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Harrisburg Information

Harrisburg is the capital city of the State of Pennsylvania and was a major player in early American history. During the 19th century the Pennsylvania Canal and Pennsylvania Railroad made Harrisburg one of the North's most industrialized cities. Today, Harrisburg is considered one of the best places in the United States to raise a family. It fared well during the 2008 recession partly because it is the location of many state and federal government agencies.

Settled by Native Americans as far back as 3,000 BC, it was an important trading spot from the earliest times. This was because the paths between the major rivers in the area intersected there. Captain John Smith was the first European to meet the Native Americans there in 1608, and in 1719. John Harris, an English trader, settled there. It was a scenic, pastoral village and settled as a trading post in 1719 before industry took hold.

It became the State Capitol in 1812 because of its strategic location, and the brick Colonial Revival capitol building, built in 1822, was destroyed by fire in 1897. The current Capitol Building was completed in 1906 with a central dome modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It contains large murals, collections of art and sculpture. Tiles on the floor depict the symbols, animals, insects, and general history of Pennsylvania.

During the American Civil War, thousands of Union Army troops passed through Harrisburg. It was a major training center and one of the vital links between the Midwest and the Atlantic seaboard. It is considered that the northern most battle of the war was just two miles from Harrisburg. It was also an important stopping place for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.

The Industrial Revolution made Harrisburg an important place for the steel industry, for which it became famous. It was also a major railroad hub. After the industrial decline, the city became a center for service-oriented business and many people moved to the suburbs. It had a short revival for armament production during World War II.

Today, it is the national headquarters for several major businesses including technology companies. Tyco Electronics, Hershey Foods, Rite Aid Corporation and IBM are a few companies with major operations in Harrisburg.

Harrisburg has also had a surge of commercial nightlife with major performance centers, several music festivals, as well as popular nightclubs in the downtown area. The largest agricultural exhibition in the country takes place in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

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