Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

Throughout 2015 PHMC has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex in Harrisburg with initiatives to preserve the original Midcentury Modern features of the buildings, both outside and inside, from architectural elements to original furnishings (see Hands-On History). A concurrent effort to update and revitalize the museum’s galleries also has been underway, with the most recent exhibit – on the legendary Pennsylvania Turnpike – opening this fall. Originally running east-west between Carlisle and Irwin, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was the first of its kind in the nation. A high-speed, limited-access highway, intermittently running through tunnels bored into mountains, it revolutionized long-distance automobile travel after it opened in 1940. In this edition of Pennsylvania Heritage we underscore the exhibit and mark the highway’s 75th anniversary with “The Pennsylvania Turnpike, From Tollbooths to Tunnels: Rediscovering America’s First Superhighway at 75,” in which State Museum curator Curtis Miner spotlights the highway’s key innovations and pioneering features.

Along with the commemoration of the complex this year, we have been highlighting Midcentury Modern architecture across Pennsylvania. The optimistic drive of Modernist architects to build something better and more functional is reflected in the urban renewal efforts that swept throughout the nation in the post-World War II era. In Philadelphia the plan was to discard the web of obsolete railroad structures, thought to be hindering progress in Center City, and replace it with blocks of Modernist skyscrapers and pedestrian plazas. In “Modernizing Center City,” Kevin Patrick, professor of geography and regional planning at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, provides an insightful account of Penn Center, from the utopian vision of Edmund Bacon and the City Planning Commission at the 1947 Better Philadelphia Exhibition to the construction of International Style skyscrapers by architect Vincent Kling beginning in the 1950s to the eventual engirdling of this “museum of Midcentury Modernism” by the nearby Postmodern towers that now loom over it.

Football is unquestionably the most popular sport in Pennsylvania. From high school and college to professional level, the state has produced some of the greatest teams and players, as well as many rabid fans. As the season that will lead to Super Bowl 50 begins, Pennsylvania Heritage looks back in an exclusive interview with celebrated NFL coach and Chester County resident Dick Vermeil, who molded the longtime-losing Philadelphia Eagles into champions, leading them to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in January 1981. In the “The Eagle Has Landed … Back in Pennsylvania,” regular contributor William C. Kashatus talks with Vermeil about his tenure with the Eagles, as well as his formative influences, his coaching philosophy, his later career with the Rams and the Chiefs, and his home in Pennsylvania.

The Dick Vermeil interview is the latest in a series of special conversations that have been presented in Pennsylvania Heritage since the early 1990s. The magazine has featured interviews with such internationally renowned Pennsylvanians as David McCullough, James Michener, Fred Rogers and Dick Clark, in addition to past governors, historians, authors, artists and other individuals with compelling stories to tell. As we move toward the 42nd year of the magazine’s publication, we remain committed to bringing you the latest perspectives on Pennsylvania’s past as well as the voices of those who have played vital roles in our recent history and shaped the rich culture of the Keystone State.

Kyle R. Weaver