50 Facts About Pennsylvania State You Might Not Know

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A city skyline with buildings and a bridge over a river
The Pittsburgh city skyline and the Fort Pitt Bridge over the Monongahela River

When you hear about Pennsylvania, what comes to mind? Do you think of Pennsylvania as the home to the world-famous Crayola brand? Or maybe you are interested in history, and you remember Pennsylvania for the role that Gettysburg played in the Civil War.

There are so many interesting facts about Pennsylvania state; it was the first to have a daily newspaper, the first public zoo, and the first American piano.

Read on for more details on these fun Pennsylvania facts and many others that you'd be surprised to know.

  • 50 Pennsylvania facts

50 Pennsylvania State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About Pennsylvania
    1. The Keystone State is one of Pennsylvania's nicknames
    2. The first public zoo in the US was the Philadelphia Zoo
    3. The Pittsburgh Steelers team was founded in 1933
    4. In 1943, Pennsylvania was home to the NFL team, the Steagles
    5. The name Pennsylvania comes from Latin
    6. This state has many well-known foods, like the Philly Cheesesteak
    7. The chocolate capital of the US is in Pennsylvania
    8. The first American piano was built here
    9. The longest stone arch bridge in the world is the Rockville Bridge
    10. Many famous people come from Pennsylvania
    11. The Crayola headquarters is in Lehigh Valley, PA
    12. Lake Erie borders this state
    13. James Buchanan was born here
    14. Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania
    15. Carnegie Mellon University is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  2. Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania
    1. Benjamin Franklin spent a lot of time here
    2. During the Civil War, Pennsylvania was a key Union state
    3. The Upper Delaware River is on the northeast border of this state
    4. The Pennsylvania state motto is "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence"
    5. Pennsylvania does not only have two places worth visiting
    6. The state fish of Pennsylvania is the brook trout
    7. It's a major producer of oil
    8. The state bird of Pennsylvania is the ruffed grouse
    9. The Pennsylvania state flower is the mountain laurel
    10. The Pennsylvania state animal is the white-tailed deer
  3. Historical Facts About Pennsylvania
    1. Independence Hall in Philadelphia was built in 1732
    2. The Liberty Bell is here
    3. William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania
    4. The American flag was created in this state
    5. Gettysburg was home to an important battle during the Civil War
    6. It had the second most people serving in World War II
    7. Pennsylvania passed the Gradual Abolition of Slavery Act in 1780
  4. Cool Facts About Pennsylvania
    1. It is home to the first complete tyrannosaurus
    2. The first computer was created in Pennsylvania
    3. The first daily newspaper was published here
    4. This state is one of the original thirteen colonies
    5. Pennsylvania's state dog is the Great Dane
    6. Its state amphibian is the Eastern Hellbender
    7. Pennsylvania Dutch is a language still spoken today
  5. Weird Facts About Pennsylvania
    1. Pennsylvania is home to Punxsutawney Phil
    2. It is the only original colony not touching the Atlantic Ocean
    3. Pennsylvania is bordered by six states and one lake
    4. It is not a dry state
    5. This state is home to the first baseball stadium
    6. A small part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is here
  6. Important Facts about Pennsylvania
    1. It has the second-largest Amish population in the US
    2. Pennsylvania was the second state added to the Union
    3. The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg
    4. Its population is 12.9 million people
    5. Native Americans still live here today

Show all

Fun Facts About Pennsylvania

City skyline with tall buildings and a yellow suspension bridge over a river
One of the fun facts about Pennsylvania state is found in Pittsburgh

The Keystone State is one of Pennsylvania's nicknames

Keystone is an architectural term that refers to the stone in the center of an arch. Without that piece, the whole arch would fall apart.

The name is used to refer to Pennsylvania because it was an important state in the founding of the United States. It was important politically, geographically, and economically. The keystone is also the Pennsylvania state symbol.

