All of my life, I have lived in Bradford Woods, Pennsylvania. As it is only a half-hour drive away, I also consider the city of Pittsburgh as part my home. Beyond that, I can also say that Pennsylvania, as a whole, is an area that I am from. There are many things that make this landscape unique; that let me know that it is “home.” These range from the shape of the land itself to the architecture of houses.
One way that I know when I am home is when I am in “my hills,” as I selfishly call them. These hills are part of the world’s oldest mountain ranges: the Appalachians. Though Pennsylvania reaches across the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Ridge & Valley, and Great Valley, I am mostly familiar with the Plateuax on the western side of the mountains. They might not be much more than foothills, but it is significant enough for me to notice a vast flatness when traveling through Ohio.
Pennsylvania’s climate can also help make it identifiable. It falls into a humid continental region, resulting in it having both long, hot summers and freezing winters with snowfall. It also has a moderate amount of rainfall. “Although Pennsylvania lies entirely within the humid continental zone, its climate varies according to region and elevation” (“Pennsylvania - Climate”). Due to this, Pennsylvania actually has rather diverse weather patterns. Sometimes the weather can change dramatically within a week. For example, according to AccuWeather.com, the temperature high in State College on November 17th, 2013, was 58ºF, which then dropped to 23ºF as the high by November 24th. Essentially, the average temperatures and precipitation of Pennsylvania make it fit into a humid continental climate, but weather can really be chaotic at times. This is but another factor that makes it different from everywhere else.
When referring to the Pennsylvanian landscape, one must take into consideration the people who live there and their effect. While few Native American peoples remain in the state, they were the first to occupy it, thus influencing its development. According to Butzer, “Indian expertise in countless facets of forest … living greatly British colonization …, preventing much costly trial and error” (Conzen, p.57). If it had not been for the indigenous people, the British settlers would have taken much longer to learn that Pennsylvania had fertile, agriculture-worthy soil. The Indians also leant many of their words to places, roads, and physical features as names in modern-day Pennsylvania. In Pittsburgh, examples can be found in the three rivers, Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio. Though it may seem small, the Indians helped allow Pennsylvania become how it is today.
Another layer to Pennsylvania’s historical identity was its colonization. In 1682, William Penn was given a portion of the land. The area was later given his name to become Pennsylvania, with “-sylvania” originating from the Latin word for “woods.” Thus, the state is aptly named after...