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Copyright 2004 by Larry Wichterman


From an Old English word, "Commonweal". meaning the public good.
The four Commonwealths are - Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Kentucky. (There is no legal distinction between a state and a commonwealth.)

Settled in 1643

Admitted to the Union - December 12, 1787; 2nd state.

Named - "Penn" for William Penn's father, "Sylvania" for woodlands.

Capital - Harrisburg - since 1812. Philadelphia and Lancaster were previous capitals.

Nickname - The Keystone State. This refers to the central stone in an arch which holds all of the other stones together. Pennsylvania was in the center of the original 13 colonies, and was also central to much of the economic, social, and political development of the country. It continues to be so.

Rank in size (area) - 33rd

Elevation - Pennsylvania ranges from sea level along the Delaware River in southeast Pennsylvania to Mt. Davis in Somerset County, 3,213 feet above sea level.

Number of Counties - 67

Number of school districts - 501

Number of State Parks - 116

Total area - 45,333 square miles, plus 891 square miles of Lake Erie.

Distance - East to West - longest, 310 miles, average 285 miles: North to South -longest, 180 miles, average 156 miles.

State bird - Ruffed Grouse (Partridge)

State motto - Virtue, Liberty, and Independence

State animal - Whitetail Deer

State flower - Mountain Laurel

State tree - Hemlock

State dog - Great Dane

State fish - Brook trout

State insect - Firefly

State beverage - milk

State fossil - Phacops Rana

State ship - US Brig "Niagara" (see story).

State song - Pennsylvania, written by Eddie Khoury and Ronnie Bonner - see lyrics

First United States Capital - York, PA
Where the congress adopted the Articles of Confederation to become one country.

First anti-slavery resolution - 1688, Germantown

First paper mill established in North America - 1690 by William Bradford, near Germantown.

The first public school in the American Colonies was established at Philadelphia - 1698

The first botanical garden - John Bartram, Philadelphia, 1728

The "Kentucky Rifle" first began to be manufactured - 1730's

First public library - 1731, Philadelphia

First volunteer fire company -1736, The Union Fire Company, Philadelphia, by Benjamin Frnaklin and others.

First magazine - 1741, The American Magazine, Philadelphia, published by Andrew Bradford

First Bible printed in America - 1743, Philadelphia, by Christopher Sower

The first institution devoted to science - The American Philosophical Institution, 1743.

First American newspaper cartoon - 1754, in the Pennsylvania Gazette. (The famous cartoon by Benjamin Franklin of a snake cut into parts, each part a colony, labeled "Join or die")

First fire insurance company chartered - 1752, Philadelphia Contributorship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire

The first school of anatomy in North America - Dr. William Shippen, Philadelphia,1762.

First medical school - 1765 in The College and Academy of Philadelphia (now The University of Pennsylvania.)

First free medical clinic - By Dr. Benjamin Rush at Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia

First (and only) surrender by George Washington - Fort Necessity, 1758

First American society for the abolition of slavery - 1775, organized by Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia

First treaty between America and indian tribes - 1778 at Fort Pitt

First federal hospital - 1778, Hand Hospital, Pittsburgh

First abolition law -1780

The first public bank in the United States - The Pennsylvania Bank, by Robert Morris,1780

First United States Mint - Philadelphia, 1782

First pretzel factory - Julius Sturgis, Lititz, Lancaster County, 1784

First daily newspaper - 1783. Philadelphia - Pennsylvania Post & Daily Advertiser

First successful daily newspaper - Pennsylvania Packet and Advertiser, 1784, Philadelphia

The first vessel ever moved by steam - Delaware River, at Philadelphia, by John Fitch, 1786

The first Stock Exchange in America - Philadelphia, 1790.

First designated university - University of Pennsylvania (1791)

First labor strike - 1791, Philadelphia carpenters

First U.S. Mint - 1792, Philadelphis.

First African-American church - Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia, 1794

First suspension bridge - 1796 at Uniontown by James Finley

The first art institution in America - The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1805.

First covered bridge in the United States - 1805, "The Permanent Bridge" on the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia (Timothy Palmer)

First steam boat on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers - 1811, The New Orleans launched at Pittsburgh

World's first wire cable suspension bridge -1816 near Philadelphia, by Josiah White and Erskine Hazard

First savings bank - 1819, Philadelphia Savings Bank Society

First successful womenÕs magazine - GodeyÕs LadyÕs Book, by Louis A. Godey, 1830.

