1902 Encyclopedia > Pittsburgh

United States

PITTSBURGH, the second largest city of Pennsylvania, and the leading iron, steel, and glass manufacturing centre of the United States, lies at the confluence of the Alle-gheny and the Monongahela, which unite here to form the Ohio, 250 miles west by north of Philadelphia. The business quarter of the city is built on a nearly level triangular plain, between the two rivers, measuring about three quarters of a mile on each side back to the hills which rise to the east.

The manufacturing establishments stretch for a distance of 7 miles up the Allegheny, 7 up the Monongahela, and 2 down the Ohio, and occupy the strip of low ground usually a few hundred feet broad between the river banks and the hills which generally face them. The slope of the hills to the east of the business quarter is closely built with residences and retail stores for the distance of a mile and a half, but the summits, 400 or 500 feet high, are partially unoccupied. Beyond the hills extends a rolling country which, for a space of about 5 miles long by 2 wide is occupied by the villas of the citizens. The hills facing the rivers are generally precipitous, and vary in height from 300 to 600 feet, but at different points they recede from the river banks and afford sites for the suburbs of Lawrenceville (on the Allegheny), Hazlewood, and Birmingham (on the north and south banks respec-tively of the Monongahela), which are within the muni-cipality of Pittsburgh, and (on the north bank of the Allegheny and Ohio) for the city of Allegheny, which, with its separate municipal government and population of 78,000 inhabitants, is commercially and socially a part of Pittsburgh. The two cities together cover an irregular space of 9 miles between the extreme eastern and western points, with a breadth varying from 2 to 4 miles.

From the character of its site Pittsburgh would natur-ally be very attractive, but the free use of the bituminous coal which has been the principal agent in its development has so spoiled its beauty as to give it the name of the Smoky City. Not only do the manufacturing quarters show long lines of smoke-stained buildings, but the busi-ness quarter, which is composed of rather narrow streets laid out early in the century, is mainly constructed of brick and iron, and in spite of the presence of some fine public buildings in granite and brown stone—the municipal hall, the petroleum exchange, the new United States post office and court-house (1884), the new county court-house (1884), <fec.—has a generally grimy and unattractive appearance. A better opinion of the wealth and taste of the city is obtained from a view of the suburban quarters of the East End and the parks and residence quarters of Allegheny. And, all disfigurement and dirtiness notwith-standing, it is full of interesting and striking sights. The interiors of its rolling-mills and glass-houses, and the views of the city from the surrounding hills, with the manufac-turing quarters marked out by their smoke by day and their fires by night, are of a unique and picturesque char-acter. Along the rivers are fleets of steamers towing barges laden with coal for consumption at this point and for shipment to the cities lower down. Joining the various quarters of the city are ten bridges for ordinary traffic and four railway viaducts, among which the Point Bridge and the Smithfield Street Bridge are fine examples of engineering in iron. Six inclined-plane railways afford access to the summits of the high hills.

Pittsburgh is of historical interest from the struggle (1755-1758) for its possession between England and France in the Seven Years' War, and the fact that the public and military career of George Washington was commenced with those campaigns (see WASHINGTON). With the termination of that struggle in the capture of the ruins of Fort Duquesne by the British, the history of the place becomes that of an ordinary frontier town. A new fort was erected and named Fort Pitt in honour of the prime minister whose energy had urged the war forward to its capture, and wrested the Ohio valley and Canada from French control. After one or two Indian wars, in winch the post was threatened, and on one occasion nearly taken, Fort Pitt lost its military character and became a trading town. The /first streets were laid out near the fort in 1764, and in 1769 the first survey of the unsettled lands in the vicinity was made for the proprietors, the heirs of William Perin, under the name of the manor of Pitts-burgh. After the termination of the revolu-tion, the legislature of Pennsylvania incor-porated Pittsburgh as a village on April 22, 1794, and on March 18, 1816, its charter as a city was granted. During the colonial period a dispute arose between Virginia and Penn-sylvania as to the possession of the territory surrounding the town, and in the first few years of its history under the United States it attracted attention from its proximity to the famous " Whisky Insurrection " of Western Pennsylvania. After it had attained a popu-lation of 30,000 it was visited on the 10th of April 1845 by a disastrous conflagration in which the buildings in the business centre, covering a space of 56 acres, and valued at $5,000,000 dollars, were consumed.

