U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Harrisburg area
 [Register]
Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 08-25-2016, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Erie, PA
486 posts, read 450,210 times
Reputation: 679

Advertisements

I've always wondered why the city of Harrisburg is only 8.1 sq. miles (not including water) in land area. Seems very small for the state capital. Pittsburgh is around 54 sq. miles, Erie 19 sq. miles, Scranton 25 sq. miles, Allentown 19 sq. miles, and so on.


Harrisburg is obviously the state's "third city", even though it has a small population. So I guess I'm just wondering why the land area of the city is so small?
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-26-2016, 06:07 AM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
12,659 posts, read 22,702,545 times
Reputation: 19647
//www.city-data.com/forum/harrisburg-area/
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-26-2016, 06:12 AM
 
Location: Washington County, PA
4,089 posts, read 4,048,884 times
Reputation: 2648
Quote:
Originally Posted by jFug View Post
I've always wondered why the city of Harrisburg is only 8.1 sq. miles (not including water) in land area. Seems very small for the state capital. Pittsburgh is around 54 sq. miles, Erie 19 sq. miles, Scranton 25 sq. miles, Allentown 19 sq. miles, and so on.


Harrisburg is obviously the state's "third city", even though it has a small population. So I guess I'm just wondering why the land area of the city is so small?
Allentown is PAs third city. And Scranton is PAs 4th.

Honestly, everything outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh isn't a true city. They're giant towns.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-26-2016, 07:02 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
17,987 posts, read 14,261,621 times
Reputation: 13842
Quote:
Originally Posted by jFug View Post
I've always wondered why the city of Harrisburg is only 8.1 sq. miles (not including water) in land area. Seems very small for the state capital. Pittsburgh is around 54 sq. miles, Erie 19 sq. miles, Scranton 25 sq. miles, Allentown 19 sq. miles, and so on.


Harrisburg is obviously the state's "third city", even though it has a small population. So I guess I'm just wondering why the land area of the city is so small?
Here is one good link on the history of our State Capitol: The History of Pennsylvania's Early Capitols - cpc.state.pa.us. I always thought that, back then, we moved the capitol because it was centrally located to serve more Pennsylvanians than either Philadelphia or Pittsburg. The central location would have been more important because of lack of good transportation and communication. But, perhaps; that was not even a consideration?
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-26-2016, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Harrisburg, PA
636 posts, read 438,086 times
Reputation: 672
Harrisburg is the 3rd smallest US state capital by land area with only 8.1 sq. mi. (only Trenton and Annapolis MD are slightly smaller). Harrisburg city limits are so small due to history, and it is unlikely to change in the near future. There have been some proposed mergers of PA townships (also some annexations), but they are rare and often rejected. The last one to occur in the Harrisburg area was in 1997 when West Fairview Borough merged into East Pennsboro Township.

If Harrisburg city also included Susquehanna, Lower Paxton, or Swatara Townships it would definitely add some population to the city itself. Also adding Penbrook, Paxtang, Steelton, Middletown, Hummelstown, Lower Swatara Township, Derry Township, South Hanover Twp, West Hanover Twp, and/or Palmyra Borough would make it appear larger. And that is just the East Shore! The West Shore also has many townships, and many are First Class.

However, there was a recent spat about Harrisburg city annexing a few hundred acres of Susquehanna Township of the former State Hospital grounds, and it does not appear that will even happen. Susquehanna Township became a First Class Township status in 1952 to prevent further encroachment by Harrisburg. Swatara and Lower Swatara are also First Class. From the Reading Eagle 1964 "Under present law, cities and boroughs are permitted to annex any piece of land within a second class township provided the people residing on that land vote in favor of annexation. Not so with first class townships, where the entire population must vote before a city or borough can claim even a section of land." Given the city of Harrisburg's plight I don't foresee this happening anytime soon.

PA is notorious for having small city limits relative to the urban area population. Harrisburg has the lowest city population as a % of urban population in PA. That is why I recommend using US Wiki Urban Areas to compare true-feel city sizes. US Urban Areas are defined by the US Census Bureau.

