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What Is Pennsylvania Known for & Famous For?

Pennsylvania is one of the largest states in the United States in terms of both geographical size and population. However, you may be surprised by the rich mix of cultural, historical, and industrial components that are synonymous with this state. So, what are some of the features that Pennsylvania is best known for and famous for?

Pennsylvania is best known for being where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the American Constitution was drafted and adopted, making it one of the most historically significant states in the United States. It is also a hub for manufacturing, culture, and other attractions. 

In this article, I will discuss some of the most critical aspects that Pennsylvania is known and famous for. Read on for more.

Nicknamed the Keystone State

Pennsylvania is famously nicknamed the Keystone State, a name the state was given for its vital role in the founding of the United States. As explained on the State’s website, the nickname “keystone” is an architectural term related to a wedge-shaped, central stone within an arc whose role is to hold the rest of the rocks in place. 

Accordingly, Pennsylvania is nicknamed the keystone state because of its geographical, political, and economic significance during the founding of the United States. Additionally, this state was originally the middle colony during the founding of the United States, out of the thirteen original colonies.

One of the fascinating facts about this nickname is that it is an official nickname that not only appears on the official state website, but it is also mentioned in the second verse of the state’s official song

William Penn

William Penn was born on October 14th, 1644, and is regarded as the founding father of the state of Pennsylvania. Aside from overseeing the founding of the British North American colony that became the state of Pennsylvania, William Penn is also lauded for developing strong democratic principles that later inspired the United States’ constitution. 

He is also widely regarded as a strong advocate for religious freedoms, fighting for the rights of religious minorities of Europe, and a famous political activist who served jail time four times for speaking on his beliefs. William Penn published a total of 42 books and pamphlets, challenging the Roman Catholics and upholding Quaker doctrines. 

Accordingly, Pennsylvania is also widely known for its association with this revolutionary leader, who is revered even to this day as one of the early advocates of religious freedom and democracy. 

Declaration of Independence

There is hardly a more critical document in US history than the Declaration of Independence. It approved the separation of the original thirteen British colonies in North America from Great Britain, sealing the independence of these states from Great Britain. 

Pennsylvania is famous and known for being where the Declaration of Independence was signed. This landmark document was signed in the Pennsylvania State House, which is now aptly known as Independence Hall, during the Second Continental Congress. 

This Continental Congress was convened in Philadelphia – the largest city in the State of Pennsylvania, on the 10th of May, 1775, up to March of 1781. The Second Continental Congress approved and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of United States independence. The original function of this bell was to gather people together to provide special events and announcements. It is regarded as a symbol of US independence because it was rung on the 8th of July, 1776, following the signing of the declaration of independence. 

While originally cast in London, this bell was designed for use in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. To this day, the Liberty Bell rings every hour in the renamed Pennsylvania State House, Independence Hall. Although this bell was moved constantly following the Civil War, it has been in Philadelphia since 1915 and is available on display for visitors every year at the Independence Hall.

It was also famously used as a symbol for abolitionists during the anti-slavery movement. It was the abolitionists who changed the name of the bell from the State House Bell to Liberty Bell. 

Independence Hall

Pennsylvania is also famous and known for being home to the iconic Independence Hall, located in Philadelphia. As previously explained, it was in this hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed, making it a significant landmark in US history. 

This hall is also widely regarded as the United States’ birthplace. This iconic building was also the same place where Constitutional Convention delegates convened eleven years after the Declaration of Independence to create and sign the United States Constitution. 

Independence Hall is open to the public, and visitors are treated to a guided tour by a National Park Service Ranger that lasts for 30 minutes. 

Gettysburg Battle

During the Battle of Gettysburg, from the 1st to the 3rd of July in 1863, the Confederate and Union forces clashed during the Civil War. This battle remains etched in American history, mainly because it involved the most enormous casualty numbers during the war. 

It is also considered the war’s turning point, where the Union forces gained ascendancy over the Confederate forces. This landmark battle was fought around Gettysburg, a town located in Pennsylvania. 

The Gettysburg battlefields have become locations for remembrance and reflection in the contemporary world. Veterans of the war also erected monuments to remember the many fallen soldiers. Many visitors also flock to these former battlefields every year to give their respects to those who fought in the war.

Amish Country

Pennsylvania is also known for being home to the oldest Amish settlement in the United States, the Amish of Lancaster County. The thousands of Amish people of Lancaster County still use horses and buggies to this day, characteristic of their slower and more serene lifestyle. 

Interestingly, the Amish people’s way of life has remained unadulterated for more than three centuries. Visitors to the county can take a tour of the Amish countryside to experience the Amish lifestyle.

Rolling Mountains

Pennsylvania is also home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the region. The state is almost entirely characterized by ridges, plateaus, rolling hills, and mountains, making it one of the best places to visit to enjoy natural attractions. 

