History & Heritage

brig niagara lateafternoon
The U.S. Brig Niagara

Erie County was formed in the 1800’s after Pennsylvania purchased the Erie Triangle from the U.S. Government in 1792 for approximately $151,000. Taken from part of Allegheny County, the new county was then named for Lake Erie and the Eriez Native American Indian tribe, which was destroyed by a combination of pestilence and the Seneca nation under Chief Cornplanter in the mid-seventeenth century. The first European settlers in the area were the French, who built Fort Presque Isle on the city’s site in 1753.

The French abandoned the fort to the English, who lost it in 1763 at the start of Pontiac’s Rebellion. When General “Mad” Anthony Wayne induced the native tribes to make peace in 1794, the area was opened to settlement. The city was laid out in 1795 and became a port in 1801. In 1813, in what is often referred to as Erie’s proudest historical moment, Commodore Oliver Perry defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie.

Historical High Points

  • Erie Maritime Museum/U.S. Brig Niagara Historical artifacts, exhibits and interactive hands-on displays illustrating the War of 1812 and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over the British during the Battle of Lake Erie. 
  • Thomas B. Hagen History Center on historic Millionaire’s Row (West 6th Street).  The History Center is home to the Watson-Curtze Mansion, the Carriage House and the King-Mertens Archive Building. 
  • Battles Estate, comprised of The Yellow House and The White House historic farmhouses in Girard PA.
  • George Washington in a British uniform, Waterford, PA. 
  • Goodell Gardens & Homestead - a non-profit botanical garden and arboretum located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The purpose of Goodell Gardens & Homestead is to create an education-oriented botanical garden and arboretum on the 78-acre Goodell family farm by emulating the Goodell family passion for gardening and horticulture.
  • Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society/Judson House includes a model of the original fort, numerous exhibits on American Indians and the French and British fur trade. 
  • Covered Bridges Harrington Bridge, Brotherton’s Crossing (mid 1800’s)

Plus! Erie Art MuseumexpERIEnce Children’s Museum, Firefighters Historical Museum, Grape Discovery Center, Land Lighthouse and various historical societies, memorials/tributes and historical markers

The Hagen History Center on West 6th Street

Walking Tours

Download the FREE Hello Erie mobile app and check out two  GPS-based walking tours: 

  • Gems of The City, a walking tour of historic (lower) Downtown Erie (Dickson House, Hamot House, Captain John Richard’s House, St. Patrick’s Church and more) 
  • West Bayfront Walking Tour which includes the Bicentennial Tower, Dobbins Landing, West Canal Basin and more.  
  • Erie Food Tours - Foodies! Eat your way through downtown Erie on the Erie Food Tour which includes stops and tastings and a bite of history at some of Erie’s most popular restaurants. 
Erie Food Tours LikeMyThai
Erie Food Tours stops at Like My Thai Restaurant

Erie Mural Arts Tour

Take a self-guided driving tour through Erie's Little Italy, Center City and East 12th Street Corridor to view 11 murals depicting various aspects of Erie's history. 

Download the Mural Arts Tour Map

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A mural on West 12th and Myrtle Streets
  •   Handicap Accessible
  •   Pet Friendly