First Building and Loan Association - 1831, in Frankford

First successful locomotive built - 1831 by Mathias Baldwin

First wire cable suspension bridge - 1845 by John Augustus Roebling. It spanned the Allegheny River at 11th Street in Pittsburgh

American Medical Association founded - 1847, Philadelphia

First college for training Women physicians - Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850

First known distilling process for petroleum - 1853 or 1854, by Samuel Kier, Pittsburgh.

First national convention for the Republican Party - 1856, Pittsburgh

First oil well - 1859, Titusville (Edwin L. Drake)

First commercial pretzel bakery - 1861, Julius Sturgis in Lititz

First to copyright the Post Card - 1861, John Carlton

First Civil War battle north of the Mason Dixon Line - Hanover, J.E.B.Stuart v. George Armstrong Custer

First Beauty salon - Philadelphia, 1868

First zoo - 1874, Philadelphia (chartered in 1859)

First crematory - 1876 in Washington (PA) by Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne

First World's Fair - 1876, Centennial International Exhibition

First department store opened - Wannamaker's, 1877, in Philadelphia

First community illuminated by electricity - Philipsburg, 1881

World's first three wire incandescent lighting power plant - Sunbury, 1883 (by Thomas Edison)

First taxi service - 1884, Philadelphia

The first Carnegie Library in America - 1889, Carnegie Library of Braddock

The First library given under the Carnegie formula - Carnegie Library in Allegheny City, was opened to the public after being dedicated by President Benjamin Harrison. (Under the Carnegie formula, although Andrew Carnegie gave the building, the city had to agree to maintain the library.)

First person to be paid to play football - William "Pudge" Heffelfinger, 1892, Allegheny Athletic Association.

The first Ferris Wheel - in operation at the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) in Chicago. It was264 feet high, more than 2,000 passengers in a load, and invented by civil engineer George Washington Gale Ferris of Pittsburgh.

First professional football team -1897 (Latrobe)

First national song of America - Hail Columbia, by Joseph Hopkinson

First modern art museum - Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 1895

First US escalator installed - 1901, Philadelphia

Slinky, the steel (or plastic) tumbling toy - Hollidaysburg

First World Series - 1903, Pittsburgh Pirates (Okay, that one is a tie with Boston - the Boston Pilgrims.)

First theater strictly for showing motion pictures - "The Nickelodeon", Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, 1905 by Harry Davis.

First "Christmas Club" - 1909, in Carlisle

First steel-structured stadium - 1909, Forbes Field. Pittsburgh

First drive-in gas station - by Gulf Oil Corp., Pittsburgh (at Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in East Liberty), 1913

First Thanksgiving Day Parade - 1919, Philadelphia

First broadcast of phonograph records on a regular schedule - October 17, 1919 was begun by Frank Conrad from a brick garage in the rear of his house at 7750 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh.

First radio station - KDKA, Pittsburgh, 1920. The world's first broadcast by a commercially licensed radio station was the Harding-Cox presidential election returns of November 2, 1920, on KDKA Radio. Done by Westinghouse Electric Co. engineer Dr. Frank Conrad.

First municipal airport - Clarion

World's first radio address - 1921, by Herbert Hoover, in Pittsburgh

First woman to serve as Speaker of a State House of Representatives - 1924, Alice M. Bentley

First demonstration of modern electronic television broadcasting - 1929, Pittsburgh, by Vladimir Zworykin

First totally air conditioned building - PSFS Building in Philadelphia, 1932

First baseball stadium built for a Black team - Greenlee Stadium in Pittsburgh, 1933

First coast-to-coast highway - U.S. Route 30

First self-help subsistence community - 1937, Penn-Craft (Fayette County)

First African-American woman to be elected a State Legislator - 1938, Crystal Bird Fauset

First driver's education class - State College High School, 1939 by Amos Neyhart

1st US air raid shelter - 1940, Fleetwood, Pa.

First Jeep manufactured - 1940, Butler

House with a waterfall running through it - Fallingwater, Mill Run

First non-reservation school for indians - Carlisle Indian School, Carlisle

First fully electronic digital computer - 1946, at the University of Pennsylvania

First air pollution disaster - October 27, 1948, Donora

First televised political convention - Republican National Convention, Philadelphia, 1948

First televised news conference - Thomas Dewey at the Republican National Convention, Philadelphia, 1948

First cable television system - 1948, John Walson in Mahanoy City

First pre-streesed concrete girder bridge (today's standard for interstate highways) - 1951, Walnut Lane Bridge in Philadelphia, by Gustav Magnel

First polio vaccine, March 26, 1953, developed by University of Pittsburgh researcher Dr. Jonas Salk.