The first public zoo in the US was the Philadelphia Zoo

The zoo opened on July 1st, 1874. It was signed into existence on March 21st, 1859, and it was supposed to open sooner, but it was delayed because of the Civil War. The first chimpanzees and the first orangutans born in the United States were born at this zoo.

The Pittsburgh Steelers team was founded in 1933

It was founded by Arthur J. Rooney, and it was the 7th NFL franchise to join the league. For the first seven years, the team was called the Pittsburgh Pirates, but their name was changed to represent the steel mills in the city. The Steelers became the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls in 2006.

In 1943, Pennsylvania was home to the NFL team, the Steagles

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles merged during this season since both teams had a lot of players fighting in WWII. The Philadelphia Eagles returned in 1944 as their own team. However, the Steelers merged again, this time with the Chicago Cardinals, creating the Card-Pitt.

The name Pennsylvania comes from Latin

"Penn" comes from William Penn, who founded the colony. He wanted to name it after his father. The second half, "Sylvania," is the Latin word for wood. In Latin, the name Pennsylvania translates to "Penn's Woods."

This state has many well-known foods, like the Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly Cheesesteak was made in Philadelphia in the 1930s by two brothers who ran a hot dog stand. There are also famous handmade pretzels that German settlers brought over. Whoopie pies were also created in Pennsylvania by Amish women.

karenfoleyphotography/Depositphotos.com
Mascots on Hershey's Chocolate World sign - one of the facts about Pennsylvania state
Hershey's Chocolate World is in Hershey, Pennsylvania

The chocolate capital of the US is in Pennsylvania

A fun fact about Pennsylvania is that the chocolate capital of the US is located within the state. It is in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which is where the headquarters for the Hershey Company and their chocolate factory is located. Hershey is well known for its chocolate products like Hershey kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Kit Kats.

The town also has an amusement park and a museum dedicated to chocolate. You can find their chocolate everywhere in grocery stores, gas stations, or candy stores.

The first American piano was built here

It was designed and built in Philadelphia by Charles Albrecht in 1789. It was a Square Grand piano, and it sparked the popularity of the piano in the United States.

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

The bridge opened on March 30th, 1902, and it was built as part of the effort to connect Pennsylvania to Chicago by railroad. The bridge is 3,380 feet long, and it is supported by 48 arches.

Many famous people come from Pennsylvania

One of the favorite fun facts for Pennsylvania natives is that there are many famous actors and actresses from the state.

Some of the most famous actors include James Stewart, Sharon Stone, Michael Keaton, Tina Fey, Amanda Seyfried, and Will Smith.

And some of the famous singers from Pennsylvania are Taylor Swift, Pink, Mac Miller, and Christina Aguilera. Other famous people include Kevin Hart and Kobe Bryant.

The Crayola headquarters is in Lehigh Valley, PA

Over three billion crayons are made in Pennsylvania every year. Along with the crayon factory, there is a Crayola Experience, which has activities for families.

Plants and yellow flowers on the coast of a lake on a sunny day
Pennsylvania's Presque Isle State Park is on a peninsula extending into Lake Erie

Lake Erie borders this state

On the northwestern Pennsylvania border between New York and Ohio is Lake Erie. Within the rankings of the five Great Lakes in the USA, Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake in size. There is even a city called Erie in Pennsylvania, which sits on the coast of Lake Erie.

James Buchanan was born here

He was the 15th president of the United States, and he served from 1857 to 1861. He was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania in 1791.

He also went to college in Pennsylvania at Dickinson College. Today, he is still the only president to have been born in Pennsylvania.

Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania

He was born on November 2nd, 1734, in Oley Valley, Pennsylvania, and he is best known for exploring and settling in Kentucky. Today you can visit his birthplace and home, where you can learn about his life, specifically his youth before he started exploring. There are also a lot of trails and recreational areas around the home.

tupungato/Depositphotos.com
A building complex surrounded by plants and flowers on a sunny day
Carnegie Mellon University was formed by two schools that merged in 1967

Carnegie Mellon University is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1900. In 1913, Andrew and Richard B. Mellon founded the Mellon Institute of Technology.

