Aerial view of Erie.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie, Pennsylvania, is a city in Erie County and is the fifth-most populous city in Pennsylvania. As its namesake suggests, Erie lies on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie. As a lake port, the city is a major factor in imports and exports coming through the Great Lakes. Its rich heritage, economy, and culture have solidified it as one of the most important cities in Pennsylvania.

Geography Of Erie

Skyline of Erie
Skyline of Erie.

Erie is a city located in the northwest of Pennsylvania in Erie County. As one can guess from its name, it sits directly on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie, across from the Canadian province of Ontario. The city encompasses a total area of 19.08 square miles (46.42 square km). Presque Isle State Park (also known as "The Peninsula") is a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie north of the city boundaries and comprises 7 miles (11 km) of public beaches, marshes, and fishing spots. The terrain rises gradually in a series of ridges towards the south. Nearby cities include Pittsburgh, 128 miles (206 km) to the south; Buffalo, New York, 90 miles (140 km) to the northeast; and Cleveland, Ohio, 100 miles (160 km) to the southwest. Renovated and rehabilitated factory buildings, mid-rise housing, single-family houses, and office buildings make up most of the cityscape. Many different attractions line Erie's waterfront, while docks and marinas occupy the space in between.

Climate Of Erie

Erie has a humid subtropical climate with hot and partly cloudy summers, cool and wet springs and falls, and very cold winters. The average temperature throughout the year is 50.0 °F (10.0 °C). The hottest month of the year in Erie is July, with an average high of 79.0 °F (26.1 °C) and low of 65 °F (18.3 °C). The coldest month of the year in Erie is January, with an average low of 23 °F (-5.0 °C) and a high of 34 °F (-1.1 °C). Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year in Erie. September is the wettest month, with an average rainfall of 3.1 inches (7.9 cm), while the driest month is February, with an average rainfall of 0.9 inches (2.3 cm). 

Being a Great Lake, Lake Erie has warm waters that regulate the cold air masses traveling south from Canada in the winter, making Erie relatively warmer than other cities. However, the difference in temperature between the air and the water of Lake Erie causes cloudiness and frequent snowfall from November to March - this snowfall is called lake-effect snow.

Brief History Of Erie

The Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie.

Erie was named after the Indigenous Eriez people, who lived in the area before being driven out by a combination of disease and conflict with the Seneca people during the mid-17th century. The French settled in the area in 1753 and built Fort Presque Isle on the city's site. The fort's ownership was eventually transferred to the British in 1759, where it was then subsequently destroyed during Pontiac's War following The Seven Years' War. The land remained a wilderness until Pennsylvania bought it from the federal government after the American Revolution. In 1795, the city was laid out and became a port, specializing in harbor trade. Throughout the 19th century, the city's history was dominated by waterfront activities. Commodore Oliver Perry beat the British in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813, which is frequently referred to as the city's proudest historical moment. With the opening of the Erie Extension (or Beaver-Erie Canal) and the installation of railways in the 1850s, economic activity grew, diversified, and hit a peak. As the introduction of automobiles, railroads, and aircraft undercut Lake Erie's commerce, the city's and port's economic prominence rapidly waned over the 20th century. Still, Erie remains an important part of Pennsylvania's heritage.

Demographics Of Erie

According to the 2020 US Census, Erie had a population of 94,831 people, a decline when compared to its 2010 population of 101,786. It is the fifth-largest city in Pennsylvania, and due to the departure of factories and other dependent businesses, the city's population has been dropping for some time. The key ethnic demographics are 68.9% White, 15.6% Black or African Americans, 2.8% Asians, and 8.2% Hispanic. 51.2% of Erie residents are females, while the rest are males. The median household income is $38,655, and the percentage of people that fall below the federal poverty line is 25.1%. Erie had a large Russian immigrant community in the early 20th century, with many of them working in shipbuilding factories along bays on the waterfront. Nowadays, the majority of the city's residents are of European ancestry.

Economy Of Erie

Bicentennial Tower located at Dobbins Landing on Lake Erie. Editorial credit: Carrie's Camera /

Erie has a diverse economy, a factor that helps it against national recessions. Manufacturing occupations employ more than a quarter of the workers in the Erie area. Goods produced include plastics products, locomotives, boilers and engines, paper, grapes, cherries, etc. The city boasts the greatest concentration of toolmakers in the country. In addition, Erie is home to more than 10% of the nation's plastics injection molding industry and four of the top 50 plastics businesses. The tourism industry is big in Erie as well; the beaches and distinctive character of Presque Isle State Park, the USS Niagara, and other historical and recreational attractions all bring people to the city. Although lake trade in Lake Erie is not as big as it was in the 19th century, the shipping industry is still prominent. The Port of Erie, the only lake port in Pennsylvania, trafficks imports and exports via the St. Lawrence Seaway, which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean and serves as a significant distribution center for commodities moving between foreign countries.

Attractions In Erie

Presque Isle State Park Beach in Erie Pennsylvania
Presque Isle State Park Beach in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Presque Isle State Park, which covers 3,200 acres and attracts over four million people each year, offers stunning views of the sun setting over Lake Erie. In addition, its 7-mile-long coastline is home to public beaches, marshes, and fishing spots. Waldameer Park and Water World, a water park located at the state park's entrance, attracts many visitors during the summer. 

Commodore Perry's ship, the USS Niagara, a brig built for the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, is Erie's most visited historical landmark. In addition, exhibitions on industry, architecture, and local history are shown at the Erie History Center. The Bicentennial Tower provides an overhead perspective of Erie's Harbor, and tours are provided at 16 different locations on the tower's viewing deck.

Erie is a rich city in Pennsylvania full of American heritage and culture. It was and still remains a major city along Lake Erie, harboring many shipping centers and tourist attractions. The city's welcoming community provides visitors from everywhere to come and discover its natural beauty, culture, and history.

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