Downtown Harrisburg: Something’s Very, Very Wrong With Nancy Eshelman


Today’s title comes courtesy of comment left by PennLive user BoredInMBG.

You see, Nancy Eshelman — a long-time opinion writer at the Patriot News — published a story over the weekend complaining about downtown Harrisburg.  I’ve read and re-read her article several times, and I’ll be damned if I can figure out what, exactly, she is complaining about.  Read the article for yourself and if you can come up with anything, please let the rest of us know.  The only conclusions I’m able to reach from that particular article are:

  • Nancy Eshelman eats dinner downtown at 2am (incidentally, where?)
  • Nancy Eshelman is confused about the location of Beaver Stadium
  • Loud noises

I think she might have attempted to bring up guns, too.

I get that she’s complaining about “downtown Harrisburg” and “people” and “music”.  That’s pretty clear.  And she’s extremely displeased with the way 20-somethings behave these days.  Twenty years ago (we’re talking 1991, in case you’re bad with math), 22-year-olds had checkbooks.  Today, they ruin downtown with their “loud music” (and I bet nobody ever pays their tab by check anymore).

Oh, and something about vomit.  And urine.  She definitely seems to think that downtown Harrisburg is a Lovecraftian nightmare of people enthusiastically vomiting and urinating all over everything in sight.

Nancy, this is what 20-somethings do (the going downtown to socialize part, not the vomiting and urinating part).  This is how they spend their weekends.  Not all of them, of course, but the ones within the scope of your article do.  It’s part of life.  Rest assured that most of the participants of the “downtown debauchery” (that’s a first) go home and have meaningful, productive jobs to attend to, which they do quite well.  Some of them even have children, tucked away with a babysitter.  Some will take cabs home.  Many more will ride with a designated driver.  A handful will even walk.

And then there are those who aren’t even 20-somethings.  Having spent a good chunk of my 20s working in a downtown nightclub, I can say with absolute authority that bad behavior knows no age limit.

Downtown can be a noisy place.  In case you missed the circa-2001 memo, downtown is the city’s entertainment district.  It is intended to be a place where people can go out, socialize, and generally enjoy themselves.  It is not meant to be a quiet getaway where 60-somethings can knit in peace.  That you would even presume this to be the case defies words.

While you may be pleased with yourself for being the nosy bluehair at the next table who shushes everybody, it’s worth pointing out that this makes you the nosy bluehair at the next table who shushes everybody.


  1. Andrew says:

    Your blog has been killing it lately.

  2. floor9 says:

    Thanks. Feels good to start writing again.

  3. Larry U. says:

    Nancy thinks she’s the female version of Andy Rooney. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the eyebrows for it.

  4. I almost blogged on this as well, since PennLive’s forums are just one big, anonymous flame war.

    I have to admit that I don’t go downtown anymore, but I think the lack of diversity is detrimental to the city. It’d be nice if there was a little more diversity to the bars, along with some retail shops to break up the strip…

  5. floor9 says:

    @Larry – I would pay money ($1) to see Nancy Eshelman dress up as Andy Rooney. Of course, she’d also have to be as witty. At least when Rooney got grumpy about something, he was usually making well-spoken, intelligent points.

  6. floor9 says:

    Rich – I’ve been saying for years now, since day one of downtown’s renaissance, that the city needs to diversify down there. How about some more retail? How about some improved residences? How about a modern hotel? These last few years have seen dramatic improvements in that regard, but it feels like we are now beginning some developments that should have kicked off ten years ago.

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