Established in 1903, the Pennsylvania State Archives was originally a division of the Pennsylvania State Library which was housed in the Old Executive Office Building (now the Matthew J. Ryan Legislative Office Building) located just south of the Main Capitol Building. There they remained until 1931 when the Library moved to the newly completed Forum Building. Through recognizing that the Archives was not a library per se but the depository of valuable one-of-a-kind records, the Archives was merged in 1945 with the State Museum, also located in the Old Executive Office Building. By the early 1950's, the Capitol Complex was pressed for space resulting in the total clearance of neighborhoods between North and Forster Streets for additional state facilities. This expansion precipitated the widening of Forster Street, from a two-way street, to a major six-lane thoroughfare and accompanying construction of the M. Harvey Taylor Bridge in 1951. Designed by the former Harrisburg architectural firm of Lawrie and Green, the present 12-story State Archives Tower and adjacent State Museum of Pennsylvania Building (originally the William Penn Memorial Museum) were built in 1963. Home to more than 195 million pages of documents and manuscripts, 20,000 reels of microfilm, and over one million special collection items such as photographs, maps and motion picture films, the Archives is truly a treasure trove of the nation's and Commonwealth's history. Likewise, the State Museum, offering four floors of exhibits, exquisitely presents the state and nation's heritage through archaeological artifacts, priceless paintings, decorative arts, dioramas, technological innovations and military objects.
Panoramic view c. 1948-50 of the 800 Block of N. Third Street, between North and Forster Streets looking east, where The State Museum of Pennsylvania now stands.
1963 view showing the then-known William Penn memorial Museum under construction.