The second attempt was made during the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863 and was more substantial. Under orders from Gen. Robert E. Lee directly, Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps were tasked with capturing Harrisburg and disrupting the vital Union supply and rail lines. However Ewell's forces were intercepted by the forces of the Department of the Susquehanna under the command of Union Maj. Gen. Darius N. Couch in a series of skirmishes surrounding the city, such as the Skirmish of Sporting Hill in Camp Hill, just 2 miles (3 km) west of Harrisburg. The Second Corp were ultimately unsuccessful in both overcoming the local Union defenses and crossing the rain bloated Susquehanna into Harrisburg itself, and were forced to retreat southward to regroup with Lee's main Confederate force. This attempt marked the northernmost advance of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

On July 3, 1863, the artillery barrage that marked the beginning of Pickett's Charge of the Battle of Gettysburg was heard from Harrisburg, almost 40 miles away. [16]

Industrial rise: 1850–1920

Postcard depicting Market Street in Downtown Harrisburg as it appeared in 1910. Trolley tracks are noticeable along the street. Hb market street.jpg
Postcard depicting Market Street in Downtown Harrisburg as it appeared in 1910. Trolley tracks are noticeable along the street.

Harrisburg's importance in the latter half of the 19th century was in the steel industry. It was an important railroad center as well. Steel and iron became dominant industries. Steel and other industries continued to play a major role in the local economy throughout the latter part of the 19th century. The city was the center of enormous railroad traffic and its steel industry supported large furnaces, rolling mills, and machine shops. The Pennsylvania Steel Company plant, which opened in nearby Steelton in 1866, was the first in the country; later operated by Bethlehem Steel. [17]

Its first large scale iron foundries were put into operation shortly after 1850. [14] As industries nationwide entered a phase of great expansion and technological improvement, so did industries – and in particular the steel industry – in Harrisburg. This can be attributed to a combination of factors that were typical of what existed in other successful industrial cities: rapid rail expansion; nearby markets for goods; and nearby sources for raw product. With Harrisburg poised for growth in steel production, the Borough of Steelton became the ideal location for this type of industry. It was a wide swath of flat land located south of the city, with rail and canal access running its entire 4 mile length. There was plenty of room for houses and its own downtown section. Steelton was a company town, opened in 1866 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company. Highly innovative in its steel making process, it became the first mill in the United States to make steel railroad rails by contract. In its heyday Steelton was home to more than 16,000 residents from 33 different ethnic groups. All were employed in the steel industry, or had employment in services that supported it. In the late 19th century, no less than five major steel mills and foundries were located in Steelton. Each contained a maze of buildings; conveyances for moving the products; large yards for laying down equipment; and facilities for loading their product on trains. Stacks from these factories constantly belched smoke. With housing and a small downtown area within walking distance, these were the sights and smells that most Steelton residents saw every day.

The rail yard was another area of Harrisburg that saw rapid and thorough change during the years of industrialization. This was a wide expanse of about two dozen railroad tracks that grew from the single track of the early 1850s. By the late 19th century, this area was the width of about two city blocks and formed what amounted to a barrier along the eastern edge of the city: passable only by bridge. Three large and ornately embellished passenger depots were built by as many rail lines. Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest rail line in Harrisburg. It built huge repair facilities and two large roundhouses in the 1860s and 1870s to handle its enormous freight and passenger traffic and to maintain its colossal infrastructure. Its rails ran the length of Harrisburg, along its eastern border. It had a succession of three passenger depots, each built on the site of the predecessor, and each of high style architecture, including a train shed to protect passengers from inclement weather. At its peak in 1904, it made 100 passenger stops per day. It extended westward to Pittsburgh; across the entire state. It also went eastward to Philadelphia, serving Steelton en route. The vital anthracite coal mines in the Allegheny Mountains were reached by the Northern Central Railroad. The Lebanon Valley Railroad extended eastward to Philadelphia with spurs to New York City. Another rail line was the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad which provided service to Philadelphia and other points east. [18]

Beginning of Harrisburg's suburbs: 1880s

Allison Hill was Harrisburg's first "suburb". It was located east of the city on a prominent bluff, accessed by bridges across a wide swath of train tracks. It was developed in the late 19th century and offered affluent Harrisburgers the opportunity to live in the suburbs only a few hundred yards from their jobs in the city, and as the city expanded it included Allison Hill in its boundaries. In 1886 a single horse trolley line was established from the city to Allison Hill. Easy access was later achieved via the State Street Bridge leading east from the Capitol complex and the Market Street Bridge leading from the city's prominent business district. The most desirable section of Allison Hill at the time was Mount Pleasant, which was characterized by large Colonial Revival style houses with yards for the very wealthy and smaller but still well-built row houses lining the main street for the moderately wealthy. State Street, leading from the Capitol directly toward Allison Hill, was planned to provide a grand view of the Capitol dome for those approaching the city from Allison Hill. This trend towards outlying residential areas began slowly in the late 19th century and was largely confined to the trolley line, but the growth of automobile ownership quickened the trend and spread out the population.

City Beautiful: 1900-1920

In the early 20th century, the city of Harrisburg was in need of change. Without proper sanitation, diseases such as typhoid began killing many citizens of Harrisburg. Seeing these necessary changes, several Harrisburg residents became involved in the City Beautiful movement. The project focused on providing better transportation, spaces for recreation, sanitation, landscaping, and parks for those living in cities, as research showed that a person with access to amenities would be a happier person. [19] In December 1900, a reformer named Mira Lloyd Dock, who had recently encountered well-ordered urban centers on an international trip to Europe, gave a lecture on “The City Beautiful” to Harrisburg’s Board of Trade. [20] Other prominent citizens of the city such as J. Horace McFarland and Vance McCormick advocated urban improvements which were influenced by European urban planning design and the World's Columbian Exposition. Warren Manning was hired to help bring about these changes. Specifically, their efforts greatly enlarged the Harrisburg park system, creating Riverfront Park, Reservoir Park, the Italian Lake and Wildwood Park. In addition, schemes were undertaken for new water filtration, burial of electric wires, the paving of roads, and the creation of a modern sanitary sewer system. The efforts to improve the city also paralleled the construction of an expanded monumental Capitol complex in 1906 which led, in turn, to the displacement of the Old Eighth Ward, one of the most ethnically and racially diverse communities in Harrisburg. [21]

Industrial decline: 1920–1970

The decades between 1920 and 1970 were characterized by industrial decline and population shift from the city to the suburbs. Like most other cities which faced a loss of their industrial base, Harrisburg shifted to a service-oriented base, with industries such as health care and convention centers playing a big role. Harrisburg's greatest problem was a shrinking city population after 1950. This loss in population followed a national trend and was a delayed result of the decline of Harrisburg's steel industry. This decline began almost imperceptibly in the late 1880s, but did not become evident until the early 20th century.