The schools merged in 1967, and now they operate as one school. There are nearly 16,000 students at the school, with more graduate students than undergraduates.

Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania

A granite monument and an old black canon on a grassy field with trees in the back
A monument to a New York artillery battery in Gettysburg National Military Park

Benjamin Franklin spent a lot of time here

He moved to Philadelphia when he was 17 years old to work as a printer. By 1730, he was the official printer of Pennsylvania with his own print shop.

He also served in government roles for Pennsylvania as a member and then later the leader of the Colonial Assembly. He also petitioned for a royal charter in Pennsylvania, although he later changed his mind and fought for independence.

During the Civil War, Pennsylvania was a key Union state

More than 360,000 people from Pennsylvania fought during the war, most between 1862 and 1863. There were 215 infantry regiments from the state and many emergency militia regiments.

There were also dozens of battles fought in Pennsylvania throughout the war. The Battle of Gettysburg was the biggest. The first battle fought in the state was on October 11th, 1862, and the last two were on July 30th, 1864.

Aerial view of a river with both sides covered in fall foliage
The Upper Delaware River borders New York and Pennsylvania

The Upper Delaware River is on the northeast border of this state

The river also borders New York, and its total length is 73.4 miles (118 kilometers). One-third of the river is classified as scenic, and the other two-thirds is for recreational use. The Roebling Bridge goes over the river and is said to be the oldest existing wire cable suspension bridge.

The Pennsylvania state motto is "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence"

The motto was adopted by the state in 1875, although there were variations of the motto during the century prior to this. You can find the motto on the Pennsylvania state flag, coat of arms, and its quarter.

A water fountain in front of a building with a dome on a clear day
The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, the state's capital city

Pennsylvania does not only have two places worth visiting

A common misconception about Pennsylvania is that its two biggest cities are the only interesting places to visit. However, there are more things to do than just visiting Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

There are amusement parks like Hershey Park and Kennywood. Or, you can learn about the state's history in Harrisburg. There are also a lot of nature and recreational activities, like the state parks of Pennsylvania or a golf course.

The state fish of Pennsylvania is the brook trout

The brook trout is native to Pennsylvania and is actually the only trout that is native to the state. Brook trout tend to live in clear, cold-water streams, and they are found all over the state.

It's a major producer of oil

Edwin L. Drake started drilling oil in Pennsylvania in 1859. The state produced more than three-quarters of the world's oil in 1881. Today, the state still produces more than one billion barrels of oil every year.

A brown, gray, and orange bird on a dirt road
A ruffed grouse, Pennsylvania's state bird

The state bird of Pennsylvania is the ruffed grouse

The bird has ruffs on its neck, which is where its name comes from. The ruffs, which distinguish this bird from other similar ones, are black and the rest of the bird is brown. It looks similar to a chicken, other than its coloring.

Buds and blooming white and pink flowers in the shape of a star
Mountain Laurel, Pennsylvania's state flower, grows in the state's mountain regions

The Pennsylvania state flower is the mountain laurel

The mountain laurel grows on shrubs, and is quite easy to spot in nature. It is a white and pink flower that can be found all over the eastern United States.

It is shaped like a star and has a fragrant smell. As the name suggests, it grows on many mountains.

The Pennsylvania state animal is the white-tailed deer

White-tailed deer were important to the Native Americans as they would hunt them for food and clothing. The Native Americans then taught the settlers to hunt them and rely on them for the same things, continuing their importance.

Today, the deer are still found in forests all across the state. The forests are also filled with the Pennsylvania state tree, the eastern hemlock.

Historical Facts About Pennsylvania

An American flag outside a red brick building with a clock tower
Independence Hall is one of the most significant buildings in the history of the USA

Independence Hall in Philadelphia was built in 1732

Independence Hall was originally called the Pennsylvania State House. One of the interesting facts about Pennsylvania's history is the importance the hall has, as it is considered the birthplace of the country.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted here, and the Constitution of the United States was drafted and signed here. All thirteen colonies were represented at that time except Rhode Island.