FIrst Atomic submarine engine - 1954 -The U.S.S. Nautilus was powered by an engine built by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, in Pittsburgh, and was launched at Groton, Connecticut.

First publicly-supported television station - 1954, WQED, Pittsburgh

First store to use escalators - Gimbel's in Philadelphia

First television transmission over telephone lines - 1956, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia

First nuclear power plant for the commercial production of electricity - 1957, Shippingport

First use of anabolic steroids in sports - 1959, by U.S. weightlifting champion Bill March, York Barbell club, administered by U.S. Weightlifting team Dr. John Bosley Ziegler

First World Series to end on a home run - 1960, Pittsburgh Pirates over New York Yankess (Bill Mazeroski)

First retractable roof on an auditorium - Mellon Arena (originally named Civic Arena), Pittsburgh, September, 1961.

First African-American news reporter hired by a major network - Malvin (Mal) Goode of Pittsburgh, hired by ABC in 1962

First pull-tab on cans - 1962 - Developed by Alcoa and first used by Iron City Brewery.

First World Series night game - Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, 1971

First HBO pay TV broadcast - 1972, Wilkes-Barre

First successful siamese twin separation - 1974, Clara and Altagracia Rodriguez, at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

First African-American to serve as Speaker of a State House of Representatives - 1977, K. Leroy Irvis

First supertanker constructed - Sun Ship yard, Delaware County

First bridge to be named for a woman - The Betsy Ross Bridge, Philadelphia

First Robotics Institute - 1979 at Carnegie Mellon University

First Navy ship to have an airplane take off and land on it - USS Pennsylvania

First museum for young children - The "Please Touch Museum for Children" in Philadelphia

First internet "emoticon" - The smiley :-) created in 1980 by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman.

First sale of a nuclear power plant - 1998, Three Mile Island

First golf course designated a National Historic Landmark - Oakmont Country Club, Pittsburgh

First indoor zoo - National Aviary, Pittsburgh

First pro athlete to own a major league franchise - Mario Lemieux, 1999, Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey

First battle - and victory - against terrorism - September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93 in the sky over Shanksville, Somerset County, PA

First Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security - January 24, 2003, Tom Ridge

First U.S. Astronaut to be in space during the birth of a child - Mike Fincke, native of Emsworth, PA, June 18, 2004, aboard the International Space Station. Wife Renita gave birth to their second child, Tarali Paulina.

First major brewery to use aluminum bottles - Pittsburgh Brewing Company, 2004.


















Jim Thorpe

King of Prussia



Eighty Four

Forty Fort




Oil City

Slippery Rock

Sandy Lake

Jersey Shore

Blue Bell


Plymouth Meeting

Burnt Cabins


Three Springs

Yellow Springs

Boiling Springs

Sinking Spring

Roaring Spring

Bifocal glasses (1784 by Ben Franklin)

One piece bifocal lenses - 1906 by John L. Borsch

Daylight Savings Time (Ben Franklin)

Odometer (Ben Franklin)

Zipper (Lewis Walker)

Ferris Wheel (1892/1893 by George Ferris of Pittsburgh)- at the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) in Chicago.

Ice cream soda (1874 by Robert M. Green)

Accordion - patented in 1854 by Anthony Faas

Root beer - 1876

Book matches - 1889 by Joshua Pusey

Rayon - 1901 by General Artificial Silk Company in Lansdowne

Cream cheese - in Concordville

Pencil with an attached eraser - 1858 by Hyman L. Lipman

Electric meters - O. B. Shallenberger of Rochester

Paper towels - 1931 by Arthur Scott of Philadelphia

Percussion cap - (for firearms) Rev. Alexander Forsythe

Typewriter - 1881, Kittanning - by J.D. Daugherty

Revolving door - 1888 by Theophilus Van Kannel

Dynamo - John Saxton

Chlorine (bleaching powder) - 1847 by Charles Lennig

Carborundum (silicon carbide) - 1891 by E.G. Acheson of Monongahela City

Zippo lighter - 1932 by George G. Blaisdell in Bradford

Banana split - 1904, by Dr. David Strickler, a pharmacist at Strickler's Drug Store in Latrobe

Bingo - 1920's, Pittsburgh, by Hugh J. Ward. (Copyrighted in 1924.)

