Pittsburgh: Economy

views updated May 18 2018

Pittsburgh: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

The southwestern Pennsylvania region, especially the city of Pittsburgh, showed great resiliency and resourcefulness in shifting from an industrial economy to one based on health care, research, hospitality and tourism through the 1990s. Nevertheless, the local economy mirrored the national recession for various reasons following the events of September 11, 2001. U.S. Airways, a major employer, suffered serious losses from decreased travel due to fear or terrorism and the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic. Although U.S. Airways came out of bankruptcy in 2003, it cut more than 300 jobs and reduced service by about a third in 2004; Pittsburgh, which had once been the airline's largest hub, was reduced in status and Pittsburgh International Airport lost jobs to U.S. Airway's other hub cities such as Philadelphia and Charlotte. In January 2005, Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest discount carrier and sixth largest airline, announced it would start service at Pittsburgh International Airport in May, helping to fill the gap left by the loss of leases by U.S. Airways. Local officials are also trying to lure JetBlue, Frontier, and Spirit.

Losses in manufacturing jobs were not completely replaced by high tech jobs, as the latter account for only about six percent of jobs in the Pittsburgh MSA. Another reason for loss of jobs and the region's general downward economic trend is that Pittsburgh has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the nation. Not only do high taxes increase the cost of production for companies, they also discourage new businesses from locating in the area and may force established businesses to relocate to places with more favorable tax structures. The City of Pittsburgh was forced to file for financially distressed status under Pennsylvania's Act 47 in December of 2004. In the wake of this alternative to bankruptcy, the state Department of Community and Economic Development appointed a recovery team to compile a five year plan for economic recovery for the city. Financial analysts are cautiously optimistic as the unemployment rate seems to have peaked at 6.8 percent in January of 2003 and has come back down to 4.8 percent in April of 2005.

By far, the largest employment sector for the Pittsburgh area is in health, educational, and social services. Though heavy manufacturing continues to play a part, it employs only 12.3 percent of the work force as of May 2005. Health care, construction, and education all added jobs in 2004. Financial analysts predict continued modest growth in 2005, with finance, business services, and health care again providing key support. Research is now the third largest industry; the Pittsburgh area is home to 150 laboratories and over 7,500 scientists and engineers. Service, hospitality, and tourism jobs are growing fast as well, adding more than 10,000 jobs in these sectors since 1994, and 5,400 jobs in May 2005 alone. Education and state government employment declined slightly during that same month.

Film making is another emerging industry. Major motion pictures made in Pittsburgh include the original Angels in the Outfield, Night of the Living Dead, The Deer Hunter, Flashdance, Gung Ho, The Silence of the Lambs, Lorenzo's Oil, Hoffa, Groundhog Day, The Wonder Boys, and The Mothman Prophecies. Overall, the size of the labor force and the number of jobs, as defined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have both increased during the first half of 2005 resulting in a slightly lowered unemployment rate.

Items and goods produced: fabricated metal products, primary metals, glass products, machinery, food and related products, medical equipment, chemicals, plastics, electronics, software, robotics

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

In keeping with the style of having many small municipal governments and school districts, Pittsburgh metro area's economic development groups number at least 27 different agencies. Typically, local incentives are used to augment traditional funding sources, federal and state assistance for which companies may be eligible. For example, the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority administers the Pittsburgh Business Growth Fund, which is designed to provide "gap financing" for small businesses that create and keep jobs in the City of Pittsburgh, providing loans at competitive rates for leasehold renovations, equipment, and working capital.

Local programs

Among the many programs offering business incentives in the Pittsburgh area are the Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Inc., a $16 million fund that offers capital to manufacturing firms and businesses, job training, and early funding to chosen entrepreneurs; Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, which attempts to unite a network of community development corporations with public and private investors; the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, which is concerned with a 10 county, 200 mile network of waterways and the promotion of travel and industrial development along them; the Regional Development Funding Corporation, which acts on behalf of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Pittsburgh District Office in various economic development activities; and the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a private, notfor-profit corporation that coordinates local, state and federal funding programs for environmental assessment and renovations, working capital, infrastructure and new building construction and equipment, and administrates the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority's funding for land and building acquisition and improvements.

The Allegheny County Department of Economic Develop-ment's Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County runs four programs: the $50 million Economic Development Fund, which assists local companies; redevelopment assistance; the Tax Increment Financing program; and the Housing Division, which administers the Home Improvement Program of Allegheny County and the Vacant Property Recovery Program.

State programs

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the Department of Community and Economic Development to implement its Economic Stimulus Package, with 18 components or programs that assist in everything from site selection to loans for equipment, Enterprise Zone grants, tax credits, brownfield development financing, and more.

Job training programs

Carnegie Library's Job Training and Workforce Development catalogue lists 22 job training and related services in Pittsburgh, six given by Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Several of the regional services are associated with Pittsburgh's colleges and universities. The Greater Pittsburgh Supported Employment Association helps those with severe disabilities get vocational rehabilitation and supported jobs. The Allegheny County Department of Human Services helps determine if individuals are qualified for federal funding. Some programs focus on minority youth, some on military veterans, some on displaced factory workers. Many help dropouts get a GED (high school equivalency diploma). Some agencies of note are Pittsburgh Job Corps, YouthWorks, the Urban League of Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, and Carnegie Mellon University's Infolink.

Development Projects

Of the many development projects of recent years, the largest and those with the biggest economical impact have been the completion of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown; and the two new stadiums on the North Side, the stunningly beautiful PNC Park for MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates, and Heinz Field for NFL legends Pittsburgh Steelers. Then-governor Tom Ridge broke ground for the Convention Center in April 2000, and its 1.5 million square feet was opened in three stages even as construction continued. Phase I was completed in February 2002; May 2002 saw Phase II completed with four exhibition halls and 18 meeting rooms; and in March 2003 the grand opening ceremony was held with all 5 exhibition halls, 51 meeting rooms, and the huge Grand Ballroom. PNC Park opened March 31, 2001 with an exhibition game with the New York Mets. Although it is the next to smallest ballpark in Major League Baseball with 38,127 seats, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful, designed to offer amazing views of the city skyline and intimate views on the field. Heinz Field opened August 25, 2001; it is a 65,000 seat, horseshoe shaped stadium with the open end at the south end zone facing the fountain at Point State Park. New hotels, restaurants and retail outlets have sprung up near the new stadiums and convention center.

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority handles many projects but there are six showcase projects of note. South Side Works involved riverside development and brownfield renewal around Carson Street and the Hot Metal Bridge, resulting in a mixed use development with offices, a hotel, retail, and restaurants, a sports medicine complex and practice fields, and housing. Summerset at Frick Park, also known as Nine Mile Run, revived an environmentally ravaged slag heap into a 238 acre, 713 home community. Bedford Hill area housing developments were made possible when the Pittsburgh Housing authority received a $26.6 million HOPE VII grant. The Pittsburgh Technology Center is the result of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh joining forces with the business community to create an interdisciplinary research center to advance studies in biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, bioengineering, and computer applications. Washington's Landing is a development on a small island in the Allegheny River about two miles upstream from the downtown Golden Triangle. Herr's Island was transformed from garbage heap into an exclusive community with townhouses on the west end, businesses, a rowing center, and tennis courts in the middle, with a portion of the 17 mile Heritage Trail skirting the trees and fields along the perimeter. Crawford Square is an 18 acre residential development on the eastern edge of downtown Pittsburgh, bordering the mostly African American Hill District neighborhood.

In the southern end of Oakland and extending eastward to the Hazelwood neighborhood, an abandoned factory and brownfield area is being recovered as the Pittsburgh Technology Center Office and Research Park takes over the old LTV Coke plant. When complete, the LTV Coke Works Redevelopment Project will result in 700,000 square feet of office and research and development space, accompanied by around 1,000 residential units of various types. The city hopes the project will encourage businesses to locate near the universities in Oakland. Another research center is under construction in south Oakland on the edge of Carnegie Mellon's campus, the Junction Hollow Research and Development Technology Center, which will create 300,000 square feet for high technology companies that spin off from interaction with CMU. Both the Junction Hollow and the LTV Coke Works projects hope to qualify for funding from the Keystone Innovation Zone Program, which funds joint ventures of universities and corporations.

