50 Interesting Facts about Pennsylvania We Bet You Didn’t Know

Arsenii Anderson
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If you’ve found yourself on this page, you’re probably looking for some fun facts about Pennsylvania. Well, you’re in the right place! Here you’ll find a collection of interesting PA state facts, including history, culture, sports, and other cool things about Pennsylvania. Let’s get into it.

πŸ“œ History in the Making

PA is a state full of American history. Here are some interesting facts about PA and its rich past.

1. The Second Oldest State

Although Pennsylvania was the second youngest of the original thirteen colonies, the ratification of the Constitution saw Pennsylvania become the second official US state to exist.

2. Sold for Β£16,000

One really fun fact about Pennsylvania is that Charles II of England granted the state to William Penn in 1681 in a deal to settle a Β£16,000 debt. That’s about $3.4 million in today’s US dollars. Talk about a real estate investment.

3. The Declaration of Independence

Perhaps the most important document in the history of The United States, the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, in Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia, now known as Independence Hall.

4. The Cracking of the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell, hung on the steeple of Independence Hall, has actually cracked more than once. It first cracked on its debut ring during a sound test. It was recast with additional copper to make it less brittle, though it later developed cracks in the following 90 years of use and hasn’t been rung since 1846.

πŸ”οΈ PA Nature Facts

Here are four interesting facts about Pennsylvania’s beautiful natural environment. Just because it doesn’t have a national park, it’s still got tons to offer.

5. Almost 300,000 Acres

Pennsylvania has almost 300,000 acres of state parks, with a state park system made up of 121 individual state parks. The first of them was designated in 1893.

6. Twenty-One National Park Sites

While the Keystone State doesn’t have any national parks, there are no shortage of national park sites within PA state borders, with 21 from which to choose, from the Schuylkill River Valley to Steamtown.

7. Home to a Holotype T-Rex

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in PA contains a holotype specimen of the tyrannosaurus rex, first discovered in 1902 in Hell Creek, Montana, and bought by the Museum in 1941. A holotype specimen is the gold standard of specimens and what other t-rex specimens are compared to.

8. Penn’s Cave

Penn’s Cave is an all-water cavern & farm-nature-wildlife park, with guided tours through the cavern by boat and a bus tour through the wildlife park. The area has places for gemstone panning, a maze, and a gift shop to take something unique home.

⚾ A State Big on Sports

Pennsylvania has an amazing sports culture, as you’ll soon see. Here are some facts about the most renowned professional sports teams in Pennsylvania and PA’s sports scene.

9. We’re Talking Baseball

With two Major League Baseball teams in PA in the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates, baseball is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in the Keystone State.

10. Heated Rivals

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are the only two cities in the state with professional sports teams, and the rivalries between their various teams are real. The most heated rivalries exist between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.

11. Sports Betting Legality

Sports betting in Pennsylvania was finally legalized in 2017 after the Gambling Expansion Bill was signed into law. The first legal sports betting shop opened in November 2018. Shortly after, in May 2019, the law expanded to allow legal online sports betting.

12. Philadelphia Phillies

Founded in 1833, the Major League Baseball team Philadelphia Phillies is considered the oldest professional sports team in the state, keeping the same name and city since its founding.

13. Beaver Stadium

The second largest stadium in the United States with an official capacity of 106,572 after six expansions, Beaver Stadium saw its record capacity of 110,889 in a game between Penn State and Ohio State in 2018.

πŸ§‘β€πŸš€ Five Prolific Pennsylvanians

There are a bunch of famous faces from PA, from princesses to producers. Here are five of them:

14. Will Smith

First known for his role in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith’s career has skyrocketed since his rise to fame in 1990. Known throughout the world for classics such as Bad Boys and Men in Black, this Philadelphian is now a household name.

15. Taylor Swift

Another name seemingly on the tip of every tongue, Taylor Swift was born in West Reading, PA, where she lived on her family farm until her parents sold up and moved her close to Nashville in order to pursue young Taylor’s musical career. Probably a good move, Mom and Dad!

16. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was a world-class professional basketball player who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. At age 41, Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other souls tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in January 2020.

17. Rob McElhenney

Rob McElhenney is an actor, comedian, producer, writer, and sports exec from Philadelphia, PA. Known for creating and starring in the longest-running live-action sitcom of all time, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In addition to his small-screen commitments, McElhenney owns the Welsh association football club Wrexham AFC in an equal partnership with Ryan Reynolds.

18. Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly was a Philadelphia-born actress who became the Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainier III in 1956, a title which she held until her death in 1982. Kelly appeared in numerous movies until her appointment as Princess, after which she dedicated her time to charity and cultural endeavors in Monaco.

