77 Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania

Last updated on December 14th, 2023

56. Did you know that Pittsburg is famous for manufacturing steel and its NFL team is the Pittsburg Steelers?

57. Have you ever heard of the Steagles? It was a team that existed for only one day when the Pittsburgh Steelers and The Philadelphia Eagles merged in 1943.

58. Pennsylvania exported various steel items to help the economy since early 1700. These items included nails, kettles, and miscellaneous steel tools.

59. Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, co-founded his first steel company near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He sold his company for $480 million and later gave away more than $350 million in philanthropy.

60. The first coal mine was operating near Pittston in 1775. Though it is not a significant resource, coal had a considerable impact on the development of Pennsylvania.

61. Oil was found in 1859 in Pennsylvania, and drilling was started by Edwin Drake. Today many millions of barrels are produced annually in the state.

62. According to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, PA Office, between 2011 and 2012, there were 63,200 farms in Pennsylvania covering an area of 7,750,000 acres.

Basket with porcini mushrooms.
Basket with porcini mushrooms.

63. Did you know that Pennsylvania produces more mushroom than any other state in the U.S.? According to the U.S. Department National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), nearly two-thirds of the white button mushrooms consumed in the United States comes from Pennsylvania.

64. Several hydro-powered sawmills are used in Pennsylvania due to the many streams available. They are used for Grist mills to grind grain and for wood cutting.

65. The black cherry wood from the northwestern parts of Pennsylvania is a favorite with commercial wood users. It is known as one of the most valuable hardwoods.

66. In Pennsylvania, Beef is the third most produced food by value.

67. If you ever wonder where bubblegum came from, it was invented right here in Pennsylvania. It was, in fact, invented by Walter Diemer in 1928.

68. At a drugstore in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a soda jerk, David Strickler, experimented with different ice cream combos. That is how the banana split was invented in 1904.

69. Philadelphia Stock Exchange, now owned by Nasdaq Inc. is the oldest stock exchange in the United States. The exchange was originally named as the Board of Brokers of Philadelphia.

The first Philadelphia Mint, built in 1792, photographed in 1908
The first Philadelphia Mint, built in 1792, photographed in 1908, and later demolished.

70. The Philadelphia Mint is the oldest coin producer in the U.S. The life expectancy of a circulating coin is 30 years, while paper money usually only lasts for 18 months. In 2018, production facilities in Philadelphia and Denver shipped over 13.1 billion coins to Federal Reserve Banks.

71. Caused by a series of system malfunctions and human errors, the worst nuclear accident in United States history occurred on March 28, 1979, on Three Mile Island near Harrisburg. Fortunately, the health effects of the Three Mile Island accident are widely, but not universally, agreed to be very low level.

72. The worst tornado outbreak struck Pennsylvania on 31 May 1985. A destructive F-4 tornado and numerous small ones struck on that day to wreak havoc.

73. The official state tree of Pennsylvania is the Hemlock. It was adopted by the state in 1931, as was foretold by Joseph Rothrock 30 years before.

74. The Brook Trout is the official fish of the state of Pennsylvania. They live in cold water and are the only native trout in this state.

75. The first-ever official baseball stand to be used in the US was the one in Pittsburg. It operated from 1909 to 1970 and was known as the Forbes Field.

firefly or lightning bug
Adult beetle in the family Lampyridae, commonly called “firefly or lightning bug”.

76. Did you know that the official insect for Pennsylvania is the Firefly? It was done after six months of petitions from Upper Darby elementary schools.

77. The official beverage of the state of Pennsylvania is milk. It has been since the beginning of 1982, and no wonder, with so many dairy farms.

