The New International Encyclopædia/Harrisburg (Pennsylvania)

Edition of 1905.  See also Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

HARRISBURG. A city, the capital of Pennsylvania, and the county-seat of Dauphin County, 105 miles west by north of Philadelphia; on the Susquehanna River, and the Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia and Reading, the Cumberland Valley, and the Northern Central railroads (Map: Pennsylvania, E 3). The river, almost a mile wide at this point, is spanned by four bridges, including two iron and steel railroad bridges and a new steel driving bridge which replaces the historic ‘Old Camel-Back Bridge,’ a wooden structure recently destroyed. The city has a most picturesque location, and there are a number of notable structures. The State buildings are in a beautiful park of 16 acres, the Capitol occupying a conspicuous site. The new Capitol building, the former having been destroyed by fire in 1897, is being built on a more substantial and imposing scale. The structure is of brick and steel, and will be veneered with marble or granite, and the interior finished in marble, the estimated cost being not less than $5,000,000. The State library, founded in 1790, contains over 100,000 volumes. In Capitol Park is a monument to the soldiers who fell in the Mexican War, and also, on the west side of the Capitol, a statue of Gen. John F. Hartranft. The Dauphin County Soldiers' Monument, a shaft 110 feet high in honor of the soldiers of the county who died in the Civil War, stands in State Street. Other prominent buildings besides the Capitol are the court-house, Governor's residence, State arsenal, State Insane Hospital, county prison, Grand Opera House, high school, public library, Conservatory of Music, City Hospital, Home for the Friendless, and the Children's Industrial Home. Harrisburg is the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop.

Owing to its excellent transportation facilities, both by rail and by water, Harrisburg occupies a position of considerable importance in the industrial and commercial world. It has a large trade in lumber; extensive iron and coal mines are in the vicinity; and its iron and steel interests are worthy of particular mention. There are roundhouses and repair-shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad; also foundries and machine-shops, tin-mills, rolling-mills, nail-works, furnaces, typewriter-works, boot and shoe factories, breweries, pipe-bending works, and extensive manufactures of beds and mattresses, women's hats, coffins, clothing, silk goods, carriages and wagons, flour, brooms, brick and tile, galvanized iron cornices, marbleized slate, and various lumber products.

The government is vested in a mayor, who holds office for three years, and is ineligible for reëlection, a bicameral council, and administrative officials, who are chosen as follows: by the executive with the consent of the select council—highway commissioner, building inspector, police department, including the chief, fire department, including the chief and assistant, and sanitary officers; by the council—solicitor, board of tax revision and appeals, three water commissioners, city engineer, city clerk, sanitary committee, three members of the board of public works, and five members of the board of park commissioners; by popular election—treasurer, controller, school directors, supervisors, and assessors (ward and city). The municipal income and expenditures amount to about $625,000 and $440,000, respectively, the principal items of expense being $15,000 for the fire department, $30,000 for operation of the water-works. $30,000 for street lighting, $35,000 for the police department, and $185,000 for schools. Public improvements have been begun (1902) involving an expenditure of $1,090,000 for the construction of a new sewer system, for filtration of water, development of parks, and street paving. Population, in 1850, 7834; in 1870, 23,104; in 1880, 30,762; in 1890, 39,385; in 1900, 50,167. Of the total population for 1900, 2500 were foreign born, and 4100 were of negro descent.

In 1726 John Harris, an English trader, settled here, and seven years later secured grants of 800 acres in this vicinity. In 1753 his son established a ferry, and the place was long known as Harris's Ferry. In 1785 a town was laid out and named Harrisburg, but in the following year it was renamed Louisburg, in honor of Louis XVI. In 1791 it was incorporated as Harrisburg; in 1812 it became the capital of the State, and in 1860 it was chartered as a city. The assembling here of the Harrisburg Convention in 1828, which was attended by representatives of the radical protectionists of New England and the Middle States, led to the passage of the high protective-tariff bill of that year. In 1839 Harrison and Tyler were nominated at Harrisburg. Consult Egle, Centenary-Memorial of the Erection of the County of Dauphin and the Founding of Harrisburg (Harrisburg, 1886).