Rolling mountains or hills are a series of small hills with small slopes but extending for a long distance. In fact, Lancaster County – the land of Amish people, is itself renowned for its vast rolling hills that complement the fertile farmland in the region, particularly in the southeast. 

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is the largest and most populous city in Pennsylvania. This city is also the fifth-largest in the United States and is home to the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Philadelphia orchestra. 

Philadelphia is also known as the city of brotherly love. William Penn named Philadelphia, and its name is a combination of two words; phileo, which means love, and adelphos, which means brotherly. 

The city of Philadelphia is also a popular and dominant business hub, driven on the back of a vibrant technology ecosystem. This city is expected to become one of the leading industrial hubs in the United States in the near future. 

Philadelphia is also famous for its sports teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL, the Philadelphia Flyers in the National Hockey League, and the Philadelphia Phillies in Major League Baseball.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Pennsylvania is home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, located in Philadelphia. This museum of art is one of the most important art centers in the United States, boasting a comprehensive collection of art collected worldwide over time. 

Some of the art pieces that have made this museum a must-visit location include art collections from the Renaissance era, masterpieces collected from the Impressionism 19th century art movement, and those from East and South Asia. 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art also boasts an outdoor sculpture garden, a wide variety of eye-catching exhibitions, and numerous exciting programs for visitors.

Pittsburgh, PA

Like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh is also a major hub for business, sports, and education. It is home to three major professional sports teams; the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Panthers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, which attract large crowds from across the state and neighboring states.

It is also home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University, among others. While being significantly smaller than Philadelphia in terms of size and population, this city is the second-largest in the state.

 

This city is also widely regarded as a central hub for technology, manufacturing, education, and healthcare in the state. 

Harrisburg, PA – State Capital

Harrisburg is the capital of the state of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg is considered one of the best places to live in the United States, based on a U.S. News Report that polled the top 150 populated cities in the United States to determine which city most people would love to live in. 

The report revealed that Harrisburg was voted one of the best places to live in by virtue of having a solid job market, featuring a high quality of life, and offering the best value for its residents. While the city was ranked 61st of 150 cities, and was ranked the best out of all cities in the state. 

Hershey, PA – The Chocolate Capital of the USA

Pennsylvania is also famous for being home to the chocolate capital of the United States, Hershey, PA. Hershey is named after Milton S. Hershey, the man who founded the Hershey chocolate brand, which has become popular and a fan favorite across the United States and the world. 

Simply put, Hershey City is all about chocolate, specifically bars and Kisses chocolate, which has only bolstered its popularity. The Hershey Chocolate company moved to Derry Church in 1903 due to the availability of fresh milk needed to create chocolate. 

With the company’s growth, Derry Church was renamed Hershey, essentially a company town that was driven by chocolate. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, many of whom visit to have a look at the model industrial town. 

Kennett Square, PA – Mushroom Capital of the World

The world-famous mushroom capital of the world – Kennett Square – is located in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Kennett Square boasts arguably the largest mushroom growing operations in the United States. According to Mainline Today, approximately 65% of all fresh mushrooms consumed in the United States are grown in this region. 

Accordingly, mushrooms are the state’s largest income earner and cash crop, adding $500 million on average to the state of Pennsylvania every year. Due to the rich history of mushroom production in this region spanning more than 100 years, the crowd-pulling Mushroom Festival is held in Kennett Square every September.

It is estimated that up to 250 mushroom vendors grace the festival, and more than 100,000 visitors looking to witness the festival make their trip to the square. 

Major League Sports

Philadelphia boasts having numerous professional sports teams across the four major leagues, including the National Basketball Association, The National Hockey League, The National Football League, and Major League Baseball. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers, for instance, are popular across the United States, having won four national championships in 1979, 1980, 2006, and 2009. The Philadelphia 76ers – an NBA team, is also a fan-favorite professional team whose matches are televised across the United States during football season. 

The national coverage of these major league sports has played a significant role in putting Pennsylvania on the national map. 

Little League World Series

The Little League World Series takes place in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This is an annual baseball tournament for boys between 10 and 12 years and features the best teams to determine the world champion. 

While the world series featured only US teams during the inaugural game in 1947, international teams from Canada started gracing the occasion in 1952. The tournament also attracts thousands of baseball fans from across the world. For instance, up to 469,964 fans attended the tournament in 2015, setting a world record. 

Bushkill Falls

Nicknamed the Niagara of Pennsylvania, the Bushkill Falls represent one of the state’s most popular and famous scenic attractions. These are a series of eight waterfalls in the Pocono Mountains. 

Hikers and visitors can access the falls through an intricate system of bridges and hiking trails, providing a beautiful view of not only the falls but also the beautiful adjacent forests. The Bushkill Falls park spans approximately 300 acres (1.21 square kilometers) and two miles (3.22 kilometers) of walkways, trails, and bridges. 

Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world come to visit Bushkill Falls every year. 