Pennsylvania – food facts

  • Tomato pie, another great Pennsylvania dish, is a lot like pizza but with less cheese and more sauce. It was brought to Pennsylvania by early Italian immigrants.
  • Birch beer is much like root beer but a bit more flowery and a touch of mint. It is trendy in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and is made from Birch tree sap.
  • Another great dish all nomads should try is the Primanti sandwich from Primanti Bros in Pittsburg. It is a unique sandwich stuffed with many delicious fillings.
  • Pennsylvanians love the soft pretzel, which is why you can find it all over the place. It is considered a legacy of the Palatine Germans who immigrated in the 1700s.
  • You can find a good cheesesteak sandwich almost everywhere in Pennsylvania. It is credited to Pat and Mally, who had a food stand in the Italian market.
  • Tastykake has been a favorite food in Pennsylvania for more than 100 years. You need to taste it for yourself to find out why that is so.
  • A frozen summer snack that is very popular in Pennsylvania is water ice. It is a treat every visitor should enjoy to complete their visit.
  • Scrapple, a type of meat pudding, is quite a popular dish in Pennsylvania. It is made from minced pork and coarse flour like cornmeal.
  • Shoo-fly pie from Lancaster County is the ideal snack for those with a sweet tooth. The name implies you should not eat it outside; the sweetness attracts flies.
  • Classic potato chips have their roots in Pennsylvania, where it was first invented. That is because so many potatoes come from this region.

Facts about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Mount Davis (3,213 ft or 979 m) is the highest point in Pennsylvania.
  • Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the U.S.
  • Philadelphia is home to five Fortune 1000 companies.
  • Established in 1937, Philadelphia Housing Authority is the largest landlord in Philadelphia. It is also the nation’s fourth-largest housing authority.
  • The Comcast Technology Center is the tallest building in Philadelphia and the tenth-tallest in the United States. It was opened to the public in October 2018.
Row houses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Row houses in Philadephia, Pennsylvania. Image credit – Eli Pousson
  • The first terraced row houses in the United States were developed in Philadelphia. The oldest row in America, named after its designer Thomas Carstair, can still be found on Sansom Street. Row houses became a popular choice among home buyers at the time. In the early days, after this concept caught up with the general public, regardless of where the row houses were built, they were called “Philadelphia Row Houses.” If you are someone who lives in a row house, now you know the origin of the concept!
  • Philadelphia is named America’s First World Heritage City.
  • If you are a bicycle enthusiast, you would be glad to know that Philadelphia has 426 miles of bicycle lanes, the most per square mile of any U.S. city. Using bicycles for day to day commute or other purposes keeps you and the environment healthy. Scores of studies have pointed out the benefits of using bicycles including for cardiovascular health, bone strength, stress management and improved joint mobility etc.
  • If you are in Philadelphia, you are within two-hour flight time from 60% of the population of the United States.
  • Did you know that the first organized protest against slavery in the Americas was written in 1688 by four Pennsylvania Quakers from Germantown Meeting? The document argued against such inhuman treatment and stressed upon the importance of treating all men alike irrespective of the color of their skin or religion.
  • Philadelphia was one of the first cities to guarantee religious freedom to all its immigrants.
  • First held in 1920, the Philadelphia Thanksgiving day Parade is the oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade in America.

Facts about Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

  • Harrisburg is the ninth most populous city in the state. Philadelphia was removed as the state capital in 1799 because it served as the seat of both the state and federal government and it seemed crowded and confusing for the authorities and the public as well.
  • Before Harrisburg became the capital of Pennsylvania, Lancaster was the state’s capital for over a decade (1799 – 1812). The choice of Harrisburg as the state’s capital became obvious because of the fact that the city was more centrally located, had access to a river; and the four acres of land donated by John Harris Jr. was another point of attraction for the powers to make the move. Being centrally located it provided easy access from all areas of the state when no transportation measures such as cars and airplanes were available.
  • In 2010, Forbes rated Harrisburg as the second best city in the U.S. to raise a family.
  • Despite having a small population, the city because of its high concentration of state and federal government agencies, enjoys financial stability.
Rockville Bridge, Pennsylvania. facts about PA.
The Rockville Bridge in the background. Image credit – David Wilson
  • The Rockville Bridge in Harrisburg, PA, is the longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world. In 1900, at a cost of almost a million dollars, the bridge took two years to build. The mighty bridge has forty-eight 70-foot spans and the bridge runs a distance of 1,160 m.
  • Harrisburg, PA is also home to the National Civil War Museum. The museum has a collection of manuscripts, documents, photographs, artifacts, and other printed matter that exceeds more than 24,000 items. A visit to the museum would give you the best understanding of the Civil War, its effect on the people and the nation.