An old bell made of bronze and copper with a crack in it hanging on display
The Liberty Bell used to be housed in Independence Hall

The Liberty Bell is here

The bell used to be in the tower at the Pennsylvania State House but is now across the street in the Liberty Bell center. The bell first cracked on its first test ring and was recast twice during its early years.

The timing or reasoning behind the current, well-known crack is unknown. It likely cracked in the 1840s, and they tried to repair it in 1846. However, the repair did not work, and it now stands as a cracked and silent monument to US independence.

William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania

He was born in 1644 in London, England, and joined the Quakers. He was expelled from Oxford University for this, and his defense of religious freedom also got him arrested multiple times. He arrived in America in 1682 after receiving a charter from King Charles II and started forming the Pennsylvania colony.

The American flag was created in this state

At least, it was believed to be, even though its exact birthplace and creators are unknown. It is thought that Francis Hopkins, a Congressman from New Jersey, designed the flag. Then, Betsy Ross, a seamstress in Philadelphia, sewed the flag.

Gettysburg was home to an important battle during the Civil War

One of the key pieces of Civil War information about Pennsylvania is that It was host to one of the bloodiest and most important battles during the war. The Battle of Gettysburg took place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1863. The Union won the battle, which was crucial in keeping the Confederates from completely invading the north. The battle also led to one of the most famous speeches in American history, the Gettysburg address.

It had the second most people serving in World War II

The only state which sent more people to fight was New York. More than 1.17 million people took part in a wartime role. Statistically, these numbers mean that one in six Americans in the war was from Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania passed the Gradual Abolition of Slavery Act in 1780

One of the sad Pennsylvania history facts is that instead of outlawing slavery completely immediately, Pennsylvania passed the Gradual Abolition of Slavery Act in 1780. This act banned children born after March 1st, 1780, the date the act was passed, from becoming slaves.

The act only applied to children born in Pennsylvania, which provided a major loophole for slave owners. Over the next century, the loopholes were closed, and slavery was eventually outlawed completely.

Cool Facts About Pennsylvania

A bridge over a river with trees in the foreground and a city skyline behind
Duquesne Incline, the Monongahela River, and the Pittsburgh City skyline

It is home to the first complete tyrannosaurus

The tyrannosaurus rex, or t-rex, was found in 1902. It was moved to its current home at the Carnegie Museum in 1941.

This holotype sets the standard for all t-rex fossils found today. It is still considered the world's first t-rex specimen.

A bronze statue of a sitting man in front of trees and a stone building
The University of Pennsylvania was the home of the first computer

The first computer was created in Pennsylvania

It was made at the University of Pennsylvania, and it was announced on February 14th, 1946. The ENIAC, or the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, was a general-use computer. It was used to solve math problems and other tasks at fast speeds, or at least what was considered fast in 1946.

The first daily newspaper was published here

The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser was first published in 1784, and it was published every day except Sundays until 1790. The first issue number was 1755, and the last was 3719. The most important edition was number 2690, which was all about the Constitution of the United States.

This state is one of the original thirteen colonies

Many Europeans came to Pennsylvania thanks to the religious freedom that they were promised by William Penn. There was also a lot of fertile land in Pennsylvania that they wanted. The Europeans who settled here were wealthy enough to buy and farm the land.

Pennsylvania's state dog is the Great Dane

These dogs were important in the times before Pennsylvania became a state, as they were used for hunting. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, had a Great Dane. A portrait of him and his dog is in the Pennsylvania state Capitol.

A brown and black salamander in a rocky pool of water
Eastern hellbender, Pennsylvania's state amphibian, is the largest salamander species

Its state amphibian is the Eastern Hellbender

The eastern hellbender is the largest species of salamander in all of North America. They live in clean water, and as the state's natural water has become polluted, the species has been dying out.

