Allegheny County is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2000 census, the population was 1,281,666. The county seat is Pittsburgh. The county forms the nucleus of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, Pittsburgh DMA, and Pittsburgh Tri-State Area.
Not a great deal is known about the native inhabitants of the region prior to European contact. During the colonial era various native groups claimed or settled in the area, resulting in a multi-ethnic mix that included Iroquois, Lenape, Shawnee, and Mingo.
The first Europeans to enter the area were the French in 1749. Captain Pierre Joseph de Celeron, sieur de Blainville claimed the Ohio Valley and all of Western Pennsylvania for Louis XV of France. The captain traveled along the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers inserting lead plates in the ground to mark the land for France.
Since most of the towns during that era were developed along waterways, both the French and the British desired control over the local rivers. Therefore, the British sent Major George Washington to try to compel the French to leave their posts, with no success. Having failed in his mission, he returned and nearly drowned crossing the ice-filled Allegheny River. In 1754, the English tried again to enter the area. This time, they sent 41 Virginians to build Fort Prince George. The French got news of the plan and sent an army to take over the fort, which they then resumed building with increased fortification, renaming it Fort Duquesne.
The loss of the fort cost the English dearly because Fort Duquesne became one of the focal points of the French and Indian War. The first attempt to retake the fort, by General Edward Braddock, failed miserably. It was not until General John Forbes attacked in 1758, four years after they had lost the original fort, that they recaptured and destroyed it. They subsequently built a new fort on the site, including a moat, and named it Fort Pitt. The site is now Pittsburgh's Point State Park.
Both Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed the region that is now Allegheny County. Pennsylvania administered most of the region as part Westmoreland County. Virginia considered everything south of the Ohio River and east of the Allegheny River to be part of its Yohogania County and governed it from Fort Dunmore. In addition, parts of the county were located in the proposed British colony of Vandalia and the proposed U.S. state of Westsylvania. The overlapping boundaries, multiple governments, and confused deed claims soon proved unworkable. In 1780 Pennsylvania and Virginia agreed to extend the Mason-Dixon line westward and the region became part of Pennsylvania. From 1781 until 1788, much of what had been claimed as part of Yohogania County, Virginia, was administered as a part of the newly created Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Allegheny County was officially created on September 24, 1788 from parts of Washington and Westmoreland counties. It was formed due to pressure from settlers living in the area around Pittsburgh, which became the county seat in 1791. The county originally extended all the way north to the shores of Lake Erie and became the "mother county" for most of what is now northwestern Pennsylvania. By 1800, the county's current borders were set.
In the 1790s, a whiskey excise tax was imposed by the United States Federal Government. This started the so-called Whiskey Rebellion when the farmers who depended on whiskey income refused to pay and drove off a local town's marshal. After a series of demonstrations by farmers, President George Washington arrived with troops to stop the rebellion.
The area developed rapidly throughout the 19th century to become the center of steel production in the nation. Pittsburgh would later be labeled as the "Steel Capital of the World."
Before January 1, 2000, there were three county commissioners. These were replaced with an elected chief officer (the county executive), a county council with 15 members (13 elected by district, two elected county-wide), and an appointed county manager. The changes were intended to maintain a separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches while providing the citizens with greater control over the government.
The county has 130 municipalities, each with its own governmental setup; no other county in Pennsylvania has nearly as many, with Luzerne County's 76 being second. The county has one Second Class City (Pittsburgh) and three Third Class Cities (Clairton, Duquesne, and McKeesport).
A 2004 study by the University of Pittsburgh stated that Allegheny County would be better served by consolidating the southeastern portion of the county (which includes many small, poor communities) into one large municipality, called "Rivers City," which would have a combined population of approximately 250,000.
|2004||57.15% 368,912||42.13% 271,925|
|2000||56.65% 329,963||40.41% 235,361|
|1996||52.82% 284,480||37.89% 204,067|
|1992||52.75% 324,004||29.80% 183,035|
|1988||59.51% 348,814||39.43% 231,137|
|1984||55.96% 372,576||42.76% 284,692|
|1980||47.87% 297,464||43.75% 271,850|
|1976||50.68% 328,343||46.79% 303,127|
|1972||42.26% 282,496||55.60% 371,737|
|1968||51.12% 364,906||37.09% 264,790|
|1964||66.03% 475,207||33.58% 241,707|
|1960||57.07% 428,455||42.76% 320,970|
Allegheny County is known for the three major rivers that flow through it: the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River converge at Downtown Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. The Youghiogheny River flows into the Monongahela River at McKeesport, Pennsylvania, 10 miles south. Despite its industrial growth, much of Allegheny County is covered with forests.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 745 square miles (1,929 km²); 730 square miles (1,891 km²) of it is land and 15 square miles (38 km²) of it (1.95%) is water.
There were 537,150 households out of which 26.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.10% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.10% were non-families. Some 32.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.96.
The population was spread out with 21.90% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 28.30% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 17.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40. For every 100 females, there were 90.00 males; for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.20 males.
The area quickly became one of the key manufacturing areas in the young nation. Pittsburgh quickly became the largest inland port in the nation, which it remains today. Coupled with deposits of iron and coal, and the easy access to waterways for barge traffic, the city quickly became one of the most important steel producing areas in the world.
With the decline of the steel industry in the U.S., the area shifted to other industries. Today, it is known for its hospitals, universities, and industrial centers. Despite the decline of heavy industry, Pittsburgh is home to a number of major companies and is ranked in the top ten among U.S. cities hosting headquarters of Fortune 500 corporations. These include U.S. Steel Corporation, PNC Financial Services Group, PPG Industries, and H J Heinz Corporation.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, Unincorporated communities in Pennsylvania, and, in at most two cases, towns. The following cities, boroughs and townships are in Allegheny County:
The welcome signs of these cities, boroughs and townships are chronicled on the popular website Allegheny County Quest
Allegheny City - the area that is now the North Shore (or North Side) of the City of Pittsburgh, north of the Allegheny River.
Allentown Borough - now the neighborhood of Allentown in Pittsburgh.
Birmingham Borough - what is now Pittsburgh's South Side.
Carrick Borough - now the neighborhood of Carrick. Formed out of Baldwin Township in 1904, this borough existed until it was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1927. It was named for Carrick-on-Suir, Ireland. To this day, some of the manhole covers bear the Carrick Borough name.
Collins Township - in what is now the Strip District and Lawrenceville of the City of Pittsburgh.
McClure Township - McClure was formed in 1858 from the section of Ross Township adjacent to Allegheny City. In 1867 McClure, along with sections of Reserve Township, was incorporated into Allegheny City. The McClure section of this annexation became Wards 9 (Woods Run Area) and 11 (present day Brighton Heights) in the City of Pittsburgh.
St. Clair Township - stretched from the Monongahela River south to the Washington County line. It divided into Lower St. Clair, which eventually became part of the City of Pittsburgh, and Upper St. Clair.
Snowden - now known as South Park Township.
Temperanceville - what is now Pittsburgh's West End.
Union Borough - the area surrounding Temperanceville.
For information about roads, see list of State Routes in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Belt System.