After being held in place for about 5 years by WWII armament production, the population peaked shortly after the war, but then took a long-overdue dive as people fled from the city. Hastening the white flight to the suburbs were the cheap and available houses being built away from the crime and deteriorating situation of the city. The reduction in city population coincided with the rise in population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The trend continued until the 1990s. [22]

20th century

Anti-nuclear protest at Harrisburg in 1979, following the Three Mile Island accident Anti-nuke rally in Harrisburg USA.jpg
Anti-nuclear protest at Harrisburg in 1979, following the Three Mile Island accident

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agriculture exposition in the United States, was first held in 1917 and has been held every January since then. The present location of the Show is the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, located at the corner of Maclay and Cameron streets.

In June 1972, Harrisburg was hit by a major flood from the remnants of hurricane Agnes.

On March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, along the Susquehanna River located in Londonderry Township which is south of Harrisburg, suffered a partial meltdown. Although the meltdown was contained and radiation leakages were minimal, there were still worries that an evacuation would be necessary. Governor Dick Thornburgh, on the advice of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph Hendrie, advised the evacuation "of pregnant women and pre-school age children ... within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility." Within days, 140,000 people had left the area. [23]

Stephen R. Reed was elected mayor in 1981 and served until 2009, making him the city's longest-serving mayor. In an effort to end the city's long period of economic troubles, he initiated several projects to attract new business and tourism to the city. Several museums and hotels such as Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, the National Civil War Museum and the Hilton Harrisburg and Towers were built during his term, along with many office buildings and residential structures. Several minor league professional sports franchises, including the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, the Harrisburg Heat indoor soccer club, and Penn FC of the United Soccer League began operations in the city during his tenure as mayor. While praised for the vast number of economic improvements, Reed has also been criticized for population loss and mounting debt. For example, during a budget crisis the city was forced to sell $8 million worth of Western and American-Indian artifacts collected by Mayor Reed for a never-realized museum celebrating the American West. [24]

21st century: fiscal difficulties, receivership, and revival

Aerial view of Harrisburg Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the Susquehanna River.jpg
Aerial view of Harrisburg

During the nearly 30-year tenure of former Mayor Stephen Reed from 1981 to 2009, city officials ignored legal restraints on the use of bond proceeds, as Reed spent the money pursuing interests including collecting Civil War and Wild West memorabilia – some of which was found in Reed's home after his arrest on corruption charges. [25] Infrastructure was left unrepaired, and the heart of the city's financial woes was a trash-to-electricity plant, the Harrisburg incinerator, which was supposed to generate income but instead, because of increased borrowing, incurred a debt of $320 million. [26]

Missing audits and convoluted transactions, including swap agreements, make it difficult to state how much debt the city owes. Some estimates put total debt over $1.5 billion, which would mean that every resident would owe $30,285. [27] These numbers do not reflect the school system deficit, the school district's $437 million long-term debt, [28] nor unfunded pension and healthcare obligations.

Harrisburg was the first municipality ever in the history of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to be charged with securities fraud, for misleading statements about its financial health. [29] The city agreed to a plea bargain to settle the case. [30]

In October 2011, Harrisburg filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy when four members of the seven-member City Council voted to file a bankruptcy petition in order to prevent the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from taking over the city's finances. [31] [32] [33] Bankruptcy Judge Mary France dismissed the petition on the grounds that the City Council majority had filed it over the objection of Mayor Linda Thompson, reasoning that the filing not only required the mayor's approval but had circumvented state laws concerning financially distressed cities. [34]

Instead, a state-appointed receiver took charge of the city's finances. [35] Governor Tom Corbett appointed bond attorney David Unkovic as the city's receiver, but Unkovic resigned after only four months. [36] Unkovic blamed disdain for legal restraints on contracts and debt for creating Harrisburg's intractable financial problem and said the corrupt influence of creditors and political cronies prevented fixing it. [36] [37]

As creditors began to file lawsuits to seize and sell off city assets, a new receiver, William B. Lynch, was appointed. [38] The City Council opposed the new receiver's plans for tax increases and advocated a stay of the creditor lawsuits with a bankruptcy filing, while Mayor Thompson continued to oppose bankruptcy. [39] State legislators crafted a moratorium to prevent Harrisburg from declaring bankruptcy, and after the moratorium expired, the law stripped the city government of the authority to file for bankruptcy and conferred it on the state receiver. [40] [41] [42]

After two years of negotiations, in August 2013 Receiver Lynch revealed his comprehensive voluntary plan for resolving Harrisburg's fiscal problems. [43] The complex plan called for creditors to write down or postpone some debt. [44] To pay the remainder, Harrisburg sold the troubled incinerator, leased its parking garages for forty years, and was to briefly go further into debt by issuing new bonds. [43] [44] Receiver Lynch had also called for setting up nonprofit investment corporations to oversee infrastructure improvement (repairing the city's crumbling roads and water and sewer lines), pensions, and economic development. [45] These were intended to allow nonprofit fundraising and to reduce the likelihood of mismanagement by the then-dysfunctional city government. [44] [45]

Harrisburg's City Council and the state Commonwealth Court approved the plan, and became implemented. [46] [47] [48] [49] The city balanced its budget in the late 2010s, was expected to have a surplus of $1 million in 2019, and maintained a surplus in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. [50] [51]

Downtown with City Island in the foreground, as seen from the West Shore of the river (2015) Pennsylvania State Capitol in Summer (25231100144).jpg
Downtown with City Island in the foreground, as seen from the West Shore of the river (2015)


Harrisburg and vicinity, taken from the International Space Station on July 6, 2022; north is oriented towards the right. ISS067-E-184243 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.jpg
Harrisburg and vicinity, taken from the International Space Station on July 6, 2022; north is oriented towards the right.


Harrisburg is located at 40°16′11″N76°52′32″W / 40.26972°N 76.87556°W / 40.26972; -76.87556 (40.269789, -76.875613) in South Central Pennsylvania, [52] within a two-hour drive of the metro areas of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and three-hour drive of New York and Pittsburgh. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.4 square miles (30 km2), of which, 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) of it (29.11%) is water. Bodies of water include Paxton Creek which empties into the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, as well as Wildwood Lake and Italian Lake parks.

Directly to the north of Harrisburg is the Blue Mountain ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Cumberland Valley lies directly to the west of Harrisburg and the Susquehanna River, stretching into northern Maryland. The fertile Lebanon Valley lies to the east. Harrisburg is the northern fringe of the historic Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

The city is the county seat of Dauphin County. The adjacent counties are Northumberland County to the north; Schuylkill County to the northeast; Lebanon County to the east; Lancaster County to the south; and York County to the southwest; Cumberland County to the west; and Perry County to the northwest.