In the heart of Pittsburgh's downtown, the "Golden Triangle," the African-American Cultural Center Project is scheduled to be completed in 2007. A performing arts and exhibition center, the project will include a hotel and parking, and will add a sixth theater to the downtown "Cultural District." The Pittsburgh Riverfront Trail Connections Projects is an ongoing effort to improve, maintain, lengthen, and add connections to the 17-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail System, which is used both recreationally and for commuting on foot, by bike, or by rollerblade. Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Heritage Trail System is acknowledged to be a national model for urban trail design and economic benefits thereof. North Shore Transportation Improvements Project has evolved with the new stadiums to include a new riverfront park, a 900 space parking garage, and a revamp of the pre-colonial street grid to improve traffic flow. Future developments on the North Shore will be new office buildings for Del Monte Foods and Equitable Gas, an expansion of Carnegie Science Center, a 6,000 seat public amphitheater, more retail and residential developments, another parking garage of 1,000 spaces, and an extension of the light transit rail. In Lawrenceville, another East End neighborhood, St. Francis Hospital has been bought out by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has a new pediatric research center under construction and plans to move its Children's Hospital facility there. It is expected to be completed in 2007, with the current Children's hospital in Oakland remaining open until that time.

Other ongoing projects include Magee-Women's Hospital Research Center, a seven story addition to the hospital of the same name. A much needed upgrade of Schenley Plaza at the juncture of the Oakland neighborhood's University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon campuses, as well as upgrades to Schenley Park, is underway.

One of the major projects outside Pittsburgh city limits but within the greater metropolitan area is The Waterfront, another renewed brownfield area where the infamous Homestead Steel Works once flourished. It is a $300 million mix of commercial, retail, and residential use that the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development convinced three municipalities to share the financing and tax revenues. The Airside Business Park and Airport Cargo Center are two very important economic developments, the business park being a 273,000 square foot multi-use office space/warehouse facility in Moon Township near Pittsburgh International Airport. The newest completed development in the area is the Pittsburgh Mills mall in east suburb Frazer Township, which held a grand opening in July 2005. The Galleria section of the mall features more than a million square feet of space including a 165,000 square foot Kaufmann's, a 98,000 square foot JCPenney, an entertainment and sports wing with bowling lanes, and a state of the art 16 screen theater.

Finally, a more controversial means of developing revenue in Pittsburgh is coming: gambling. In 2004, Governor Ed Rendell persuaded the state to pass the slots law, which approves 14 casinos to be built around Pennsylvania, 7 at horse racing tracks (one of which is The Meadows in nearby Washington County), 5 "stand-alone" locations, and 2 in resort areas. Pittsburgh is allotted one of the stand-alone casinos, and in mid-2005 several groups were vying for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to grant them the license for their proposed sites. The 23-member Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force was appointed by Mayor Tom Murphy to study the social and economic impact of a casino, provide input on the aesthetic look it should have, and determine how it should interact with its neighbors. The licenses are expected to be given out some time in 2006, with casinos opening in 2007.

Economic Development Information: Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, 425 Sixth Avenue, Eighth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone (412)350-1010; toll-free (800)766-6888; fax (412)612-2217. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, 200 Ross Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone (412)255-6600; fax (412)255-6617; email [email protected]. Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, 400 North Street, Fourth Floor, Commonwealth Keystone Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225; toll-fee (866)466-3972

Commercial Shipping

The Port of Pittsburgh is the country's largest inland port in terms of tonnage originating and passing through it. More than 50 million tons of cargo, primarily coal, are shipped annually on its three-river system. The port offers convenient access to the nation's inland waterway system on 8,000 miles of navigable rivers flowing through 24 states. The port system affects almost a half million water-dependent jobs. There are two Class I railroads and five Class II, with several connecting rails near industrial sites. Pittsburgh is served by more than 100 trucking firms with access to four major interstate highways. Air freight services are available at Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Factors such as a low crime rate, high quality public education, and a skilled labor force with a strong work ethic continue to attract new employers to Pittsburgh. However some workers are struggling with the economic shift from heavy industry to more high tech occupations, as many lower-paying service jobs have replaced the higher-paying factory jobs of yesterday. Even in the fall of 2002, a time of recession for the nation and the region, Pittsburgh area employers had a hard time filling positions for more skilled workers, managerial and professional posts. However, overall, the unemployment rate has come down steadily in the past couple years so economic prognosticators are somewhat optimistic.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Pittsburgh metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,134,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 58,900

manufacturing: 103,300

trade, transportation and utilities: 233,700

information: 24,100

financial activities: 69,600

professional and business services: 138,900

educational and health services: 213,500

leisure and hospitality: 105,100

other services: 59,500

government: 128,100

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.37

Unemployment rate: 4.8% (April 2005)

Largest county employersNumber of employees
UPMC Health Systems26,700
U.S. Government20,400
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania15,900
West Penn Allegheny Health Systems10,200
University of Pittsburgh10,100
Mellon Financial Corp.8,404
PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.6,959
Allegheny County6,695
USX Corp.6,300
Giant Eagle, Inc.5,700
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield5,600
Eat'n' Park Hospitality Group4,600
Verizon Communications4,400
USAirways Group, Inc.4,000

Cost of Living

Pittsburgh's cost of living is slightly lower than the national average as is the price of housing. The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Pittsburgh area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $226,663

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 94.9 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 2.8%

State sales tax rate: 6%

Local income tax rate: 3%

Local sales tax rate: 1%

Property tax rate: $24.72 per $1,000 assessed value (2005)

Economic Information: Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, 425 Sixth Avenue, Eighth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone (412)350-1010; toll-free (800)766-6888; fax (412)612-2217. Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1100, Pittsburgh PA 15219

Pittsburgh: Recreation

views updated Jun 27 2018

Pittsburgh: Recreation


A logical starting place for a tour of Pittsburgh is downtown at Point State Park, where a 150-foot fountain symbolizes the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Located within the park is the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, the only remaining structure of Fort Pitt. Throughout the Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh's downtown area, sightseers can observe turn-of-the-century skyscrapers and other architecturally interesting modern and historic buildings, such as Pennsylvania Station, the Frick Building, the Union Trust Building, and the Omni William Penn Hotel. Among the city's most famous structures are the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail, completed in 1888 and connected by the "Bridge of Sighs." In Oakland, the architectural jewel of Pitt's campus is the Cathedral of Learning, which looks like a cross between a French Gothic church and a skyscraper. This 42-story building houses 24 Nationality Classrooms designed by artists and architects from the nations represented. The cathedral was designed by Charles Zeller Klauder, as was adjacent Heinz Chapel. A more recent attraction is the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, which houses a comprehensive archive of America's early 20th century push to progress.

South of downtown Pittsburgh, across the Monongahela, is Mount Washington, formerly called Coal Hill, from which a spectacular view of the city is provided by means of cable car rides on the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines. The Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore offers many scientific curiosities including a planetarium, an OmniMax theater, and a claustrophobia-inducing tour of a World War II submarine. In Oakland at the entrance to Schenley Park, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens encloses more than two acres of floral exhibits, including a Butterfly Forest with 300 living chrysalises and butterflies at any given time. The conservatory opened a Welcome Center on March 31, 2005, a 10,885 square foot entrance with a shop and a café. Completion of the Welcome Center marked the completion of a $36.6 million expansion plan for Phipps.

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium display more than 4,000 animals representing 475 species in naturalistic habitats over its 77 acres in hilly Highland Park. Part of the facility, Kids Kingdom is considered to be among the nation's top three children's zoos. The crown jewel is the $17.4 million PPG Aquarium that opened in June 2000. The 45,000 square foot aquarium houses a two-story Amazon Rainforest Exhibit around a 100,000 gallon tank with sharks, other fish, and simulated coral, recreating a diverse ecosystem.

The National Aviary on the North Side has about 600 birds in various simulated habitats. It offers close encounters with large birds of prey, and walk-through Wetlands of the Americas and Tropical Rain Forest exhibits, among many other activities. Kennywood Park, touted as "America's Favorite Traditional Amusement Park" and "the Roller Coaster Capital of the World," is in West Mifflin, 10 miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh. Kennywood was established in 1898 and offers a range of rides from vintage wooden roller coasters to the new Phantom's Revenge, with a 230 foot drop and reaching speeds of about 85 miles per hour, one of the fastest coasters in the world. Sandcastle Waterpark is Kennywood's sister park across the Monongahela in Homestead; same-day passes to use both parks are available.

