Pennsylvania was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. It was founded by William Penn, who wanted a place where Quakers and other denominations could worship freely without persecution, as being a Quaker was illegal in England at the time.
The state capital is Harrisburg, and it borders a bunch of other states, as many do.[note 1] State politicians frequently complain that the culture is Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Kentucky in between.
Many Pennsylvanians refer to it as "PA" (no relation to MA).
Its first Colonial Legislative Act, the Great Law of Pennsylvania, December 7, 1682, mandated: "That no person… who shall confess and acknowledge one Almighty God to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World… shall in any case be molested or prejudiced for his, or her Conscientious persuasion or practice." The Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, and at the time, the largest city in any of the colonies. The Declaration of Independence was signed there in 1776.
Imagine a pot of water is about to boil over. There are lots of things you can do to prevent it. You can turn down the heat, pour the water out, put a wooden spoon over it, whatever. What you can't do, and what James Buchanan (D) tried, is put a lid on it and walk away. His "roommate" was from the South and because of this, Buchanan sided with the South on everything. He colluded with the Supreme Court to uphold Dred Scott (ergo slavery) and overturn the Missouri Compromise, even convincing a northern justice to change his vote. Having pissed the entire country off, he retired and wrote defenses of his own presidency during the war which he never seriously tried to stop. Pennsylvania's only President, so proud.
Pennsylvania is known as "Pittsburgh in the west, Philadelphia in the east, and Kentucky (or Alabama) in between". However, this is misleading. In reality, everything within a 60 mile radius of Philadelphia in the southeast is part of of the Bos-Wash (Boston-New York City-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington D.C.), a corridor filled with liberal minority nanny-state types. The remainder of the state is just like West Virginia, or in other words, a vast playground full of choo-choo trains, coal mines, steel mills, towns with more taverns than churches, towns with more churches than houses, huntin', fishin', rock climbin', and the Pittsburgh Stillers! WE BLEED BLACK AND GOLD!!!
In 2006, Bob Casey (D) defeated Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum in a landslide to become the state's senior U.S. Senator, which was nice.
Pennsylvania was generally considered a blue-ish leaning state, but Republicans have been relatively strong here, at one point having both Senate seats. Since 2015, Pennsylvania had a Democrat governor and Republican legislature. After it got within 6% in 2012, the state began to become a crucial swing state. In 2016, Trump secured a very narrow[note 2] upset victory over Hillary Clinton, and Biden flipped it back narrowly in 2020, just barely enough to win a majority of 50.01% of the vote.
However, that might be changing. In red-leaning 2022, Democrats won the other senate seat held by retiring Republican Pat Toomey, with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman defeating TV celebrity and kook doctor Mehmet Oz by five points. On top of that, Attorney General Josh Shapiro won the gubernatorial election by a landslide of almost 15 points, defeating another kook, Doug Mastriano, and marking the biggest win for a non-incumbent candidate since 1946, and becoming the first third consecutive gubernatorial win for the Democrats since 1844. With that, Democrats hold both senate seats, a majority in the House of Representatives delegation, and a majority on the Pennsylvania State House as of 2023.
- Walk into Wawa (Or Sheetz for those of us here in the western half of the state. A good way to start an argument between yinzers and yousers is to preference one or the other)
- Look into cooler
- Look confused after failed search
- You: "Hey, you sell beer here"?
- Clerk: "Welcome to Pennsylvania, where ya from?"
See also: Prohibition. Actually, you can buy beer in PA, but only at a special "beverage warehouse." Or in a bar — lots of those. Or, now, at your local GetGo.
It is illegal to sing in a bathtub or sleep outside on top of a refrigerator in Pennsylvania. Damn liberals.
- Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton
- Horseshoe Curve near Altoona
- Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona
- Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg
- Lackawanna #190 coal mine tour in Scranton
- Pioneer Tunnel and Steam Train in Ashland
- Centralia (two miles west of Ashland and kinda smoky, population 1000 in 1980, population 9 today)
- Gallitzin Tunnel and Railroad Museum in Gallitzin, whence can also be found a mysterious building named "Atheist Station"
- Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site near Gallitzin
- #9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford
- Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh
- are we noticing a common theme here?
- Breezewood, the obligatory stopover point (You! Slow Down!), where you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villianry.[note 3]
- And some boring old stuff in Philadelphia having something to do with a bell and Independence Hall or something.
- If you really want to overdose on Civil War stuff, there's always Gettysburg.
- The library at Penn State is actually called the Paterno library, to remind students to keep quiet
- If you have a thing for large rodents, Punxsutawney is noted for having a groundhog as its most famous resident.