Adjacent municipalities

Harrisburg, with the state capitol dome, as viewed from across the Susquehanna River in Wormleysburg Harrisburg, Pennsylvania State Capital Building.jpg
Harrisburg, with the state capitol dome, as viewed from across the Susquehanna River in Wormleysburg

Harrisburg's western boundary is formed by the west shore of the Susquehanna River (the Susquehanna runs within the city boundaries), which also serves as the boundary between Dauphin and Cumberland counties. The city is divided into numerous neighborhoods and districts. Like many of Pennsylvania's cities and boroughs that are at "build-out" stage, there are several townships outside of Harrisburg city limits that, although autonomous, use the name Harrisburg for postal and name-place designation. They include the townships of: Lower Paxton, Middle Paxton, Susquehanna, Swatara and West Hanover in Dauphin County. The borough of Penbrook, located just east of Reservoir Park, was previously known as East Harrisburg. Penbrook, along with the borough of Paxtang, also located just outside the city limits, maintain Harrisburg ZIP codes as well. The United States Postal Service designates 26 ZIP codes for Harrisburg, including 13 for official use by federal and state government agencies. [53]


Harrisburg has a variable, four-season climate lying at the beginning of the transition between the humid subtropical and humid continental zones (Köppen Cfa and Dfa, respectively). The city limits fall with the "Cfa" Humid suptropical climate classification, while the suburban areas and rural surroundings fall just into the "Dfa" Humid continental climate classification. The hottest month of the year is July with a daily mean temperature of 77.5 °F (25.3 °C). [54] Summer is usually hot and humid and occasional heat waves can occur. The city averages around 32 days per year with 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs although temperatures reaching 100 °F (38 °C) are rare. Seven months average above 50 °F (10 °C) and three months average above 22 °C (71.6 °F.) The hottest temperature ever recorded in Harrisburg is 107 °F (42 °C) on July 3, 1966. [54] Summer thunderstorms also occur relatively frequently. Autumn is a pleasant season when the humidity and temperatures fall to more comfortable values. The hardiness zone is 7b.

Winter in Harrisburg is rather cold: January, the coldest month and the only one averaging above freezing, has a daily mean temperature of 32.6 °F (0.3 °C). [54] A major snowstorm can also occasionally occur, and some winters snowfall totals can exceed 40 inches (102 cm) while in other winters the region may receive very little snowfall. The largest snowfall on a single calendar day was 26.4 in (67 cm) on January 23, 2016, [54] recorded at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, while the snowiest month on record was February 2010 with 42.1 in (107 cm), recorded at the same location. [55] Overall Harrisburg receives an average of 29.9 in (75.9 cm) of snow per winter. [54] The coldest temperature ever recorded in Harrisburg was −22 °F (−30 °C) on January 21, 1994. [54] Spring is also a nice time of year for outdoor activities. Precipitation is well-distributed and generous in most months, though July is clearly the wettest and February the driest.

Climate data for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg Int'l), 1991–2020 normals, [lower-alpha 1] extremes 1888–present [lower-alpha 2]
Record high °F (°C)73
Mean maximum °F (°C)60
Average high °F (°C)38.6
Daily mean °F (°C)30.8
Average low °F (°C)23.0
Mean minimum °F (°C)7
Record low °F (°C)−22
Average precipitation inches (mm)3.03
Average snowfall inches (cm)9.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)10.910.411.011.413.011.510.910.
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)
Average ultraviolet index 2346899864225
Source 1: NOAA [57] [58]
Source 2: Weather Atlas (UV data) [59]
Climate data for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg Capital City Airport) 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1939–present
Record high °F (°C)73
Average high °F (°C)40.3
Daily mean °F (°C)32.6
Average low °F (°C)24.9
Record low °F (°C)−9
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.64
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)9.49.310.712.113.711.911.811.19.511.08.810.1129.4
Average relative humidity (%)64.463.260.759.265.267.768.672.273.870.568.266.466.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 154.9167.2213.8235.7266.7288.5310.1285.4226.7199.2139.6126.02,613.8
Percent possible sunshine 52565859606468676158474359
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990) [54] [60] [61]



Downtown Harrisburg, which includes the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex, is the central core business and financial center for the greater Harrisburg metropolitan area and serves as the seat of government for Dauphin County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are over a dozen large neighborhoods and historic districts within the city.


Harrisburg's architecture spans over 200 years of evolving construction and design and thus contains a breadth of various architectural styles. Six Municipal Historic Districts, multiple National Historic Districts, and Architectural Conservation Overlay Districts have in turn have been established to preserve and guide any new development of areas with respect to their character. [62]

Harrisburg is home to the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Completed in 1906, the central dome rises to a height of 272 feet (83 m) and was modeled on that of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. The building was designed by Joseph Miller Huston and is adorned with sculpture, most notably the two groups, Love and Labor, the Unbroken Law and The Burden of Life, the Broken Law by sculptor George Grey Barnard; murals by Violet Oakley and Edwin Austin Abbey; tile floor by Henry Mercer, which tells the story of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The state capitol is only the third-tallest building of Harrisburg. The five tallest buildings are 333 Market Street with a height of 341 feet (104 m), Pennsylvania Place with a height of 291 feet (89 m), the Pennsylvania State Capitol with a height of 272 feet (83 m), Presbyterian Apartments with a height of 259 feet (79 m) and the Fulton Bank Building with a height of 255 feet (78 m). [63]

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Panorama.jpg
A panoramic of downtown Harrisburg from Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania, across the Susquehanna River from downtown. The view extends from the M. Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge on the far left, across the cityscape including the Pennsylvania State Capitol and City Island, to the Walnut Street Bridge and the Market Street Bridge, as seen in March 2013.


Historical population
1790 875
1800 1,47268.2%
1810 2,28755.4%
1820 2,99030.7%
1830 4,31244.2%
1840 5,98038.7%
1850 7,83431.0%
1860 13,40571.1%
1870 23,10472.4%
1880 30,76233.1%
1890 39,38528.0%
1900 50,16727.4%
1910 64,18627.9%
1920 75,91718.3%
1930 80,3395.8%
1940 83,8934.4%
1950 89,5446.7%
1960 79,697−11.0%
1970 68,061−14.6%
1980 53,264−21.7%
1990 52,376−1.7%
2000 48,950−6.5%
2010 49,5281.2%
2020 50,0991.2%
U.S. Decennial Census [64]
2020-2021 [65] [3]

2020 census

Harrisburg city, Pennsylvania - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / EthnicityPop 2010 [66] Pop 2020 [65] % 2010% 2020
White alone (NH)12,29011,40524.81%22.76%
Black or African American alone (NH)24,72721,26349.93%42.44%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)1461070.29%0.21%
Asian alone (NH)1,6921,7683.42%3.53%
Pacific Islander alone (NH)4190.01%0.04%
Some Other Race alone (NH)974030.20%0.80%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)1,6332,2303.30%4.45%
Hispanic or Latino (any race)8,93912,90418.05%25.76%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

The six largest ethnic groups in the city are: African American (52.4%), German (15.0%), Irish (6.5%), Italian (3.3%), English (2.4%), and Dutch (1.0%). While the metropolitan area is approximately 15% German-American, 11.4% are Irish-American and 9.6% English-American. Harrisburg has one of the largest Pennsylvania Dutch communities in the nation, and also has the nation's ninth-largest Swedish-American communities in the nation.[ citation needed ]

There were 20,561 households, out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 13 living with them, 23.4% were married couples living together, 24.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.9% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 28.2% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 13 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 13 and over, there were 84.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,920, and the median income for a family was $29,556. Males had a median income of $90,670 versus $24,405 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,787. About 23.4% of families and 24.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.9% of those under age 13 and 16.6% of those age 65 or over.