The famous Frank Lloyd Wright house built over a waterfall, Fallingwater, is only about an hour's drive from Pittsburgh in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. An offbeat way to see Pittsburgh sights is to embark upon a World War II amphibious vehicle and take in a Just Ducky tour. For those who prefer a larger vessel, the Gateway Clipper Fleet is a collection of riverboats offering tourists a view of the city from the water while they enjoy fine dining, dancing, and entertainment. Once docked back in Station Square, visitors can enjoy more dining and shopping there in the old railroad station turned office building, mall, and nightlife center. Behind the new Hard Rock Café in Station Square's latest extension, Bessemer Court, is the "Dancing Waters" 130-foot high water jet display synchronized with lighting and music.

Arts and Culture

The Pittsburgh community is strongly supportive of the visual and performing arts. Heinz Hall, internationally acclaimed for its outstanding acoustics, is home to the renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and it also presents Broadway shows and other performances. One street over from Heinz Hall in the Golden Triangle's Cultural District is the Benedum Center, a $42 million dollar renovation of the old Stanley Theater in response to demand on Heinz Hall for performing space and time. Benedum Center is now home for Pittsburgh Ballet, Opera, Dance Council, and Civic Light Opera. Also located in the Cultural District are the Byham, O'Reilly, and Harris theaters, the former two being rebuilt vaudeville venues and the latter being leased by Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. Near the theaters in the Cultural District is Wood Street Galleries, which promotes multi-disciplinary artists and provides space and equipment to smaller arts organizations; the galleries also share office space with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which oversees arts matters in the city.

The Post-Gazette Pavillion at Star Lake, about 40 miles southwest of the city; Hartwood Acres in the north suburbs; and the Chevrolet (formerly I.C. Light) outdoor amphitheater in Station Square are the main venues for rock concerts or other large outdoor events. Pittsburgh's River City Brass Band performs at various locations from September through May. Pittsburgh Theater groups and acting companies include the Pittsburgh Playhouse, City Theatre, the Gemini Theater, Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, Civic Light Opera, PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Theater, South Park Theatre, and Kuntu Repertory Theater. The universities have their own acting venues; Carnegie Mellon's drama department produces musicals and dramas at its Purnell Center for the Arts while Pitt's troupers perform at the Stephen Foster Memorial Theater. The Mattress Factory on the North Side is a unique combination of working and living space for artists, museum, gallery, and performance space.

To fulfill his dream of bringing together the disciplines of art, music, literature, and science, Andrew Carnegie gave the city The Carnegie, a building constructed in two stylesItalian Renaissance and Beaux Artswith an elaborate foyer that Carnegie is said to have insisted cost more than a throne room. Another Oakland landmark, The Carnegie houses the Museum of Natural History on one side and the Museum of Art on the other, as well as the main branch of the Carnegie Library with a separate side street entrance around the corner at the other end of this vast edifice. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History boasts one of the best dinosaur collections of any museum in the world, with the first T. rex ever discovered and the third largest fossil collection. Its 10,000 or so items and specimens on display are not even one percent of its entire collections. The Carnegie Museum of Art's permanent collections includes outstanding pieces of impressionist art such as Monet's Water Lilies, as well as American paintings and artifacts and changing exhibitions of exciting new art from around the world. Also housed within The Carnegie is the Hall of Music, which regularly presents entertainment by locally and internationally known performers. On the North Side is the Andy Warhol Museum, the Children's Museum, and Carnegie Science Center. In the east end is the Frick Art and Historical Center with a museum, shop, and café, and the Henry Clay Frick mansion, Clayton.

In the Strip District bordering downtown is the Heinz Regional History Center, devoted to the heritage of western Pennsylvania. Other attractions of note in the area are the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington; the Western Pennsylvania Model railroad Museum in Gibsonia; and Old Economy Village, created in 1824 by the Harmony Society, a group similar to the Amish who settled here to escape religious persecution in Germany. Also of interest are the Allegheny Cemetery Historical Society, the Alle-Kiski Historical Society, the Center for American Music at the Stephen C. Foster Memorial at the University of Pittsburgh, Braddock's Field Historical Society, the Depreciation Lands Museum, the George Westinghouse Museum, the Kerr Museum, the Rachel Carson Homestead, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the University Art Gallery at Pitt, and the circa 1785 Neville House.

Festivals and Holidays

Locals start the New Year off with a family-oriented First Night celebration. An eight dollar charge admits one to various buildings and theaters all over downtown to enjoy live drama, music, dance, comedy, puppets, and more, while outside there is a parade followed by fireworks at midnight. Come spring, even the non-Irish enjoy the St. Patrick's day parade and subsequent Bourbon Street-like party in downtown Pittsburgh in March. In April is the Pittsburgh International Science and Technology festival. May brings the Pittsburgh Folk Festival and the International Children's Festival.

The rivers, parks, entertainment centers, and neighborhoods of Pittsburgh are host to a wide variety of fairs and festivals throughout the year. The most ambitious of all of them is the 17-day extravaganza known as the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Held in June, it offers arts and crafts, free concerts, food, and children's activities. Also in June is the Mellon Jazz Festival, the Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest, and in the neighboring county to the north one can visit the Butler County Rodeo and Big Butler Fair. From late May to mid-August the Stephen Foster Memorial Theater presents the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival. The Three Rivers Regatta, held in July in the waters around Point State Park, celebrates the industrial and recreational importance of the city's rivers. The Pittsburgh Blues Festival is held every July to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. July also sees the Wings over Pittsburgh air show, which features the USAF Thunderbirds and showcases a Stealth bomber. Beginning in 2005, the Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament in late June will highlight how the area's rivers have been cleaned up enough, allowing previously endangered species return. The Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is held in the Laurel Highlands resort area in August, as are two Shadyside Arts Festivals and the Three Rivers Storytelling Festival. Labor Day weekend is time for another breath-taking fireworks display. The holiday season starts in late November with Light Up Night and free parking, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating at PPG Plaza, hot apple cider and other old fashioned holiday experiences for the season.

Sports for the Spectator

Pittsburghers have long been ardent sports fans. The city is home to three major sports teams; black and gold is worn by its baseball, football, and ice hockey teams, making Pittsburgh the only city in the United States to have all their major sports teams in the same colors. The National League's Pittsburgh Pirates play in the new PNC Park from April to October. The National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers, four-time Super Bowl champions, use Heinz Field as their battle ground. The National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins, owned by legendary center Mario Lemieux who led them to back-to-back Stanley Cups in the early 1990s, play from September to April at the Mellon Arena. Pro soccer offers the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, whose Falconi Field is actually in nearby Washington, Pennsylvania.

College sports are very much alive at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. The Pitt Panthers have men's teams in football, basketball, wrestling, cross country, swimming and diving, soccer, baseball, and track and field, and women's teams in basketball, cross country and track, gymnastics, volleyball, softball, swimming and diving, and tennis. The Panthers are a Big East team that has been a national contender in football and basketball of late. Panthers Football is played at Heinz Field, while other sports are played on the university campus at Petersen Events Center or the Fitzgerald Field House. The Duquesne Dukes teams compete at their uptown A.J. Palumbo facility. Harness track racing is offered at the Meadows in Washington County.

Sports for the Participant

Every season offers a variety of choices for the sports-minded in the Pittsburgh area. The rivers and many parks provide cycling and running paths, and water sports such as swimming, rowing, whitewater rafting, skiing, and fishing. The surrounding hilly country offers recreational opportunities to campers, hikers, and spelunkers, and within a two-hour drive of the city are 10 ski resorts and numerous cross country ski and snowmobile trails, as well as 800,000 acres of game land to entice hunters. Much work was done through the Rails to Trails program in the 1990s and today Pittsburgh enjoys a 17-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail system and other trails in the area such as the Montour Trail in Robinson Township. The Montour Trail is currently about 40 miles long and will eventually connect Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Although running is a popular activity in the area, the city has had trouble financing its Pittsburgh Marathon, a 26.2-mile race that attracted the top distance runners in the world, finally shutting down the race for good in 2003. Another popular event (also cancelled due to financial woes, but reinstated in 2003) is the Great Race, a ten kilometer foot race in late September that attracts world-class competitionMayor Tom Murphy has run every Great Race since the first one in 1976.

Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation Department (CitiParks) operates many other educational and sports and fitness activities year-round, including aquatics, bicycling, tennis, senior games, lawn bowling, ice skating, and BIG League sports, a collection of baseball and softball leagues and tournaments. Another popular sport is golf; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette lists over 150 golf courses in the greater Pittsburgh area, and the PGA Senior Championships are held every June in nearby Verona. Golf Digest magazine ranked Pittsburgh the fourth best urban area for golfers.

Shopping and Dining

The Golden Triangle's eleven square blocks house major department stores and a myriad of specialty stores and boutiques. PPG Place, a stunning multi-block structure rendered entirely in glass, contains 20 specialty stores and restaurants. One Oxford Center features five levels of restaurants and upscale shops. Fifth Avenue Place has a mix of specialty shops on its first floor and a fast food court with one fine dining restaurant, Caffe Amante, adjacent to it. A popular destination is across the Smithfield Street Bridge from downtown in Station Square, original site of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad headquarters, which has been restored and now has more than 50 shops; more than 25 restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, and nightclubs; a Sheraton hotel; Hard Rock Café; the dock for the Gateway Clipper Fleet; and access to the Monongahela Incline cable car up to Mt. Washington, where several fine dining establishments take advantage of the spectacular view to accompany the cuisine.

Pittsburgh's many neighborhoods each have their own shopping district with its own unique character. The Strip District has grown from being the city's warehouse center for fresh meat, fish, produce, and ethnic delicacies to include restaurants and entertainment complexes, of which a newer development is the Boardwalk, an enormous nightclub that floats on the Allegheny River. Squirrel Hill and Shadyside neighborhoods are both reminiscent of Greenwich Village with its unique boutiques and art shops. The Bloomfield neighborhood is known as Pittsburgh's Little Italy. For micro-brew aficionados, visits to the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville and the Penn Brewery in Troy Hill are a must. At the Pittsburgh International Airport, travelers can find good food and duty free shopping in over 100 outlets at the Airside Mall. The largest shopping malls in the suburban areas are Century III and the Galleria in the south, Ross Park Mall in North Hills, Monroeville Mall and the huge new Waterfront development in Homestead to the east; farther east is the brand new Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Frazer Township.

Visitor Information: Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitor's Bureau, 4 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh PA 15222; telephone (412)281-7711; toll-free (800)359-0758. Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, One Station Square, Suite 450, Pittsburgh PA 15219; telephone (412)471-5808

Pittsburgh: History

views updated Jun 08 2018

Pittsburgh: History

Early History

The first humans to live in what is now southwestern Pennsylvania were descendants of Asians who had crossed the Bering Straight and spread down through North America, hunting, gathering, and migrating, around 12 to 18 thousand years ago. About six thousand years ago, these Native Americans developed canoes and better tools for hunting and fishing; three thousand years ago, they learned to cultivate maize (corn), an agricultural revolution which led from a nomadic life to permanent villages. In another thousand years, agriculture was thriving and so was trade between villages and even tribes. Trade was carried out via either individuals carrying goods over a complex system of footpaths throughout densely forested Pennsylvania, or by canoes up and down rivers.

The coming of Europeans is what is likely to have wiped out the original native tribe of the Pittsburgh region, the Monongahela. Spread of European diseases to which the natives had no resistance, plus the fur trade resulting in depleted game supply, are theorized to have contributed to the disappearance of all humans from vast sections of western Pennsylvania in the 1600s. Soon, however, other displaced tribes from the south and east of Iroquois and Algonquian origins, especially the Shawnee, Seneca, Susquehannock, and the Lenni Lenape (Delaware), moved in to take their place.

French And British Vie For Strategic Location

Even in these early days, both British and French realized the strategic value of the wilderness location at the forks of the Ohio, a meeting place to trade for furs with the Indians. The French saw the Ohio River Valley as the only way to connect New France (Canada) with their Louisiana Territory. They claimed the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and any river that flowed into it. The British had colonized the East Coast and were now hungry to push westward. A young Colonel George Washington, sent on a surveying mission to the area in 1755, observed that it was "extremely well situated for a fort, having command of both rivers." Wash-ington's party left a tiny group of men to build Fort Prince George for the British, which the French easily outnumbered and captured without bloodshed later that same year. The French troops built a stronger Fort Duquesne there at "the Point," and held it for three years. Again without bloodshed, the English took back control in 1758 as the treaty ending the French and Indian War was signed in Europe. The French simply burnt down the fort and vacated the region. The English then built Fort Pitt, in honor of William Pitt, their Prime Minister; Fort Pitt was the largest and most elaborate fort in the colonies at that time. A small village that was first known as "Pittsborough" sprouted up around the fort. A 1763 addition, the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, still stands as the oldest building in Pittsburgh today.

The Whiskey Rebellion

The Pittsburgh region's economy was largely agricultural through most of the 1700s, growing from mere subsistence to having a surplus, especially in grains. Farmers found they could make better profits, especially in shipping, by turning their surplus grain into alcohol and bartering it. President George Washington, who had at age 23 noted the importance of Pittsburgh, had to face his first real challenge as President and the first challenge to the new country's Constitution, in a conflict over that alcohol that became known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The fledgling Federal government had decided to levy its first tax against whiskey, but the farmers argued they didn't have cash to pay taxes on bartered goods, and marched in protest. Washington had to send troops to squelch the protest and enforce the tax laws.

Gateway to the West

Because travel was quite difficult over the Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburghers learned it was better to produce goods themselves rather than pay and wait for items to be shipped from the east. The city's population was only about 300 by the 1790s, but many were skilled craftsmen such as blacksmiths, weavers, shoemakers, saddlers, tanners, brewers, cabinet makers, tinsmiths, and other artisans who could transform the region's agricultural products into goods that could be used or easily shipped and sold downriver. The first and largest industry emerging in the 1800s was boat buildingboth flatboats to transport waves of pioneers and goods downriver, and keelboats, which a strong crew could propel upstream as well.

In 1795 James O'Hara and Isaac Craig started a glass factory, an important development since glass was the hardest material to transport. Its success prompted other glass factories to crop up around the area, becoming its second biggest industry.

Pittsburgh increasingly became known as the "Gateway to the West," a jumping-off point for people to more easily continue down the river after the arduous crossing of the mountains. Travel both ways on the rivers became easier in 1811 when Robert Fulton, with Nicholas Roosevelt, launched his first steamboat on western waters, the Pittsburgh-built New Orleans. The 116-foot vessel reached its self-named destination safely, then continued to run regularly between New Orleans and Natchez. The amazing Pennsylvania Mainline Canal reached its terminus in Pittsburgh in 1830, further facilitating migration from Philadelphia westward by offering an easier alternative to crossing the daunting Allegheny Ridge. Plentiful natural resources of the region were constantly shipped in to the city, including enormous lumber rafts from northern forests, and barge after barge of coal pushed by steamboats up and down the Monongahela. In addition to being situated on one of the world's biggest coal deposits, Pittsburgh was also surrounded with oil, clay, limestone, natural gas, and sand suitable for glass. To supply iron needs for the War of 1812, foundries, rolling mills, machine shops, and forges sprang up on flat land along the rivers. With the growth of these factories and improved transportation, the population grew to allow Pittsburgh to incorporate as a city in 1816. Although Brownsville, Pennsylvania and Wheeling, West Virginia were early rivals to Pittsburgh's "Gateway to the West" title, Pittsburgh clinched it with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1852.

"Hell With The Lid Off"

As the 1800s wore on, Pittsburgh became known as the "Smoky City" due to manufacturing, steamboats, and household heating, all fueled with coal. The continued growth of the railroads plus demands of the Civil War increased the need for manufacturing. Earlier, iron furnaces had been run by charcoal, and thus were mostly located in rural places where wood was plentiful. However, when the coke-fueled blast furnace was invented, factory owners could consolidate and move their operations right to the riversides where coal, of which coke is a purified byproduct, could be conveniently delivered. This consolidation allowed them to keep prices down and remain competetive, even though iron making was still a small business of master craftsmen and not yet the huge operations of later years. Near the end of the 1800s, Birmingham, now Pittsburgh's South Side, had about 70 glass factories and was the world's largest supplier of glass. With railroad and river transportation boosting industry, other types of factories flourished as well, including five large and several small textile mills which employed about 3,000 workers in the late 1850s. In the 1860's, Pittsburgh was the world's largest refiner of petroleum products. The oil lamp, which in pre-electricity days was standard wherever gas lighting was unavailable, had been powered by increasingly rare and expensive whale oil, until it was found that the petroleum in the ground in western Pennsylvania could be put to similar uses. The refinery boom was brief, ending when John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil attracted the business to Cleveland.

