Pennsylvania's population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau as 12,071,842 in mid-1995. Pennsylvania had long been the second most populous state, behind New York, but in 1950, it fell to third due to the growth of California. In 1980, Texas also exceeded our population, as did Florida in 1987.
The population growth pattern since 1980 has been one of increases in the eastern border counties other than Philadelphia and Delaware, in the southern tier counties as far west as Somerset, along the Susquehanna Valley, and in the other southeastern counties up to the line bordering the traditional anthracite-producing counties.
Diversity came to Pennsylvania as the coal, steel, and railroad industries declined. Ironically, Pennsylvania's early preeminence in industrial development posed a major liability in plants and equipment. Its enormous capital investment, past and present, is in plants and equipment now less efficient than that of newer industrial areas
The production and distribution of chemicals, food, and electrical machinery and equipment are important elements of Pennsylvania's industrial life. The state is also a leader in the cement industry, providing more than 10 percent of the nation's supply. Pennsylvania also produces quantities of clay products-brick, tile and fire clay, as well as glass, limestone and slate. However, by 1980, the apparels industry showed marked decline. Electronic data processing has increased tremendously, and computerization has improved many basic manufacturing and service processes.
The market for Pennsylvania's coal began to decline at the end of World War II. Oil and natural gas were so convenient that they replaced anthracite coal as a heating fuel. The 1959 Knox Mine flood disaster in Luzerne County foretold the end of deep mining in the region. In the 1960s, the market revived because large amounts of coal were used to produce electric power. Mining methods became much more efficient during this period, but in 1969, the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act was passed, followed in 1971 by the Federal Clean Air Act. Safety measures required so much additional labor that productivity per worker fell dramatically. Pennsylvania's coal was at a disadvantage by cleanliness standards because of its high sulfur content. Two world oil crises of the 1970s revived the market for coal again, by 1980, cheap oil was once again available.
In 1994, Pennsylvania's nine nuclear plants produced over one-third of our electricity, placing us second to Illinois in total nuclear-produced electricity.
While the number of farms and the acreage farmed have generally declined over the past few decades, farm production has increased dramatically due to technical improvements. Pennsylvania's 50,000 farms are the backbone of the state's economy. Pennsylvania is an important food distribution center, supplying farm and food products to markets from New England to the Mississippi River. Over four million acres of land are harvested crop land, and another four million acres are in farm woodlands and pastures. This is nearly one-third of the state's total land area. Agricultural diversity in the Commonwealth is demonstrated by the fact that Pennsylvania traditionally ranks among the top ten states in such varied products as milk, poultry, eggs, ice cream, pears, apples, grapes, cherries, sweet corn, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, maple syrup, cabbage, snap beans, Christmas trees and floriculture crops, pretzels, potato chips, sausage, wheat flour, and bakery products. It also ranks high in milk cows, total cattle, hogs and sheep.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike, which set the pattern for modern super-highways throughout the nation, was expanded from the western boundary to the Delaware River, as well as northward. A far-reaching federal highway act was passed in 1956, authorizing the federal government to pay 90 percent of the costs of new roads connecting the nation's principal urban centers. Pennsylvania took advantage of these funds to build an interstate system that today stretches along 1,588 miles.
Waterways have always been of major importance to Pennsylvania. The state has three major ports: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Erie. The Port of Philadelphia complex encompasses Philadelphia proper and four other cities along the Delaware River. Located at the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers, Pittsburgh has long been a center for barge transportation, especially of coal and limestone. Erie has been a major center for Great Lakes transportation, especially of steel and zinc, and is connected to the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Constant expansion of passenger service has been the story of aviation in Pennsylvania since World War II. Today there are sixteen major airports.
Two aircraft manufacturers prospered during this period. Piper Aircraft Corporation of Lock Haven outdistanced its competitors and produced America's most popular light airplane until the 1970s. Vertol Division of Boeing Corporation, successor to Piasecki Helicopter Corporation, located in Delaware County, was a major manufacturer of helicopters.
Because of its extensive service during World War II, the railroad industry in 1946 was financially more sound than it had been since 1920, but by the end of the 1950s, it was losing ground rapidly to the enlarging trucking industry. Diesel engines and a few electrified systems replaced the coal-burning locomotives, which had been the railroads' pulling units for a century. In 1970, the federal government created Amtrak, a service system subsidizing passenger service on the major rail lines of the northeastern states. Rail mileage was reduced by eliminating obsolete and unnecessary lines, typically those to now non-productive coal mines. Although passenger service to smaller municipalities has been eliminated, faster travel is possible on the remaining routes.
Pennsylvanians are typically religious. Although standards for enumerating followers differ greatly among the various religious bodies, confusing the statistics, it is estimated that 64.4 percent of the population adheres to some recognized religious faith. This places Pennsylvania among the top ten states in percentage of worshippers.
The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest religious body. It has 3.88 million adherents, which is about 32 percent of the population. The Lutherans and United Methodists are the two largest Protestant denominations, each having more than three-quarters of a million adherents. There are slightly less than a half million Presbyterian adherents
The German sects -- the Mennonites and the Amish -- brought distinction to the Commonwealth through the name of "Pennsylvania Dutch," but there are today more Plain People in Ohio and Indiana than there are in Pennsylvania. They are struggling to preserve their culture and religion in the face of technological change, popular fads and attitudes of the general American public.
School consolidation became a major goal after World War II. By 1968, the number of school districts had been compressed from over 2,000 to 742; today there are only 500. Centralization and improved spending had the desired effects. In the 1970s, programs for exceptional and for disadvantaged students were becoming available, and the vocational-technical secondary school option assisted many youths in finding career areas. In 1974, Pennsylvania's Human Relations Commission ordered that racial imbalance in public schools be eliminated by the end of the year.
Cold War, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Involvement
After the end of World War II, the United Nations was established as a parliament of governments in which disputes between nations could be settled peacefully. Nevertheless, the United States and Communist countries started an arms race that led to a "cold war," resulting in several undeclared limited wars. From 1950 to 1953, individual Pennsylvanians were among the many Americans who fought with the South Koreans against the North Koreans and their Red Chinese allies. Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry Division was one of four National Guard divisions called to active duty during the crisis, being deployed to Germany to help deflect any aggression from Russia or its allies.
The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., includes 1,449 Pennsylvanians among the 58,715 who died as a result of combat.
After the Second World War, there was a renewed emphasis on reorganizing state government. A series of important constitutional amendments culminated in the calling of a Constitutional Convention in 1967-1968, which revised the 1874 Constitution. A significant provision prohibits the denial to any person of his or her civil rights. The General Assembly now meets annually and is a continuing body. The governor and other elective state officers are eligible to succeed themselves for one additional term. A unified judicial system has been established under the Supreme Court, a Commonwealth Court has been created and the inferior courts have been modernized. Broad extensions of county and local home rule are possible. In 1971, the voters amended the state constitution to guarantee that equal rights could not be denied because of sex. By an act of Dec. 6, 1972, the State Constitution so amended was declared to be henceforth known and cited as the Constitution of 1968.