Philly Cheesesteaks

The Philly cheesesteak is a sandwich made from provolone cheese, sliced ribeye steak, and onions. It is a very popular option in the East Coast and is considered one of the world’s best sandwiches. 

The Philly cheesesteak has a long and rich history, originally introduced in 1930 by Pat and Harry Olivieri. This cheesesteak has grown tremendously in popularity and is found everywhere in the United States. 

While there are some variations, the original ingredients of the Philly cheesesteak have essentially remained the same over time. 

Shoofly Pie

Shoofly pie is one of the most well-known pies across the globe. It is a Pennsylvania-Dutch dessert with a rich history that dates back more than a hundred years ago. It is widely viewed as part of the traditional Pennsylvania-Dutch traditions and cuisines and, therefore, an aspect of traditional yet unique early American culture.

Pretzels

The bulk of all pretzels sold in the United States is manufactured in Pennsylvania. As Len Rome from WYTV notes, the state has more than 45 manufacturing companies that produce pretzels. The author explains that these Pennsylvania companies manufacture approximately 80% of all pretzels. 

In addition to being the largest producers of pretzels in the United States, residents of Pennsylvania also consume a large amount of pretzels per year, almost six times that of the average American, who only consumes two pounds a year. 

Joe Biden

Pennsylvania is also known for being the birthplace of the 46th president of the United States – Joe Biden. Joe Biden was born Joseph Robinette Biden. Jr. in 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Although the Biden family later moved from Pennsylvania to Delaware in 1953, most people still view the state as the birthplace of the 46th president.

 

Presque Isle State Park

Presque Isle State Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. The park spans a total of 3,200 acres (12.94 square kilometers) and extends into Lake Erie. Many visitors come to the park to enjoy the scenic view of the majestic coastline and take part in the numerous recreational activities in the park, such as in-line skating, fishing, boating, among others. 

As a massive sandy peninsula, Presque Isle is an American national natural landmark. It is also home to many rare and endangered species of birds and a popular spot during their migration. It is also a major shipping port, attracting many freighters and pleasure boats from all across the world. 

Fallingwater

When it comes to unique architectural designs, Fallingwater is among the best in the United States. The building was designed in 1935 by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright and was completed two years later.

Wright designed this house for the Kaufmann family, a breathtaking masterpiece that was built over a waterfall. This building became one the most popular architectural designs of the 20th century. 

The residence lies near Mill Run in the southern part of Pennsylvania. This building was opened to the public in 1964, and due to its unique design, it has seen more than five million visitors from all around the world.

Eastern State Penitentiary 

The Eastern State Penitentiary had a long run that spanned over 142 years before its closure and more than 72,000 inmates, making it one of the most famous prisons in the world. Considered by many as the most expensive and famous prison in the history of the United States, the Pennsylvania-based institution was home to some of the most notorious criminals in the US.

Among its tenants are the infamous “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone, legendary criminals in their own right. This notorious prison first opened its doors in 1829, and people all over the world marveled at its unique architecture. 

It also adopted a new radical philosophy for criminals, looking to reform these subjects through strict isolation, a quickly adopted model across the rest of the world. Suffice to say, this prison was a pioneer for prison reform not only in the United States but the world as a whole.

To this day, it still remains one of the most expensive prisons in the United States’ history and was named a National Historic Landmark following its closure in 1971.

Andy Warhol Museum

The Pittsburgh-based Andy Warhol Museum sets itself apart from the rest as the largest museum in North America, dedicated to only one artist. This museum boasts a vast art collection and archives from Andy Warhol, born in Pittsburgh.

This museum sits on an 88,000-square foot (8,175.47 square meters) property, with among other features, seven floors, 900 paintings, 17 galleries, and more than 4,300 films and taped works from the artist. 

Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachian mountains are famous for being some of the oldest mountain chains in the North American region. Stretching for more than 2,000 miles (3,218.69 kilometers) from Canada to the United States, these mountains are estimated to have existed for more than 480 million years. 

These mountains span over 14 states, including Maine, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, etc. In Pennsylvania, these mountains cut across the entirety of the state, making them one of the state’s main geographical attractions. 

In Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Mountains reach a maximum height of 3,213 feet (979.32 meters). 

Pocono Mountains

The Pocono Mountains are located in Pennsylvania’s highland region. Unlike the Appalachian Mountains, these are flat-topped mountains with a maximum height of 1,800 feet (548.64 meters).

This region is renowned for its scenic properties. It features a network of streams, lakes, and forests and a serene and calm climate, making it a must-go destination for many domestic and international visitors. 

Conclusion

In closing, Pennsylvania is famous for and known for various factors. It is a state with tremendous historical and cultural significance, especially as they relate to the founding of the United States. It also boasts world-renowned cuisines, industries, and sports franchises which have bolstered its popularity. 

On top of this, Pennsylvania is also home to numerous scenic and natural attractions, making it one of the best tourist destinations for domestic and international visitors. 

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