Steel City

With the invention of the Bessemer Converter, the making of steel changed from an expensive, high quality metal worked by a skilled artisan to being mass produced by relatively unskilled labor. Andrew Carnegie opened the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock in 1875 and brought inexpensive, mass-produced steel to the Pittsburgh area. Carnegie had been an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad, but quit to take the opportunity to manufacture the stronger Bessemer steel rails he knew the railroad intended to use. He hired engineers to further streamline and mechanize the steel making process so as to maximize the profits of mass production.

Carnegie's meeting and dealing with another major entrepreneur of the day, Henry Clay Frick, etched an important page in history. Frick was a self-made millionaire before he turned 30; he had formed a company to buy land rich in coal, which he processed into industrial coke, an essential steel making ingredient. Frick managed to buy out many of his competitors and became a major supplier to the burgeoning steel industry. The two formed a union that soured, ending in what is called the Homestead Strike, a lockout that ended in 10 deaths and many injuries, even necessitating intervention by the Pennsylvania National Guard. Carnegie and Frick became bitter enemies over the episode, a feud they took to their graves. Still, the Carnegie and Frick names are nearly synonymous with philanthropic causes in Pittsburgh today; their legacies bestowed priceless gifts to the city in the form of libraries, schools, parks, and museums, in addition to bridges, railroads, and factories. Somewhat less prominent but equally important, other local employers such as Westinghouse, Alcoa, and Heinz were also on the forefront of improving working conditions and of supporting cultural life in the community.

A Modern Pittsburgh Emerges

From the late 1800s, Pittsburgh's population more than doubled to more than a million people in the metropolitan area by 1910, and the character of its downtown began to change from factories and residences to more office buildings. Banking activity increased so much to keep up with the booming economy that a section along Fourth Avenue became known as Pittsburgh's Wall Street. This period also saw great progress in public works, as water filtration and sewer systems were completed and electric lines and pipes for natural gas installed. Because commuting was still a luxury most mill workers could not afford, people continued to live, shop, and worship in the same self-sufficient communities where they worked. Pittsburgh today remains a city of neighborhoods, many of which still strongly reflect varied ethnic roots.

The coming of the trolleys in the late 1890s and of the automobile soon after helped to connect neighborhoods a bit more, and allowed some of the white collar manager's families to begin to populate the city's first middle class suburbs such as Shadyside, Dormont, and West View. Some were concerned about this city that held such great wealth for some, yet squalid conditions for many others. A boom in social programs, instituting hospitals and other services and general cleaning up of the city began, but was hindered by local events such as a devastating flood in 1936, and national events including the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.

After World War II, Pittsburgh began to concentrate on giving itself a make-over, including river clean-up and air pollution controls, and new building projects under the umbrella heading Renaissance I. Democrats and Republicans, led by Mayor David Lawrence and banker Richard King Mellon, actually worked together on the face-lift. Some of the Renaissance projects were successful, such as Gateway Center, an office tower complex completed in the 1950s; and Point State Park at the end of Downtown's "Golden Triangle," officially opened in 1974, with a fountain foaming high into the air at the very point where the rivers join. Others were considered less successful, such as the razing of the Lower Hill District in order to build the Civic Arena, which was highly criticized for breaking up a tightly knit and artistically thriving African American community and leaving the neighborhood far worse off than it had been. Throughout the 1960s many major construction projects continued to revamp the city in East Liberty and Allegheny Center neighborhoods as well as downtown. In 1970, the last game was played at the Pittsburgh Pirate's Forbes Field, and Three Rivers Stadium, along with the U.S. Steel Building, (later changed to USX Tower) were the last buildings to be completed under Renaissance I.

By the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Pittsburgh's reign as one of the titans in the world of Big Steel had neared its end. The number of steel workers in the Pittsburgh area dropped from 90,000 in 1980 to 44,000 in just four years. U.S. Steel, formed when Elbert Gary and J.P. Morgan bought Carnegie Steel, lost $561 million in only one quarter in 1980. The city's population, which had peaked in 1950 at over 676,000, dropped to about 423,000 by 1980. Unemployment rates soared as the city's leaders scrambled to reinvent the local economy on a new base of service, health, and education fields; high tech industries; riverfront development; and regional tourism. Despite fluctuations in the economy, Renaissance II forged ahead through the 1980s, giving the city many of its signature skyline buildings such as Mellon Bank Center, One Oxford Center, PPG Plaza, Fifth Avenue Place, and the USX (U.S. Steel) Building. Through the 1990s, the transition from heavy manufacturing to new, mostly high tech industries took place, as Pittsburgh today stands at the forefront of medical research and computer and robotics technologies, as well as a center for arts and culture.

Historical Information: Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15222; telephone (412)454-6000


views updated May 11 2018


PITTSBURGH , a leading industrial city in western Pennsylvania; in a metropolitan region of 2,500,000, the estimated Jewish population of Greater Pittsburgh (in 2002) was 54,000.

Early History

When the Quaker William Penn received the colonial charter for the area from Charles ii in 1680 he incorporated a guarantee of religious freedom. Accordingly, many varied sects settled in Pennsylvania, including Jews. Among the early settlers were Joseph *Simon and Levy Andrew Levy.

After the Revolutionary War, the prosperous Philadelphia merchant David *Franks sent agents, among them Michael Gratz, with pack trains to Pittsburgh so often that their route was labeled Frankstown Road. They and several other Jews bought plots of land, apparently for speculation, and the map indicates a cluster of lots to the east marked "Jewstown," with another area near Sewickley marked "Gratztown." Most of the Jews, like other traders, came and went as itinerant peddlers, but a few remained, striking roots. The first known permanent resident of Pittsburgh to have Jewish ancestry was Samuel Pettigrew, son of Judith Hart, who settled in the town in 1814 and later served as mayor.

On the whole, however, economic difficulties caused by the diversion of river traffic by the Erie Canal kept Jewish immigration down. It was not until 1842 that Jews first met in a minyan for worship in a home near the Point. There is a dearth of records of this period, most having been destroyed in the great fire that swept the wooden town in 1845. In that year the Beth Almon Society was formed; land for a cemetery on Troy Hill was bought in 1846. With the building of a railroad in 1849, Jewish settlement began to increase. In 1852 there were 30 Jewish families in Pittsburgh, and six years later the number doubled. By 1854 a group meeting in a room over Vigilant Fire Department organized itself as Rodef Shalom, and in 1861 a building was dedicated on Hancock Street (later Eighth Street), where a Mr. Armhold served as reader, mohel, and shohet. German was the language of sermons and records, but the congregants showed willingness to modify practice regarding covered heads and mixed seating, among others. This caused dissension, and a new group was created in 1864, calling itself Etz Hayim, more conservative in practice. In 1861 Rodef Shalom brought a young English Jew, Josiah Cohen, to head its religious school an preach in English. He later became a distinguished judge.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Pittsburgh grew in importance and population. From a handful, the number of Jews in 1864 became 750, nearly all of German origin. Ten of their men were in uniform. Women served on the Sanitary Commission, forerunner of the Red Cross. The United Hebrew Relief Society assisted returning soldiers and their families. Expanding heavy industry that was to make Pittsburgh the "Workshop of the World" drew great streams of immigration from Europe. The population had outgrown the Triangle and pushed upward, with stores on Fifth Avenue and small redbrick houses on adjacent streets on the "Hill." Some moved across the river to the town of Allegheny. More affluent Jews followed them there. By 1877 there were 2,000 Jews in Pittsburgh, many of them recent immigrants from Lithuania, sharing in the ferment of the industrial growth of the city and its environs. Many peddlers moved out to the surrounding towns, but all returned to the city for the Sabbath and holidays and for kasher food.

