Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: March/April 2010
Pennsylvania - The Keystone State Has It All
By: Scottie Brice
Pennsylvania is home to everything from bustling metropolitan life, to the wilds and beauty of the Pocono’s and Appalachian mountain ranges. Visitors enjoy strolling along the sandy beaches of Lake Erie, as well as viewing the many picturesque covered bridges throughout the state. Above all else, Pennsylvania is the most historically significant state in the nation. It’s the state where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed and the home of over 56,000 free African-Americans in the pre-civil war era, as its reputation for being antislavery, protective of its Black residents from slave-catchers and the first to adopt a gradual emancipation law was well know.

Stretched between the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the sixth largest city in the USA. In this city, history lurks around every corner; it’s the birthplace of the United States and the nation's original capital. Besides its iconic historical sights, 'Philly' also has a vibrant arts scene, with a renowned orchestra, world-class museums, art house cinemas and traditional as well as The Avant-Garde Theater. Among Philadelphia’s entertainment venues, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is the city's crown jewel, while the Freedom Center, Philly’s oldest African-American theatre, was recently named "Theatre of the Year" by the Philadelphia Weekly.

Over 100 multi-ethnic neighborhoods create a colorful tapestry of Philadelphia’s urban setting; from the bustling Italian market to African-American festivals, blues clubs and jazz clubs. It’s a great city for walking, with the main sights sprinkled around the compact city center, there's much to discover just wandering through the old neighborhoods. Downtown is the Old City Cultural District, with Elfreth's Alley, a picturesque lane that's also the oldest residential street in America; further south is the trendy South Street neighborhood with an array of restaurants, nightlife and shops. Philadelphia is known to be a shopper's paradise, featuring the famous King of Prussia Mall, the largest mall in the world.

The city of Philadelphia eagerly awaits completion of its newly expanded Convention Center. Though the expansion project won’t be completed until March, 2011, conventions and trades-hows are still taking place in the current center. The Convention Center’s expansion will increase meeting and exhibit space by nearly 60 percent and will then offer 1 million sq. ft. of saleable space; the largest contiguous exhibit space in the Northeast (541,000 sq. ft.); and the largest convention center ballroom on the East Coast (60,000 sq. ft.). As the city anticipates the completion of this project, hotel developments and renovations continue throughout the city, with the addition of an estimated 2,500 hotel rooms by 2013. There are currently 30,000+ hotel rooms in the city, more than 8,500 within a 15-minute walk of the Convention Center; the Philadelphia International Airport is only seven miles from downtown. In close proximity to the airport is the Rittenhouse Hotel. Ranked among the top hotels of the world by Conde Nast. this AAA Five Diamond hotel features 98 guest rooms including 11 suites.

The Rittenhouse Hotel 98
Marriott Philadelphia Airport 419
Park Hyatt Philadelphia At The Bellevue 198
Crowne Plaza Hotel Philadelphia-Center City 445
Loews Philadelphia Hotel 581
Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing 350
Hilton Philadelphia Airport 331
total exhibit space 1 million sq. ft.
largest hall 700,000 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 73
Philadelphia CVB – (215) 636-3300
Philadelphia African American Chamber of Commerce
(215) 751-9501

The second-largest city in the State, Pittsburgh was once the USA’s center for steel production; today the steel mills have been replaced by a dramatic skyline of dazzling skyscrapers. With its close-knit neighborhoods, vibrant culture and burgeoning business community, Pittsburgh consistently ranks highly in the listings of America’s most livable places. The natural attractions set the stage for a number of outdoor activities, including biking and hiking along the miles of trails available in the area. Pittsburgh offers the total package when it comes to hosting meetings and conventions – the ease of transportation, affordable lodging, distinctive dining options and diverse leisure activities. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is located in the hub of Pittsburgh's cultural, business and entertainment district. This $375 million facility boasts 313,400 sq. ft. of space and its Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom is 31,610 sq. ft.

Ideally situated for the business traveler and connected by skywalk to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh Hotel. The hotel has 616 guest rooms and suites, as well as houses one of Pittsburgh’s premier seafood restaurants, The Original Fish Market.

Marriott Pittsburgh City Center 402
Omni William Penn Hotel 596
The Westin Convention Center 616
Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh Int'l Airport 336
total exhibit space 313,400 sq. ft.
largest hall 31,610 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 53
Greater Pittsburgh CVB – (412) 281-9617
Pittsburgh African American Chamber of Commerce
(412) 392-0610

Harrisburg, the state capital, stands along with its neighboring historic city cousins as being a destination brimming with national history. Due to the city’s crucial roles during the Westward Migration, the American Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution, there is much to learn an discover in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Canal and the Pennsylvania Railroad helped turn Harrisburg into one of the most industrialized cities in the country. Today, Harrisburg and the Capital Region including Hershey, offers residents and visitors many benefits; the world’s tallest splashdown amusement park ride, lots of fishing, biking, hiking, as well as its zoos, caves, theaters, and sporting events. Harrisburg is one of the oldest American state capital cities in the Northeast. This is one of the reasons it enjoys such prominence as a cultural and arts-related destination. The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts offers education, science, and performing arts to the public. The 1,700-seat Forum concert and lecture hall is located in the capital complex and is home to the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.

Nearby in Hershey, this chocolate-coated candy kingdom has grown from Milton S. Hershey's company town to an internationally known community. Throughout the area, visitors will find reminders of its sweet heritage, from the heavenly smell of chocolate in the making to streets like Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues that are lined with Hershey's Kisses street lights. The Hershey Lodge is a full-service resort located in Hershey, offering 665 guest rooms and 100,000 sq. ft. of function space. Hershey Lodge is Pennsylvania’s Largest Convention Resort and is part of Hershey Resorts, which also includes The Hotel Hershey, The Spa At Hotel Hershey, Hershey Country Club, and Hershey Highmeadow Campground. Hershey is located 15 minutes from Harrisburg International Airport., where eight major airlines operate offering nearly 100 daily flights to and from Harrisburg.

Holiday Inn Harrisburg West 218
Comfort Suites Hershey Harrisburg 80
Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center 250
Hershey Lodge 665
total exhibit space 8,000 sq. ft.
largest hall 1,000 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 7
Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau
(877) 727-8573

The historic site of General Washington's encampment during the Revolutionary War, Valley Forge National Historical Park in Valley Forge is a highly visited site. Of all places associated with America's War for Independence, none conveys the suffering, sacrifice and ultimate triumph of our nation more than this national park. Visitors to this 3,600-acre park stop first to see a time-line of the Revolution and learn about the diversity of the Army, where one in six soldiers was African-American. Throughout the park, you can see the Monument to Patriots of African Descent and how African-Americans' proud history of service in our Armed Forces began here. The compelling stories of soldiers, slaves, and abolitionists from the Revolution through the Civil War are told.

Valley Forge is especially attractive as a meeting, convention or trade-show site. It offers affordability, great facilities, easy access by air and rail, and is situated at the crossroads of four major interstate highways. For meeting planners seeking the ideal place to plan a business meeting, convention or trade-show, the Valley Forge area means nearly 7,500 first-class hotel rooms, comprising 50 hotels, 14 full-service convention hotels and eight state-of-the-art conference centers. It also offers the privately owned and operated 150,000-sq. ft. Valley Forge Convention Center

The Hampton Inn And Suites 107
Fairfield Inn Valley Forge Hotel 80
The Crowne Plaza Valley Forge 225
Courtyard Philadelphia Valley Forge 132
total exhibit space 150,000 sq. ft.
largest hall 23,564 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 16
Valley Forge CVB – (610) 834-1550

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