Bubble gum - 1928, Philadelphia, by Walter E. Diemer

Slinky - 1945, Richard James, Philadelphia (now made in Hollidaysburg)

Automatic snow-making machine - 1956 by John Guresh

Diabetic "dip and read" tests - 1956 by Helen Murray Free (born in Pittsburgh, 1923), and Alfred Free.
Snap top can - 1962 by Alcoa Corp., used by Pittsburgh Brewing Co.

Kevlar - 1966 by Stephanie Kwolek (born 1923 in New Kensington, PA) working for DuPont.
Big Mac - 1967, Uniontown, by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald's franchise holder. (The Big Mac went nationwide in 1968.

"Mr. Yuk" symbol for poison - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Longest continuing habitation in North America - From prehistoric to present - Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Avella

Oldest hospital in North America - The Philadelphia Hospital, 1732

Oldest military unit in continuous service - First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, since 1774.

Oldesst Fife and Drum Corps - Berlin Fife and Drum Corps, organized in 1782 by George Johnson.

Oldest operating short-line railroad - Strasburg, since 1832

Oldest continuously occupied residential street - Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, since 1728

Oldest Bridal Salon - Carlisle's of Pittsburgh, since 1888

Oldest National Road - now U.S. Route 40

Oldest Bank - Bank of North America, 1781

Oldest Fife and Drum Corps - Berlin, PA, 1782

Oldest Hospital - Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, 1751

Oldest Beer brewery - Yuengling's, in Pottsville

Oldest golf course in continuous use - Foxburg Golf Course, Clarion

Oldest Art school - 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia

Oldest continuously used theater - 1809, Walnut Street Theater, Philadelphia

Oldest suspension bridge - 1848 across the Delaware River, by John Roebling.

Oldest Incline - 1870, Monongahela Incline, Pittsburgh

Oldest inclined railroad that can carry vehicles -Johnstown, since 1891

Oldest roller coaster - "Leap-the-Dips", Lakemont Park, Altoona, 1902

Largest battle of the American Revolution - Brandywine, September 11, 1777

Largest battle of the Civil War - Gettysburg, 1863

Flood - Johnstown, 1889

Chocolate factory - Hershey

Mushroom capital of the world - Kennet Square

Christmas tree capital of the world - Indiana (PA!!)

Mail order capital of the U.S. - Hanover

Largest one-artist museum - Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

World's largest collection of outdoor art - Philadelphia

World's largest landscaped city park - Fairmount Park in Philadelphia (8,579 acres)

World's biggest pollution disaster - Donora, Oct 26, 1948.
Longest perfect baseball game pitched - 12 perfect innings on May 26, 1959, by Harvey Haddix, Pittsburgh Pirates. (but lost the one-hitter in the 13th inning)

Largest number of home runs in a season - 84 by Josh Gibson, 1936 Pittsburgh Crawfords (Negro League)

Longest elevated water slide - Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom

Largest retail shopping complex - King of Prussia Plaza and Court

Largest number of covered bridges - 220

Largest firwoeks company - Zambelli Fireworks Internationale - New Castle

Largest stamp library - American Philatelic Society, State College

Largest freshwater port in the world - Philadelphia

Largest nonclassified computing system in the world - 6 trillion calculations per second, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Largest collection of Christian Holy relics outside of the Vatican - St. Anthony's Chapel, Pittsburgh

World's shallowest commercial building - "The Skinny Builidng", 5 feet, 2 inches wide, at the corner of Forbes Ave. and Wood Street, Pittsburgh, PA


Just some of the Television shows and movies that have been filmed in Pennsylvania:(All or part)


Cold Case - Season 2
The War That Made America
(TV movie, release date 2006)
Cold Case - Season 1
The Guardian
West Wing (2002 Premiere episode)
The Pennsylvania Miners' Story


In Her Shoes
National Treasure
The Village
The Mothman Prophecies
Wonder Boys
The Sixth Sense
Inspector Gadget
Up Close and Personal
12 Monkeys
Sudden Death
Boys on the Side
Milk Money
Striking Distance
Bob Roberts
Lorenzo's Oil
Silence of the Lambs
Rocky V
Dominick and Eugene
Gung Ho
See Philadelphia Film Office and Pittsburgh Film Office