In 1885 a national group of leading Reform rabbis, led by Rabbi Isaac Mayer *Wise, met in Pittsburgh and articulated a series of points that were to be known as the *Pittsburgh Platform.

Eastern European Immigration

The Russian pogroms of 1881 set in motion the mass exodus which brought Russian Jews to America. Many thousands came to Pittsburgh, raising its Jewish population to 15,000 by 1905. The earlier residents received the penniless immigrants as their own, despite barriers of language and provincial manners. They doled out silver dollars for Sabbath meals, and helped to find lodgings and jobs. The Council of Jewish Women provided English teachers, gave guidance to homeless girls, and conducted classes in religion for children. The Gusky Orphanage was established, and various family and health services were founded. The Hebrew Free Loan Association assisted the newcomers with small sums to start them in business.

The rush of immigration brought an influx of well-educated Hebraic scholars from the yeshivot of Lithuania and Poland. In 1877 Rabbi Markowitz led the first of many Orthodox congregations. Rabbi Simon Sivitz founded the Shaare Torah Congregation and talmud torah in 1888. In 1901 Rabbi Aaron *Ashinsky led Beth Jacob and Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, and was a driving force in creating new agencies conducted in the Orthodox tradition, including the House of Shelter, Home for Aged, and Hebrew Institute. A variety of synagogues served Russian, Polish, Galician, and Hungarian groups. The demand for kasher food in a hospital and the need for professional openings for Jewish doctors inspired a group of women, led by Mrs. Barnett David, to inaugurate fund raising that led to the creation of Montefiore Hospital. The Irene Kaufmann Settlement was the recreation center for large numbers of immigrants. By 1912 a full complement of social agencies united in the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, with headquarters on Fernando Street, easily accessible to the Yiddish-speaking community from the Hill. In that year there were 35,000 Jews in Pittsburgh. By the close of free immigration in 1925, there were 60,000 Jews in the area, many of whom had begun spilling over the margins of the Hill to Oakland, East End, and Squirrel Hill.

A complex community was growing. The Workmen's Circle fostered socialist ideas in an agnostic framework. Largely inspired by Rabbi Ashinsky, a vibrant Zionist movement flourished. A branch of the American Jewish Committee came into being; the B'nai B'rith lodges multiplied, and the American Jewish Congress added a note of militancy. Jewish War Veterans organized a Post.

Post-World War i

A new generation of young people, native American Jews, moved with enthusiasm and talent through the public schools, heading on to colleges and eastern universities. English was spoken everywhere, and prevailing American social amenities were the norm. Attendance at worship services dropped off and religious education reached a low ebb. But the Jews were playing an appreciable role in the growth of Pittsburgh. Parallel with the vast development of the steel industry, Jewish storekeeping had blossomed into great department stores – Kaufmann's, Kaufmann and Baer's, Rosenbaum's, Frank and Seder's. These and other Jewish names appeared among those who sponsored symphony concerts, art exhibitions, and other cultural events. Although the leading social clubs still practiced exclusion, Jews had created pleasant facilities for themselves and began to emerge on the political and social scene, a number serving with distinction in the judiciary, city-council, board of education, and state legislature.

With the Depression of the 1930s, the Jews were able to "take care of their own" through numerous agencies which were united in the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. As the decade advanced and the urgency to provide help for German Jewry became evident, new service and fund-raising agencies were called into being. In 1936 the United Jewish Fund was established. Reacting to the Nazi tragedy, Pittsburgh received its share of refugees from Germany, responded with fervor to the effort to create a Jewish homeland, and raised unprecedented sums for overseas relief.

A total transfer of Jewish population had taken place from the Hill to Squirrel Hill and the suburbs. New structures housed the synagogues, old and new. Awakened by the Holocaust, a renewed zeal for Jewish education resulted in highly developed programs of the Hebrew Institute, Hillel, and the Advanced Jewish Study Program of the United Jewish Federation. Synagogues responded with emphasis on education and youth, as well as keen interest in the State of Israel.

In 1970 Pittsburgh Jewry numbered 45,000, a decrease attributable to a growing tendency to relocate in the suburbs. Leadership passed into the hands of a new generation, largely of eastern European origin. Rodef Shalom remained the largest and most prestigious congregation, although no longer dominated solely by the "German" families. Montefiore Hospital, with 500 beds, was a teaching arm of the University of Pittsburgh. The Symphony Orchestra included many Jews, players as well as the conductor, and many generous patrons. There were several hundred Jewish teachers and principals in the public schools, and many distinguished members of university faculties. Jewish names were outstanding in the city's history – Otto *Stern, Nobel prize winner; Alexander Silverman, glass chemist; Joseph Slepian, electrical engineer; George S. *Kaufman, dramatist; Jonas *Salk, discoverer of polio vaccine; Solomon B. *Freehof, rabbi; Samuel Rosenberg, artist; William Steinberg, conductor; and Immanuel Estermann, physicist.

[Lillian A. Friedberg]

A study by the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh in 2002 revealed the following information:

In 2002, there were 54,000 people living in 20,900 Greater Pittsburgh Jewish households. In 1984, there were 47,700 people living in 19,000 Jewish households. This represents an increase of 14% in the number of people living in Jewish households and 10% in the number of households. The number of Jewish people in Greater Pittsburgh has declined by approximately 6% since 1984, but, in context, the Allegheny County population decreased by 11.6% during a similar time period (1980–2000).

Contrary to the graying of American Jews, 48% of the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is under the age of 40, and of those age 22 to 39, 40% have moved to the city in the past 10 years. Thus Pittsburgh is attracting young Jews.

The study reveals that Squirrel Hill remains a very vibrant, stable, and desirable neighborhood for the community. The Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh accounts for 47% of the entire Jewish population in greater Pittsburgh. Unique in North America, this is a tightly knit and closely connected third generation community. Often grandchildren live in their grandparents' homes as the generational transition keeps homes in the family. The infrastructure built up before World War ii – and enhanced since then – continues to serve the community. Notable is the stability of Squirrel Hill, a geographic hub of the Jewish community located within the city limits. Other Jews are dispersed throughout the community and less linked to it. The Jewish population of the South Hills comprises 14% of the total; the Eastern Suburbs, 13%; the Fox Chapel/O'Hara Township and sections of the North Hills, 9%; East End, defined as East Liberty, Highland Park, and Stanton Heights, 5%; and the Western Suburbs, 5%.

The Pittsburgh Jewish community still has a significant elderly population, with 18% over the age of 65; unlike most North American Jewish communities, this percentage is comparable to the population in the country as a whole and not disproportionate to it. Perhaps this can be accounted for by the large percentage of elderly Jews who have moved to warmer climates. One in four Jews over 65 lives alone and almost one half have no adult children in the area.

The study showed significant needs in the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community among the Jewish poor and near poor; 59% of households with incomes under $25,000 report "fair" or "poor" health.

Regarding Jewish denomination, 41% of all Jewish respondents self-identified as Reform, 32% as Conservative, 7% as Orthodox, 2% as Reconstructionist, and 14% as "no denomination, just Jewish."

The quantitative study was based on telephone interviews with 1,313 Jewish households conducted between November 8, 2001, and February 1, 2002. A Jewish household was defined as a residence where at least one adult considered himself/herself to be Jewish.

Pittsburgh has 28 congregations, among them Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, as well as Gay. There is a Jewish women's center as well. There are Hillel Foundations at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne, and Carnegie Mellon as well as smaller schools in the area. The community has two Jewish Community Centers, one in Squirrel Hill and one in South Hill. Its local newspaper is the Jewish Chronicle, which serves western Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well. There is a community day school as well as the Hillel Academy. Yeshiva Schools and Mesivta of Allegheny County serve the Orthodox community. The United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh was one of the first to sponsor a Holocaust Resource Center, and Jewish Studies programs are found at Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]


M. Taylor, Jewish Community of Pittsburgh, December, 1938 (1941); A.J. Karp (ed.), Jewish Experience in America, 1 and 4 (1968), indexes.