πŸ›οΈ Facts about PA’s Hotspots

Whether you live in Pennsylvania or are just visiting, here are four fantastic places to enjoy.

19. Hersheypark

Hersheypark is the largest amusement park in the Keystone State, with 70 rides, including 15 roller coasters, 16 water rides, a monorail, and cable cars. The park was originally built to make a more pleasant environment for employees living at the Hershey model village, who worked for the Hershey Company producing world-renowned chocolates and treats.

20. Independence Hall

Independence Hall, previously known as Pennsylvania State House, is the building in which the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Independence Hall is a hotspot for local, national, and international tourists visiting Philly. Not only is the building home to one of the most important events in US history, but the steeple also features the cracked Liberty Bell.

21. Philadelphia Zoo

Another excellent fact about Pennsylvania is that the state is home to the first true public zoo in the United States. The Philadelphia Zoo officially opened its doors in 1874, some 15 years after it was chartered, delayed due to events in the Civil War. There are over 340 species of animals in the zoo, which sees around 1.2 million visitors annually.

22. Phipps Conservatory

Construction on Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was completed in 1893, spanning just under 15 acres. The conservatory was built by Henry Phipps Jr. as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh, who still own the property.

πŸ“š A Cultural Capital of The States

Pennsylvania is rich in culture, from the many immigrant communities to the natives who occupied the land long before the Europeans arrived. Here are four fun facts about Pennsylvania’s culture:

23. Cultural Diversity

There is a lot of cultural diversity in PA, from the various immigrant communities made up of the Irish, Italian, Dutch, German, and Chinese, to the traditional Amish and Mennonites. In fact, PA has the largest Amish population in the US.

24. The Commonwealth

Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth state, meaning all legal processes are carried out in the name of the Commonwealth or for the well-being and common good of the people.

25. The American Flag

Although the exact story is unknown, it is believed that Francis Hopkins designed the American flag in New Jersey, and a seamstress in Philly known as Betsy Ross sewed the flag.

26. Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is an annual celebration in Punxsutawney, PA, in which Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, lightheartedly predicts if there should be a longer winter or early spring on the basis of whether or not he can see his shadow. No shadow means an early spring for Pennsylvanians.

27. The Keystone State

Pennsylvania is primarily known as the Keystone State, as it was a fundamental state in the founding of the US. However, some other names, such as the Oil State and the State of Independence, pop up occasionally.

πŸ” Famous Foods in The Keystone State

While PA isn’t exactly world-renowned for its food scene, there are certainly a few favorites that almost everyone has heard of. Here are four of them:

28. Philly Cheesesteak

Originally invented as an alternative to the hot dog by Pat and Harry Olivieri, the Philly cheesesteak is a mouthwatering sandwich made up of thinly sliced beef, American cheese, and onions if you like them. It’s a simple sandwich that elicits true happiness in the millions of cheesesteak lovers around the world.

29. Hershey’s Chocolate

Headquartered in Hershey, PA, this legendary chocolate brand known around the world was born and bred in the Keystone State and has manufacturing plants around the world, including in Canada, India, and Mexico.

30. Classic Italian Hoagie

Another popular sandwich in PA is the classic Italian hoagie, a deli delight made up of Italian bread, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, provolone cheese, salami, ham, and a mix of herbs, oils, and vinegars. Hoagies tend to have harder bread than regular subs and are usually served cold.

31. Herr’s Chips

An iconic brand known primarily for its potato chips, Herr Foods Inc is headquartered in Nottingham, PA, and was founded in 1946. Herr’s products are primarily sold on the East Coast, though some Canadian snack lovers also buy Herr’s products. If you’re from PA and have never eaten Herr’s, you might be living under a rock.

🎰 Casinos and Online Gaming in PA

Pennsylvania is one of the leaders in both land-based and online gambling, with all the choices in the world for where to play. Here are seven facts about Pennsylvania and its gambling scene:

32. Online Casinos

There are currently 18 online casinos in PA for players to enjoy, each with its own unique and often lucrative welcome bonus. Some casinos, such as BetRivers PA, have wagering requirements of just 1x.

33. Seventeen Land-Based Casinos

There are 17 land-based casinos in PA, all of which are commercial casinos dotted around the entire state. The first casino to grace the state was Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, which had its grand opening in November 2006.

34. No Indian Casinos Here

There are no Indian gaming casinos in PA by the usual definition; however, two tribes own casinos in the state. Usually, when a casino is a tribal casino, it’s taxed differently to commercial casinos, but as all casinos in PA operate as commercial casinos, they are all under regular authority via the PGCB.

