The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, a city, county seat of Dauphin co., Pennsylvania, and capital of the state, situated on the E. bank of the Susquehanna river, here spanned by a public and a railroad bridge, 95 m. W. by N. of Philadelphia; lat. 40° 16′ N., lon. 76° 50′ W.; pop. in 1850, 7,834; in 1860, 13,405; in 1870, 23,104, of whom 2,795 were foreigners. The river at this point is a mile wide, and is divided by an island in the middle. The city is handsomely built, and is surrounded by magnificent scenery. The state house, finely situated on an eminence near the centre, is a handsome brick building, 180 ft. long by 80 ft. wide, with a circular Ionic portico in front surmounted by a dome commanding a fine view. It was begun in 1819, and occupied for the first time on Jan. 28, 1822. There is a smaller building of similar design on each side of it, devoted to government uses. The county court house, in Market street, is a stately brick edifice, surmounted by a dome. The state lunatic asylum, N. of the city, was opened in 1851, and in 1874 had 408 inmates. The other principal public buildings are the market houses, county prison, eight large brick school houses, a fine masonic hall, and several churches. Front street, overlooking the river, affords the most attractive promenade in the city, and contains many of the finest residences. Harris park is a handsome public square, and at the intersection of State and Second streets is a monument erected in memory of the soldiers of the county who fell in the civil war. Harrisburg is surrounded by a fertile region, abounding in coal and iron ore, and has ample means of communication with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the west by the Pennsylvania canal, and the Pennsylvania Central, the Cumberland Valley, the Northern Central, the Lebanon Valley, and the Schuylkill and Susquehanna railroads. The manufactures, particularly of iron, are extensive. The principal establishments are 10 iron founderies, 2 machine shops, a rolling mill, a manufactory of nails, 2 of steam engines, one each of files, cars, coaches, cement pipe, pottery, brooms, soap, and hose and belting, 4 of carriages, 2 of cigar boxes, a cotton mill, a knitting mill, 4 planing and saw mills, 2 tanning and currying establishments, and 6 breweries. The Lochiel iron company manufactures bar and railroad iron. There are six banks, with an aggregate capital of $650,000. The city is divided into 9 wards, and is governed by a mayor and a common council of 25 members. The streets are well paved and drained, and lighted with gas. Water is supplied from the river, by works erected at a cost of $2,000,000, and having a capacity of 10,000,000 gallons a day. The taxable valuation of property in 1874 was $6,000,000; city debt, $600,000. The public schools in 1872 numbered 51 (2 high, 15 grammar, and 34 primary), having 73 teachers and an average attendance of 2,339 pupils. There are also an academy, a female seminary, and an English and German Catholic school. Four daily and eight weekly (two German) newspapers and two monthly periodicals are published. The state library contains 30,000 volumes. There are 32 churches, viz.: 4 Baptist, 1 Episcopal, 1 Evangelical, 1 Jewish, 6 Lutheran (2 German), 4 Methodist (1 Welsh), 4 Presbyterian, 2 Reformed (1 German), 2 Roman Catholic (1 German), 2 United Brethren, and 5 miscellaneous.—The first permanent white settlement on the site of Harrisburg was made about 1726, by an Englishman named John Harris, who, in December, 1733, obtained from the proprietaries of Pennsylvania a grant of 300 acres of land near his residence, and purchased of other grantees 500 acres adjoining. He carried on a considerable trade with the Indians of the vicinity. In 1753 the Penns granted to his son, John Harris, jr., the right to establish a ferry over the Susquehanna, and the place was long known as Harris's Ferry. In 1785 the town was laid out, and it became the seat of justice of the new county taken from Lancaster and called Dauphin, after the French crown prince; the town also received, in honor of Louis XVI., the name of Louisbourg, but in 1791 it was incorporated as a borough under its present name. It became the capital of the state in 1812, and received a city charter in 1860.

AmCyc Harrisburg.jpg

Harrisburg, from the west bank of the Susquehanna.