Pittsburgh: Education and Research

views updated May 29 2018

Pittsburgh: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Pittsburgh Public School System's nine-member Board of Public Education underwent recent upheaval, seeking a new superintendent in 2005. Despite the temporary disruption of the change in leadership, Pittsburgh Public Schools remains dedicated to enabling its veteran, well-trained staff to give each individual child whatever is needed to help him or her grow into not only a successful student, but a socially adjusted adult who will contribute to society. In addition to the excellent mainstream education, the district offers a variety of support programs for special education needs, including speech/language support, visually impaired support, deaf or hard-of-hearing support, autistic support, multiple disabilities support, emotional and life skills support, learning support, physical support, and programs for the gifted and for early intervention. Creatively and scholastically gifted students have the Pittsburgh Gifted Center for kindergarten through eighth grade levels, then in high school the Center for Advanced Studies program is available. All gifted students get a custom-made Gifted Individualized Education Program (GEIP) designed for them in coordination with the school and the student's family. Magnet school options include the structured atmosphere of traditional academies, international studies, Montessori method schools, a baccalaureate program, vocational-technical training in computer sciences and such fields, and the CAPA program for Creative and Performing Arts. About 78 percent of teachers hold advanced degrees.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Pittsburgh Public School District as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 34,167

Number of facilities elementary schools: 53

junior high/middle schools: 17

senior high schools: 10

other: 4

Student/teacher ratio: 11.4:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $35,500

maximum: $104,020

Funding per pupil: $15,514

The Diocese of Pittsburgh administers a large network of grade schools and high schools; there are more than 250 private schools and more than 85 vocational and trade schools in the region.

Public Schools Information: Pittsburgh Public Schools, 341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; telephone (412)622-3870

Colleges and Universities

The University of Pittsburgh, or "Pitt," was founded in 1787 near Fort Pitt. Originally known as Pittsburgh Academy, it is one of the nation's oldest universities. It is the area's largest four year school with a total enrollment of 26,795 in 2004. Pitt offers 118 programs including liberal arts, law, business, engineering, information science, and international studies. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Medical Complex, located in Oakland in the northwest of Pitt's campus, is foremost in the world in health administration, sports medicine, and bioresearch, and pioneered in organ transplants with the first combination heart, liver, and kidney transplant in 1989. The University of Pittsburgh spans a 132-acre urban campus with the majestic Cathedral of Learning as its centerpiece.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) began as Carnegie Technical Schools in 1900 by local steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and became known as Carnegie Mellon University after a merger with Mellon Institute in 1967. CMU offers nearly 200 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs, specializing in robotics, computer sciences, a strong fine arts department with a famous drama school, and the Tepper School of Business, rated by the Wall Street Journal as the number two business school in the world. Carnegie Mellon University has a campus in Silicon Valley, California, and one in the nation of Qatar. CMU seeks to expand its global connections with educational partnerships around the world. Its roughly 2,000 international students make up almost a quarter of the student body.

Other institutions of higher learning in Pittsburgh are Duquesne University, a Catholic University founded in 1878; Carlow College, another Catholic school, primarily for women; Robert Morris University, which emphasizes business studies and whose interns work and study at prestigious firms; Chatham College, one of the country's oldest women-only colleges having been founded in 1869; and Point Park University, a small, private, liberal arts school recently raised from college to university status. Community College of Allegheny County has four campuses and seven community centers, offers flexible scheduling and affordability, and allows thousands of students each year to transfer credits to a four-year college.

Libraries and Research Centers

The heart of Pittsburgh's library systems is the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, another gift of Andrew Carnegie. It consists of the main branch in Oakland, 18 other neighborhood branches, a Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and three bookmobiles. The library has an extensive children's department and is believed to have had the first children's "storytime" in a library in 1899. On October 3, 2004, the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library held a ribbon cutting celebration for its newly renovated first floor; the Bookmobile Center was also recently remodeled. The library holds more than two million books and a plethora of computer terminals, all "Free to the Public," as Carnegie had enscribed above the doors to the Main Branch. Other features of Carnegie Libraries are a special Teens section in the new Main Branch first floor, which features a multimedia information desk, an indoor/outdoor reading deck, and a library shop and café. The library offers a Music Collection with more 12,000 books, scores, and periodicals and 30,000 recordings, featuring nineteenth and twentieth century Pittsburgh musicians prominently in the collection; an Art Collection, with more than 72,000 books, 200 periodicals, over 100,000 slides and pictures, and a growing video and DVD collection; and a Dance Collection of about 2,000 books and videos.

Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh also maintain a Job and Career Education Center and a Business Foundation Center. Because Pennsylvania's 2003-2004 budget reduced the library's funding by 50 percent, a nominal fee is charged for some computer classes.

The Pittsburgh area is one of the most active research and development sites in the United States, in part due to its two biggest universities, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. A joint venture of the two plus Westinghouse Electric Corp. is the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, established in 1986 and still continuing to develop and provide innovative software for scientific researchers nationwide.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) operates most of the medical research centers in the region, including the Children's Hospital General Clinical Research Center, the Cooperative Research Center for Muscular Dystrophy, the Center for Injury Research and Control, MageeWomen's Research Center (for gynecology, obstetrics, and reproductive health studies), the Center for Neuroscience, a new Center For BioSecurity, and many others. Non-medical research involving the University of Pittsburgh includes a variety of centers, such as the Learning Research and Development Center, the Center for Urban and Social Research, the Chevron Science Center (for chemistry), the Small Business Development Center, and the Joseph M. Katz School of Business Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

Carnegie Mellon University has no less than 77 research centers of all disciplines under its umbrella, some of which are jointly operated with the University of Pittsburgh and/or local businesses. Some of note are its Robotics Engineering Consortium, Art Conservation Research Center, Bosch Institute for Applied Studies in International Management, the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems. A few of the most recent and most important research centers are CyLab, which has launched a security initiative to protect PC users from cyber terrorists and hackers; four separate Robotics research facilities, and the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), which was founded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Among other research institutes are Seagate, a computer and electronics company; the federal government's Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Research and Development Center; the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory; the National Energy Technology Laboratory; and the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Pittsburgh today is home to more than 200 institutional and commercial research centers and laboratories.

Public Library Information: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080, telephone (412)622-3114

Pittsburgh: Communications

views updated May 09 2018

Pittsburgh: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the city's daily paper, appears Monday through Sunday mornings. Pittsburgh Magazine is published monthly. Carnegie Magazine focuses on culture, emphasizing the collections at the Carnegie Museums and Library. In addition, several publications of interest to the African American community and various religious groups, as well as a variety of foreign language periodicals are published in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Business-Times provides weekly coverage of the region's business community. More than two dozen other magazines and newspapers of local interest are published in and around Pittsburgh.

Television and Radio

Pittsburgh is served by four major networks and a public television station, and 13 smaller independent stations. Two of these are historic firsts in television history: WQED is home of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and the first publicly funded television station in the U.S., and KDKA, which had the honor of broadcasting the first electronic image through the air in 1929. DIRECTV sells satellite dish service in the area and Comcast is the cable TV company for Pittsburgh.

Thirteen AM and at least 20 FM radio stations broadcast programs whose content ranges from news and talk to R&B, rock, and country music. Westinghouse-owned station KDKA was granted the world's first commercial radio license in Pittsburgh in 1920.

Media Information: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; telephone (412)263-1743; toll-free (800)228-NEWS (6397). Pittsburgh Magazine, QED Communications, 4802 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213; telephone (412)622-1360

Pittsburgh Online

Allegheny County home page. Available www.county.pa.us/index.asp

The Carnegie Museums and Library. Available www.clpgh.org

City of Pittsburgh home page. Available www.city.pgh.pa.us

Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. Available www.pittsburghchamber.com/public/cfm/homepagechamber/index.cfm

Pittsburgh Greater Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.visitpittsburgh.com

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Available www.post-gazette.com

Pittsburgh Public Schools. Available www.pghboe.net

Pittsburgh Radio and TV Online. Available www.pbrtv.com

Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. Available www.pittsburghregion.org

Urban Redevelopment Authority. Available www.ura.org

Western Pennsylvania History. Available www.qed.org/erc/pghist/units/WPAhist/wpa1.shtml

Selected Bibliography

Baldwin, Leland Dewitt, The Delectable Country (New York, L. Furman, 1939

Demarest, David P., Jr. And Fannia Weingartner, eds., The River Ran Red (Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992)

Innes, Lowell, Pittsburgh Glass, 1797-1891: A History and Guide for Collectors (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1976)

Krause, Paul, The Battle for Homestead 1880-1892 (Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992)

O'Meara, Walter, Guns at the Forks (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1965)

Serrin, William, Homestead: The Glory and Tragedy of an American Steel Town (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1992)

Stanford, Les, Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay

Frick, and the Partnership that Transformed America (New York, Crown Publishing, 2005)


views updated May 08 2018


PITTSBURGH. Once described by the writer Lincoln Steffens as "hell with the lid off," Pittsburgh has transformed from an acrid industrial and manufacturing city into a nationally renowned center for health care, high technology, robotics, and education. The "smoky city," historically known for its steel production, has been beautified and revitalized, with few remnants remaining from its dark past. Pittsburgh sits at the intersection of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers. The first inhabitants were Native American tribes, later joined by

European settlers pushing westward. The French and British fought to control the waterway. The French ousted a British garrison in 1754 and built Fort Duquesne, which in turn was taken by the British in 1758 and renamed Fort Pitt.

