Open main menu

HARRISBURG, a city of the United States, capital of Dauphin county and of the State of Pennsylvania, is beautifully situated on the east bank of the Susquehanna river, on the Pennsylvania canal, and at the junction of several railways, 126 miles by rail N. of Washington and 105 W. by N. of Philadelphia. The river, which is here a mile in width, is crossed by two bridges, one of which is for the use of the railways. Two other bridges of great beauty and strength span the river in view of the State-house. The State buildings, dating from 1819, occupy an eminence in the centre of the busiest portion of the city, and consist of the State capitol, 180 feet long by 80 feet wide, with a circular portico in front supported by six Ionic columns and surmounted by a dome, and, on two sides of the capitol, smaller buildings uniform in design, containing the executive chamber, the State treasury, and various other offices. The capitol park contains a monument to those who died in the Mexican war. Among the other public buildings are the county court house, the State arsenal, the county prison, and the opera-house. Harrisburg is a bishop's see of the Roman Catholic Church. It is well provided with academies and schools, and possesses about 30 churches, several of which are costly and ornamental edifices. It is also the seat of the State library of over 40,000 volumes. Among the benevolent institutions are the city hospital, the home for the friendless, and the State lunatic hospital. An abundant water supply is obtained from the river. Coal and iron are largely wrought in the neighbourhood, and the great facilities of communication both by canal and railway have enabled the city to become one of the centres of the iron trade. It possesses large iron-foundries, manufactories of steel, machines, boilers, engines, carriages, nails, files, galvanized iron, brooms, soap, and shoes, rolling-mills, saw and planing mills, flour-mills, cotton-mills, potteries, tanneries, and breweries. The inhabitants in 1860 numbered 13,405, and in 1870 23,104. The population of the city proper for 1880 is estimated at 31,700, and that of the suburbs at 4900, making a total of 36,600.

Harrisburg received its name from John Harris, an Englishman who settled on the site of the town in 1726, and whose son established a ferry over the Susquehanna in 1753. The town was founded in 1785 under the name of Harrisburg, which was after wards changed to Louisbourg; in 1791 it was incorporated under its present name; in 1812 it became the capital of the State; and in 1860 it was made a city.