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flag  History of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Journey back in time to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Visit Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA - The Harrisburger - Harrisburg, Pa.

The Rockville Bridge in Harrisburg is the longest stone arch bridge in the world.

Originally Bellefonte, a town now with a population of 5,000, was once considered to be Pennsylvania's capital. But Harrisburg was chosen because of the easy navigation on the Susquehanna River.

There is MUCH more to discover about Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Read on!

Harrisburg Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

The Harrisburger - Harrisburg, Pa.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

The Harrisburger - Harrisburg, Pa.
Masonic Temple
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Masonic Temple
Metropolitan Hotel
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Metropolitan Hotel

Discover Harrisburg: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1785 - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania founded
1786 - October 5 - The famous "Pumpkin Flood" occurred on the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. Harrisburg PA reported a river stage of twenty-two feet. The heavy rains culminated a wet season.
October 5, 1786
1812 - Harrisburg became state capital of Pennsylvania webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ patimeln.htm
1824 - July 24 - Harrisburg Pennsylvanian newspaper publishes results of 1st public opinion poll. Clear lead for Andrew Jackson
1836 - December 4 - Whig party holds its 1st national convention, Harrisburg, Pa
The boiler of the steam-engine by which the presses in the "Democratic Union" office at Harrisburg, are worked, burst on Monday last, with an awful explosion. The engine was situated in the basement of a four story building, and so powerful was the explosion as to force the head of the boiler through the first, second and third stories, carrying every thing before it, to the fourth, where it finally stopped. Almost every case, and many of the forms, were knocked into pi.

The foreman of the establishment, who was engaged at the time in reading proof, was thrown violently against the ceiling, but sustained no very serious injury. A young man engaged in the publication office, was considerably injured, as was also one of the young men in the press room. Several others of the workmen, and one or two of the girls in the folding room, were slightly hurt, but on the whole, the damage to life or limb, considering the terrible nature of the explosion, was so slight as to arise almost to a... Read MORE...

1854 - Harrisburg
Harrisburg city, capital of Pennsylvania, and sent of justice of Dauphin county, is delightfully situated on the E. bank of the Susquehanna river, 100 miles W. by N. from Philadelphia, and 110 miles N. by E. from Washington. Lat. 40° 16' N. Lon , 76° 50' W. The Pennsylvania railroad connects at this point with the Lancaster and Harrisburg railroad. The Lebanon Valley railroad now in progress leads from Harrisburg to Reading, and the Cumberland Valley railroad extends in the opposite direction. The site is an elevated plain between the river and Paxton creek. The public buildings belonging to the state occupy an eminence in the N. part of the town. The capitol is a handsome brick building 180 feet long by 80 wide, having a circular portico in front, supported by six Ionic columns, and surmounted by a dome. The latter affords a delightful view of the broad river, studded with verdant islands, and spanned by handsome bridges, with the Kittatinny mountain in the background. On each side... Read MORE...

1895 - Harrisburg
Harrisburg, a city, capital of Pennsylvania and of Dauphin co., is pleasantly situated on the E. bank of the Susquehanna River, 106 miles W. by N. of Philadelphia, 85 miles N. of Baltimore, and 120 miles N. of Washington, Lat. 40° 16' N.; lon. 76° 50'W. It is on the Pennsylvania and Northern Central Railroads, and is the N.E. terminus of the Cumberland Valley Railroad and the Philadelphia, Harrisburg & Pittsburg Railroad, which connect with the Lebanon Valley Railroad. Three railroad bridges here cross the river, which is 1 mile wide and flows through picturesque scenery. The capitol, a brick edifice, is located on an eminence in a park of 16 acres, and contains the state library, of about 40,000 volumes. The city has a government building, a court-house, 50 churches, the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital, a state arsenal, a general hospital, an opera-house, 3 academies, 3 national banks, 3 other banks, and 2 handsome public monuments. Four daily and 12 weekly newspapers are... Read MORE...


Harrisburg, Feb. 3. - The Pennsylvania state capitol has been destroyed by fire, the legislative halls are in ruins, and a new structure must rise from the ashes that has served as a meeting place of the Pennsylvania legislature since 1822. The flames within the short space of one hour ate up $1,500,000 worth of property. The inefficiency of the Harrisburg volunteer fire department is generally blamed.

The house was in session and the senate was about to convene after a few minutes recess, when the flames were discovered. Smoke could be seen in small volumes pouring out into the capitol grounds from the house windows. The members were not mindful of it until the great clouds rolled by the windows. Instantly there was a motion to adjourned and all was consternation.

