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Useful Notes: Pennsylvania
The Keystone State

"Pennsylvania: You have Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama with winters in between."
Old joke.

Ah, Pennsylvania, one of the original 13 colonies and current sixth most populous state in the union. Often referred to by residents as "PA," the state's postal code, expect just about any media taking place here to be focused on the state's largest city of Philadelphia, with the occasional appearance of Pittsburgh. (There is also that one show about office workers which made Scranton, the state's sixth most populous city, nationally known.)

The state was founded by William Penn, a famous Quaker, in 1682 and its name means "Penn's Woods." Benjamin Franklin is likely the most famous resident of Pennsylvania, moving there from Boston as a teenager. Pennsylvania is also well known for its many Amish folk, especially in the south-central parts of the state around Lancaster. (Pronounced "Lank-Ister." You'll immediately out yourself as an out-of-stater if you try to pronounce it "Lang-Caster")

Politically, as with most states, the urban areas of Pennsylvania tend to lean more liberal while the rural areas lean more conservative. Despite the state's long history dating back to the founding of the country, it has only produced one US president, (James Buchanan), who is generally considered to be one of the worst in the country's history at that.

One area Pennsylvania stands out is the variety and high quality of its food. Philly cheese steaks and Primanti Bros. sandwiches in Pittsburgh simply must be tried if you are visiting. A wide variety of traditionally German foods (known as "Pennsylvania Dutch") are also popular throughout the state. And that is without even mentioning the chocolate from Hershey.

Tropes Commonly Associated With Pennsylvania:

  • Abandoned Mine: Pennsylvania was a major coal-producing state for a long time, and still sits on the largest reserves of anthracite coal in the entire world. However, with coal on its way out due both to environmental concerns leading to cleaner fuel sources being made more readily available and because petroleum and natural gas are much more convenient resources than coal (and it just so happens that Pennsylvania has a lot of natural gas, too), much of this industry has dried up and left abandoned coal mines scattered throughout the state.
    • Numerous coal mines and mining towns have been abandoned due to mine fires as well. Illegal mining was quite common in some areas, so it can be difficult to predict where a mine fire will travel and it's not unusual to see whole seams abandoned because of their close proximity to another seam that has caught on fire. The possibility of this becoming more and more widespread has resulted in many Pennsylvanians being relieved that coal mining's been slowly phased out of the state, largely for environmental and economic reasons. Centralia is just the most famous example.
  • American Accents: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have famous ones of their own. Appalachian is present in the southwestern part of the state. Pennsylvania Dutch is a unique one common in the rural areas of the state, and can be so incomprehensible to outsiders that it's practically its own language.
  • The American Civil War: The Battle of Gettysburg took place here. It's one of the most famous battles of the war and is considered the war's major turning point.
  • American Football: Two NFL teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, and a number of college programs including, most famously, Penn State. The western part of the state is also well known for producing many legendary football players, especially quarterbacks (Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, and many others.)
  • Amusement Park: Hershey Park is a big one. Kennywood in Pittsburgh is another. Knoebels is a regionally popular one in central PA. Also Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, and Camelbeach waterpark in Tannersville (the Poconos).
  • Arcadia: Most of the rural areas and farmlands certainly qualify.
  • Baseball: Two MLB teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Little League World Series also takes place in Williamsport every August.
  • Basketball: The only one of the four major American sports leagues where PA doesn't have two teams, having only the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • Cuisines In America: PA has a lot of German (called "PA Dutch") heritage in its cuisine, generally speaking. It is also home to the oldest operating brewing company in the US, Yuengling.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Pennsylvania is notorious for the poor quality of its roads almost to the point of parody, which leads to their drivers having to adapt their driving styles to deal with the consistently poor conditions. Drivers from other states who have to share the road with Pennsylvanians often do not appreciate this.
  • Egopolis: Averted. William Penn was a Quaker and too humble to name the colony after himself. Instead, as per a suggestion, he named it after his father, a revered British admiral.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Fans of teams from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia can be like this, though it is not as extreme as it is in some other states. Due to the Steelers and Eagles playing in different conferences in the NFL, and the Pirates and Phillies playing in different divisions in baseball, there hasn't been as much opportunity to develop a rivalry. It is most prominently seen in the rivalry between Penguins and Flyers fans in the NHL.
    • That said, while Philadelphia may not have much of a rivalry with Pittsburgh outside of ice hockey, they more than make up for it with their rivalries with everyone else. Philly sports fans have a reputation as being the closest thing America has to hooligans — a reputation they've embraced and exaggerated.
    • In Philadelphia, the eternal question is "Geno's or Pat's?" when it comes to the best place for cheesesteak... at least, if you're from out of town. Most Philly natives, and even people who have only lived there a few years, regard both Pat's and Geno's as overpriced and subpar tourist traps.
    • Sheetz vs. Wawa (chains of convenience stores with fast food and gas) is another. Saying you prefer one in the territory of another can count as "fighting words," so beware. And Turkey Hill (another chain, previously co-owned with Turkey Hill Dairy; now one of a number of chains owned by Kroger) supporters get caught in the middle. (For the Lehigh Valley, it's even worse, since they're both in large quantities; when you get to the New Jersey side of the Valley, there aren't any Sheetz or Turkey Hill locations; instead you've got Quick Chek, The Bagelsmith, independents, and there are only a few scattered Wawas through North Jersey.)
  • Formula One and Indy Car: The famous Andretti racing family hails from Nazareth and the surrounding area.
  • Ghibli Hills: Get deep into the state and you'll find acres of forests and hilly terrain resulting in some beautiful landscapes, such as Pine Creek Gorge. Fittingly, given the state's name (see Meaningful Name below).
  • Ghost Town: Centralia. All but abandoned due to a coal fire raging beneath the town, releasing toxic gasses and causing unstable ground.
  • Ice Hockey: Two NHL teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Ivy League: The University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia.
  • Little Known Fact: The Rhoads Opera House Fire occurred during the year of January 13, 1908. Killing hundreds of people and is a primary reason most public places have a push-to-open door. The town the Opera House Fire occurred in also has the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force as a claim to fame.
  • Meaningful Name: "Pennsylvania" means "Penn's Woods." It was named after Sir William Penn, and it's got plenty of forest.
  • NASCAR: The famous three-sided Pocono Raceway is found here.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Pennsylvania Dutch" have nothing to do with people from the Netherlands. They're actually of German decent, with "Dutch" coming from "Deutsch."
  • Professional Wrestling:
    • Kurt Angle, Bruno Sammartino, and Shane Douglas are from Pittsburgh.
    • A number of historic pro wrestling events have happened in the state. The legendary The Undertaker vs. Mankind Hell in a Cell match took place in Pittsburgh.
    • The venerable "Studio Wrestling" television program was filmed in Pittsburgh between 1959 and 1972 and featured a number of famous wrestlers.
    • The original ECW was headquartered in Philadelphia and harbors a large fanbase there to this day.
  • Scenery Porn: Central Pennsylvania is full of this, since it has some of highest points of the Appalachian Mountains as well as less people to settle there.

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