The first European to visit the area that is now Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was the Englishman Captain John Smith during his famous journey north from Virginia in 1608.  Captain Smith did not settle there, but is known to have made contact with the native people.  The first person from the Old World to settle the area was also an Englishman, John Harris, who founded a trading post and ferry service in 1710 because of the area's access to the Susquehanna River.  The area was eventually heavily settled by German immigrants who farmed the land, and were so successful at it that they were not allowed to join the army during the Revolution, but asked to continue farming in order to feed it.

Harrisburg became a major business center and eventually the state capital in 1812.  It was a major hub connecting the North and the South with its waterways and railroads and would become an important strategic point during the American Civil War as an army training center for the Union.  It was the aim of General Robert E. Lee to march on the city when he changed his mind and diverted his troops to nearby Gettysburg.

Today Harrisburg is still the state's capital and  a major Pennsylvania business city.