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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

  • NEW! Frank Lloyd Wright's ORIGINAL San Francisco Office is now available at the Hagen History Center in a new specially designed building.  
  • 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. 
  • Hagen History Center Museum 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. Take a virtual tour of the Hagen History Center. Learn about the history of Griswold Cast Iron (watch video). Visit the mansion’s kitchen display on the first floor to see a small portion of their extensive collection.
  • Battles Estate, (open by appointment only) is comprised of The Yellow House and The White House historic farmhouses in Girard PA. Take a virtual tour of the Charlotte Battles Garden!
  • 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)
  • The National Register of Historic Places in Erie County list can be found here.  To learn more about historic preservation in Erie County, contact PreservationErie

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

Historical Society campus
Erie County Historical Society Campus

Walking /Driving/Biking Tours

  • African American Heritage Tour (with audio!)  The African American History Tour features historic points of interest, public art, and businesses that pay tribute to the City of Erie's African American heritage. including the church where internationally celebrated soloist and composer Harry T. Burleigh sang in the choir.
    Available on the  FREE "Hello Erie' app. 
    Once you have downloaded the app, open it up and click on "Tours".  

  • NEW! Pennsylvania Historical Markers of Erie County Tour - Did you know Erie County is home to over 50 historical markers? Each marker is dedicated to either a person, place or event that has historical significance to our community on a state, regional and even national level. Travel throughout the City of Erie and surrounding towns of Union City, Corry, Edinboro, Girard, Waterford and others to discover such markers honoring the Erie Extension Canal, Fort LeBoeuf, Harry Kellar, Perry's Shipyards and Miracles on Maple Hill.   Also included in the list are missing markers and their significance along with GPS coordinates for every stop on this list.  All historical marker information was compiled/contributed by Bethany DeMuth from the Erie Times News.  Click here to access the tour information.
  • Erie Lighthouse ToursThe Erie Land Lighthouse opened to the public summer 2021 for the first time in the historic site’s history.  The lighthouse, located at the foot of Lighthouse Street on the east side of Erie, has previously only been available to tour during special events.  The Presque Isle Light station, who also operates the Presque Isle Lighthouse on the state park, opened the lighthouse for tours every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, and on every first Tuesday of each month will offer tours free of cost. Visitors will be able to climb the tower, get panoramic views of Lake Erie, Presque Isle, and the North Pier Lighthouse, and learn about the history and function of the lighthouse. The Presque Isle Lighthouse, located on Presque Isle State Park, also reopened for the 2021 season. That lighthouse will be open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. More information on tours and programs can be found at  www.presqueislelighthouse.org. Both lighthouses have implemented new health protocols to ensure the safety of staff and guests. To view another Erie "light", just walk out along the north pier at Presque Isle (just past the entrance to the Coast Guard Station) and view the North Pier Light.
  • 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 African -American Heritage TrailA new African American Heritage Trail will give people more understanding about Erie's black history: A Trail of Shared Heritage. A Shared Heritage invites you to discover key people, places, and events associated with the history of African Americans in Erie County, Pennsylvania, and learn how they contribute to the economic, political, and cultural broader story of our region. Brochure and driving tour available: sharedheritage.org.
  • Underground Railroad Biking Route Adventure Cycling Association’s Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, which memorializes the network of clandestine routes by which African freedom seekers attempted to escape slavery before and during the Civil War, is a 1,997-mile bicycle route from Mobile, Alabama to Owen Sound, Ontario that passes through the City of Erie and along the shoreline of Erie County. To view the various routes click here

Find more tours on the FREE 'Hello Erie' app! Available on iTunes and Google Play.

Erie County Mural Arts Tour

Take a self-guided tour of Erie's Mural Arts! Explore over 80 murals located throughout Erie County. Explore by yourself or with family and friends.  Make it an adventure in the pursuit of great art! Be inspired by the creativity of our local muralists and residents.  Most of the murals are located outside, however, there are a few located inside buildings (specifics can be found in the mural descriptions).  The majority of murals are not artificially lit, therefore we recommend viewing them during daylight hours.

