Saturday, October 25, 2008

US 20 In Pennsylvania: Erie

US Route 20 doesn’t spend a lot of time in Pennsylvania, only running for about 50 miles through the top northwest corner of the state, between Ohio and New York states. US 20 hugs the shoreline of Lake Erie, just north of I-90, as it travels through Pennsylvania.

US 20 carries many names as it travels through the city of Erie. As it reaches the Erie city limits, it becomes West 26th Street, and after reaching the city center (at State Street), it becomes East 26th Street. With a brief northward turn at the Bayfront Connector, it is called Broad Street. With another eastward turn its name changes to Buffalo Road.

The city of Erie is named for Lake Erie and the Native American tribe that resided along its shore. As of the most recent census, it is Pennsylvania’s fourth largest city. Like many large “rust belt” cities close to Erie, (Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) it has an industrial past.

According to Wikipedia:.

The Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and the Seneca Nation occupied the lands now known as Erie…The French built Fort Presque Isle near present day Erie in 1753, as part of their effort to garrison New France against the encroaching English. The French word "Presque-isle" means peninsula (literally "almost an island") and refers to that piece of land that juts into Lake Erie that is now called Presque Isle State Park. When the fort was abandoned by the French in 1760, it was their last post west of Niagara. The British occupied the fort at Presque Isle that same year, three years before the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763.

Present day Erie would have been situated in a disputed triangle of land that was claimed by the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut (as part of its Western Reserve), and Massachusetts. It officially became part of Pennsylvania on 3 March 1792, after Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York released their claims to the federal government, which in turn sold the land to Pennsylvania for $151.6 million in Continental certificates. The Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy released the land to Pennsylvania in January 1789 for payments of $2,000 from Pennsylvania and $1,200 from the federal government. The Seneca Nation separately settled land claims against Pennsylvania in February 1791 for the sum of $800.

Erie may be best known for its massive lake effect snows which come in off Lake Erie. (Living east of Cleveland and west of Erie myself, I can confirm that lake effect snowfall is often measured in feet, not inches.) It is also well known for Presque Isle State Park , which receives millions of visitors each year.

Panorama photo of downtown Erie, 1912. Is US 20 in this picture? Can anyone confirm?

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.


Joseph Wykoff said...

Regarding your question "Panorama photo of downtown Erie, 1912. Is US 20 in this picture? Can anyone confirm?" No it's not. The street shown running through downtown Erie, south to north, is State Street, not route 20. Running from the west to the east, 26th Street is route 20, which is not seen in the photo.

usroute20 said...

@Joseph Wykoff - thanks for the information. (I also fixed the photo; for some reason it wouldn't open to full size!)