The New International Encyclopædia/Pittsburg

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PITTS′BURG. The metropolis of western Pennsylvania, the second city of the State, and the county seat of Allegheny County. It is situated at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers where they unite to form the Ohio, in latitude 40° 32′ north and longitude 80° 2′ 18″ west (Map: Pennsylvania, B 3). It is 444 miles west of New York, 354 miles west by north of Philadelphia, and 468 miles east of Chicago. These distances are by rail. The mean average temperature is 53° F., the mean for January being 31° and for July, 75°. The altitude at the river level is 703 feet.

Although eleventh in population, according to the census returns. Pittsburg ranks fifth in commercial and industrial importance among the cities of the United States. This is due to the fact that surrounding the city proper are two other cities—Allegheny and McKeesport—and about fifty boroughs, at least thirty of the latter, as well as both cities, being closely allied with Pittsburg, and, for all business purposes, portions of it. An act of Legislature, approved in April, 1903, provides a method whereby these municipalities may be combined with Pittsburg. The ultimate aim of the bill is to make the city coextensive with the county, which now has a population of over 800,000. The city proper contains 38 wards and has an area of 28.39 square miles. The original city occupied restricted limits between the Allegheny and Monongahela, but absorption of territory lying to the east greatly enlarged its bounds. A number of boroughs on the south side of the Monongahela River were annexed in 1872, and are now connected with the old city by four free bridges. Several other boroughs have been since absorbed. Allegheny, which lies across the Allegheny River from Pittsburg, is connected with it by numerous toll bridges.

NIE 1905 Pittsburg - vicinity map.jpg
Copyright, 1903, by Dodd, Mead & Company.

Pittsburg is the centre of the iron, steel, and glass industries of the United States. It is also the largest shipping point for bituminous coal, upon which its wealth is founded. The Pittsburg coal district, embracing an area of 14,000 square miles, is the richest coal field in the world. It is from the excessive consumption of coal in its mills and furnaces that Pittsburg derives its sobriquet, “The Smoky City.” As a manufacturing city Pittsburg is best known, and until recent years it possessed all of the unattractive characteristics of such a community. Recently, however, great progress has been made, and fine streets, splendid boulevards, a system of parks, costly residences, and other evidences of municipal and civic pride have come into existence. In the older portion of the city the streets are narrow, ill arranged, and much congested, owing to the restrictive limits placed upon the district by the rivers. The chief retail streets are Fifth Avenue, Sixth, Wood, and Smithfield streets. Lower Liberty and Penn avenues are largely devoted to wholesale houses. Fourth Avenue is the local Wall Street, and here, as on other principal thoroughfares, are many splendid buildings. The residential portions of the city, being of recent development and less confined by natural boundaries, have wide, well-shaded streets, arranged with some regard for system. The most costly residences are in the Bellefield, Shadyside, East Liberty, and Squirrel Hill districts. Among the finer streets are portions of Fifth and Penn avenues, the chief thoroughfares between the downtown and East End districts; North Highland, Ellsworth, and Center avenues.

NIE 1905 Pittsburg - street map.jpg

The city has about 450 miles of streets, of which 256 miles are paved, principally with asphalt or block stone. There are 323 miles of sewers, including 45 miles of brick. All the streets are covered by city water mains, save those on the South Side, which is supplied by a private company. Natural and artificial gas is piped to all parts of the city. For a decade previous to 1895 natural gas was the principal fuel in the mills and factories, but, owing to a decrease in the supply, the larger factories have been forced to resume the use of coal. Natural gas still forms the favorite fuel for domestic purposes. An extensive system of street railways, operated by electricity, connects the city with the surrounding towns. All the lines in Pittsburg and Allegheny and many of those reaching to the boroughs have been consolidated under one management.

Buildings. Among the prominent public buildings are the Allegheny County court house and jail, erected in 1884 at a cost of $4,000,000, granite structures facing on Grant Street and connected by a ‘Bridge of Sighs’ across Ross Street. The post-office building on Smithfield Street is a splendid specimen of architecture. The rooms occupied by the United States Circuit and District courts are finished in mahogany, magnificently carved. The United States Engineer, Collector of Internal Revenue, Surveyor of the Port, and other Federal officials have their offices in this building. Chief among the many handsome office buildings for which Pittsburg is noted is the Flick Building, at Fifth Avenue and Grant Street. It is of granite, 20 stories high, and finished throughout in marble and mahogany. It is one of the most luxurious public office buildings in the world. The Farmers' Deposit National Bank Building, 24 stories high, is little inferior. Among other handsome edifices of the ‘skyscraper’ type are the Carnegie, Park, Tradesmen's, Peoples' Bank for Savings, Arrott, and Empire. The Bank of Pittsburg and the Pittsburg Stock Exchange have artistic homes. Among the notable ecclesiastical structures are the new Saint Paul's Cathedral in Bellefield, Trinity Church (Protestant Episcopal), First and Third Presbyterian churches. Church of the Ascension (Protestant Episcopal), East Liberty Presbyterian, Christ Methodist Episcopal, Saint Augustine's (Roman Catholic), Sixth United Presbyterian, and Calvary (Protestant Episcopal). The finest hotels are the Schenley, Lincoln, and Henry.

