The city of Erie is located in the northwestern tip of Pennsylvania, along the shore of Lake Erie. It is the fourth-largest city in Pennsylvania, and the second-largest in the western half of the state. Popular both as a year-round place of residence and a vacation destination, Erie provides its residents with a great hometown community and its visitors with countless exciting attractions.
Erie draws its name from that of some of the region’s first residents, the Erie tribe of Native Americans, who were assimilated by the Iroquois in the latter half of the 17th century. The first European occupants were the French, who established Fort Presque Isle on a peninsula jutting into the lake, before ceding control of the region to the British during the French and Indian War. After the American Revolution, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania all laid claim to the area, but it was ultimately ceded to Pennsylvania in 1792.
Today, Presque Isle State Park is the most popular park in Pennsylvania, a tourist destination that receives more than four million visitors every year. Its location on the Atlantic Flyway makes it a top destination for bird watching, and the park’s guests also enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, and picnicking. The gateway to this unspoiled expanse is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, which provides educational displays about the park and its native species, a movie theater, and a 75-foot observation tower. A short distance away, Asbury Woods Nature Center hosts environmental education programs, festivals, and special events amid 205 acres of trails, historic structures, and unspoiled woods, fields, and wetlands.
These are only a few of the amenities that enrich the lives of Erie residents. One of the oldest amusement parks in America, Waldameer Park has been entertaining patrons since 1896, with roller coasters, games, live shows, picnic groves, and water slides. The Erie Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to more than 400 animals and 2,500 species of plants, and the Erie Art Museum presents a collection containing nearly 7,000 objects of art, including a world-class collection of bronze and stone sculptures from India dating back to the 2nd century. The Erie Maritime Museum displays a series of exhibits illustrating the region’s heritage, and it is the home port of USS Niagara, the brig that was the flagship of the fleet of Oliver Hazard Perry when he won the decisive Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and one of only two ships remaining from that war.
An Art Deco marquee welcomes patrons to the Warner Theatre, a venue listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which still offers concerts, Broadway shows, and performances by the Erie Philharmonic orchestra and the Lake Erie Ballet. Another popular venue is the Erie Playhouse, one of the oldest community theater groups in America, which presents a diverse and comprehensive annual slate of musicals and stage plays. Sports fans can cheer for the home team at Erie Seawolves baseball games, Erie Otters hockey games, Erie BayHawks basketball games, or Erie Commodores soccer games, and Presque Isle Downs offers live thoroughbred racing, as well as slot machines and table gaming.
State Street is the central hub of downtown Erie, and the location of many points of interest. The lakeside terminus of “The Bayfront” is the home of Bicentennial Tower, a 187-foot structure with two observation decks offering panoramic views of the city and the water. State Street bisects Perry Square, a tree-lined central park with a gazebo, a fountain, historic statues, and regular events such as a farmer’s market. The area is also the setting for the Raymond M. Blasco, M.D. Memorial Library, Hamot Medical Center, and many of Erie’s most popular bars and restaurants.
A magnet school in midtown Erie, the Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, is a distinguished institution that was designated as a National Blue Ribbon School in 2013 and ranked as the #3 school in Pennsylvania by U.S. News & World Report. The area is also home to several notable institutions of higher learning, such as Gannon University, Mercyhurst University, Penn State Behrend, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Many unique and fascinating homes are located along the coast of Lake Erie, and a multitude of housing styles are available inland. There are lighthouses to explore, trails to hike and plenty of new things to try in Erie!
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