The City Beautiful Exhibit features student and faculty projects exploring urban improvement in Harrisburg in the early twentieth century. The movement began after Mira Lloyd Dock gave a public lecture in December 1900 lamenting the dire state of the city and advocating its potential for rebirth. Ultimately, a group of visionaries rallied the population to vote for a bond issue in 1902 for improvements such as green spaces, improved drainage and sewage systems, and extensive street paving throughout the city.

Through several Digital History courses, Messiah College students explored City Beautiful by conducting research through Digital Harrisburg’s databases and locating historical records at county and state archives. Some of this research became the foundation for a special issue (87.1) of Pennsylvania History titled “Harrisburg, Digital Public History, and the ‘City Beautiful’,” which simultaneously celebrated and problematized the city’s urban reform movement. Other research was published on Omeka exhibits, WordPress websites, and Story Maps.

Explore the following exhibits to explore the backgrounds of Harrisburg’s urban reform movement, the people and organizations who made it happen, and the reforms that transformed the city.