Often times, we don’t really stop and admire the history and detail of our surroundings. When I lived in Harrisburg for six months last year for an internship, I would walk to the Capitol Complex every day and pass the Capitol building in awe of how beautiful it was. This is only one, but Harrisburg has its fill of great stories and architecture.
The city of Harrisburg was originally inhabited by the Paxtang Indians around 3000 BC and Harrisburg was pivotal in the Native American trade because of its proximity to the Susquehanna River and its intersection with the Ohio, Delaware, and Potomac rivers. After the settling and purchasing of acres by John Harris Jr., Harrisburg was officially incorporated on 1791.
After two years of debate, in October 1812 Harrisburg became the 3rd and final capital city for the state of Pennsylvania (Following Philadelphia and Lancaster).
You can’t discuss Harrisburg and leave out the jaw dropping structure we call our Capitol building. The Capitol building has its own unique history ranging from disaster to years worth of renovations.
On February 2, 1897 the Harrisburg Capitol building burnt down due to a faulty fireplace. Shortly after, the state allocated only $550,000 to an architect named Henry Ives Cobb to rebuild the building. Needless to say, the money didn’t stretch too far leaving a simple and not so appealing brick structure.
In 1901, state legislatures decided to redo the eyesore. They created a competition for local Pennsylvania designers to submit bids.
Philadelphia architect, Joseph M. Huston was selected to create what we now call our Capitol Building. The Capitol was erected in 1904 and was designed after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. President Theodore Roosevelt called the structure, “the most beautiful state Capitol in the nation.”
The building has ornate detail from the paintings, the unique marble, and the story telling tiles. Today you can visit the Capitol for a tour and to hear the awesome stories behind this historic marvel.