As a port city, Pittsburgh grew rapidly in the 1800s and the discovery of coal guaranteed its place as an industrial hotbed. The Civil War solidified Pittsburgh's reputation as the "Iron City" since it supplied most of the iron for the Union army. Spurred on by a steady flow of immigrant labor, other industries also developed, including oil, glass, and other metals. Important business leaders built their empires in Pittsburgh, such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, Henry J. Heinz, and Andrew W. Mellon. Years of relying on heavy industry gave Pittsburgh a bad reputation in the twentieth century. Downtown, the streetlights often burned all day to offset the heavy smoke from the plants. After World War II, however, foreign competitors decimated the city's industrial base, and Pittsburgh came to symbolize the nation's Rustbelt.

A revitalization effort that began after World War II was implemented with renewed vigor. Civic leaders supported the rebirth of the city through a series of "Renaissance" programs. In 1977, Mayor Richard Caliguiri began the Renaissance II program, which resulted in the building of several distinctive skyscrapers in the downtown Golden Triangle and a neighborhood revitalization effort citywide. Later, several important cultural institutions were built to resurrect the downtown cultural life. In 2001, Heinz Field debuted, a new football stadium for the Steelers, while Pirates baseball was played at the new PNC Park. Pittsburgh's three rivers remain the largest inland port in the nation, while the Pittsburgh International Airport serves more than 20 million passengers annually. The Pittsburgh metropolitan area in 2002 encompassed a six-county region of western Pennsylvania that covered over 4,500 square miles and included a population of about 2.5 million.


Hays, Samuel P., ed. City at the Point: Essays on the Social History of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991.

Lubove, Roy. Twentieth-Century Pittsburgh: The Post-Steel Era. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996.


See alsoDuquesne, Fort ; Iron and Steel Industry ; Pennsylvania .

Pittsburgh: Health Care

views updated May 18 2018

Pittsburgh: Health Care

More than 50 hospitals in the Pittsburgh region, including 20 in the city, offer a full range of traditional health services. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is the premier health care system in the region and its largest employer. UPMC consists of 19 hospitals including Western Psychiatric Institute; two surgery centers, a diagnostic center, and 17 assisted living facilities; the system has been ranked as a top hospital system for six years by U.S. News and World Report. The medical school and its research affiliates attract more than $375 million a year in National Institute of Health grants. UPMC is committed to biotechnology and is concentrating on research fields such as minimally invasive robotic surgery, genetic therapy, cancer, muscular dystrophy, chronic pain, arthritis, heart disease, regenerative medicine, and pharmaceutical discovery. In a 29-county western Pennsylvania region, UPMC employs more than 40,000 workers, has an annual budget of over $5 billion, and contributes over $200 million each year in community and charitable services.

The West Penn Allegheny Health System consists of six hospitals, two of which are in Pittsburghthe Western Pennsylvania Hospital in the Bloomfield neighborhood and Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side. Western Pennsylvania provides 524 beds and handled more than 30,000 emergency visits in 2004. Allegheny General has 625 beds and 3,876 employees, 817 of whom are medical staff. The system's medical specialties include geriatric care, emergency trauma, children's health, surgery and transplants, sports medicine, and heart, cancer, and diabetes care.

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System has two hospitals, a mental health personal care home named Outlook Manor, and an outpatient clinic run by Catholic Health East. Mercy was the first hospital in Pittsburgh, established in 1847 by seven Sisters of Mercy nuns. Mercy is dedicated to bringing health care to even the poorest patients, and provides a number of community minded charitable services, such as domestic violence and child abuse programs, a state of the art trauma and burn emergency center, programs that fight drug and alcohol addictions, the Carol Sue Rocker Health Education Center, and Operation Safety Net, an outreach program for the city's homeless.


views updated Jun 08 2018


PITTSBURGH. Previously Fort Pitt. Located west of the Alleghenies at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio, the Forks of the Ohio—as the place was first known—was of key strategic importance as soon as white men started pushing into the Ohio Valley. In 1731 a few Frenchmen tried to establish a settlement but were soon driven off by the Shawnees. In 1748 the colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia, both of which claimed the area, started trading activities that brought them into conflict with the French and led to the last of the colonial wars. In April 1754 a French force began construction of Fort Duquesne and subsequently defeated expeditions under Washington and Braddock to drive it out. The Forbes expedition forced the French to destroy Fort Duquesne, and Bouquet occupied the site on 25 November 1758 on behalf of the British, beginning reconstruction of the fortification under its new name of Fort Pitt.

In October 1772 General Gage ordered Fort Pitt abandoned, and it was partially dismantled. In January 1774 Dr. John Connolly occupied the place with an armed body of Virginia men to defy the Pennsylvania claim to the disputed region. But Connolly turned his attention to the local Indians, launching attacks that led to Dunmore's War in 1774. With the start of the Revolution, Virginia maintained Fort Pitt, using it as the headquarters for its western militia operations. But in 1777 increased attack from British, Indians, and Loyalists led Congress to claim control of the fort, appointing General Edward Hand its commander. During the rest of the Revolution, Pittsburgh was American army headquarters for western operations. Fort Pitt and West Point were the only military fortifications maintained by the U.S. Army after the Revolution.

SEE ALSO Colonial Wars; Connolly, John; Dunmore's (or Cresap's) War; Forbes's Expedition to Fort Duquesne; Western Operations.

                          revised by Michael Bellesiles

Pittsburgh: Population Profile

views updated Jun 27 2018

Pittsburgh: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 2,219,000

1990: 2,394,811

2000: 2,358,695

Percent change, 19902000: -1.5%

U.S. rank in 1980: 13th

U.S. rank in 1990: 19th

U.S. rank in 2000: 20th

City Residents

1980: 423,959

1990: 369,879

2000: 334,563

2003 estimate: 325,337

Percent change, 19902000: -9.5%

U.S. rank in 1980: 30th

U.S. rank in 1990: 40th (State rank: 2nd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 54th (State rank: 2nd)

Density: 6,019 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics: (2000)

White: 226,258

Black or African American: 90,750

American Indian and Alaska Native: 628

Asian: 9,195

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 111

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 4,425

Other: 2,218

Percent of residents born in state: 78.1% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 17,607

Population 5 to 9 years old: 19,004

Population 10 to 14 years old: 18,907

Population 15 to 19 years old: 25,881

Population 20 to 24 years old: 34,570

Population 25 to 34 years old: 48,860

Population 35 to 44 years old: 46,870

Population 45 to 54 years old: 41,082

Population 55 to 59 years old: 14,142

Population 60 to 64 years old: 12,606

Population 65 to 74 years old: 26,483

Population 75 to 84 years old: 21,362

Population 85 years and older: 7,189

Median age: 35.5 years old

Births (2002, Allegheny County)

Total number: 13,469

Deaths (2002, Allegheny County)

Total number: 15,100 (of which 106 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $18,816

Median household income: $28,588

Total households: 143,752

Number of households with income of . . .

Less than $10,000: 25,927

$10,000 to $14,999: 13,668

$15,000 to $24,999: 24,606

$25,000 to $34,999: 19,228

$35,000 to $49,999: 21,441

$50,000 to $74,999: 20,482

$75,000 to $99,999: 8,366

$100,000 to $149,999: 5,843

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,797

$200,000 or more: 2,394

Percent of families below poverty level: 15% (57.9% of which were female householder families with children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 19,737

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