The Harrisburg skyline at night, taken from City Island. The Market Street bridge is visible on the side. The buildings and Riverfront park are all illuminated.

So Much Has Changed

15 years. That’s how long I’ve been floor9.

What started in the summer of 2002 as a way to share photos in the pre-imgur era became my personal blog. Then it took a break. Then it came back. Then it took another break. It came back again. Wash, rinse, repeat. And in that decade-and-a-half, so much has changed in and around Central PA.

Back then, our first Starbucks was still a little over a year away. Downtown Harrisburg was in the first few years of its renaissance. Nobody was really sure how that would play out in the long run, but we were all too happy to go along for the ride. Urban renewal was in its infancy, and there was relatively little demand for housing — let alone development — in the city. Broad Street Market could be charitably described as “miserable”. CORRIDORone was on the distant horizon as a hopeful nod towards finally getting reliable mass transit in the region. More and more people were starting to think the incinerator might not be such a great idea. The Southern Gateway project and the I-83 Master Plan promised to revitalize entry into the city, making Harrisburg not look so dumpy from the south. And the notion of a regional tech sector seemed laughable to most.

A photo of Elementary Coffee's stand in the Broad Street Market. A counter comprised of sheet metal and wood holds multiple coffee brewers, including kettles, Chemex brewers, a grinder, and an espresso machine. Two chalkboards hung on the wall list the menu. A customer is purchasing something and three employees are working behind the counter.
Elementary Coffee, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg PA

Fast forward a decade and a half. The nightclubs of Second Street have given way to farm-to-table restaurants and craft beer taps. Forget Starbucks; now we’ve got Little Amps, Elementary Coffee, and the ever-present St. Thomas Roasters. Not only is the Broad Street Market thriving, but the adjacent area is jumping off with Midtown Scholar, Millworks, Zer0day Brewing, and Midtown Cinema, just to name a few.

We have a tech sector. Whether it’s tier-3 datacenters, coding, web design, SEO farming, or even that web host I started, Central PA — and Harrisburg in particular — has a booming technology presence. The city’s first coworking facility was so overwhelmingly popular that it outgrew its first digs and moved into a beautiful building across the street.

Go a little beyond the city, and craft brewing has exploded. Harrisburg staples like Zer0day and ABC now share the spotlight with venues big and small: Harty, Collusion, Troegs, and Evergrain, just to name a few. And while increased demand for urban living has led to a long-overdue revitalization of the city housing market, new suburban developments like Walden and Arcona are bringing mixed-use development to the suburbs. And they’re thriving!

About two dozen people crowd a small nanobrewery. A small chalkboard hung on the wall lists the beers and prices. Large windows overlook Walden Way and the outdoor seating area. The far wall is brick and features Harty's logo.
Harty Brewing Company in the Shops at Walden, Mechanicsburg PA

And yet, despite all the progress, you can’t deny that it’s been a rough few years for city. Like most other cities, Harrisburg has been battered and bruised since the mid-20th century. But to those of us who live in or near the city, that’s nothing new. What’s new is that the city — and Central PA — is alive and kicking. The decades-old “west shore vs east shore” mentality seems to by dying off. It’s still out there, but you don’t hear much about it these days. Maybe we’re finally starting to realize that as a region, what’s good for one is good for all.

So in the spirit of change, the long-standing subtitle for this site — “live from downtown since 2002” — is retiring. Despite its catchy meter, it just doesn’t do justice to what this site is about or where I want it to go. And there’s also the part about me not living downtown anymore. Instead, look for coffee, technology, and craft beer, all centered around Central PA.

Stay tuned!

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