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City Contented, City Discontented:

A History of Modern Harrisburg
Table of

In City Contented, City Discontented: A History of Modern Harrisburg, award-winning journalist Paul Beers (1931–2011) reveals how contemporary Harrisburg came to be what it is. In a masterful series of essays, Beers charts the capital’s development from a City Beautiful, with its celebrated public spaces and premier educational institutions, through the fractures of race riots and the catastrophic challenges of flood and near–nuclear meltdown. Beers employs the well-honed skills of a veteran reporter to craft fascinating character sketches of prominent leaders and humble citizens alike, intertwining their dramatic personal stories with a compelling survey of the region’s society, politics, and culture in the twentieth century.


FOREWORD: Paul Beers, Historian at Large

1. Old Home Week and Renaissance I

2. City Beautiful

3. The Handsomest Building He Ever Saw

4. An Edifice of Sovereignty

5. The Biggest Centralized State Government in America

6. Itinerant Governors

7. Mira Lloyd Dock and the “Harrisburg Idea”

8. Vance McCormick and the Municipal League

9. The Most Spirited Election in Harrisburg History

10. Mayor McCormick and the Awakening of Harrisburg

11. The Harrisburg Improvement Plan

12. An Acre per 80

13. A Made-Over Town

14. A Different Sort of Selflessness

15. Becoming Modern

16. The Merchant Princess and the Real Estate King

17. Club Life

18. A Library, Bookstores, and a New Hospital

19. The First Suburbia

20. A Confederacy of Territories

21. Shipoke, Once the Puddlers’ Hovel

22. Maris Harvey Taylor and Other Shipokers

23. Black Neighborhoods

24. The Hidden History of Sibletown

25. J. Horace McFarland and Bellevue Park

26. Front Street, The Best Address

27. Losing Front Street

28. Front Street Patricians

29. Unwashed Harrisburg

30. Power, Steel, and Dreams

31. The Pennsy and the Masterpiece

32. Railroad Lifestyle

33. Factory Town

34. From Sizzling to Cold

35. The Trolley Era

36. The Finest Public School System in Pennsylvania

37. The Zenith of Local Education

38. Learning Spree

39. An Obsession for Sports

40. Thorpe, Beck, and Kitzmiller Score

41. Tech, Champion of America

42. The Diamond at Island Park

43. Show-Biz Crossroads

44. The Grand Opera House

45. Theaters in a Tough Town

46. The Local Press

47. The Capitol Press Corps

48. The Patriot and The Telegraph

49. The Best Drama in Town

50. Newspaper Rivalry

51. The Evening News

52. Newspaper Men and Women

53. The Newhouse Newspaper

54. Wallower’s Penn Harris

55. Penn Harris People

56. Everybody’s Gathering Place

57. Jimmy Deliberty at the Esquire Bar

58. A City’s Heart

59. From Patriarch to Orphan

60. “The Narrow Iron Shell of Life”

61. The First Modern Riot, 1969

62. William Lynch Murray and the Greater Harrisburg Movement

63. Harristown Proclaimed

64. Renaissance II?

65. The State in the City

66. Strawberry Square

67. Everybody’s Out of Town

68. Shutting Up Shops in the 70’s

69. The Restaurant Boom

70. The Fourth Largest City in Pennsylvania

71. Gilded Provinces

72. East Shore, West Shore

73. The Malling of Harrisburg

74. Colonizing and Carpetbagging

75. One of the World’s Better-Known Chunks of Real Estate

76. “We Survived TMI”

77. 32.8 Feet, 650 Billion Gallons

78. Out of the Muck and the Mire

79. The Fanciest Trash Collection

80. Debt Crunch

81. The Infernal Furnace

82. Racial Separatism

83. Life for Harrisburg Blacks

84. Plantation Politics and Nibs Franklin

85. Dismantling Tokenism

86. The World of the Moose Lodge

87. A New Separatism

88. The Urban School Problem

89. The City’s Largest Tax Collector

90. “Black” and “City”

91. The West Shore Cosmetological Crisis of 1970

92. Friendless Harrisburg

93. Racial Education

94. Guerilla Theater

95. Republican Hegemony

96. Ageless Harve Taylor

97. Post-Taylorism

98. Nolan Ziegler, Rare Mayor

99. The Noble and Lofty Ideal of HACC

100. Not Dead Yet

101. Gallant Forces

102. Big Al Straub

103. The Swensons

104. The Closest Election in City History

105. Chicken Corn Soup Politics

106. One Good Term Deserves Another

107. Going Crazy Everywhere

108. A Hotbed of Social Rest

109. No Higher Office

110. Swenson’s Sincere Relief

111. Spoils Inherit the Victor

112. Skidding on the Ice

113. Unsavory Days

114. A New Generation

115. Revealing Glimpses

116. Such a Whirlwind

117. Reed’s Vision

118. The Best Local Feud

119. The Hotel Situation

120. They Conquer Who Believe They Can


“As a reporter-at-large, Paul Beers saw the city, cared that he saw it, and documented what was there to see. Now his years of observational columns are bound together for the first time in a beautiful new book, joined with rare and remarkable historical photographs. In a cityscape consumed by a troubled present, the new Midtown Scholar publishing venture brings forth words and works that explicate Harrisburg's past, while delivering jobs and hope for her living future. These collected columns by Paul Beers are testament to both the colossal importance of strong daily newspapers and the amazingly dedicated reporters and good editors who make them.”

—Jackson Taylor, author of The Blue Orchard

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