PA top 10 urban areas ranked by 2010 Urban Area Pop: Urban Area Pop / City Pop --- City Pop as a % of Urban Pop

1. Philadelphia 5,121,892 / 1,526,006 --- 29.8%
2. Pittsburgh 1,733,853 / 305,704 --- 17.6%
3. Allentown 664,651 / 118,032 ---17.8%
4. Harrisburg 444,474 / 49,528 --- 11.1%!
5. Lancaster 402,004 / 59,322 --- 14.8%
6. Scranton 381,502 / 76,089 --- 20.0%
7. Reading 266,254 / 88,082 --- 33.1%
8. York 232,045 / 43,718 --- 18.8%
9. Erie 196,611 / 101,786 --- 51.8%!
10. Pottstown 107,682 / 22,377 --- 20.8%

Harrisburg urban area population is estimated to be 493k as of 2015 per the United Nation's Demographia Estimates (very closely lines up with US Census Data). Harrisburg urban area has grown over the years too: (I can show you how to find this file which includes all cities urban areas every 5 year increment from 1950-2030 if you want)

1950 - 171k
1955 - 190k
1960 - 210k
1965 - 225k
1970 - 242k
1975 - 260k
1980 - 279k
1985 - 286k
1990 - 294k
1995 - 328k
2000 - 365k
2005 - 404k
2010 - 447k
2015 - 493k (est)
2020 - 532k (est)
2025 - 567k (est)
2030 - 600k (est)

PA has many cities (Urban Area > 50k). On the other hand, large towns would include, for example, Pottsville, Indiana, New Castle, and Sunbury (urban areas < 50k, which are also called Urban Clusters). Philadelphia and Pittsburgh would be considered major cities at the national level. Someday, Allentown and Harrisburg could easily attain that title as they both continue to develop outward, swallowing-up suburbs and other towns. PA's "third city" is open to debate. Allentown UA pop is 714k as of 2015. Harrisburg UA pop is 493k. Scranton UA pop is 379k. Lancaster at 449k is also a contender. Of course there are other factors to consider other than population. In my opinion Harrisburg could be PA's third city because it is the state capital and 4th largest urban area. Below are some other factors:

The Harrisburg area, aside from being the PA state capital has Harrisburg International Airport which is the 3rd busiest airport in PA (one of three PA cities that serves as a hub - the other two are Philly and Pitt). It also has Capital City Airport and Carlisle Airport. It has five US interstates (76 PA Turnpike, 78, 81, 83, and 283), as well as US 11, 15, 22, 322, 422. There is a major project going on right now to widen the Capital Beltway (more on that in the last paragraph). The Capital Beltway is a toll-free ring road.

Harrisburg is also a part of Norfolk Southern's "Golden Triangle” that connects Chicago, Harrisburg and Atlanta, three cities through which 90 percent of NS’ yearly intermodal volume originates, terminates or passes through. It has a passenger rail service with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It has Penn State Harrisburg, US Army War College, Dickinson Law School, Harrisburg University, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Messiah College. It has the Carlise Barracks and Naval Support Activity in Mechanicsburg. Fort Indiantown Gap is not far away. It is home (HQ) to large corporations including Hershey, TE Connectivity, Harsco, Ollies, Rite Aid, Select Medical, Ahold (Giant), Gannett-Fleming, and more. Hersheypark, ZooAmerica, Hollywood Casino Penn National Race Course, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the National Civil War Museum are attractions. Harrisburg has a AA Baseball team - the Harrisburg Senators (almost ended up with the AAA team, but there was a hang-up in selling the existing AA franchise, so it was instead awarded to Lehigh Valley).

There is a major project to widen the Capital Beltway beginning at I-83 at the 81/83 split to 29th street to at least 3x3 (6 lanes). Then to widen to 5x5 (10 lanes) starting at I-83 at 29th street to the Cumberland County line, which likely includes widening "south bridge" (the I-83 bridge). The first phase is happening now to remove overhead bridges (Elmerton Ave is down) and widen I-83 from the 81/83 split to the Eisenhower Interchange. This phase should be completed by 2021. The second phase is reconstructing the Eisenhower Interchange and widening I-83 from the Eisenhower to 29th street to 3x3 (6 lanes) and should be completed by 2024. The final phase is the hardest, and involves widening I-83 to 10 lanes from 29th street the Cumberland County line - 3x3 (6 through lanes) and 2, 2-lanes on the side (4 local access lanes). So it will go 2,3,3,2 lanes for a total of 10 lanes. The last phase is expected to be complete by 2027. A new exit off I-83 will be onto Cameron Street will eliminate the 13th, 17th, and 19th Street exits.

Last edited by g500; 08-26-2016 at 10:45 AM..
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-26-2016, 04:12 PM
 
4,074 posts, read 3,028,088 times
Reputation: 1227
It probably has to do with Pennsylvania's history of dividing territory into small municipalities (townships, boroughs, villages, cities, etc.). All Pennsylvania counties are very divided that way. Like someone said in a previous post, there doesn't seem to be any urgency to combine municipalities, so we're stuck with the current boundaries.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Settings
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Harrisburg area

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top