Pennsylvania is a key state in forming the United States of America as it was in this state that the Gettysburg Address, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence was created. Pennsylvania played a central role in the newly formed Union and is officially known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
All legal processes in the state are carried out in the name of the Commonwealth. One of the 13 original founding states of the USA, it was created in 1681 when the British monarch granted land to William Penn. Pennsylvania was the second American state to ratify the US Constitution in 1787, and the Constitution was drafted at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
With Amish lifestyles, engineering marvels and famous architectural designs to explore, there are plenty of landmarks in Pennsylvania to tick off your bucket list. Here are our top 20.
- Pennsylvania Landmarks
- Philadelphia Landmarks
- Pittsburgh Landmarks
- Other Pennsylvania Landmarks
1- Liberty Bell
Not only is Liberty Bell is one of the oldest landmarks in Pennsylvania, but it’s also one of the oldest in the USA, predating the country by a couple of decades.
Although the bell has not rung since 1846, it has been a symbol of what America stands for centuries.
It was cast in 1753 and engraved with a verse from the Bible to reflect William Penn’s motto of a state founded on religious tolerance and democracy.
The phrase engraved on the bell is, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
The bell weighs 2,000 pounds and is made from copper (70%) and tin (25%), with zinc, gold, silver and lead.
It has an American elm yolk.
It has a crack that developed in the 1840s, which artisans repaired in 1946 by widening the aperture to stop it from splitting further.
Unfortunately, the attempts to repair the bell were not successful, and another crack appeared.
Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell Center is at 526 Market St, Philadelphia.
2- Independence Hall
Philadelphia’s Independence Hall is considered the birthplace of America, where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were debated and signed.
The hall was built in 1753, the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and the Constitution was created there 11 years later.
When the building was constructed, it was called Pennsylvania State House and used to be the headquarters of Pennsylvania’s colonial government.
It was the province’s capital and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until Lancaster became the state’s capital in 1799 followed by Harrisburg in 1812.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Independence Hall, along with Liberty Bell are a drawcard in Independence National Historical Park.
The formation of the United Nations also happened in Independence Hall in 1915, when the League to Enforce Peace, which later became the League of Nations, was formed.
Independence Hall is at 520 Chestnut Street Philadelphia.
3- Philadelphia Love Sculpture
LOVE Park is opposite Philadephia City Hall, and the LOVE sculpture sigh, which was added to the park in 1976, is an instantly recognisable landmark of Philadephia.
Artist Robert Indiana created art out of the word ‘love’ as it reminded him of his childhood where the only decoration was the wall was the inscription “God is Love”.
Built-in 1865, the park is above an underground parking garage named John F. Kennedy Plaza in 1967.
The sculpture was initially created as a feature for the United States Bicentennial celebration.
Philadelphia Love Sculpture is at John F. Kennedy Plaza, 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia.
4- Philadelphia City Hall
Housing the mayor’s offices and council chambers, Philadelphia City Hall is the seat of the municipal government of the City of Philadelphia.
The courthouse houses the Civil Trial and Orphans’ Court Divisions of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.
The beautiful limestone and white marble building is the largest free-standing masonry building globally and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
The building took years to construct and has granite and brick walls up to 22 ft (6.7 m) thick.
When the tower was completed in 1894, it was the tallest habitable building in the world.
Engineers added the 36 ft high sculpture of William Penn weighing over 53,000 pounds to the top of the building in 1894.
Philadelphia City Hall is at 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia.
5- Ben Franklin Bridge
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge (or Delaware River Bridge) is a suspension bridge crossing the Delaware River.
It connects Philadelphia with Camden in New Jersey and has a walkway for pedestrians and bicycles.
In Philadelphia, you can access to the walkway at 5th and Race Street, opposite the US Mint.
The bridge connects Center City, Philadelphia to Camden, NJ.
1 Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia.
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6- Philadephia Art Museum
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a massive collection of over 240,000 objects, including American, European and Asian pieces.
The museum’s artworks are impressive from sculptures, paintings, and decorative arts to prints, drawings, and photographs.
The Perelman Building has 30,000 costume and textile pieces.
Other highlights of the museum include contemporary designer furniture, Henry Ossawa Tanner’s ‘The Annunciation’, Chinese porcelain, carpets from Persia and Turkey.
The European collections date from medieval times and include Italian and Flemish early-Renaissance masterworks, focusing on sculptures by Auguste Rodin.
The museum’s American works span three centuries and is home to the most significant collection of the works of American realist painter Thomas Eakins.