 Download the Erie County Mural List

Download the Mural Arts Tour Map

Tower w Mural v2
"Flotsam" by international artist Sat One is located on the upper deck of the Bicentennial Tower at the foot of State Street.
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Battles Museum of Rural Life (open by appointment only)

814-454-1813
436 Walnut Street
Girard, PA 16417

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Brig. Gen. Strong Vincent Statue

In front of Blasco Library/160 East Front Street
Erie, PA 16507

ErieArtMuseum

Erie Art Museum

814-459-5477
20 East 5th Street
Erie, PA 16507

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Erie County Historical Society & Museums

814-454-1813
356 West 6th Street
Erie , PA 16507

flagship niagara

Erie Maritime Museum/U.S. Brig Niagara

814-452-2744
150 East Front Street
Erie, PA 16507

erie yesterday

Erie Yesterday

356 West 6th Street
Erie, PA 16507

ECM Building

expERIEnce Children's Museum

814-453-3743
420 French Street
Erie, PA 16507

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Firefighters Historical Museum

814-456-5969
428 Chestnut Street
Erie, PA 16507

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Goodell Gardens & Homestead

814-734-6699
221 Waterford Street
Edinboro, PA 16412

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Grape Discovery Center

716-326-2003
8305 West Main Road
Westfield, NY 14787

Hagen Campusphoto3

Hagen History Center Museum

814-454-1813
356 West 6th Street
Erie, PA 16501

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Lake Shore Railway Museum

814-725-1911
31 Wall Street
North East, PA 16428

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Land Lighthouse

1200 Lighthouse Street
Erie, PA 16507

Letti G Howard

Lettie G. Howard

814-449-9012
150 East Front Street - Erie Maritime Museum
Erie, PA 16507

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National Comedy Center

716-484-222
203 W. Second Street
Jamestown, NY 14701

Perry Statue

Oliver Hazard Perry Statue/Monument

6th Street
Erie, PA 16501

Visiterie

Presque Isle Lighthouse

814-833-3604
Presque Isle State Park, east of Beach 6
Erie, PA 16505

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The North Pier Light

814-833-7424
Presque Isle State Park
Erie, PA 16505

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The Sturgeon House

814-474-5855
4302 Avonia Road
Fairview, PA 16415

Ridge Center 3

Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC)

814-833-7424
301 Peninsula Drive
Erie, PA 16505

Partner Spotlight

bayfront grille

Outdoor Dining at the Bayfront Grille

The Bayfront Grille Restaurant at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel is excited to announce that our Bayside Patio is open for Lunch and Dinner. Please check Open Table for reservations or contact the restaurant directly at 814-454-2005.

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Creation Station

The Creation Station is an unique arts and crafts studio where kids can create and have fun!
Book your birthday party, register for a ladies night out or stop in during open Craft days and choose a project from the project board.

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upmc

UPMC Hamot - See What Makes Us Different

UPMC Hamot is a 423-bed hospital in Erie, PA, offering a full complement of inpatient and outpatient services, and serves as a regional referral hub and Level II Trauma Center.

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millcreek mall

Millcreek Mall

A destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Experience it all!

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spotlight Erei Airport

New Direct Daily Flights to Washington, DC

Erie International Airport now offers two direct daily flights to and from Washington Dulles International Airport with connecting flights to the east coast, west coast and international destinations. Book your flight today!

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the cork

The Cork 1794

The Cork 1794 is the perfect spot for a date night or special occasion! Indoor and outside seating available with amazing food.

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spotlgiht the cove

The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern

Join us today! The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern is sure to give you an unforgettable and care-free dining experience. Enjoy a nautical atmosphere with a beautiful view of Presque Isle Bay.

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u pick 6 spotlight

U Pick 6 Craft Beer Pubs & Restaurants

Erie’s own local craft beer pubs are a must-visit! With 4 great locations, just pick one that’s convenient for you! A casual, family friendly dining experience with something for everyone! To view our menu, check out what’s on tap, or get to directions to our pubs, learn more now!”

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erie reginal chambers

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is leading Erie's economic evolution. We're the heart of the business community to champion a vibrant and sustainable economy. Your business is our business. Become a member and increase your brand awareness, advocate for important business issues, and gain access to people, education, and information integral to elevating your team's success.

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port farms

Port Farms Fall Harvest

Experience Fall Harvest at Port Farms September 18th - October 31st. With a variety of activities, the farm is sure to please guests of all ages. Located in Erie County, PA, the farm offers many activities including a Jumpkin Patch, Slide Mountain, Tiny Town, Pedal Carts, 8-acre Corn Maze, Pumpkin Picking, and MUCH more. Create lasting memories today! www.portfarms.com

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partner mazza vineyards

Mazza Vineyards and the South Shore Wine Company

The Mazza family welcomes you to Lake Erie Wine Country. Sip and savor award-winning wines at Mazza Vineyards and the historic South Shore Wine Company both located in North East, PA.

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dobbins landing

Dobbins Landing

Located on the southeast shore of Lake Erie, the Port of Erie has been promoting industrial, commercial, and recreational opportunities on the waters of Lake Erie since 1959.

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