Parks. Pittsburg's system of parks originated in 1890, when Mrs Mary E. Schenley deeded to the city more than 400 acres of land in the heart of the residential district. This was named in her honor. Since that time the city has acquired several other tracts of land for park purposes, and the system now includes 1000 acres, all within the city limits. Additions to Schenley Park have increased its size to 440 acres. It contains the Phipps Conservatory and the Hall of Botany, both gifts from Henry Phipps; a music pavilion, several fine bridges, a bronze statue of E. M. Bigelow, the ‘Father of the Parks,’ a notable pair of panthers in bronze, and three shelter-houses. Highland Park, one of the most picturesque parks in the country, has an area of 441 acres. It contains city reservoirs Nos. 1 and 2, zoölogical gardens, the gift of the late C. L. Magee, two shelter-houses, and several statues. The principal entrances at Highland and Stanton avenues are graced by handsome sculptures. The other parks, all small, are: Herron Hill, Central, Friendship, Holliday, West End, Grandview, McKinley, and Second Avenue. Connecting Schenley and Highland parks with the downtown district are Grant and Beechwood boulevards, 10½ miles long, and forming, with the roadways in the parks, a continuous drive of more than 20 miles in length.

Public Institutions. Chief among the public institutions of the city are the Carnegie Free Library and the Carnegie Institute, situated at the Forbes Street entrance to Schenley Park. They were presented to the city by Andrew Carnegie. The first tender was made in 1881, but it was not until 1886 that Councils accepted the offer. The building, for which Mr. Carnegie gave $1,100,000, was completed in 1895. It contains the Central Free Library and the Carnegie Institute, the latter comprising a museum, gallery of fine arts, and music hall. The library and institute are affiliated, but not identical, the former being maintained by the city, while the latter has an endowment of $2,000,000 from Mr. Carnegie. The city appropriates $131,000 annually for the maintenance of the central and branch libraries. The central library contains 104,500 volumes, and five branches, in various parts of the city, have an aggregate of 55,500 volumes. In the gallery of fine arts are a permanent collection of 50 paintings, many of which were bought at the annual exhibitions given there, 19 plaster casts of famous sculptures, and 170 reproductions of antique bronzes. The museum has a large collection of wide scope. In the music hall is a fine pipe organ, and here are given every week two free recitals. The hall is also the home of the Pittsburg Orchestra, which gives a course of concerts each winter. The music hall is self-supporting. The library and institute are to be much enlarged. The city has just acquired the necessary ground, and Mr. Carnegie has placed $5,000,000 at the disposal of the trustees. The building will cover three and one-half acres.

The Pittsburg Exposition Society has its headquarters between Duquesne Way and the Allegheny River, at the Point. Here a general exposition is held each autumn, lasting for several weeks. The largest general hospital in the city is the West Penn, on Twenty-eighth Street, which has a department for the insane at Dixmont. Other large hospitals are the Mercy, Homeopathic, Saint Margaret's Memorial, Passavant, Charity, South Side, and Eye, Ear, and Throat. All these, save the last named and Saint Margaret's, receive State aid. Among the charitable institutions are the Church Home (Protestant Episcopal), Saint Joseph's Protectory for Boys (Roman Catholic), Home for Incurables, Florence Crittenton Home, Home for the Aged (Roman Catholic), Free Dispensary, House of the Merciful Saviour, Saint Paul's Orphan Asylum (Roman Catholic), now located at Idlewood; Old Ladies' Home (United Presbyterian), at Wilkinsburg; Odd Fellows' Home for Widows and Orphans, at Ben Avon. The principal cemeteries are Allegheny, Homewood, and Southside (Protestant), and Saint Mary's and Calvary (Roman Catholic). The smaller burying-grounds are numerous, perhaps the most interesting being that surrounding Trinity Church, Sixth Avenue, where many of the prominent pioneers of the community repose.

Educational Institutions. Pittsburg has a well-equipped educational system, which includes 86 ward and three high schools. In 1903 the number of teachers and principals was 1044, and the total enrollment of pupils 40,868. The expenditures for educational purposes were $1,658,716. The control of the ward schools is vested in district school boards, the districts usually being coextensive with the wards. The Central Board of Education, composed of one representative from each district board, has direct control of the high schools and regulates the preparatory courses of study. Each district makes its own tax levy. The bonded indebtedness of the various school districts in 1903 was $1,957,000. The Central Board annually appropriates money for kindergartens and summer schools, which are partly supported by civic societies. The private educational institutions of the city include the Pittsburg Academy, Pittsburg College of the Holy Ghost (Roman Catholic), Academy of Our Lady of Mercy (Roman Catholic), for girls, Bishop Bowman Institute (Protestant Episcopal), Pennsylvania College for Women, Shadyside Academy, Kindergarten College, departments of law, medicine, dental surgery, and pharmacy of the Western University of Pennsylvania, Institution for the Blind, and, in the suburb of Edgewood, the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb; also numerous parochial schools.