Philadelphia Art Museum is at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia.
7- Boathouse Row
Boathouse Row is a popular venue for rowing regattas such as the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and Independence Day Regatta attracting rowers of all skill levels.
Boathouse Row is in Fairmount Park and is home to historic rowing clubs that are members of the Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia, America’s oldest amateur athletic association.
The historic 19th-century boathouses are lit up like a fairyland at night, making this national historic landmark one of the most enchanting to see.
Boathouse Row is at 1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia.
8- Rocky Statue
At the bottom of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rocky Statue is a famous landmark in Philadelphia.
The statue was created as a prop for Rocky III and attracts sightseers and photographers who visit the statue and race up the steps to take a photo at the top with their arms raised in victory.
It’s an iconic thing to do in Philadelphia.
Artist A. Thomas Schomberg immortalised the fictional character of Rocky Balboa, and after the filming was completed, Sylvestor Stallone donated the statue to the city.
The Rocky Statue is at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia.
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9- Duquesne Incline
During the 19th century, the Duquesne Incline was used to haul cargo up and down Mt. Washington.
It was converted into a passenger carrier later, and although there were around 20 inclines on Mount Washington, by the 1960s, only two were left.
The other is the Monongahela Incline at Station Square.
In 1962, the Duquesne Incline closed, but fortunately, residents of Duquesne Heights managed to raise funds to reopen it as a non-profit organisation.
The cars have been refurbished, and an observation deck added, making it a top spot with views of the Golden Triangle.
Duquesne Incline is at 1215 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh.
10- Fort Pitt Bridge
Fort Pitt Bridge is a double-decked bowstring tied arch bridge made from steel that opened in 1959.
The bridge carries Insterstate 376 across the Monongahela River between the Fort Pitt Tunnel and Pittsburgh.
The main span is 750 ft long, and the deck’s height reaches 47.1 ft at the northern pier.
Fort Pitt Bridge is at Penn-Lincoln Pkwy, Pittsburgh.
11- Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History
The Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) is an art museum founded in 1895 in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighbourhood.
The museum was the USA’s first contemporary art museum and has an impressive film, video and contemporary artworks collection.
The museum aims to showcase the “Old Masters of tomorrow”.
The museum’s founder, Andrew Carnegie, also founded one of the USA’s most respected natural history museums.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History has exhibitions, programmes, and research on the link between nature and humanity, with an incredible archive of the history of life on earth.
The aim is to find ways of protecting the earth and its inhabitants.
Carnegie Museum of Art is at 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh.
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Other Pennsylvania Landmarks
12- Civil War Battlefield Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg (1 to 3 July 1863) was the turning point of the American Civil War, which went on for four years.
The struggle between two opposing sides about slavery reached a tipping point when a member of the antislavery Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, was elected as president in 1860.
Lincoln’s election caused 11 pro-slavery states to secede and led to the civil war.
Robert E Lee’s strategy to march through Pennsylvania to capture Washington DC was dashed when his army took a beating at Gettysburg.
Although the war continued for around two more years, the armies fought battles in the south after Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War is in Gettysburg National Military Park.
It has one of the world’s largest displays of Civil War relics, interactive displays and multimedia presentations.
You can visit the battleground using a map, explore using an audio tour or hire a licensed battlefield guide.
Gettysburg National Military Park is at 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg.
13- The Appalachian Trail Museum
The 2190-mile Appalachian trail the longest hiking-only path in the world.
It connects Maine and Georgia, with around 229 miles passing through Pennsylvania’s flat rocky ridges.
The Appalachian Trail Museum in Gardners is in Pine Grove Furnace State Park and around the trial’s midpoint.
The historic building is over 200 years ago and was once a grist mill.
Exhibits include a trail shelter, artifacts belonging to hiking pioneers and photos.
The Appalachian Trail Museum is at 1120 Pine Grove Rd, Gardners.
14- Harrisburg State Capitol Building
Harrisburg’s Pennsylvania State Capitol Building is decorated with paintings, statues, stained-glass windows and antique clocks.
The rotunda’s elaborate dome is 272 feet from floor to ceiling and designed after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
On top of the dome is an impressive 17-foot, 3-ton gilded bronze statue.
The Senate Chamber has Belize mahogany desks constructed in 1906, marble from Ireland, gold French velvet drapes and symbolic paintings representing America’s Civil War.
In the House Chamber, there beautiful chandeliers with four large ones weighing 4.5 ton (about the weight of an elephant).
