The number of people downtown on a Saturday was quite remarkable. I peeked my head in the Bullfrog Brewery around noon, hoping it would be open for a bite to eat. I couldn’t believe that there were 25 or so people already there… downtown… in a restaurant… on a weekend. It’s a scene that doesn’t play out too many places in Pennsylvania. I also visited an open downtown bookstore named Otto’s. And I wasn’t the only person there either.
The Marcellus Shale gas rush is on, and Williamsport is the focal point of drilling operations in the north central part of the state. Natural resources have always been the source of Williamsport’s boom and bust existence, and once again the city is serving as a regional hub for resource extraction. Previously, lumber was the foundation on which Williamsport based its economy. The lumber industry was quite lucrative for many locals, who built fine Victorian mansions on the aptly named Millionaires Row, and left behind many a fine church and office building.
Williamsport also has several other gems, from an Edward Haviland prison that has been converted into a nightclub, to the building where Grit magazine was founded and published for years.