About the Flag of Pennsylvania

1. Pennsylvania was the second state in the Union, and was admitted on 12th December, 1787; its flag is one of the oldest in the country. The design of the official state flag of PA dates back to 1799, although the current design dates from 1907 when it was approved by the state legislature.

2. The state’s official motto of Virtue, Liberty and Independence can be seen at the bottom of the Pennsylvania flag. The motto was created by Caleb Lowndes and was meant to inspire hope and confidence in residents following the 18th century War of Independence.

State Flag of Pennsylvania.

3. The state flag of Pennsylvania is more square in shape than rectangular. The flag has been voted the 15th least appealing design in a survey of over 70 US and Canadian state and province flags. Flags featuring the state seal or a blue background in their design tend to be not as popular.

4. The state seal features prominently on the official state flag of the Keystone State, and it incorporates several things that are associated with Pennsylvania. The olive, sheaves of wheat, harnessed horses and plow represent the agricultural history of the state, while the old fashioned sailing ship is representative of the industry, commerce and maritime history. Today the port of Philadelphia is still one of the busiest shipping centers in the world.

5. One of the most important elements on the state’s seal is the iconic American eagle, which symbolizes the loyalty of Pennsylvania residents to the United States, as well as representing strength. The eagle was chosen to be the emblem of the US in the 18th century, and it was said to represent strength, authority and loyalty. Ancient Romans also used the eagle as their emblem, for much the same reasons.

Pennsylvania State – Quick facts, State symbols

State AbbreviationPA
State CapitalHarrisburg
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 46,055 sq miles; Land Only: 44,817 sq miles
(Estimate July 1, 2023 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodDecember 12, 1787
State rank by population5th
State rank by date of formation2nd
State rank by area33rd
Number of Counties67
Complete list of 50 states and number of counties in each
Bordering StatesDelaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia
Official LanguageNone
Highest PointMount Davis
3,213 ft (979 m)
Lowest pointDelaware River at Delaware border
Sea level
Mean elevation1,100 feet above sea level
Length 280 miles (455 km)
Width160 miles (255 km)
GovernorJosh Shapiro (D)
Lieutenant GovernorAustin Davis (D)
Electoral Votes20
State MottoVirtue, Liberty, and Independence
State NicknameKeystone State
% Water2.7
Nobel Prize WinnersBarry Sharpless (Chemistry, 2001)
Gary Becker (Economic Sciences, 1992)
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. (Physics, 1993)
Clifford G. Shull (Physics, 1994)
Edward B. Lewis (Physiology or Medicine, 1995)
William D. Phillips (Physics, 1997)
Keffer Hartline (Physiology or Medicine, 1967)
Christian Anfinsen (Chemistry, 1972)
Howard M. Temin (Physiology or Medicine, 1975)
William A. Fowler (Physics, 1983)
Famous PeopleJason Taylor (Pro Football Player)
Ken Griffey Jr. (Baseball Player)
Zack Clayton (Basketball Player)
Hobey Baker (Hockey Player)
Will Smith (Actor)
Taylor Swift (Singer)
U.S. President Born in Pennsylvania1. James Buchanan.
State AnimalWhite-tailed deer
PlantPenngift Crownvetch
FossilPhacops rana
DogGreat Dane
State InsectPennsylvania firefly
State FishBrook trout
State FlowerMountain laurel
State Game BirdRuffed grouse
State AircraftPiper J-3 Cub
Electric locomotiveGG1 4859
State TreeHemlock
ShipUS Brig Niagara
Longitude74° 41′ to 80° 31′ W
Latitude39° 43′ to 42° 16′ N
Time ZoneEastern Time Zone
Area Codes215, 267, 272, 412, 445, 484, 570, 582, 610, 717, 724, 814, 835, 878
Table last updatedDecember 21, 2023