The very first census taken in the United States occurred in 1790. At that time Harrisburg was a small, but substantial colonial town with a population of 875 residents. [67] With the increase of the city's prominence as an industrial and transportation center, Harrisburg reached its peak population build up in 1950, topping out at nearly 90,000 residents. Since the 1950s, Harrisburg, along with other northeastern urban centers large and small, has experienced a declining population that is ultimately fueling the growth of its suburbs, although the decline – which was very rapid in the 1960s and 1970s – has slowed considerably since the 1980s. [68] Unlike Western and Southern states, Pennsylvania maintains a complex system of municipalities and has very little legislation on either the annexation/expansion of cities or the consolidating of municipal entities.


Harrisburg, Pennsylvania products treemap, 2020 Harrisburg, Pa Product Exports (2020).svg
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania products treemap, 2020

Harrisburg is the metropolitan center for some 400 communities. [69] Its economy and more than 45,000 businesses are diversified with a large representation of service-related industries, especially health-care and a growing technological and biotechnology industry to accompany the dominant government field inherent to being the state's capital. National and international firms with major operations include Ahold Delhaize, ArcelorMittal Steel, HP Inc., IBM, Hershey Foods, Harsco Corporation, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, Rite Aid Corporation, Tyco Electronics, Gannett Fleming, [70] [71] and Volvo Construction Equipment. [72] The largest employers, the federal and state governments, provide stability to the economy. The region's extensive transportation infrastructure has allowed it to become a prominent center for trade, warehousing, and distribution. [69]


Top 10

According to the Region Economic Development Corporation, the top employers in the region are:

#Employer# of EmployeesIndustry
1 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 21,885 Government
2 United States Federal government, including the military 18,000Government
3 Giant Food Stores 8,902 Grocery store
4 Penn State Hershey Medical Center 8,849Hospital, Medical research
5 Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, including Hersheypark 7,500Entertainment and amusement parks
6 The Hershey Company 6,500 Food manufacturer
7 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 6,090 Retail store chain
8 Highmark 5,200 Health insurance
9 TE Connectivity 4,700 Electronic component manufacturer
10 UPMC Pinnacle, including Harrisburg Hospital and Polyclinic Medical Center 3,997Health-care and hospital system

People and culture


Harrisburg's Market Square. Formerly the site of a market in Downtown Harrisburg, today it is a public transport hub and commercial center. Market Square in Harrisburg.jpg
Harrisburg's Market Square. Formerly the site of a market in Downtown Harrisburg, today it is a public transport hub and commercial center.

In the mid-20th century, Harrisburg was home to many nightclubs and other performance venues, including the Madrid Ballroom, the Coliseum, the Chestnut Street Hall and the Hi-Hat. These venues featured performances from Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Fletcher Henderson and Andy Kirk, among other jazz greats. Segregationist policy forbade these musicians from staying overnight in downtown Harrisburg, however, making the Jackson Hotel in Harrisburg's 7th Ward a hub of black musicians prior the 1960s. [73]

Several organizations support and develop visual arts in Harrisburg. The Art Association of Harrisburg was founded in 1926 and continues to provide education and exhibits throughout the year. Additionally, the Susquehanna Art Museum, founded in 1989, offers classes, exhibits and community events. A local urban sketching group, Harrisburg Sketchers, convenes artists monthly. [74]

Downtown Harrisburg has two major performance centers. The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, which was completed in 1999, is the first center of its type in the United States where education, science and the performing arts take place under one roof. The Forum, a 1,763-seat concert and lecture hall built in 1930–31, is a state-owned and operated facility located within the State Capitol Complex. Since 1931, The Forum has been home to the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. Other performance centers include The Capitol Room at House of Music, Arts & Culture, Open Stage of Harrisburg, Harrisburg Improv Theatre, Gamut Theatre Group, Popcorn Hat Players Children's Theatre and Theatre Harrisburg. [75]

Beginning in 2001, downtown Harrisburg saw a resurgence of commercial nightlife development. This has been credited with reversing the city's financial decline, and has made downtown Harrisburg a destination for events from jazz festivals to Top-40 nightclubs.

In 2004, Harrisburg hosted CowParade, an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major cities all over the world. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city center, in public places such as train stations and parks. They often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes.


Harrisburg notably is home to large events occurring throughout the year which attracts visitors from across the country and internationally.


Harrisburg area is part of the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York media market which consists of the lower counties in south central Pennsylvania and borders the media markets of Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is the 43rd largest media market in the United States. [77]

The Harrisburg area has several newspapers. The Patriot-News , which is published in Cumberland County, serves the Harrisburg area and has a tri-weekly circulation of over 100,000. The Sentinel , which is published in Carlisle, roughly 20 miles west of Harrisburg, serves many of Harrisburg's western suburbs in Cumberland County. The Press and Journal , published in Middletown, is one of many weekly general information newspapers in the Harrisburg area. There are also numerous television and radio stations in the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York area.



The Harrisburg TV market is served by:


According to Arbitron, Harrisburg's radio market is ranked 78th in the nation. [78]

This is a list of FM stations in the greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, metropolitan area.

Callsign MHzBand"Name" Format, Owner City of license
WDCV 88.3FMIndie/College Rock, Dickinson College Carlisle
WXPH 88.7FM WXPN relay, University of Pennsylvania Harrisburg
WSYC 88.7FMAlternative, Shippensburg University Shippensburg
WITF-FM 89.5FM NPR Harrisburg
WVMM 90.7FMIndie/College Rock, Messiah University Grantham
WJAZ 91.7FM WRTI relay, Classical/Jazz, Temple University Harrisburg
WKHL 92.1FM"K-Love" Contemporary ChristianPalmyra
WNUU 92.7FM"Nu 92.7" CHRStarview
WTPA-FM 93.5FM"93.5 WTPA" Classic RockMechanicsburg
WRBT 94.9FM"Bob" CountryHarrisburg
WLAN 96.9FM"FM 97" CHRLancaster
WRVV 97.3FM"The River" Classic Hits and the Best of Today's RockHarrisburg
WYCR 98.5FM"98.5 The Peak" Classic HitsYork
WQLV 98.9FM98.9 WQLVMillersburg
WHKF 99.3FM"Kiss-FM" CHRHarrisburg
WFVY 100.1FMAdult ContemporaryLebanon
WROZ 101.3FM"101 The Rose" Hot ACLancaster
WARM 103.3FM"Warm 103" Hot ACYork
WNNK 104.1FM"Wink 104" Hot ACHarrisburg
WQXA 105.7FM"105.7 The X" Active RockYork
WWKL 106.7FM"Hot 106.7" CHRHershey
WGTY 107.7FM"Great Country"York

This is a list of AM stations in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania metropolitan area:

CallsignkHzBandFormatCity of license
WHP (AM) 580AMConservative News/TalkHarrisburg
WHYF 720AM EWTN Global Catholic Radio NetworkShiremanstown
WSBA (AM) 910AMNews/TalkYork
WADV 940AMGospelLebanon
WHYL 960AMAdult StandardsCarlisle
WIOO 1000AMClassic CountryCarlisle
WKBO 1230AMChristian ContemporaryHarrisburg
WQXA 1250AMCountryYork
WLBR 1270AMTalkLebanon
WHGB 1400AMESPN Radio (Formerly Adult R&B: The Touch)Harrisburg
WTKT 1460AMsports: "The Ticket"Harrisburg
WRDD 1480AMCountryShippensburg
WRKY 1490AMClassic rockLancaster
WPDC 1600AMSportElizabethtown
Penndot 1670AMNOAA Weather and TravelSeveral

Harrisburg in film

Several feature films and television series have been filmed or set in and around Harrisburg and the greater Susquehanna Valley.

