77 Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania

Last updated on December 14th, 2023

Pennsylvania is the 5th most populous, the 33rd most extensive, and the 9th most populated of the 50 states of the United States. It is located in the north-eastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Pennsylvania attained statehood on December 12, 1787, becoming the 2nd state to join the union. Its six bordering states are New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. Pennsylvania (nicknamed: the Keystone State) has 67 counties. The state’s capital is Harrisburg. The postal abbreviation for Pennsylvania is PA. With these facts about Pennsylvania, let us learn more about its history, economy, geography, people and more.

Facts about Pennsylvania

1. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn. The name of the state comes from the name of the founder’s father (Admiral William Penn) and not his own. The founder William Penn wanted the state to be named “Sylvania”. (Sylvania is a Latin word meaning “woodlands.”)

2. Pennsylvania was nicknamed “The Keystone State” because of its geographical location among the thirteen original colonies. A keystone is a stone on which the associated stones depend for support. Because of the state’s central location along the arch of the original thirteen colonies, the state is nicknamed the keystone state.

3. It is one of the thirteen original (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island) founding states of the United States.

Pennsylvania on the map


4. Pennsylvania is almost rectangular in shape.

5. Did you know that of the original thirteen colonies, Pennsylvania is the only that does not border the Atlantic Ocean? Along with New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland, Pennsylvania is classified as a Middle Atlantic state.

6. In October 1682, the younger William brought 360 settlers who believed in religious freedom and a fair government to form this 12th of the 13 English colonies.

7. In 1952 a Norwegian musician attempted to create a New Norway in Stewardson, Potter County. It is now known as the Ole Bull State Park.

8. In the early years of its existence, Pennsylvania maintained low inflation. It attracted new colonists and allowed them to live better with less money.

9. Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, is home to Independence Hall where the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States’ Constitution were drafted. Philadelphia is also the first planned city in North America.

10. Pennsylvania is the second state, after Delaware, to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. At the time it was the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the thirteen States.

11. The Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American Independence, is located in Pennsylvania. The bell can be seen in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park. The bell was commissioned from London in 1751 by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly. The bell was rung at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

12. During the American Revolution, the Liberty Bell was moved from Philadelphia to Allentown. It was returned after the British evacuated. On the bell Pennsylvania is spelled with only one “n”. When the bell was created this was an acceptable form of spelling Pennsylvania.

13. A factor that turned the war in favor of the Union during the Civil War was the battle at Gettysburg. The battleground can be seen by visitors.

14. On September 19, 1982, the first internet emoticon, the humble smiley, was invented at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh by Professor Dr. Scott Fahlman. Today, according to some estimate, more than 6 billion emoticons are sent every day.

15. Benjamin Franklin and Bill Cosby are the famous Pennsylvanians.

16. Pennsylvania has the highest concentration of Amish (known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology) in the U.S.

17. Pennsylvania is a rich cultural, diverse state, and the society of artists is referred to as the Athens of America. It is not alone anymore; Boston joined it in this fashion.

18. A group of Germans who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s is known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. They brought many traditional foods to this state.

19. The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser was the nation’s first daily newspaper. It was published first on September 21, 1784.

20. The first piano in America was built by Johann Behrent in Philadelphia in 1775.

Pennsylvania on the map
Pennsylvania (in red) on the map with its bordering states.

21. The first computer in the world–The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer–was invented at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946.

22. The first Zoo in the United States of America was opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1874.

23. And the first public library was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 in Philadelphia.

24. The first transplant of human brain cells – called neurons – was done on 23 June, 1998 on a 62 years old stroke patient at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The patient suffered paralysis of her right arm and leg. She also lost most of her speech. The researchers hoped that the transplanted neurons will grow and replace the damaged neurons in the woman’s brain.

25. The first department store to open in the US was the one known as Wannamaker’s. It opened on Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, around 1876.

U.S. flag from 14 June 1777 to 1 May 1795 using a circular star pattern
U.S. flag from 14 June 1777 to 1 May 1795 using a circular star pattern, known as the “Betsy Ross flag”. Image in public domain

26. Philadelphia is also the place where the first American Flag was sewn in 1777 by Betsy Ross.

27. The president’s house, home to Presidents George Washington and John Adams, in the city of Philadelphia, served as America’s first executive mansion.