In the Pittsburgh of to-day there is little besides names of streets, hills, and suburbs to recall the struggle which decided the Anglo-Saxon character of the country. The locality known as the Point, where Fort Duquesne stood, is covered with thickly built factories and dingy tenements. In a squalid and obscure court a portion of the wall of a blockhouse erected in 1763 by Colonel Boquet, one of the British commandants of Fort Pitt, still forms a part of a building, and on the wall of the staircase of Municipal Hall is a stone bearing the inscription with which that officer commemorated its erection. Immediately across the M onon-gahela a range of precipitous hills some 500 feet high bears the names of Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights. On the first hill rising to the east of the level part of the city, a red granite court-house, to cost $2,000,000, is in process of construction near to the spot where Major Grant was defeated and slain, and the new build-ing will replace the brown stone structure which for many years fronted on the street bearing that unfortunate officer's name. Twelve miles away, the suburb long known as Braddock's Field and now as Braddock's, attracts attention chiefly by the roar and glare of its great steel manufacturing establishment.

Deriving its early importance in commerce from its position at the head of the Ohio, which was until 1855 the principal route between the middle States and the west and south-west, Pittsburgh has since obtained its greatest growth from the coal which under-lies nearly all Western Pennsylvania. This has made the city and its immediate suburbs the most important manufacturing district in America, in both pig and bar iron, steel, glass, and copper. In 1883 Allegheny county produced 11J per cent, of the pig iron produced in the United States, and 21 per w.nt. of the rolled iron and steel. The iron industry consists oi' 16 blast furnaces, pro-ducing, in 1883, 592,475 tons ; 32 rolling faills, producing 472,351 tons of finished iron ; and 91 other establishments, turning out a large variety of other manufactures of iron, from boilers to safes and steam pumps. The steel industry comprises 20 large mills with an output for 1883 of 405,530 tons. The blast furnaces and rolling-mills of Pittsburgh employ a capital of $23,910,000 and 21,190 workmen, the steel industry $10,170,000 and 7060 work-men. Next in importance is the glass manufacture, in which 75 establishments are engaged, 24 making table ware, 24 window glass, 10 green glass bottles, and 9 lamp chimneys. The capital invested in them is $5,985,000. They employ 6442 hands, and the value of their last reported annual production is $6,832,683. The coal and coke industry of the district, which is controlled mainly by Pittsburgh, comprises a capital of $26,406,500, employs 23,621 miners and other labourers, and makes an annual output of 7,720,000 tons of coal and 2,760,000 tons of coke, valued at $16,600,000. The total of all the manufacturing industries of the city is 1380 establishments, with $105,401,481 of capital, employing 85,936 workmen of all kinds, and producing to the value of $149,721,619. The wholesale trade of the city is much less important than its manufacturing industries, and with a few exceptions is confined to the immediate vicinity. It includes 90 firms with an aggregate capital of $11,206,000 and total sales of $125,390,472. Within the last year a new and unirpue industry has been developed. By drilling in the earth to a depth of 1200 to 2000 feet, what is practically the fire-damp of the coal mine is tapped in such quantity that it comes to the surface in great force. It has been found to be useful as a fuel for all the purposes of coal except the smelting of ores in blast furnaces; and, as it is cheap3r both for making steam and for the heatiug of the iron and glass furnaces, its adoption has been general among the manufacturers.

As the railway system has developed, the important boating interest of Pittsburgh has become confined to the transportation of coal from the Monongahela river mines to the down-river cities. The coal is only taken out when freshets have raised the river, and at that time fleets of steamers, each towing from eight to fifteen barges, covering acres in extent and carrying thousands of tons of coal, start down stream. The total steam tonnage of Pittsburgh is 36,845 tons with 163 vessels, but the addition of the barges brings the tonnage up to 1,359,972 and the number of vessels to 3208.