Museums, art collections, and sites of interest

Pennsylvania Holocaust Memorial along Harrisburg's Riverfront Park/Capital Area Greenbelt David Ascalon, Ascalon Studios, Holocaust Memorial- Harrisburg, PA.jpg
Pennsylvania Holocaust Memorial along Harrisburg's Riverfront Park/Capital Area Greenbelt

Parks and recreation

The following is a list of the major parks of Harrisburg:


Harrisburg serves as the hub of professional sports in South Central Pennsylvania. A host of teams compete in the region including three professional baseball teams, the Harrisburg Senators, the Lancaster Barnstormers, and the York Revolution. The Senators are the oldest team of the three, with the current incarnation playing since 1987. The original Harrisburg Senators began playing in the Eastern League in 1924. Playing its home games at Island Field, the team won the league championship in the 1927, 1928, and 1931 seasons. The Senators played a few more seasons before flood waters destroyed Island Field in 1936, effectively ending Eastern League participation for fifty-one years. In 1940, Harrisburg gained an Interstate League team affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates; however, the team remained in the city only until 1943, when it moved to nearby York and renamed the York Pirates. The current Harrisburg Senators, affiliated with the Washington Nationals, have won the Eastern League championship in the 1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 seasons.

Harrisburg Senators Eastern League, Baseball FNB Field 19876
Hershey Bears AHL, Ice hockey Giant Center 193211
Penn FC USL, Soccer FNB Field 20041
Harrisburg Heat MASL, Indoor soccer Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex 20120
Keystone Assault WFA, Women's footballTBA20090
Harrisburg Lunatics PIHA, Inline hockeySusquehanna Sports Center20010
Harrisburg RFC EPRU, MARFU, RugbyCibort Park, Bressler 19691


City of Harrisburg

Harrisburg Market Square showing the Penn National Insurance Building (left) and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center (right) Harrisburg Market Square and City Government Center.jpg
Harrisburg Market Square showing the Penn National Insurance Building (left) and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center (right)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center, the first government building (and only city hall) in the United States named after the Civil Rights Movement leader, serves as a central location for the administrative functions of the city. [86] [87] Harrisburg has been served since 1970 by the "strong mayor" form of municipal government, with separate executive and legislative branches. The Mayor serves a four-year term with no term limits. As the full-time chief executive, the Mayor oversees the operation of 34 agencies, run by department and office heads, some of whom form the Mayor's cabinet, including the Department of Public Safety (which includes the Bureau of Police, Bureau of Fire, and Bureau of Codes), Public Works, Business Administration, Parks and Recreation, Incineration and Steam Generation, Building & Housing Development, and Solicitor. The city had 424 full-time employees in 2019 (Water and Sewer employees were transferred to Capital Region Water effective 2013). [88] The current mayor of Harrisburg is Wanda Williams whose term expires January 2026.

There are seven city council members, all elected at large, who serve part-time for four-year terms. There are two other elected city posts, city treasurer and city controller, who separately head their own fiscally related offices.

The city government had been in financial distress for many years in the 2000s. It has operated under the state's Act 47 Harrisburg Strong Plan provisions since 2011. The Act provides for municipalities that are in a state akin to bankruptcy. [89] The city balanced its budget in the late 2010s, was expected to have a surplus of $1 million in 2019, and maintained a surplus in 2020 despite COVID-19. [90] [51]

Property tax reform

Harrisburg is also known nationally for its use of a two-tiered land value taxation. Harrisburg has taxed land at a rate six times that on improvements since 1975, and this policy has been credited by its former mayor Stephen R. Reed, as well as by the city's former city manager during the 1980s, with reducing the number of vacant structures located in downtown Harrisburg from about 4,200 in 1982 to fewer than 500 in 1995. [91] During this same period of time between 1982 and 1995, nearly 4,700 more city residents became employed, the crime rate dropped 22.5% and the fire rate dropped 51%. [91]

Harrisburg, as well as nearly 20 other Pennsylvania cities, employs a two-rate or split-rate property tax, which requires the taxing of the value of land at a higher rate and the value of the buildings and improvements at a lower one. This can be seen as a compromise between pure LVT and an ordinary property tax falling on real estate (land value plus improvement value). [92] Alternatively, two-rate taxation may be seen as a form that allows gradual transformation of the traditional real estate property tax into a pure land value tax.

Nearly two dozen local Pennsylvania jurisdictions, such as Harrisburg, [93] use two-rate property taxation in which the tax on land value is higher and the tax on improvement value is lower. In 2000, Florenz Plassmann and Nicolaus Tideman wrote [94] that when comparing Pennsylvania cities using a higher tax rate on land value and a lower rate on improvements with similar sized Pennsylvania cities using the same rate on land and improvements, the higher land value taxation leads to increased construction within the jurisdiction. [95] [96]

Dauphin County

Dauphin County Courthouse, located along the Susquehanna River at Front and Market Streets in downtown Harrisburg Dauphin County Courthouse.jpg
Dauphin County Courthouse, located along the Susquehanna River at Front and Market Streets in downtown Harrisburg

Dauphin County Government Complex, in downtown Harrisburg, serves the administrative functions of the county. The trial court of general jurisdiction for Harrisburg rests with the Court of Dauphin County and is largely funded and operated by county resources and employees.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex dominates the city's stature as a regional and national hub for government and politics. All administrative functions of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are located within the complex and at various nearby locations.

The Commonwealth Judicial Center houses Pennsylvania's three appellate courts, which are located in Harrisburg. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which is the court of last resort in the state, hears arguments in Harrisburg as well as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania are located here. Judges for these courts are elected at large.

Federal government

The Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse, located in downtown Harrisburg, serves as the regional administrative offices of the federal government. A branch of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is also located within the courthouse. Due to Harrisburg's prominence as the state capital, federal offices for nearly every agency are located within the city.

The United States military has a strong historic presence in the region. A large retired military population resides in South Central Pennsylvania and the region is home to a large national cemetery at Indiantown Gap. The federal government, including the military, is the top employer in the metropolitan area.