In the senate the members were lolling about in their seats. The place... Read MORE...

Harrisburg, Penn., Feb. 1. - Ten buildings in the centre of the business district of this city were either destroyed or badly damaged by fire early this morning. The loss is estimated at $1,000,000. The Grand Opera House block and the Duncan building were destroyed. The buildings damaged are the Park Hotel, Columbus Hotel, the United Telephone Company building, the Security Trust building, the Bijou Theatre, ROSHON'S photograph studio, the College block, the Harrisburg Gas Company building. Several other buildings were more or less damaged.

The fire started from an explosion in PYNE'S hat store in the Opera House block at 2 o'clock, and within an hour had destroyed the playhouse and stores in the building, and had leaped across to the west side of Third Street to the Columbus Hotel and College block. While thick clouds of smoke were coming out of the windows of the Opera House the firemen saw a figure at one of the big windows high up in the building. He was rescued with... Read MORE...

Harrisburg, a city, capital of Pennsylvania and of Dauphin co., is pleasantly situated on the E. bank of the Susquehanna River, 105 miles W. by N. of Philadelphia and 85 miles N. by W. of Baltimore. Lat. 40° 16' N. j Ion. 76° 50' W. It is on the Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia and Reading, the Northern Central, and the Cumberland Valley Rs. Several railroad bridges here cross the river, which is 1 mile wide and flows through picturesque scenery. The city has a government building, court-house, state insane hospital, state arsenal, opera-house, and handsome public monuments, among the latter being the war monument, 110 feet high. The capitol building, located in a park of about 16 acres, was burned down in 1897 and a new building is now (1905) in course of construction to replace it. The state library has nearly 150,000 volumes. The prosperity of the city is largely derived from manufactures, for which its position is very favorable, as it has ready access to coal - and iron-mines. Here ... Read MORE...

A fire, apparently caused by mice gnawing matches, occurred at the home of H. C. Felker, 1529 North Fourth street, yesterday about 4:30 p.m.

Mrs. Felker who was in the yard, noticed flames in the rear of the house. Her cries awoke Mr. Felker, a railroad man, who was asleep on the second floor.

An alarm was sounded from box 31, Third and Relly streets. When the engines arrived the flames had already made their way to the second floor. The fire was extinguished about twenty-five minutes after the alarm was sounded. The rear end of the house was damaged to the extent of about $300.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
July 29, 1920
1929 - March 16 - WHP-AM in Harrisburg PA begins radio transmissions
1953 - April 15 - WHP TV channel 21 in Harrisburg, PA (CBS) begins broadcasting

2023 - Here's a list of places to go and things to do in Harrisburg:
Pennsylvania State Capitol:

Start your visit with a tour of the Pennsylvania State Capitol. The architecture is stunning, and the building is rich in history. Don't miss the impressive dome and the beautiful Senate and House chambers.

Riverfront Park:

Take a stroll along the Susquehanna River in Riverfront Park. It's a beautiful spot for a leisurely walk, jog, or bike ride. The park often hosts events and festivals, so check the local calendar.

City Island:

Connected to downtown Harrisburg by a bridge, City Island is a recreational haven. You can enjoy mini-golf, batting cages, and take a ride on the Pride of the Susquehanna, an authentic paddlewheel riverboat.

National Civil War Museum:

History buffs will appreciate the National Civil War Museum, which offers a comprehensive look at the Civil War from both Union and Confederate perspectives. The exhibits are well-curated and informative.

Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center (HMAC):

If you're into live music,...

Discover Your Roots: Harrisburg Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were born or died in Harrisburg.

View Them Now (sorted by year of birth)

photo of Moses SNYDERMoses SNYDER (4 October 1853, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA - 27 February 1898, Pioneer, Williams, Ohio, USA)
female ancestorMinnie WISE (7 January 1863, , Pennsylvania, USA - 10 January 1959, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA)
photo of Mellie Maggie GEISLERMellie Maggie GEISLER (May 1876, , Pennsylvania, USA - October 1967, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA)
female ancestorElizabeth V REBRICK (14 June 1896, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA - , )
male ancestorDaniel Spangenberg ROBERTS (November 22, 1898, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA (Lackawanna) - May 20, 1935, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA)

Genealogy Resources for Harrisburg

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Updated: 10/15/2023 8:00:44 AM