It has taken me years to walk on every street and alley in Carlisle.
Honestly, there is not much to do around here. But if you are passing through the town for one day or two, plan to take many walks.
The town is divided in quadrants by its main two streets:
The Southwest quadrant is the fanciest. It starts stately around Dickinson College, then it becomes a expensive-vinyl sort of neighborhood, with I-81 roaring in the background.
The Southeast quadrant has the cemetery where Molly Pitcher is buried, a park, and a creek near the Middle School.
The Northwest quadrant has a couple of ancient factories and a lot of wooden houses with interesting detail.
The Northeast quadrant has evocative working-class rowhouses. In 40s lingo, it was the "wrong side of the tracks."
But no one is ever outside much. No Cafés, no card playing... unless you manage to hit us during one of our few "Arts Days" and such. When my European relatives visit, they always ask: "Where is everybody?"
Carlisle has as rich an history as you might expect from a Mid-Atlantic town.
Apparently, it has always been a transportation hub at the crossroad of important trails.
If you want to find out more, we have the Cumberland County Historical Society at 21 North Pitt Street.
And for the Civil War specialists, we are only half an hour away from Gettysburg.
If you are not a package transiting through one of our many warehouses (monster warehouses as many residents say), the most likely reason you would be passing through Carlisle is one of the colleges.
Dickinson College is the heart of Carlisle in many ways. It brings salutary liberal thought process, which part of the town resents of course. If there were no Dickinson College, good luck trying to find someone in Carlisle to talk about Harbin or Cuzco!
Penn State Dickinson School of Law is an architecturally delightful but organisationally factious Law School close to my house. I am always impressed when the students, future upholders of the Laws, park illegally in front of my house after making no-no U-turns.
The US Army War College is an important outfit too, but largely hermetic. The students (officers) stay for one year and experience little contact with the town. Even the spouses and the kids act a little bit like they have been posted to some mephitic backwater, and they principally stick together.
Carlisle is a County Seat, therefore a lot of activity centers around the courthouse. Everybody knows the judges. Everyone knows when court is in session.
Across from the current courthouse, on the stately but polluted town square, you will see the old courthouse.
That is where, in a lovingly maintained courtroom (for special occasions only) I became an American citizen.
Our public library, Bosler Memorial Library, offers the traveler clean restrooms, information about the history of the region, and free internet access. Or you may relax in the reading room by the light of stained glass lamps.
Internet and e-mail access is offered to passing visitors as a courtesy. Ask at the checkout desk and you will be given a one-time password.
There is a fine pizza parlor next door and a fine Thai across the street.