Military bases in the Harrisburg area include:

Installation NameCityType, Branch, or Agency
Carlisle Barracks Carlisle Managed by the Army, it is home to the United States Army War College
Eastern Distribution Center New Cumberland Managed by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), it is part of the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna (DDSP)
Fort Indiantown Gap Fort Indiantown GapManaged by the Army, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania National Guard (PANG), it serves as a military training and staging area. It is home to the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (EAATS) and Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC)
Harrisburg Air Guard Base Middletown Home to the 193rd Special Operations Wing, it is located on the former Olmsted Air Force Base, which closed in the early 1970s and became Harrisburg International Airport
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Mechanicsburg Part of the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna (DDSP)



Domestic and International airlines provide services via Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), which is located southeast of the city in Middletown. HIA is the third-busiest commercial airport in Pennsylvania, both in terms of passengers served and cargo shipments. But, generally due to the poor airline selection and lack of an airline hub, the more popular airports in the area are Baltimore, Dulles and the Philadelphia. However nearly 1.2 million people fly out of Harrisburg every year.

[97] Passenger carriers that serve HIA include American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Air. Capital City Airport (CXY), a moderate-sized business class and general aviation airport, is located across the Susquehanna River in the nearby suburb of New Cumberland, south of Harrisburg. Both airports are owned and operated by the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA), which also manages the Franklin County Regional Airport in Chambersburg and Gettysburg Regional Airport in Gettysburg.

From the 1940s to 1960s, the Harrisburg Seaplane Base on the West Shore of the Susquehanna River facilitated the landing and docking of seaplanes in the river between the M. Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge and the Walnut Street Bridge, until it was converted into a marina and boat dealership. [98]

Public transit

CAT bus at the Market Square Transfer Center in Harrisburg CAT bus 1902 at Market Square Transfer Center.jpeg
CAT bus at the Market Square Transfer Center in Harrisburg

Harrisburg is served by Capital Area Transit (CAT) which provides public bus and paratransit service throughout the greater metropolitan area. Construction of a commuter rail line designated the Capital Red Rose Corridor (previously named CorridorOne) was planned to link the city with nearby Lancaster until plans went dormant in 2011. [99] [100]

Long-term plans for the region called for the commuter rail line to continue westward to Cumberland County, ending at Carlisle. In early 2005, the project hit a roadblock when the Cumberland County commissioners opposed the plan to extend commuter rail to the West Shore. Due to lack of support from the county commissioners, the Cumberland County portion, and the two new stations in Harrisburg have been removed from the project. In the future, with support from Cumberland County, the commuter rail project may extend to both shores of the Susquehanna River, where the majority of the commuting base for the Harrisburg metropolitan area resides. [101]

In 2006, a second phase of the rail project designated CorridorTwo was announced to the general public. It was planned to link downtown Harrisburg with its eastern suburbs in Dauphin and Lebanon counties, including the areas of Hummelstown, Hershey and Lebanon, and the city of York in York County. [101] Other planned passenger rail corridors also included Route 15 from the Harrisburg area towards Gettysburg, as well as the Susquehanna River communities north of Harrisburg, and the Northern Susquehanna Valley region. [101]

Intercity bus service

The lower level of the Harrisburg Transportation Center serves as the city's intercity bus terminal. Daily bus services are provided by Greyhound, Capitol Trailways, and Fullington Trailways. They connect Harrisburg to other Pennsylvania cities such as Allentown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, State College, Williamsport, and York and nearby, out-of-state cities such as Baltimore, Binghamton, New York, Syracuse, and Washington, D.C., plus many other destinations via transfers. [102]

Curbside intercity bus service is also provided by Megabus from the parking lot of the Harrisburg Mall in nearby Swatara Township, with direct service to Philadelphia, State College, and Pittsburgh.

Regional scheduled line bus service

The public transit provider in York County, Rabbit Transit, operates its RabbitEXPRESS bus service from York via Route 83N and from Gettysburg via Route 15N which serves both downtown Harrisburg and the main campus for Harrisburg Area Community College. The commuter-oriented service is designed to serve residents from these areas who work in Harrisburg, though reverse commutes are possible under the current schedule. Route 83N makes limited stops in the city of York and at two park and rides along Interstate 83 between York and Harrisburg before making multiple stops in Harrisburg, while Route 15N makes two stops in Gettysburg and at two park and rides along U.S. Route 15 between Gettysburg and Harrisburg before making multiple stops in Harrisburg.

Lebanon Transit operates the Commute King A and Commute King B express bus routes which connect Lebanon to Harrisburg via U.S. Route 422 and Interstate 81 respectively.

A charter/tour bus operator, R & J Transport, also provides weekday, scheduled route commuter service for people working in downtown Harrisburg. R & J, which is based in Schuylkill County, operates two lines, one between Frackville and downtown Harrisburg and the other between Minersville, Pine Grove, and downtown Harrisburg.


Harrisburg Transportation Center Harrisburg Transportation Center, Sept 2012.jpg
Harrisburg Transportation Center

The Pennsylvania Railroad's main line from New York to Chicago passed through Harrisburg. The line was electrified in the 1930s, with the wires reaching Harrisburg in 1938. They went no further. Plans to electrify through to Pittsburgh and thence to Chicago never saw fruition; sufficient funding was never available. Thus, Harrisburg became where the PRR's crack expresses such as the Broadway Limited changed from electric traction to (originally) a steam locomotive, and later a diesel locomotive. Harrisburg remained a freight rail hub for PRR's successor Conrail, which was later sold off and divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Freight rail

Norfolk Southern acquired all of Conrail's lines in the Harrisburg area and has continued the city's function as a freight rail hub. Norfolk Southern considers Harrisburg one of many primary hubs in its system, and operates 2 intermodal (rail/truck transfer) yards in the immediate Harrisburg area. [103] The Harrisburg Intermodal Yard (formerly called Lucknow Yard) is located in the north end of Harrisburg, approximately 3 miles north of downtown Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Transport Center, while the Rutherford Intermodal Yard is located approximately 6 miles east of downtown Harrisburg in Swatara Township, Dauphin County. Norfolk Southern also operates a significant classification yard in the Harrisburg area, the Enola Yard, which is located across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County.

