Monthly Archives: May 2019

History of Pittsburgh

history-of-pittsburgh

This city is one of the older US cities, and while it has been outshined by its more historical brother Philadelphia, that doesn’t mean that Pittsburgh doesn’t have any history of its own. Stuffed around where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River,

Pittsburgh has managed to grow to become the 66th biggest city in the US with just over 300,000 people in the city.  

Founding

Pittsburgh-founderThe first encounter of the area known today as Pittsburgh was by French explorer Robert De La Salle in 1669. While Native Americans from the Shawnee and other tribes were settled there, many local conflicts and even the French Indian War (1754-1763) forced them out. In 1758, British General John Forbes named the city after the prime minister of Great Britain, William Pitt. However, once the American Revolution happened the United States took control and the new state of Pennsylvania added Pittsburgh as a borough in 1794. Since its very beginning, Pittsburgh was a center for metal production including during the War of 1812 with its high production of materials like iron, brass, tin, and glass. In 1816, Pittsburgh was finally admitted as a city.

 Industrial Revolution

While a fire destroyed most of the city in 1845, the influx of Irish immigrants industry-pittsburghcoming over to escape the great potato famine helped ensure a quick rebuild. And due to the increase of industrial manufacturing, Pittsburgh was primed due to its location to coal mines and its previous experience in manufacturing. Finally, combine that with a hard-working immigrant labor force and you have the industrial revolution. The industry exploded as steel mills were placed in the city to satisfy the demand for steel for railroads, buildings, and more. Businessman Andrew Carnegie even established his steel company there. And production only increased with the Civil War as steel was now needed to build guns, railroads, ships, and more. By 1910, Pittsburgh was the nations 8th largest city with over a half a million people. And during WWII, the city produced 95 million tons of steel.

Pittsburgh Today

downtown-pittsburghSadly, with all the industrialization, few realized the impact it was taking on the environment. So following WWII, Pittsburgh focused on cleaning up the air calling it the Renaissance and following it up with Renaissance 2 in 1977. And once the start of the electronic age started in the 1980s, massive layoffs and plant closures ensued. But, Pittsburgh has shifted its focus onto electronics and has rebounded, although not to its industrial era heights.