35. Mini Casinos

Also known as satellite casinos, these smaller Category 4 land-based casinos are part of the Keystone States’ gambling expansion. Category 4 casinos can have up to 750 slot machines and 40 table games. Licenses were auctioned off, and around $121 million was raised for the state.

36. Parx Casino and Racing

Located 20 minutes from Center City, Philadelphia, Parx Casino features the largest gaming complex in the Keystone State, with approximately 260,000-square-feet of gaming and entertainment space. In addition, there is a 280,000-square-foot thoroughbred racetrack next to the casino.

37. Legalized Online Gaming

Online gambling in PA was legalized after the passing of HB 271, which allowed each of the brick-and-mortar casinos operating at the time to launch online betting platforms. The bill passed in 2017, and the first casino opened its doors in July 2019.

38. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

All gambling activities in Pennsylvania are regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, currently chaired by Denise J. Smyler. The board is responsible for creating, maintaining, and enforcing PA gambling laws, guidelines, and frameworks for all gambling-related activity.

πŸ“Š The Keystone’s Economy

PA has a strong, diverse economy, and there’s plenty of facts that you may never have heard of to do with PA’s financial side. Here are seven of them:

39. Pennsylvania’s Export Economy

PA’s export economy, which is valued at around $44 billion, is made up of plenty of different goods, with no single industry paving the way, as we see in some other industrial states such as Michigan.

40. The Oil Industry

An interesting fact about Pennsylvania is that the first oil well that was purposely dug was established near Titusville by Colonel Edwin Drake in 1859. At its peak, the Keystone State was producing around one-third of the world’s oil.

41. Oil Prices

While we know large oil producers today form alliances to keep the minimum price of oil at a set rate, the oil boom in PA caused the price to plummet from $10 a barrel to just 10 cents in 1861. Later, the Oil Creek Association was established to create a minimum price of $4 a barrel.

42. Visit Pennsylvania

When thinking of domestic tourism, most people probably think of Florida and California, but tourism makes up a huge portion of PA’s economy. In fact, around 180 million people visit the state each year, generating over $60 billion for the economy and about $4.2 billion in local and state taxes. That’s around the same as tourist hotspot New York.

43. Lower Housing Prices

Even in the wealthiest counties in PA, the state’s median housing price is around $197,000, around 20% lower than the national median of $244,000. That said, the median income per capita remains around the same at $37,000.

44. Sewickley Heights, Pittsburgh

With a whopping median housing price of $1,748,000 and an average household income of $381,000, Sewickley Heights is the richest CDP in Pennsylvania.

45. Johnstown, Cambria County

Johnstown is the poorest city in PA, with an estimated 38.4% of the population living in poverty and a 13.9% unemployment rate. The average home costs around $85,000, while the median household income is around $31,200.

πŸ‘» Weird Facts About Pennsylvania

Here are five Pennsylvania fun facts that you may never have heard of, even if you’re a Pennsylvanian. How many of these PA facts did you know?

46. The First Computer

There are a lot of definitions of what a computer is, but the ENIAC, invented by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania, was the first fully functional digital computer, weighing about 50 tons and taking up around 1,800 square feet of floor space. Construction took three years and was finished in 1946.

47. Crayola Crayons

If you’ve ever colored with a Crayola crayon, that very crayon has made its way from one of three manufacturing plants in PA, as has every other crayon made by the iconic art supplier.

48. Harrisburg

The state capital of PA is Harrisburg, with a relatively tiny population of just 50,000, compared to Philly’s 1.5 million. Philadelphia stopped serving as the capital of the state in 1799 while it was serving as the nation’s capital. The capital moved to Lancaster but was later changed again to Harrisburg on the offer of free land in a central location.

49. Capital of the USA

Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1790 to 1800, serving as a temporary national capital while Washington, D.C. was being built. PA is also home to the first non-official presidential mansion, housing both George Washington and John Adams during those 10 years.

50. City Tall

City Hall, completed in 1894, was the tallest building in the world until it was surpassed by the Singer Building in Manhattan in 1908. City Hall stands 548 feet tall and covers 630,000 square feet of floor area.

❓ FAQ

How Big is Pennsylvania?

With a total area of 46,054 square miles, including water, Pennsylvania is the 33rd largest state. Excluding water, which accounts for 1,311 square miles, the state is the 32nd largest.

What’s the Population of Pennsylvania?

The total population of Pennsylvania, according to the latest US Census, is 12,972,008. This places the Keystone State as the fifth most populous state, although the population seems to be declining.

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