Intercity passenger rail

Amtrak provides service to and from Harrisburg. The passenger rail operator runs its Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian routes between New York, Philadelphia, and the Harrisburg Transportation Center daily. The Pennsylvanian route, which operates once daily, continues west to Pittsburgh. As of April 2007, Amtrak operates 14 weekday roundtrips and 8 weekend roundtrips daily between Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Philadelphia 30th Street Station; most of these trains also travel to and from New York Penn Station. The Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia was improved in the mid-first decade of the 21st century, with the primary improvements completed in late 2006. The improvements included upgrading the electrical catenary, installing continuously welded rail, and replacing existing wooden railroad ties with concrete ties. These improvements increased train speeds to 110 mph along the corridor and reduced the travel time between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to as little as 95 minutes. It also eliminated the need to change locomotives at 30th Street Station (from diesel to electric and vice versa) for trains continuing to or coming from New York. As of Federal Fiscal Year 2008, the Harrisburg Transportation Center was the 2nd busiest Amtrak station in Pennsylvania and 21st busiest in the United States. [104] [105]

Roads and bridges

Western span of the Walnut Street Bridge crossing the Susquehanna River, after it collapsed during the 1996 flood Walnut street br1.jpg
Western span of the Walnut Street Bridge crossing the Susquehanna River, after it collapsed during the 1996 flood

Harrisburg is served by several major roads. Interstate 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) passes south of the city and has access via two interchanges, running west toward Pittsburgh and east toward Philadelphia. Interstate 81 passes to the north of Harrisburg and heads southwest toward Carlisle and northeast toward Hazleton. Interstate 83 begins at I-81 near Harrisburg and heads south and west through the center of Harrisburg before continuing south toward York and Baltimore. Interstate 283 connects I-76 and I-83 southeast of Harrisburg. U.S. Route 11 and U.S. Route 15 pass through the western suburbs of Harrisburg, heading north concurrent from Camp Hill up the west bank of the Susquehanna River toward Selinsgrove. South of Camp Hill, US 11 heads southwest toward Carlisle and US 15 heads south toward Gettysburg. U.S. Route 22 and U.S. Route 322 head northwest concurrent from Harrisburg toward Lewistown. US 22 passes through the northern portion of Harrisburg before it heads northeast toward Allentown. US 322 bypasses Harrisburg along I-81 and I-83 before heading east toward Hershey. Pennsylvania Route 230 heads south from US 22 in the northern part of Harrisburg and passes through the city along Cameron Street. Pennsylvania Route 283 heads southeast from I-283 on a freeway toward Lancaster. Pennsylvania Route 581 connects I-81 and I-83 on a freeway through the western suburbs of Harrisburg. I-81, I-83, and PA 581 form the Capital Beltway that circles Harrisburg. [106] [107]

Harrisburg is the location of over a dozen large bridges, many up to a mile long, that cross the Susquehanna River. Several other important structures span the Paxton Creek watershed and Cameron Street, linking Downtown with neighborhoods in East Harrisburg. These include the State Street Bridge, also known as the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Bridge, and the Mulberry Street Bridge. Walnut Street Bridge, now used only by pedestrians and cyclists, links the downtown and Riverfront Park areas with City Island but goes no further as spans are missing on its western side due to massive flooding resulting from the North American blizzard of 1996.


Public schools

The City of Harrisburg is served by the Harrisburg School District. The school district provides education for the city's youth beginning with all-day kindergarten through twelfth grade. In 2003, SciTech High, a regional math and science magnet school (affiliated with Harrisburg University), opened its doors to local students.

Public Charter Schools

The city also has several public charter schools: Infinity Charter School, Sylvan Heights Science Charter School, Premier Arts and Science Charter School and Capital Area School for the Arts.

The Central Dauphin School District, the largest public school district in the metropolitan area and the 13th largest in Pennsylvania, has several Harrisburg postal addresses for many of the District's schools. Steelton-Highspire School District borders much of the Harrisburg School District.

Private schools

Harrisburg is home to an extensive Catholic educational system. There are nearly 40 parish-driven elementary schools and seven Catholic high schools within the region administered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, including Bishop McDevitt High School and Trinity High School. Numerous other private schools, such as The Londonderry School and The Circle School, which is a Sudbury Model school, also operate in Harrisburg. Harrisburg Academy, founded in 1784, is one of the oldest independent college preparatory schools in the nation. The Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva Academy, founded in 1944, is a progressive, modern Jewish day school. Also, Harrisburg is home to Harrisburg Christian School, founded in 1955. [108]

Private Schools in Harrisburg [109]
Alternative Rehabilitation Communities7-12Alternative2742 North Front Street
Bishop McDevitt High School9-12Religious1 Crusader Way
Cathedral Consolidated SchoolPK-8Religious212 State Street
Cornell Abraxas Group7-122950 North 7th Street
Covenant Christian AcademyNS-12Religious1982 Locust Lane
East Shore Montessori SchoolNSMontessori6130 Old Jonestown Road
Follow Me Christian Child Care CenterPK-1Religious6003 Jonestown Road
Hansel & Gretel Early Learning CenterPK-KPreschool4820 Londonderry Road
Harrisburg Adventist SchoolNS-9Religious424 North Progress Avenue
Harrisburg Catholic Elementary SchoolPK-8Religious555 South 25th Street
Harrisburg Christian SchoolK-12Religious2000 Blue Mountain Parkway
Hildebrandt Learning CenterKPreschool1500 Elmerton Avenue
Hillside Seventh-day Adventist SchoolK-8Religious1301 Cumberland Street
Holy Name of Jesus SchoolNS-8Religious6190 Allentown Boulevard
Jonestown Road KinderCareNS-PKPreschool6006 Jonestown Road
Little Learners Child Development CenterPK-KPreschool2300 Vartan Way
Londonderry Road KinderCareNS-PKPreschool4075 Londonderry Road
Londonderry SchoolPK-81800 Bamberger Road
New Story SchoolK-12Special Ed2700 Commerce Drive
Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva AcademyPK-8Religious3301 North Front Street
St. Catherine Laboure SchoolPK-8Religious4020 Derry Street
St. Margaret Mary SchoolNS-8Religious2826 Herr Street
St. Stephen's Episcopal SchoolPK-8Religious215 North Front Street
Samuel SchoolPK-8Religious411 South 40th Street
Strawberry Garden Day Care CenterPK-KPreschool1616 Herr Street
Susquehanna Township KinderCareNS-PKPreschool3701 Vartan Way
The Circle SchoolPK-12Alternative727 Wilhelm Road
The Goddard SchoolNS-KPreschool4397 Sturbridge Drive
The Nativity School of Harrisburg6-8Alternative2135 North 6th Street
Wordsworth Academy2-12Special Ed1745 North Cameron Street

Higher education

In Harrisburg

Near Harrisburg


Notable people

Since the early 18th century, Harrisburg has been home to many people of note. Because it is the seat of government for the state and lies relatively close to other urban centers, Harrisburg has played a significant role in the nation's political, cultural and industrial history. "Harrisburgers" have also taken a leading role in the development of Pennsylvania's history for over two centuries. Two former U.S. Secretaries of War, Simon Cameron and Alexander Ramsey and several other prominent political figures, such as former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich, hail from Harrisburg. The actor Don Keefer was born near Harrisburg, along with the actor Richard Sanders, most famous for playing Les Nessman in WKRP in Cincinnati . Many notable individuals are interred at Harrisburg Cemetery and East Harrisburg Cemetery.


