McCandless Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

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.


Allegheny County was the first in Pennsylvania to be given a Native American name, being named after the Allegheny River. The word "Allegheny" is of Lenape origin, with uncertain meaning. It is usually said to mean "fine river", but sometimes said to refer to an ancient mythical tribe called "Allegewi" who live along the river long ago before being destroyed by the Lenape.

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."

Law and government

For most of the 20th century, until 1999, Allegheny County was governed exclusively under the state's Second Class County Code. Under this code, the county handled everything: elections, prisons, airports, public health and city planning. Unlike the rest of the state, where certain public offices are combined and held by one person, in Allegheny County all public offices are held by elected individuals.

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.


Presidential Election Results 1960-2004
Year Democrat Republican
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.

Adjacent counties


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,281,666 people, 537,150 households, and 332,495 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,755 people per square mile (678/km²). There were 583,646 housing units at an average density of 799 per square mile (309/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.33% White, 12.41% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 1.69% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. About 0.87% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.0% were of German, 15.0% Italian, 12.7% Irish, 7.5% Polish and 5.1% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.5% spoke English and 1.3% Spanish as their first language.

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.


In the late 1700s farming played a critical role in the growth of the area. There was a surplus of grain due to transportation difficulties in linking with the eastern portion of the state. As a result, the farmers distilled the grain into whiskey, which significantly helped the farmers financially.

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:



  • Dormont
  • Dravosburg
  • East McKeesport
  • East Pittsburgh
  • Edgewood
  • Edgeworth
  • Elizabeth
  • Emsworth
  • Etna
  • Forest Hills
  • Fox Chapel
  • Franklin Park
  • Glassport
  • Glenfield
  • Green Tree
  • Haysville
  • Heidelberg
  • Homestead
  • Ingram
  • Jefferson Hills
  • Leetsdale
  • Liberty
  • Lincoln
  • McDonald
  • McKees Rocks
  • Millvale
  • Monroeville
  • Mount Oliver
  • Mt. Lebanon
  • Munhall
  • North Braddock
  • Oakdale
  • Oakmont
  • Osborne
  • Pennsbury Village
  • Pitcairn
  • Pleasant Hills
  • Plum
  • Port Vue
  • Rankin
  • Rosslyn Farms
  • Sewickley
  • Sewickley Heights
  • Sewickley Hills
  • Sharpsburg
  • Springdale
  • Swissvale
  • Tarentum
  • Thornburg
  • Trafford
  • Turtle Creek
  • Verona
  • Versailles
  • Wall
  • West Elizabeth
  • West Homestead
  • West Mifflin
  • West View
  • Whitaker
  • White Oak
  • Whitehall
  • Wilkinsburg
  • Wilmerding
  • Townships

  • Kennedy Township
  • Kilbuck Township
  • Leet Township
  • Marshall Township
  • McCandless
  • Moon Township
  • Neville Township
  • North Fayette Township
  • North Versailles
  • O'Hara Township
  • Ohio Township
  • Penn Hills
  • Pine Township
  • Reserve Township
  • Richland Township
  • Robinson Township
  • Ross Township
  • Scott Township
  • Shaler Township
  • South Fayette Township
  • South Park Township
  • South Versailles Township
  • Springdale Township
  • Stowe Township
  • Upper St. Clair
  • West Deer Township
  • Wilkins Township
  • The welcome signs of these cities, boroughs and townships are chronicled on the popular website Allegheny County Quest

    Census-designated places

    Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.

    Former Municipalities and Political Subdivisions

    Many political subdivisions of Allegheny County have come and gone through subdivision or annexation through the years. These include:

    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.


    Colleges and universities

    Community, Junior and Technical Colleges

    Public School Districts

  • North Allegheny School District
  • North Hills School District
  • Northgate School District
  • Penn Hills School District
  • Pine-Richland School District
  • Pittsburgh School District
  • Plum Borough School District
  • Quaker Valley School District
  • Riverview School District
  • Shaler Area School District
  • South Allegheny School District
  • South Fayette Township School District
  • South Park School District
  • Steel Valley School District
  • Sto-Rox School District
  • Upper Saint Clair School District
  • West Allegheny School District
  • West Jefferson Hills School District
  • West Mifflin Area School District
  • Wilkinsburg School District
  • Woodland Hills School District
  • Transportation

    Allegheny County's public transportation provider is the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

    For information about roads, see list of State Routes in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Belt System.


    There are two Pennsylvania state parks in Allegheny County:

    Notable Natives and Residents

    • James Mitchell Ashley, born in Allegheny County, member of United States Congress from Ohio, railroad president, and governor of Montana territory
    • James Bowman (1793-1842), born in Allegheny County, noted portrait artist
    • Mary Cassatt, born on what is now Pittsburgh's North Side, studied art in Europe. She lived in Paris, befriended by the Impressionist painter Edgar Degas. She was an innovative painter, printmaker, and etcher and is noted for her works depicting women and children.
    • Mark Cuban Internet billionaire, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.
    • Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864), known as the "father of American music," was the pre-eminent songwriter in the United States during the 19th century. He was born in Lawrenceville, which is now a part of Pittsburgh.
    • Actor Michael Keaton ("Beetlejuice," "Batman") was born Michael John Douglas on Sept. 5, 1951, in Coraopolis.
    • Actor Jeff Goldblum, ("The Big Chill," "The Fly") was born Oct. 22, 1952 in Whitaker, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
    • Dan Marino, NFL Football Player, was born in Pittsburgh in 1961, then played for the University of Pittsburgh and professionally for the Miami Dolphins. Widely considered one of the greatest all-time NFL quarterbacks, his records include: 8,358 attempts, 4,967 completions, 420 touchdowns and 13 seasons in which he threw for at least 3,000 yards.
    • Ethelbert Nevin (1862-1901), pianist and composer. Born in Edgeworth, he debuted in Pittsburgh in 1886. His musical education in Boston and Germany led him to spend most of his time in composition for the piano.
    • Ron Paul, born in Allegheny County (Green Tree), 2008 presidential candidate, Congressman from Texas
    • Director George Romero ("Night of the Living Dead") grew up in the Bronx but moved to Pittsburgh after high school to attend the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) where he studied art, design and theater. His 1968 zombie film, made for $114,000, is a cult classic.
    • Andy Warhol (1928-1987), was raised in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County and is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. A museum on the city's North Side that bears his name exhibits many of his works.
    • John Edgar Wideman was born in Washington D.C. in 1941, but raised in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood, which has been the setting of his celebrated novels of the African-American experience.
    • August Wilson (1945-2005) was born in the Hill District, which was the setting of all but one of the ten plays in his celebrated Pittsburgh Cycle, two of which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

    Major League Sports Teams


    External links

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