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Map of Pennsylvania
Locator Map of Pennsylvania


  • (1608) Captain John Smith of Virginia visited Susquehannock Indians
  • (1609) Henry Hudson claimed land for Dutch
  • (1615 - 1616) Explorers Etienne Brule of France, Cornelius Hendricksen of The Netherlands explored part of Pennsylvania; Brule lived among Indians
  • (1632) Brule killed by Indians
  • (1643) Swedes established first permanent settlement in Pennsylvania on Tinicum Island
  • (1655) Dutch seized Swedish settlements
  • (1664) British captured Dutch colonies in name of Duke of York
  • (1676) Duke of York's Laws introduced for English laws, civil government
  • (1681) William Penn received royal grant of Pennsylvania from King Charles II
  • (1682) Duke of York deeded lands to William Penn; Penn arrived in Pennsylvania, laid out Philadelphia; created three original counties; first Assembly held, united Delaware counties with Pennsylvania, adopted Great Law
  • (1683) Penn signed friendship treaty with Lenni Lenape Indians; Mennonite families arrived from Germany, settled Germantown
  • (1684) Congress named William Penn and wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, third, fourth honorary citizens of U. S.
  • (1686) Penn purchased land along Lehigh River from Lenape Indians
  • (1688) Germantown Quakers adopted first antislavery resolution in America
  • (1701) Penn presented Charter of Privileges for Province of Pennsylvania; established religious freedom, tolerance. Remained as constitution until American Revolution
  • (1712) Pennsylvania Assembly banned importing of slaves
  • (1720) First Catholic congregation organized in Philadelphia
  • (1731) Benjamin Franklin opened first U.S. library
  • (1737) Pennsylvania took over large portion of native American land, (Walking Purchase)
  • (1744) Benjamin Franklin established American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia
  • (1750) Benjamin Franklin used kite to establish that lightning is a form of electricity
  • (1752) Benjamin Franklin tested lightning rod; Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia
  • (1754) French and Indian War began; George Washington claimed first victory at Laurel Mountain; Lenape Indians attacked Gnadenhutten Mission, killed 11 white people
  • (1754 - 1763) French and Indian War
  • (1755) Gen. Graddock's British troops slaughtered near Monongahela
  • (1758) Gen. John Forbes led British forces in capture of Fort Duquesne
  • (1763) Indians rose up against British colonies
  • (1767) Boundary between Maryland, Pennsylvania established, named Mason-Dixon line
  • (1773) Philadelphia refused entry to tea ships
  • (1774) First Continental Congress met secretly in Philadelphia; protested British measures, taxes
  • (1775) Second Continental Congress met, George Washington named supreme commander; postal system for colonies established, Benjamin Franklin first postmaster general
  • (1776) A committee of the Second Continental Congress consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut (the "Committee of Five") was formed to draft a declaration of independence from Britain. The resulting Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia; Pennsylvania established commonwealth; Betsy Ross sewed first American flag
  • (1777 - 1778) British troops occupied Philadelphia; General George Washington (America's first President) and his bloodied and battle-worn Continental Army wintered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. This tactical decision provided a much-needed rest and retraining period, and after six months in camp his highly-motivated and revitalized army marched out of Valley Forge to defeat the British in battle after battle.
  • (1777) Congress of United States left Philadelphia, moved to York
  • (1780) Pennsylvania first state to abolish slavery
  • (1787) Pennsylvania second state to ratify U. S. Consitutition
  • (1790 - 1800) Philadelphia capital of U. S.
  • (1792) Philadelphia shoemakers formed first union
  • (1793) Yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia killed about 2,000
  • (1794) Whiskey Rebellion occurred - protest against taxes on distilled spirits
  • (1812) Harrisburg became state capital
  • (1835) Liberty Bell cracked while being tolled for Chief Justice John Marshall
  • (1840's) Chain Gang, earliest Mummers Club, founded