28. President Lincoln delivered his famous speech, “The Gettysburg Address”, in Gettysburg, PA.

29. Developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, on February 1954, children of Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received the first injections of the new polio vaccine.

30. In 1883, the City Hotel in Pennsylvania was the first building to be lit with Thomas Edison’s three-wire system.

31. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA, is home to the first complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found.

Hershey's mini chocolate bar.
Hershey’s mini chocolate bar.

32. Pennsylvania is also home to one of the largest manufacturer of chocolates in the world – “Hershey”. The company is headquartered in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The company’s products are sold in over 60 countries.

33. The world’s largest unboxing happened in Pennsylvania when a 3 year old kid was invited by Volvo Trucks to unbox their new model Volvo VNL.

34. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has the highest density of haunted houses and hence it is also considered one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.

35. Philadelphia, the state’s largest city is known as “the city of Brotherly Love” because of the religious tolerance of William Penn, the state’s founder.

36. Before the establishment of Washington D.C. as the permanent capital of the United States of America; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the nation’s capital between 1790 and 1800s.

37. Did you know that on September 27, 1777, Lancaster served as the country’s capital for just one day?

Vehicle license plate from Pennsylvania.
Vehicle license plate from Pennsylvania.

38. The license plates on automobiles registered in Pennsylvania also have the state’s official tourism website’s URL (www.visitpa.com) on it. It is the first state of the 50 states to do so.

39. The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the first federal building erected under the Constitution. Philadelphia was selected for the site because, when construction began in 1792, it was the nation’s capital.

40. Frank Lloyd Wright is an architect from Pennsylvania who designed the world-famous house Fallingwater. It was built in 1935 and is considered one of his best designs.

41. Pennsylvania has more than 200 covered bridges, the most that any state has in the country. Pennsylvania has 140 miles of waterfront along Lake Erie and the Delaware River.

42. Pittsburg, the second most populous city in PA, has more bridges than Venice. It is also known as “the City of Bridges.” The city has more than 440 bridges.

43. Pittsburgh is named after William Pitt.

Bicycle Heaven, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Prop bicycle used in the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure on display at Bicycle Heaven, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Image in public domain

44. Located in Pittsburg, PA, Bicycle Heaven is the largest transportation museum in the world dedicated to bicycles. The founder of the museum Craig Morrow, is however, not an avid rider but an avid collector. It is an interesting fact that some bikes in his collection are worth more than $50,000. The museum is open to the public seven days a week, at no charge.

45. The great state of Pennsylvania was home to a hair museum. Locks of Napoleon, Jefferson, Washington, and many more were on display.

46. When you visit or even live in Philadelphia, you must go on the Old City Historic Walking Tour. You will discover great attractions and landmarks.

illustrative image of a ca filling at gas station

47. The state also has the oldest gas station in America. It is situated in Altoona and is operational since 1909.

48. The oldest golf course in America is in Clarion, Pennsylvania. It started with only eight holes on the estate of Joseph Mickle Fox in 1884.

49. Founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Hospital is one of the nation’s oldest public hospitals. The hospital is also home to America’s first surgical amphitheater and its first medical library.

50. If you are a furry enthusiast, you should visit the furry convention Anthrocon in Pittsburg. It is held annually and is considered the largest in the world.

51. Comedian and actor Kevin Hart hails from Pennsylvania. The Oscar-nominated artist was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he started as a comedian.

52. One of the most famous pop stars in the world, Taylor Swift, had her home in Philadelphia. She lived in this house until the age of 14.

53. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, is also a native of Pennsylvania. He is also a TV personality, Producer and was part of the Shark Tank.

Boulder Field in Ringing Rocks County Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Boulder Field in Ringing Rocks County Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

54. If you are looking for some fun and magic, visit the Ringing Rock Park in Bucks County. Here you can make the rocks ring by striking them with a hammer.

55. An interesting celebration day is held every year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which is groundhog day. Once upon a time, a clever groundhog predicted the arrival of early spring.

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