Episode 24: The neighborhood beneath the Capitol

Long ago, Harrisburg knocked down an African American and immigrant neighborhood to make way for Capitol expansion. Now, a group is trying to memorialize it.

  • Katie Meyer

Courtesy of State Archives

A city atlas from the early 20th century shows Harrisburg’s now-demolished Eighth Ward. The white line running through it was added by the city once the ward was destroyed

Harrisburg has been the seat of Pennsylvania’s government since 1812, and the current Capitol building has been in use since 1906.

In the first couple decades of the 20th century, the complex and its grounds were being expanded into what we know today. And as that was happening, there was a casualty. An entire neighborhood—populated largely by immigrants and African Americans—was wiped out.

Reporter Elizabeth Hardison at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star recently looked into why the neighborhood, known as the Old Eighth, was demolished. She joins us this week to explain what happened, and what was lost. We’ll also hear from activist Lenwood Sloan, who is leading a charge to commemorate the long-destroyed ward with a monument on Capitol grounds.

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