Pennsylvania Dutch is a language still spoken today

The language is a German dialect, which combines High German, English, and a variety of other German dialects. The term comes from the word Deutsch which means German in German. The people who speak it today speak English too, and many of them are Amish or Mennonite.

Weird Facts About Pennsylvania

A black and white lighthouse on the shore of a lake with trees in the background
The Presque Isle North Pierhead Lighthouse along the shore of Lake Erie

Pennsylvania is home to Punxsutawney Phil

Every year on Groundhog Day, which is February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil pops out of his hole to predict the upcoming weather. If he comes out and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. But, if he does not see his shadow, spring will come early.

It is the only original colony not touching the Atlantic Ocean

All the other colonies have at least some of their eastern border touching the ocean. This fact is part of the reason Pennsylvania was important geographically since it was more inland. It eventually became an important connection point between the original colonies and the western part of the country as it expanded.

Pennsylvania is bordered by six states and one lake

Lake Erie borders the northeastern part of the state. From Lake Erie going clockwise, the states that border Pennsylvania are New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio.

It is not a dry state

However, there are some dry municipalities. The state actually banned the sale of alcohol in convenience stores until 2017. There are also limits to the number of beers that bars can sell to someone in a single transaction.

Bars can also not sell single, standard-size bottles or cans to-go. But they can sell larger to-go packs and larger bottles of 22 and 40-ounce beer.

A grassy lawn in front of a spired chapel surrounded by trees
The Heinz Memorial Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh

This state is home to the first baseball stadium

Forbes Field opened on June 30th, 1909, with 30,388 fans coming to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs. The ballpark had new features like a tiered grandstand, luxury suites behind home plate, and seating extending to the outfield. The ballpark lasted until July 1971, when it was demolished to make more space for a University of Pittsburgh expansion.

A small part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is here

It runs through the very southeastern tip of the state in the same area as the Delaware River. The entire area with this landscape is only 45 miles long and no more than five miles wide. The area has mostly sand, gravel, silt, and clay deposits.

Important Facts about Pennsylvania

Buildings along the shore of a river with a reflection of the buildings in the water
Buildings in Harrisburg reflected in the Susquehanna River
Trees and a white house that says Amish Village behind a black buggy
The Amish Village is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

It has the second-largest Amish population in the US

The total Amish population in North America is around 350,000 people. Over 23% of these people live in Pennsylvania. Some of the other most populated Amish states are Ohio and Indiana, which are geographically near Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania was the second state added to the Union

It was added as a state on December 12th, 1787. This was just five days after Delaware was signed as the first state and six days before New Jersey became the third.

The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg

Harrisburg is in the southeastern part of the state, just 105 miles (169 kilometers) west of Philly. John Harris, who the city is named after, founded it in 1718 as a trading post. A lot of the trading done at the post was between the settlers and the Native Americans, specifically the Susquehannock tribe. Today, the population of Harrisburg is just over 50,000 people.

Its population is 12.9 million people

The biggest city is Philadelphia, with a population of 1.6 million people. Philadelphia is significantly bigger than the second-largest city of Pittsburgh, which has just over 300,000 people. The only other city with a population of over 100,000 people is Allentown, which has 125,000 people.

Native Americans still live here today

There are no federally recognized tribes in the state. However, there are more than 12,000 Native Americans living here. Many of these people are part of the Lenape tribe.

There are also some Algonquin-speaking tribes in eastern Pennsylvania. Some of the original tribes are still here today too, but in smaller numbers, like the Susquehannock people.

Conclusion

There you have it! Fifty facts about the state that is home to the Liberty Bell. How many of them did you know? Did any of them surprise you? Hopefully, you learned a lot from this list that you can use on your next trip to Pennsylvania.

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Sarah Hartness

Sarah_Hartness WRITER I am a Chicago-based travel writer who loves to explore the Midwest and beyond. I have traveled all over the US and Europe. I look forward to going to Latin America and Asia next!


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