1800s continued
  • (1845) Fire in Pittsburgh damaged over 1,000 buildings; George Dallas became U.S. Vice President
  • (1846) Liberty Bell rang for last time in commemoration of George Washington's birthday
  • (1851) Christiana riots occurred when Maryland slave owner tried to recapture salves in southeastern Pennsylvania
  • (1856) Republican party held first national convention in Philadelphia
  • (1857) James Buchanan became U.S. President
  • (1859) Oil discovered at Titusville
  • (1861 - 1865) Civil War
  • (1863) Two-day Battle of Gettysburg was turning point in war; President Lincoln delivered Gettysburg Address; dedicated national cemetery
  • (1864) Confederate troops attacked Chambersburg; burned town
  • (1869) Coal mine fire killed 110 miners; Philadelphia garment workers founded national labor union, Knights of Labor
  • (1872) First long-distance natural gas pipeline in U.S. completed, five miles from Newton Wells to Titusville
  • (1876) Thomas Edison demonstrated telephone at Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia
  • (1877) First national strike in U.S. began in Pittsburgh against Pennsylvania Railroad
  • (1889) South Fork Dam burst, town of Johnstown destroyed, over 2000 deaths
  • (1894) Milton Hershey founded Hershey Foods and town of Hershey
  • (1897) Fire destroyed state capitol in Harrisburg; coal miners went on strike, police shot 20 people
  • (1900) American Baseball League formed in Philadelphia
  • (1901) First Mummers parade held in Philadelphia; over 74,000 Pittsburg steelworkers struck; first U.S. escalator installed in Philadelphia office building
  • (1902) Over 100,000 miners called strike, closed mines all summer, President Roosevelt intervened, forced mine owners to submit to arbitration
  • (1904) Major mine explosion in Cheswick entombed 179 coal miners
  • (1906) Race demonstration, riots in Philadelphia
  • (1907) Gas explosion in Jacobs Creek mine kills 239
  • (1908) Marianna coal mine explosion kills 154
  • (1909) Pittsburgh Pirates won World Series
  • (1911) Philadelphia Athletics won World Series
  • (1918) Oakdale chemical factory explosion killed 200; race riots in Chester, five killed; influenza epidemic in Philadelphia killed 11,000
  • (1920) First radio broadcast in U.S. from KDKA
  • (1927) First armored car robbery in U.S. in Pittsburgh
  • (1928) Firedamp coal mine explosion in Mather killed 195 workers; Walter Diemer invented bubble gum
  • (1933) Blue laws overturned allowing Sunday sports
  • (1938) 500-ton meteorite landed near Pittsburgh; Crystal Bird Fauset first African American woman elected to a state legislature
  • (1940) First section of Pennsylvania Turnpike opened, 160 miles long
  • (1942) United Steelworkers of America union formed
  • (1948) Republican and Democratic National Conventions held in Philadelphia; smog from steel, zinc plants in Donoro killed over 50, over 6,000 made ill
  • (1953) Dr. Jonas Salk, University of Pittsburg, announced successful testing of polio vaccine
  • (1954) Polio innoculations of children began in Pittsburgh
  • (1960) Pittsburgh Pirates won World Series
  • (1962) Philadelphia Warriors basketball franchise moved to San Francisco
  • (1964) Race riots in Philadelphia
  • (1967) Students seized administration building at Cheyney State College
  • (1969) Two killed in race riots in York; 60 people arrested, city block burned
  • (1975) Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl
  • (1976) Legionnaire's Disease killed 29
  • (1977) Johnstown floods killed 85
  • (1979) Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl; nuclear accident occurred at Three Mile Island
  • (1985) Philadelphia police dropped bomb on headquarters of radical group, MOVE, killed 11
  • (1988) Oil tank collapsed near Elizabeth, 700,000 gallons of diesel oil spilled into Monongahela River
  • (1989) Pennsylvania first state to restrict abortions
  • (1992) 13 members of Greensburg U.S. Army Reserves killed by Iraqi scud missile
  • (1994) U S Air flight crashed near Pittsburgh, killed all 132 passengers, crew; U.S. Representative, Tom Ridge, elected governor
  • (1995) 23 rare gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, lemurs killed in fire at Philadelphia Zoo
  • (1997) Steel workers at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. ended 10-month strike
  • (1998) Transit union in Philadelphia struck, shut down system affecting 435,000 people per day
  • (1999) Pennsylvania orchards first in North America to suffer plum pox virus
  • (2001) Tropical Storm Allison moved into Pennsylvania, killed four; United Airlines flight 93, directed by hijackers, crashed southeast of Pittsburgh, killed all 45 passengers, crew; Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania named to direct office of Homeland Security; multi-vehicle accident occured on I-80, covered by ice, snow, five killed
  • (2002) Somerset coal miners, trapped by flooding, rescued after 77 hours
  • (2004) Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, demolished in 62 seconds with 2,800 explosions; slot machines authorized
  • (2005) Pennsylvania legislators increased salaries in secret session; oil painting by Jackson Pollock and silkscreen by Andy Warhol stolen from Everhart Museum; Philadelphia won first NHL scoreless game by a shootout
  • (2006) Gunman killed students at Amish school; over 200,000 evacuated from homes in Wilkes-Barre area due to flooding
  • (2007) Ice kept major highways closed, hundreds of drivers stranded; Gov. Rendell ordered range of government services shut down due to budget stalemate, over 24,000 workers off the job
  • (2008) Philadelphia Phillies won baseball World Series
  • (2009) Pittsburgh Steelers won sixth Super Bowl; Pittsburgh Penguins won Stanley Cup; G-20 Summit held in Pittsburgh
  • (2010) Casino gambling legalized
  • (2010) Blizzards caused airports to shut down, over 7,000 flights cancelled
  • (2011) Alleged sex abuse scandal at Penn State resulted in firings of several staff, including legendary coach, Joe Paterno
  • (2012) Joe Paterno, legendary Penn State football coach, died at 85

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