Pittsburgh is stated to be the origin of more railway freight than any other point in the country. There are a large number of lines, under the control of three great companies. The most important is the Pennsylvania Railroad, wdiose trunk lines pass through the city, and number amoung their feeders the West Pennsylvania ; the Allegheny Valley ; the Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Charleston ; the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St Louis ; the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago ; and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroads. The Pittsburgh division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad gives a connexion with that trunk line, and by the Pittsburgh and Western, and the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Toledo, reaches the Chicago branch of the same system to the west. The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie affords the New York Central and the New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio lines an access to Pittsburgh, while its extension under the name of the Pittsburgh, MacKeesport, and Youghiogheny penetrates the coal and coke district to the south-east.

In 1796, by the first accurate census on record, the population of Pittsburgh was 1395. By 1810 it had increased to 4968 ; by 1820 to 7248 ; by 1830 to 12.452 ; by 1840 to 21,115 ; by 1850 to 36,601 ; by 1860 to 49,221 ; by 1870 to 86,076. In 1874 the con-solidation of outlying boroughs made the population, according to the census of 1870, 121,799 ; and in 1880 this had increased to 156,389. These figures do not comprise the population of Alle-gheny, which was 28,702 in 1860, 53,180 in 1870, and 78,682 in 1880. Including the manufacturing and residential suburbs, the total population by the census of 1880 was 274,160 ; and, with the large extension of manufacturing and building that has gone on since then, it was estimated in 1884 at 325,000.

The municipal governments of Pittsburgh and Allegheny are each composed of a mayor, controller, and treasurer, with city councils in two branches styled respectively select and common. These are elected by the people, and appoint other administrative officials to take charge of the police and fire departments, assessments, and public works. The total assessed valuation of the city of Pitts-burgh for purposes of taxation is $101,508,603, on which a revenue is collected for all purposes of $2,777,405. Allegheny has an assessed valuation of $40,707,858, and spends $650,000 annually. The total indebtedness of Pittsburgh is $14,497,800, of which nearly $10,000,000 was expended for water-works and street pavements. The debt of Allegheny is but $1,400,000.

The school system of each city is governed by a central board of education and ward boards, both elected by popular vote. The Pittsburgh system comprises a fine stone high school overlooking the city, and 52 ward schools, in which are 469 teachers and 23,629 scholars, the approximate annual expenditure being $550,000. In the Allegheny system there are the high school and 18 ward schools, with 207 teachers, 9392 scholars, and an annual expenditure of about $200,000. The principal institutions established by public taxation are the Riverside State Peniten-tiary, completed in 1884 in the lower part of Allegheny ; the Morganza Reform School ; the workhouse at Claremont, on the Allegheny river ; and the Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and County poorhouses.

The churches and chapels in Pittsburgh and Allegheny nurnbei 237 : 57 are Roman Catholic, including 13 monastic and conventua establishments ; 53 represent the various branches of Presbyterian- ism ; 39 are Methodist Episcopal, and 16 Protestant Episcopal Among the leading examples of church architecture are St Paul's Cathedral (Roman Catholic), Trinity and St Peter's (Protestant Episcopal), the First and Third Presbyterian and the German Lutheran churches in Pittsburgh, and the North Presbyterian I in Allegheny. Private charity has established the West Penn. Hospital with a large branch for the treatment of the insane at Dixmont, the Homeopathic Hospital, the Mercy Hospital, the Pittsburgh Infirmary, the Free Dispensary, the North Side Hospi- ! tal, and St Francis Hospital ; and 18 asylums for orphans and the I aged and infirm are maintained throughout the two cities. The J collegiate institutions comprise the Western University, the Western Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), the United Presby- , terian Seminary, the Catholic College, the Pennsylvania Female College, and the Pittsburgh Female College. (J. F. H.)

The above article was written by: J. F. Hudson.

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