The Keystone State - Pennsylvania 2

The Keystone State – Pennsylvania

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At first, I titled this post as “The Second State – Pennsylvania” but I could imagine Pennsylvanians, the one or two who might actually read this post, taking exception to their state being described as “second.”  So, I’ve gone with the state nicknames, which worked perfectly for Delaware as it is nicknamed “The First State.”  But that has a positive ring to it that the second state just lacks.  Anyway, that’s the back story on the naming of this scintillating post.

Yeah, so what’s up with that nickname anyway?  First off, the keystone is the part of an arch that keeps the whole thing from falling down.  It is located at the very top and pressure from the two sides wanting to fall in keeps the keystone in place, and it in turn keeps the two sides from falling inward.

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There are several theories about this origin but no one knows for certain.  It could be that nine of the delegates to the Continental Congress debating declaring independence from Great Britain were from Pennsylvania, with four for independence and four against, and the swing voter went for and thus Pennsylvania became the keystone vote in favor of independence.  It could be that a bridge built in Washington DC, over which runs Pennsylvania Avenue, has Pennsylvania’s initials carved into the keystone.  It could also reflect the geographic position of the state among the thirteen original colonies.  Whatever the source, it was in general use by the early 1800s when ti was used in a victory celebration for Thomas Jefferson where Pennsylvania was declared “the keystone of the federal union.”

Perhaps the nickname would have more relevance if anyone, today, commonly knew what a “keystone” refers to.  Most bridges and such are built in a very different manner that doesn’t require such a piece per se so the term has fallen out of common use.

Physical Geography:

Pennsylvania is officially known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It is located in both the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.  Through the middle of the state run the Appalachian Mountains.  Pennsylvania bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

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Location of Pennsylvania in the United States

Pennsylvania is the 33rd-largest state by area, and the 6th-most populous state according to the last official US census count in 2010.


The state is one of the 13 original founding states of the United States, ratifying the Constitution a mere five days after Delaware.

Originally, the land now known as Pennsylvania was inhabited by a number of native American tribes.  Upon the arrival of the Europeans both the British and the Dutch claimed the land on both sides of the Delaware river, the eastern side of which would be in today’s Pennsylvania.  The Dutch were the first to actively colonize the area, although they were mostly restricted to the western side of the river in what is now Delaware.  The Swedes also claimed and settled small amounts of land but with only a small number of colonists.

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