Last updated: 01:38 PM ET, Fri October 11 2019
Harrisbug Pennsylvania Skyline.  (photo via SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus)


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Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.  (photo via SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. (photo via SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is the capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the ninth-largest city in the state. Harrisburg is located in the south-central part of the state. To its north is the Blue Mountain ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Cumberland Valley lies directly to the west of Harrisburg, and the Susquehanna River, stretching into northern Maryland. Harrisburg is on the northern edge of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, a major tourist attraction.

Harrisburg played a notable role in American history during the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. During part of the 19th century, the building of the Pennsylvania Canal and later the Pennsylvania Railroad allowed Harrisburg to become one of the most industrialized cities in the northeastern U.S. In the mid to late 20th century, the city's economic fortunes have fluctuated with its major industries consisting of government and heavy manufacturing, including the production of steel, agriculture and food services (Hershey, home of the chocolate maker, is located just 10 miles east of Harrisburg). The city subsequently experienced a resurgence under its former mayor, Stephen R. Reed, and in 2010, Forbes rated Harrisburg as the second-best place to raise a family.

Downtown Harrisburg has two major performance venues. The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts was designed for education, science and the performing arts. The Forum, a 1,763-seat concert and lecture hall, is located within the State Capitol Complex. The Forum is where you’ll hear the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. Beginning in 2001, downtown Harrisburg saw a surge of commercial nightlife. This has helped reverse the city's financial decline, and has made downtown Harrisburg a hot spot for events from jazz festivals to nightclubs.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest free indoor agriculture expo in the country, was first held in Harrisburg in 1917 and has been held there every early to mid January since then. Harrisburg also hosts an annual outdoor sports show as well as an auto show. During the first part of the 19th century, Harrisburg was a stop on the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, Harrisburg was a significant training center for the Union Army, with tens of thousands of troops passing through Camp Curtin.

The climate in Harrisburg has four distinct seasons. Summer is usually hot and humid with occasional heat waves. Fall is a nice time of the year, but winter in Harrisburg is generally cold. Spring is an ideal time to engage in outdoor pursuits.

Domestic and international airlines provide services via Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), which is located southeast of the city in Middletown. Harrisburg International is the third-busiest commercial airport in Pennsylvania, with service from passenger carriers including US Airways, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, Air Canada and AirTran Airways. Capital City Airport (CXY), a moderate-sized business class and general aviation airport, is located across the Susquehanna River in the suburb of New Cumberland. Harrisburg is served by Capital Area Transit (CAT) which provides public bus and commuter rail service throughout the greater metropolitan area. Bus services are provided by Greyhound, Capitol Trailways, Fullington Trailways, and Susquehanna Trailways.