Introduction to Erie, Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania lake port city of Erie is located in the northwest corner of the state along the shore of the lake for which it is named, Lake Erie, a name which is derived from the Eriez Indian tribe. Situated about halfway between the cities of Cleveland, Ohio (to the west) and Buffalo, N.Y. (to the east), both of which are about 95 miles away, Erie was once known as the Gem City but has more recently been come to be known as the Flagship City due to the presence of the U.S. Brig Niagara, flagship of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. The city is well connected to the Interstate Highway system, receiving the benefit of service from Interstates I-90, I-86, and I-79. Other major roads servicing Erie include U.S. Routes 19 and 20; and Pennsylvania State Highway 5.
First settled in the latter half of the 18th century by both French and English settlers, Erie was founded in 1795 and immediately became a significant port which focused initially on the salt trade. One of the city's proudest historical moments occurred in 1813, when Commodore Oliver Perry, whose ships were mostly built in Erie, defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. After the American Revolution, the city emerged as a maritime center and later as a railroad hub during America's westward expansion. By the 20th century, Erie had transformed itself to a large industrial center, focusing largely on iron and steel manufacturing. No longer reliant on heavy manufacturing, Erie today has begun to attract a more diverse mix of mid-sized industries. Small steel and plastic plants have emerged as driving forces in the city's economy, along with a robust service sector largely focused on tourism.
Erie is brimming with places of interest for both culture and recreation. One of the region's major cultural arts centers is the Warner Theatre. Commissioned by the Warner Brothers in 1929, the venue is home to several professional and amateur performing-arts groups, the most significant of which is the Erie Philharmonic, one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the country. The Erie Art Museum, housed in a former U.S. Customs House, features a wealth of changing art exhibits focusing largely on modern art and folk art. The Erie Children's Museum, geared towards visitors aged 2 to 12, offers a wide variety of interactive displays in the areas of science and the humanities. Presque Isle State Park boasts 7 miles of beaches and 11 miles of hiking trails, and offers cross-country skiing, ice-fishing, and ice-skating in winter. Annual events in the city include the Erie Summer Festival of the Arts, the Wine Country Harvest Festival, and "Celebrate Erie," a large urban arts and entertainment festival which takes place in mid-August.
Erie boasts a long history of various semi-pro and professional sports teams. Current residents of the city include the Erie SeaWolves, a minor league baseball team which plays in the Eastern League. The SeaWolves are the Class double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers. Also in town are the Erie Otters, a junior community-based hockey team playing in the Ontario Hockey League. The Otters play their games in the city's Tullio Arena. Erie is also home to the Erie Freeze, a professional indoor football team which plays in the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA).