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Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie (Erie City) is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. The city has 96,471 residents (2018) and forms the Erie city region, which encompasses the entire Erie (metropolitan area) county with around 272,000 residents.

Erie, Pennsylvania's fourth largest city, is located in northwestern Pennsylvania on the south side of Lake Erie, about midway between Buffalo in New York in the east and Cleveland in Ohio in the west. The town has a good harbor and is about 223 meters above sea level. The streets are arranged in a grid around Perry Square in the city center and south to 38th street. Bayfront Parkway is located between the lake and downtown buildings. Outside the city center is the low 10 kilometer long Presque Isle peninsula to the northeast. It has well-visited beaches, several small lakes and surrounds a good natural harbor. Erie International Airport is located eight kilometers west of the city.

The town is named after Lake Erie and the Erie Indigenous people.


The city has had a population decline since 1960, when it had about 138,000 residents. The main reason has been the relocation of factories and accompanying industries. Of the population, whites make up 69.0 percent, African Americans 16.8 percent and Hispanics and Latinos 7.8 percent. 3.0 percent are Asians and 0.4 percent are descendants of North American Indigenous peoples (U.S. Census 2018).

Economics and culture

In the latter part of the 20th century, large factories moved out of Erie and were followed by more diverse medium-sized and small industrial companies producing steel and plastic. More than ten percent of all plastic in the United States is manufactured and finalized in the city. Steel and biological fuel are also produced. The service sector, with emphasis on health services (including operating two hospitals), insurance, higher education. environmental research and tourism have become increasingly important.

About four million people visit beaches in Presque Isle State Park and other attractions during the summer months, including shops selling free clothing. The 240,000-square-foot Millcreek Mall, which opened in 1974, is located in the suburb of Millcreek and is one of America's largest shopping malls. Grapes are grown in the Erie region and the third largest quantity of wine is produced here.

There are three universities and several colleges in Erie.

The Erie Art Museum (founded 1898) is the city's premier art museum with modern and folk art, and also organizes blues and jazz concerts. The Erie Maritime Museum, including the Niagara sailing ship and The Blasco Library, is neighboring the 57-meter-long Bicentennial Tower (completed in 1996) with two viewing decks, and along with the Bayfront Convention Center (opened in 2007) is located at the end of State Street in the harbor area. Another landmark is First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. Warner Theater and Erie Playhouse are important theaters.

With the exception of the period 1940–1945, the Erie Philharmonic has been in continuous business since 1913. The Lake Erie Ballet has events throughout the year.

Splash Lagoon is the third largest indoor water park in the United States. The Waldameer Park amusement park at Presque Isle is the tenth oldest in the country.


In 1753, the French built Fort-Presque-Isle on the narrow peninsula of the same name. The fort was taken over by Englishmen in 1759, but destroyed by Indigenous people during the Pontiac War in 1763. In 1792, the Iroquois-affiliated area sold to the United States federal government. The area was wasteland until it was purchased by the federal authorities following the American Revolution of 1775-1783. The disputed so-called Erie Triangle, which four U.S. states claimed, became part of Pennsylvania in 1792. The American Fort Presque Isle was erected in 1795. The first settlers settled in the area the same year, while General Andrew Ellicott and William Irvine prepared a city plan for a land area within the Presque Isle Peninsula. Erie became an administrative district in 1805.

During the British-American War of 1812, the Battle of Lake Erie was victorious in September 1813 American warships built in Erie over British ships, giving the United States control of the Great Lakes. The American brig Niagara from the sea battle is today a museum ship in the harbor.

Erie's economic development with increasing industrialization and immigration mainly from Europe was greatly strengthened following the opening of the Erie and Pittsburgh Canal in 1844 and Erie gained city status in 1851. Three rail lines led to the city in the 1850s. These had different track widths and maintained many local jobs. When a national gauge was introduced, fears of job losses led many Erie citizens to resist. Among other things, two bridges were set on fire and railway tracks were torn down. In 1915, a severe flood accompanied by heavy rain caused 36 people to be killed and 225 houses destroyed in the downtown area.

As Pennsylvania's only port city, Erie became a strategic point for shipping cargoes of grain, iron, coal, chemicals and petroleum after the opening of the Saint Lawrence Canal in 1954. The city developed industry for the production of paper, automobiles, railway materials, electrical products, plastics, clothing and rubber products. Industrial production declined in the second half of the 20th century, partly due to both factory closures and the relocation of companies from Erie. Other industries have increased in importance since 2000.

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