Almost any non-freeway road in Pennsylvania seems to be a scenic route, as well as an historic one. We drove through the state without any specific direction or plan, simply heading more or less East-Northeast toward Philadelphia. Our first sightseeing surprise was the Pennsylvania Ohiopyle State Park State park at Ohiopyle, where the Youghiogheny (where DO they get these names?) provides gorgeous views and whitewater rafting. We climbed the various lookouts and enjoyed the views.
The hills changed from the sharp ups and downs of West Virginia to the long northeasterly ridges of the Alleghenies. It's easy to see how the direction of the mountains guided the settlers southwest from Pennsylvania to Appalachia. There are plenty of deer including one nice buck that wandered close to the road. "Welcome Bowhunters," read some of the motel billboards. The buildings changed to the old stone buildings of Eastern Pennsylvania, and fall tourist buses were out for an early look at the changing colors.
We made sure to get a view of the state capitol in Harrisburg, and then wandered in a generally eastward direction, discovering the Harrisburg slums. We recalled that Pennsylvania is one of those northeastern states whose factories have either closed or moved south. With an Rolling farmland election coming, there were signs to Save our Jobs; but of course it's hard for governments to stop companies from moving to places where costs (power, labor, transportation) and regulations are lowest. Meanwhile the political swirl covers all manner of splinter groups, such as the "HOMESCHOOLERS FOR BUSH-CHENEY" demonstrating in front of the capitol.
You can smell the town of Hershey before you see it. The streetlights are shaped like Hershey's kisses, and the large candy company has one factory after another, right downtown. On the way to town we passed the Hershey Park, which was closed either for the season or for the week, while an enormous AACA convention was going on. Special policeman guided cars to parking fields, vendors here, visitors there, and the grassy areas of Hershey Park were planted with acres upon acres of tents advertising car parts and customizing kits and special tools to enable tens of thousands of antique car fans to splurge on their hobby. This obviously thriving interest group helped to explain the large number of old cars we saw on the Pennsylvania Statehouse highway this summer. It certainly seemed that the modern automobile has not captured the American fancy the way the older ones have done.
Closer to Philadelphia everything was built up, and some exurban locations were full of "Distribution Centers" (the modern name for a warehouse.) with hundreds of trucks coming and going to move goods around the heavily populated northeast corridor.
While we certainly did not do a thorough exploration of Philadelphia, we did see many distinct neighborhoods, from the expansive mansions on Highway 23 along the Schuylkill (pronounced Schoolkill) river to the tiny cramped row houses and Slavic neighborhoods of Northeast Philadelphia to the downtown skyscrapers and through the bustling stalls of the Italian Market on 9th street. The parkway that begins at City Hall and winds northwest along the rivers and streams to the not-so-upscale-as-they-used-to-be neighborhoods of Germantown and Chestnut Hill is a joy to drive. Dante and Luigi's
We enjoyed visiting our friends Jon and Barbara, and they took us to one of Philadelphia's great treasures, the Museum of Art, with a strong collection of Impressionists as well as rooms full of artistic furnishings from various times and places.
We enjoyed the food, sampling Jewish delicatessens, a diner, Philadelphia Scrapple, Sam's Grill, and a couple of Italian restaurants. For atmosphere and good food we recommend Dante and Luigi's, where the customers, mostly men who looked like Italian-Americans, poured their own wine into small tumblers from the carafes set out on a corner table, and the waittress assumed every diner was a regular. It's on 10th and Catherine, near the Italian market, where (if you had a kitchen) you could buy every imaginable cheese and meat and vegetable from the Old Country.