Artists, designers


Politics, military, activism




See also


  1. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. Official records for Harrisburg kept at downtown from July 1888 to December 1938, Capital City Airport from January 1939 to September 1991, and at Harrisburg Int'l in Middletown since October 1991. [56]

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Steelton is a borough in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States, 4 miles (6 km) southeast of Harrisburg. The population was 6,263 at the 2020 census. The borough is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania</span> Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Susquehanna Township is a township in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The population was 26,736 at the time of the 2020 census. This represents a 9.8% increase from the 2000 census count of 21,895. Susquehanna Township has the postal ZIP codes 17109 and 17110, which maintain the Harrisburg place name designation. The township is a suburb of Harrisburg and is connected to Marysville by the Rockville Bridge, the world's longest stone-arch rail bridge at the time of its completion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern Central Railway</span>

The Northern Central Railway (NCRY) was a Class I Railroad connecting Baltimore, Maryland with Sunbury, Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River. Completed in 1858, the line came under the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in 1861, when the PRR acquired a controlling interest in the Northern Central's stock to compete with the rival Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). For eleven decades the Northern Central operated as a subsidiary of the PRR until much of its Maryland trackage was washed out by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, after which most of its operations ceased as the Penn Central declined to repair sections. It is now a fallen flag railway, having come under the control of the later Penn Central, Conrail, and then broken apart and disestablished. The northern part in Pennsylvania is now the [[York County Heritage Rail Trail which connects to a similar hike/bike trail in Northern Maryland down to Baltimore, named the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail. Trackage around Baltimore remains in rail service as well as most of the trackage in Pennsylvania which is operated by Norfolk Southern and the southernmost section in Pennsylvania is operated by the Northern Central heritage railway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Capital Area Transit (Harrisburg)</span> Public transportation agency in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Capital Area Transit (CAT), also known as the Cumberland-Dauphin-Harrisburg Transit Authority, is a regional public transportation agency that operates bus and paratransit service in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania metropolitan area. Its scheduled route bus service covers much of the southern half of Dauphin County and the eastern half of Cumberland County. It also operates two bus routes into northern York County. CAT's shared ride/paratransit operations serve residents throughout Dauphin County. In 2021, the system had a ridership of 1,128,600.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Uptown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania</span> Neighborhood of Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States

Uptown is a section of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania located North of the Midtown and Downtown neighborhoods.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania</span> Neighborhood in Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States

Downtown Harrisburg is the central core neighborhood, business and government center which surrounds the focal point of Market Square, and serves as the regional center for the greater metropolitan area of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pennsylvania Route 39</span> State highway in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States

Pennsylvania Route 39 (PA 39) is a 17.83-mile-long (28.69 km) state highway located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States. PA 39 runs from North Front Street near Harrisburg east to U.S. Route 322 (US 322) and US 422 near Hummelstown and Hershey. The route passes through the northern and eastern suburbs of Harrisburg and passes by Hersheypark, Giant Center, as well as the primary production factory for The Hershey Company. Between Harrisburg and Manada Hill, it is known as Linglestown Road, from Manada Hill to Hershey as Hershey Road and from Hershey to near Hummelstown and Hershey as Hersheypark Drive. Prior to the establishment of PA 39 in 1937, PA 39, had previously been designated as a route in northeastern Pennsylvania during the 1920s. That designation was deleted when it was renumbered US 11. As a result, PA 39 is one of a few routes which has a set of child routes which are no where near the primary route.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Susquehanna River Bridge</span> Bridge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The Susquehanna River Bridge carries Interstate 76 across the Susquehanna River between Dauphin and York County near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harrisburg–Carlisle metropolitan statistical area</span> Metropolitan area in Pennsylvania, United States

The Harrisburg–Carlisle metropolitan statistical area, officially the Harrisburg–Carlisle, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and also referred to as the Susquehanna Valley, is defined by the Office of Management and Budget as an area consisting of three counties in South Central Pennsylvania, anchored by the cities of Harrisburg and Carlisle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania</span> Aspect of US history

The history of Harrisburg, the state capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States, has played a key role in the development of the nation's industrial history from its origins as a trading outpost to the present. Harrisburg has played a critical role in American history during the Westward Migration, the American Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution. For part of the 19th century, the building of the Pennsylvania Canal and later the Pennsylvania Railroad allowed Harrisburg to become one of the most industrialized cities in the Northeast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Central Pennsylvania</span> Place in Pennsylvania, United States

South Central Pennsylvania is a region of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that includes the fourteen counties of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, and York. Portions of western Schuylkill and southern Northumberland counties are also located in South Central Pennsylvania. Despite the designation "South Central Pennsylvania," many of the counties are geographically located in the southeastern portion of the state. Lancaster, with a population of 59,322, is the largest city in the region, and the second largest metropolitan area. Harrisburg, with a population of 49,528, is the second largest city in the region, and has the largest metropolitan area with a population of 643,820 people, and is the capital of Pennsylvania. York is the other significant city in the region. The Harrisburg-Lancaster-York television market is the 39th largest market in the United States.

During the American Civil War, Pennsylvania was the second largest state in the Union, and Harrisburg was the state's capital. Located at the intersection of important railroads, Harrisburg proved an important supply and logistics center for the dissemination and transportation of materiel for the Union Army. Tens of thousands of new recruits were mustered into service or drilled at a series of Harrisburg-area United States Army training camps, including the sprawling Camp Curtin. Confederate forces under Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell threatened Harrisburg during the June 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, but were instead called by General Robert E. Lee to return to Gettysburg campaign. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin ordered local workers to erect a series of forts and earthworks to protect the city, which then had a population of 13,000 residents.

Ronald I. Buxton was a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Buxton represented the 103rd District in Dauphin County, including a large section of the city of Harrisburg, from 1993 until 2012, when he decided not to seek reelection to an 11th term.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steelton-Highspire School District</span> School district in Pennsylvania, U.S.

The Steelton-Highspire School District is a diminutive, urban public school district located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. It encompasses the boroughs of Steelton and Highspire, both industrial suburbs of the City of Harrisburg. The district encompasses approximately 2 square miles (5.2 km2) and is located on the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River. According to 2005 local census data, it served a resident population of 9,417. By 2010, the district's population declined to 8,393 people. The educational attainment levels for the Steelton-Highspire School District population were 89% high school graduates and 11% college graduates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildwood Park (Pennsylvania)</span>

Wildwood Park is a public park and nature sanctuary in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The 229 acre park is known for its 90-acre shallow lake with over 6 miles of trails and mile-long boardwalk over the wetlands. The park is located within the city limits of Harrisburg; however, it is administered and maintained by the Dauphin County Parks and Recreation Department. Wildwood Park runs parallel to the Paxton Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, on the northern side of Harrisburg and adjacent to the main campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College. Wildwood Park is also part of the Capital Area Greenbelt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania history</span>

This is a timeline of the major events in the history of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and vicinity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex</span> United States historic place

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex is a large complex of state government buildings in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Set on more than 50 acres (20 ha) of downtown Harrisburg, it includes the Pennsylvania State Capitol and a landscaped park environment with monuments, memorials, and other government buildings. It is bounded on the north by Forster Street, the east by North 7th Street, the south by Walnut Street, and the west by North 3rd Street. Most of this area is a National Historic Landmark District, recognized in 2013 as a fully realized example of the City Beautiful movement landscape and planning design of Arnold Brunner.


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