New Jersey-Pennsylvania Border
October 15, 1999
Ah, the Keystone State. One of four states to officially call themselves Commonwealths, along with Massachusetts, Virginia, and Kentucky. I was welcomed into the second state in the union by this sign as I was traveling from my home in central New Jersey to Washington, D.C. Ok, so I took a little bit of a detour. (All the way into West Virginia, but I must sacrifice precious fuel for this project!)
This sign is located near Easton, Pennsylvania, on I-78 westbound, just beyond one of the Delaware River Authority toll bridges. For the bridge fans out there, the bridge is basically just a viaduct, nothing spectacular, with a toll of either 50¢ or $1.00 in one direction. If memory serves me correctly tolls are assessed westbound.
This is one of the more done-up signs I have come across so far. And yes, following the lead of putting the Commonwealth's URL on license plates, www.state.pa.us appears on the welcome sign as well. It has the line "Pennsylvania Welcomes You," and includes the Governor's name and the telephone number of the Penna. tourist board. And yes, the state's logo, the Keystone, is in the background, though the sign does not explicitly refer to the state nickame, the Keystone State.
October 15, 1999
Along with the sign, this is one of the more impressive capitols I have seen. The dome is similar in design to that of Minnesota, replacing the gilded accents with a light green tone. The dome has a little resemlance to St. Peter's in Vatican City. Most states' domes are narrow, while Pennsylvania's is much wider, larger, and grander.
The capitol is similar to the U.S. Capitol insofar as the size of its dome, but it also shares another characteristic. Major Pierre L'Enfant, the Frenchman who designed the Federal City, included the Mall because he wanted people to be able to stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol's west front and see clear to the Potomac River. With the construction of the Washington Monument in 1884 and the Lincoln Memorial in 1922, that desire was somewhat dashed. In Harrisburg, there is a mall of sorts, though only about three blocks long. But you can stand on the steps of the capitol, and some trees notwithstanding, see clear down to the Susquehanna River.
A photo of the capitol on the Commonwealth's web site was taken from the opposite side and it is absolutely magnificent. Had I known this, I probably would have taken this picture from this angle.
The capitol was built in 1906, replacing the earlier statehouse which was destroyed by fire in 1897. Pennsylvania's capitol was also the scene of one of the most shocking incidents in the history of American government, when on January 22, 1987, Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, facing up to 55 years in prison after being convicted on bribery, perjury, and conspiracy charges, called a press conference. After protesting his innocence for about 20 minutes in front of the media, he pulled out a .357 magnum and shot himself in the head.