There are stained-glass windows, paintings.
One of the unique aspects of the Pennsylvania Capitol building is it houses all three branches of Government.
Over 200 hand-wound clocks are wound every week.
Harrisburg State Capitol Building is at 501 N 3rd St, Harrisburg.
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16- Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct
Constructed between 1912 and 1915, the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct is the largest concrete railroad bridge in the world.
The bridge is 2,375 ft long and is part of the Viaduct Valley Way Scenic Byway.
It has 11 bridge piers up to 138 feet (42 m) below ground, and almost half of the bulk of the bridge is below the ground.
The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, and there’s a “Nicholson Bridge Day” on the second Sunday in September.
Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct is at PA-92, Nicholson.
Fallingwater is a National Historic Landmark designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The house was partially partly over a waterfall on Bear Run in the Mill Run section of the Stewart Township in Fayette County.
The architectural marvel was created as a holiday home for Kaufmann’s Department Store owner, Edgar J. Kaufmann, and Liliane his wife.
The house was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1991 and was recognised as one of the best works of architecture in America by the American Institute of Architects.
The house and seven other creations by Frank Lloyd Wright became part of a World Heritage Site.
Fallingwater is at 1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run.
16- Bushkill Falls
Bushkill Falls is a beautiful waterfall known as the Niagara of Pennsylvania and is one of the iconic landmarks in Pennsylvania.
It’s a series of eight waterfalls in the Pocono Mountains, accessible through a network of hiking trails and bridges.
The Main Falls drops 100 feet, and the drop from the top first falls to the bottom of the lower gorge is 300 feet.
The Red Trail has lovely views of all the falls, including Lower Gorge Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Bridesmaid’s Falls and Pennel Falls.
Bushkill Falls is at Bushkill Falls Road, Bushkill.
17- Flight 93 Memorial
The Flight 93 National Memorial is a memorial to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, one of four aircraft hijacked during the infamous September 11 attacks.
The Stonycreek Township memorial is in Pennsylvania’s Somerset County.
The September 11 event mesmerised the world when terrorists used four hijacked commercial airliners to strike buildings, and around 3,000 people died.
Due to the quick thinking of the passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, they thwarted the attack.
Flight 93’s Tower of Voices is a monument recognising the heroic actions of those passengers and is shaped like a 93ft tall musical instrument with 40 wind chimes.
The Tower of Voices is a living memorial to remember the 40 through their ongoing voices.
Flight 93 Memorial is at 6424 Lincoln Hwy, Stoystown.
18- United States National Memorial Arch
The United States National Memorial Arch is a Pennsylvania monument celebrating the arrival of George Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge.
Valley Forge was the military camp where 2500 soldiers of the American Continental Army died of starvation, malnutrition and disease, during the winter in 1778 during the American Revolutionary War.
The Arch is in the Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County.
The Arch sits majestically at the top of a hill and was designed along the lines of Rome’s Triumphal Arch of Titus, which marked Emperor Titus’ capture of Jerusalem.
United States National Memorial Arch is in Valley Forge National Historical Park at 420 Gulph Rd, King of Prussia.
19 – Railroad Horseshoe Curve
Completed in 1854, Horsehoe Curve is an engineering marvel and the main railroad line connecting east and west.
Horseshoe Curve is a 2,375 ft three-track curve that is 1,300 ft in diameter and is part of Norfolk Southern Railway’s Pittsburgh Line in Blair County.
The curve was completed in 1854 and, at the time, was an innovative way to reduce the grade to the summit of the Allegheny Mountains.
Irish immigrant labour was used to build the curve, which is an engineering marvel of the world.
Railroad Horseshoe Curve is at 2400 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Altoona.
20- Amish Village in Lancaster
The Amish are a traditionalist Christian group known for plain living and their reluctance to adopt new technology.
They originated from the Swiss-German Anabaptist movement and migrated to Pennsylvania during the 18th century.
Several Amish sects, including both Old and New Order Amish, speak Pennsylvania German.
Pennsylvania’s Amish communities are well-known, and the world’s oldest Amish community are in Lancaster County in South Central Pennsylvania.
Lancaster is one of the USA’s oldest inland towns and a hub in Amish country.
It was once the largest inland city in America and, during the 1812 war, it was the nation’s capital for one day.
Visit the 1840’s Amish farmhouse and learn about today’s Amish lifestyle at Lancaster’s Amish Village.
The Amish Village is at 199 Hartman Bridge Rd, Ronks.
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