Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Happy anniversary, Pennsylvania

December 12, 2011 by Beth Specker


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         On December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state, after Delaware, to ratify the Constitution. Although Delaware's ratification, five days earlier, gives it bragging rights as the "first state," today is the anniversary of  Pennsylvania statehood, and we thought it would be fun to celebrate by looking at some of the firsts it can call its own:


Pennsylvania is first in:

  • rural population
  • number of licensed hunters
  • state game lands
  • covered bridges
  • potato chip production
  • pretzel bakeries
  • meat packing plants
  • mushroom production
  • sausage production
  • scrapple production

Did you know that Pennsylvania is home to:

  • The first hospital - Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin "to care for the sick-poor and insane who were wandering the streets of Philadelphia."
  • The first volunteer fire department - Under Benjamin Franklin’s leadership the Union Fire Company was founded on December 7, 1736. 
  • The first baseball stadium – In 1909 the first baseball stadium was built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
  • The first zoo – The Philadelphia Zoo opened on July 1, 1874. 
  • The first presidential residence–Philadelphia served as one of the nation's many capitals during the Revolutionary War, and served as the temporary national capital while Washington, D.C. was under construction from 1790 to 1800.
  • The frst all motion-picture theater- The first theater devoted to showing motion pictures was the Nickelodeon which opened on June 19, 1905 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • The first superhighway - The Pennsylvania Turnpike was officially opened on October 1, 1940. It was the first high-speed, multilane superhighway design and was financed through revenue bonds.
  • The first commercial radio broadcast -KDKA radio in Pittsburgh produced the first commercial radio broadcast.
  • The first Little League Baseball World Series was held in 1946 in Williamsport, PA
  • The first museum devoted exclusively to the Constitution - National Constitution Center opened on July 4, 2003.
Beth Specker is Director of Civic Education at the National Constitution Center and served as Chief of Staff to the Hon. Marjorie O. Rendell, when she was First Lady of Pennsylvania.

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