PENNSYLVANIA, the Quaker State

What to see

Traffic Pennsylvania Interstates
Lancaster Amish Country
Philadelphia Philadelphia city
Gettysburg Museum of Civil War
Pittsburgh heavy industry
Article the Amish
Other pages other states | articles


cover new england

This is an extract of the main sights in this state, with small photos. You will find the full description and full-sized photos in my e-book View America: Mid Atlantic

In the travel series View America, this book describes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, points of interest and tourist attractions.

It is not a traditional travel story, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 120 full-sized photos.



PENNSYLVANIA is one of the thirteen original colonies, and it is also known as the Quaker State, because of its religious origins, and the Keystone State, for its central location among the thirteen colonies. The name "Penn-sylvania" means "Penn's woodland", as the land was given to Admiral William Penn, whose son founded the colony in 1682, for the Society of Friends or Quakers and other religious minorities. Given its freedom of religion, the Quakers were quickly followed by Mennonites, French Huguenots and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.

On December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to join the US. The capital is Harrisburg, and the largest cities are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which together account for more than 60% of the population. The surface is approximately 119,000 km2, and thanks to replanting the forestation rate is back to 59 %. The state has approximately 12.3 million inhabitants, with a density of 106 per km2. In order of population, California ranks first, followed by Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. There are many animals, including the black bear.

Pennsylvania is strategically located on the east coast, and it has large natural resources such as coal, oil, natural gas, iron ore, forests, and agricultural land. Pittsburgh became a major center for coal and steel, while Philadelphia became an industrial center. For more than two hundred years Pennsylvania produced virtually all of the anthracite in the US, and then switched over to cheaper bituminous coal (coke). In 1859, the world's first oil well was drilled in Titusville, and until 1900, the state was the largest oil producer, after which it switched to natural gas. The combination of cheap coal and ores, still make the state the largest American steel producer. During the 18th century, Pennsylvania was also the largest timber producer, but around 1900 they ran out of forests... The Lancaster area still grows tobacco.

Pennsylvania played a central role in the history of the USA. In 1754, George Washington and his Virginia militia fought the French, during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Twelve years later, the same French would become his allies against the English... On July 4, 1776, Philadelphia voted the Declaration of Independence, and a new constitution was drafted. On July 1, 1863, during the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Battle of Gettysburg became a military turning point.

Points of interest are the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge and Gettysburg. Also of interest are the Amish farms around Lancaster.



Lancaster : Amish country

The southeastern part of Pennsylvania is a relatively densely populated agricultural area. It has a large number of small villages, instead of the traditional major cities in other states, fewer in number but larger in size. This could explain the relatively few number of Interstates. The original Pennsylvania settlers were Swedes. These were expelled by the Dutch, who in turn knuckled under to the British... When Penn opened the colony to immigrants, a vast majority of them came from Germany and Switzerland.

The Lancaster area is sometimes also called Dutch Country, even though this denomination is not entirely correct. The early settlers never mastered the difficult German diphthong "eu" in Deutsch, (pronounced as "oy"), and therefore turned it into the more familiar Dutch... Nevertheless, a few town names still refer to ancient Dutch settlements, such as New Holland!

Lancaster : Amish country 1 Lancaster : Amish country 2


The Philadelphia skyline is certainly worth a look, as does the elegant Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The historic Market Square is the original old warehouse and market area. In the port, Penn's Landing is the place where Penn first came ashore, and just ahead there is a splendid statue, to commemorate the many Irish immigrants.

Philadelphia 1 Philadelphia 2
Philadelphia 5 Philadelphia 6

Gettysburg : museum of Civil War

Gettysburg is the proud home of the Gettysburg Museum of Civil War. In 1863, Gettysburg was the scene of the greatest clash of the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee, with some 75,000 Confederate soldiers, battled against General George C. Meade, who had some 97,000 Union soldiers. This terrible confrontation resulted in fifty-one thousand dead soldiers, and five thousand dead horses...

The various battlefields are open to visits, and there are many statues and monuments. The museum is also home to the Electric Map, which is a display of the battlefield, set up on a large table. Another presentation is the Cyclorama Center, where a huge painting of twenty-seven by three hundred and sixty feet (eight by one hundred and nine meters) details several scenes of Pickett's charge.

Gettysburg : museum of Civil War 1 Gettysburg : museum of Civil War 2