1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Erie (city)

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ERIE, a city, a port of entry, and the county-seat of Erie county, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., on Lake Erie, 148 m. by rail N. of Pittsburg and near the N.W. corner of the state. Pop. (1890) 40,634; (1900) 52,733, of whom 11,957 were foreign-born, including 5226 from Germany and 1468 from Ireland, and 26,797 were of foreign parentage (both parents foreign-born), including 13,316 of German parentage and 4203 of Irish parentage; (1910 census) 66,525. Erie is served by the New York, Chicago & St Louis, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Erie & Pittsburg (Pennsylvania Company), the Philadelphia & Erie (Pennsylvania railway), and the Bessemer & Lake Erie railways, and by steamboat lines to many important lake ports. The city extends over an area of about 7 sq. m., which for the most part is quite level and is from 50 to 175 ft. above the lake. Erie has a fine harbour about 4 m. in length, more than 1 m. in width, and with an average depth of about 20 ft.; it is nearly enclosed by Presque Isle, a long narrow strip of land of about 3000 acres from 300 ft. to 1 m. in width, and the national government has protected its entrance and deepened its channel by constructing two long breakwaters. Most of the streets of the city are 60 ft. wide—a few are 100 ft.—and nearly all intersect at right angles; they are paved with brick and asphalt, and many in the residential quarters are shaded with fine elms and maples. The city has four parks, in one of which is a soldiers’ and sailors’ monument of granite and bronze, and not far away, along the shore of lake and bay, are several attractive summer resorts. Among Erie’s more prominent buildings are the United States government building, the city hall, the public library, and the county court house. The city’s charitable institutions consist of two general hospitals, each of which has a training school for nurses; a municipal hospital, an orphan asylum, a home for the friendless, two old folks’ homes, and a bureau of charities; here, also, on a bluff, within a large enclosure and overlooking both lake and city, is the state soldiers’ and sailors’ home, and near by is a monument erected to the memory of General Anthony Wayne, who died here on the 15th of December 1796.

Erie is the commercial centre of a large and rich grape-growing and agricultural district, has an extensive trade with the lake ports and by rail (chiefly in coal, iron ore, lumber and grain), and is an important manufacturing centre, among its products being iron, engines, boilers, brass castings, stoves, car heaters, flour, malt liquors, lumber, planing mill products, cooperage products, paper and wood pulp, cigars and other tobacco goods, gas meters, rubber goods, pipe organs, pianos and chemicals. In 1905 the city’s factory products were valued at $19,911,567, the value of foundry and machine-shop products being $6,723,819, of flour and grist-mill products $1,444,450, and of malt liquors $882,493. The municipality owns and operates its water-works.

On the site of Erie the French erected Fort Presque Isle in 1753, and about it founded a village of a few hundred inhabitants. George Washington, on behalf of the governor of Virginia, came in the same year to Fort Le Bœuf (on the site of the present Waterford), 20 m. distant, to protest against the French fortifying this section of country. The protest, however, was unheeded. The village was abandoned in or before 1758, owing probably to an epidemic of smallpox, and the fort was abandoned in 1759. It was occupied by the British in 1760, but on the 22nd of June 1763 this was one of the several forts captured by the Indians during the Conspiracy of Pontiac. In 1764 the British regained nominal control and retained it until 1785, when it passed into the possession of the United States. The place was laid out as a town in 1795; in 1800 it became the county-seat of the newly-erected county of Erie; it was incorporated as a borough in 1805, the charter of that year being revised in 1833; and in 1851 it was incorporated as a city. At Erie were built within less than six months most of the vessels with which Commodore Oliver H. Perry won his naval victory over the British off Put-in-Bay on the 10th of September 1813.