- Cold Spring Township, where apparently no one has bothered to run for office since 1961. According to the few people still left there, there's no one to tell you that you can't build a shed. A libertarian paradise if ever there was, and yet only 52 people live there.
- Jim Thorpe, known as the Switzerland of America for its architecture and scenery. Though the athlete of the same name has nothing to do with this town (which was originally named "Mauch Chunk") and his descendants have tried to sue the town over this.
- The Bloomsburg Fair, the greatest yearly festival in NEPA.
- The Capitol in Harrisburg is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the nation, with its Beaux-arts architecture and the Renaissance themes painted and sculpted throughout.
- Oh, and we forgot to mention Hersheypark, where chocolate was supposedly invented.
Really weird tourist attractions
Pittsburgh is the location of a particularly disgusting heathen festival of debauchery, depravity, and wanton revelry known as Anthrocon.
Also, don't miss the 30000 pounds of mashed bananas on the road into Scranton.
For a good example of a "WTF?"-variety human interest story, consider the rather odd mock terrorism raid that an eastern PA Pentecostal church staged which resulted in all sorts of fun legal stuff for the church and the youth pastor who was the main instigator of the incident. And all for the sake of showing "what some missionaries deal with because of their faith," no less.
Really weird pronunciations
Reading is pronounced "Redding." (At least Connecticut had the good sense to respell it) Lancaster is "LANKister." Schuylkill County is "Skookul County." Pittsburgh is often "PICKSburgh." Wilkes-Barre is pronounced "Wilkesberry" or "Wilk's Bar" or about a dozen other ways, even by the locals, and may even be pronounced three or four different ways by the same person in the same conversation. Dubois is "Do Boys." Latrobe is "Lay-trobe". The Juniata River is often mispronounced "Juanita" by tourists, which is Spanish for "I'm not from around here."
There are varying accents in Pennsylvania due to the wide variety of environments. The middle of the state is mostly country and rural areas and talk as such. The cities on the borders (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) often use urban dialect and in Philly's case gave the people of New Jersey their accents (except the northeastern counties, which have much more New York in them, but even they never call it Joisey, ever).
Yes, Philadelphia's transit system is called SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). No septic reference implied.
Philadelphia is Pennsylvania's biggest city, that was once the most important city in the United States; it was even the capital for a bit. Now, it's just known for the following:
- Cheesesteaks (however, those cheesesteaks are fucking tasty).
- The slums where Rocky Balboa used to live.
- The Liberty Bell. A bell with a big crack.
- The birthplace of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (a.k.a. Will Smith).
- The birthplace of Bill Cosby.
- The birthplace of the "All-American Masher."
- The birthplace of David Lynch's unease.
- The adopted home of Benjamin Franklin.
- Sports fans who will boo everything and everybody, including little girls that sing the national anthem and Santa Claus.
- Some guy who runs around the local baseball stadium while wearing a green shag carpet suit.
- The Gallery, where street people once slept in the upper levels (because the stores vanished from that indoor mall/subway stop).
- The Mummers Parade, sort of a debauchery-free Mardi Gras-
- Being responsible for the death of hitchBOT.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Today, it's mostly remembered as a crime-ridden place to avoid. This is ironic, since Philadelphia is also known as the "city of brotherly love."[note 4] (Although, they will boo Santa Claus.) These days, though, the charm of the decaying crime-ridden Philly is being replaced with hipsters. Insatiable, insatiable hipsters as they spread their tentacles from Northern Liberties to… everywhere.
- Ohio, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia, in this case.
- 0.72% margin
- Seriously, this is the Mos Eisley Space Port of the interstate highway system. For some reason I-70 ends without ever actually intersecting with I-76 so you have to drive through the town to get from one to the other. The town is a collection of truck stops, greasy spoons, fast food joints, cheap motels, tacky gift shops, some Trust Jesus graffiti, and a fireworks stand to the south. Nobody appears to actually live there. The infamy is such that the term "breezewood" has passed into general usage to refer to any such place that only exists because of a gap between two interstate highways. For added fun, turn on the CB when in Breezewood and you will never fail to hear something to amuse or scare even the most jaded personality.
- This is derived from the origin of the city's name. In Ancient Greek, philos refers to love or friendship, and adelphos means brother. Though it should be noted that "Philadelphus" was a rather common Greek title for kings... that married their sisters.
- Chapin, H. F. (1974) "30000 Pounds of Bananas," Verities and Balderdash.
- Pastor Indicted for False Imprisonment, Kidnapping.Dispatches from the Culture Wars
- Charges filed against pastor in mock terrorism raid at Lower Swatara church, pennlive.com
- I Saw Mommy Dissing Santa Claus SNOPES