In 1901 Andrew Carnegie offered to present to the city a free institute of technology. The offer was accepted, the city agreeing to furnish the site and maintain the school. In 1903 a site, costing $350,000, was bouglit near the free library.

Commerce and Industry. Pittsburg has been since its foundation the natural transfer point between the East and West. It is a port of entry, and its imports for the year ending March 31, 1903, amounted to $1,504,705. The city's rapid growth, however, is due to its industrial activities, and these owe their supremacy to the abundant fuel supply. Coal and coke form the largest items in the immense freight tonnage of Pittsburg, a tonnage which surpasses that of New York and Chicago combined, and which has no equal in the world. The railroad freight for 1902 exceeded 80,000,000 tons, while the water tonnage approximated 9,500,000 tons. The manufacturing interests of the city date back to the close of the eighteenth century. Iron-working and glass-making were early engaged in, and glass and steel are still the leading products. According to the census of 1900 Pittsburg had invested in manufacturing within its municipal limits $193,162,900, and the annual product was worth $203,261,251. In adjoining cities and towns were plants with an invested capital of about two-thirds of the corresponding amount given above. The Greater Pittsburg produces annually 3,500,000 tons of pig iron, or about 22 per cent. of the entire output of the country. Finished products include wire, nails, boiler and hull plate, rails, angle iron, sheet, tinned sheet, tools, agricultural implements, stoves, engines, boilers, plumbing and sanitary supplies, enameled ware, electrical machinery, tubes, armor plate, projectiles, and air brakes. The manufactures of iron and steel have overshadowed the activities in other lines, which, however, are important. In 1900 the value of the glass product was $2,778,847. The largest cork factory in the world is in Pittsburg. The output of manufactured copper is 500,000 pounds annually. In the production of electrical cable for underground use Pittsburg leads the country. Among other industries of importance are the manufacture of pottery, brick, chemicals, acids, jewelry, asbestos, shoes, tobacco and cigars, mirrors, malt and spirituous liquors, clothing, oleomargarine, rubber, and aluminum. In these employments and others 69,977 workmen were engaged in 1900. The number of manufacturing establishments was 1938. A large business is done in petroleum products, several refineries being in the city.

The transportation facilities of Pittsburg include the Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, and Gould systems of railways, the independent Pittsburg, Bessemer and Lake Erie, and Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburg roads, and the rivers. The Pennsylvania system includes, from the east, the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Buffalo and Allegheny Valley division, the Pittsburg, Virginia and Charleston, the Baltimore and Ohio, and the West Penn; from the west, the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago, the Erie and Pittsburg, the Cleveland and Pittsburg, the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago and Saint Louis, and the Pittsburg and Western roads, with their branches. The Vanderbilt system reaches the city from the west by way of the Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad, while the Gould interests are penetrating to the city through an extension of the Wabash from the west. The most extensive freight yards are at Pitcairn on the Pennsylvania Railroad, Versailles on the Baltimore and Ohio, McKee's Rocks on the Pittsburg and Lake Erie, Conway on the Pittsburg. Fort Wayne and Chicago, Sheridan on the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago and Saint Louis, and at Twenty-eighth Street on the Buffalo and Allegheny Valley division. The Pennsylvania system has a large union station at Tenth and Liberty streets, used by all its roads except the Baltimore and Ohio and the Pittsburg and Western. The Pittsburg and Lake Erie also has a line new station on the South Side.

The rivers are of great importance commercially. The Monongahela runs through the richest coal fields of the Pittsburg district, and is improved throughout its entire length. In 1897 the Federal Government purchased seven locks and dams from the Monongahela Navigation Company for $3,761,615. It already owned two locks and dams above these, and Congress soon afterwards authorized the construction of six more at a cost of $1,200,000 to give slack-water navigation from Pittsburg to Fairmont, W. Va., a distance of 130 miles. Three locks and dams, to cost $1,500,000, are under construction on the Allegheny River, which will give 22 miles of slack-water navigation. On the Ohio River, Davis Island dam, constructed at a cost of $940,000, affords a harbor for the city. Six dams are being constructed at an estimated cost of $5,525,000, and five more have been authorized by Congress. The project contemplates the creation of a nine-foot stage of water between Pittsburg and Cairo, Ill., at an ultimate cost of $50,000,000. The traffic on these rivers is enormous, consisting chiefly of coal and manufactured iron. Of the 9,500,000 tons of freight on the rivers each year, 5,500,000 tons are coal. Pittsburg has 144 steam vessels, with a total tonnage of 39,476, on its marine register, but the barges, in which most of its shipping is done, are not registered. Their tonnage is estimated to be in excess of 2,500,000 tons. Considerable business in lighter freights and passengers is done on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers by fast packets. The Allegheny is devoted chiefly to lumber-rafting.

The export trade of Pittsburg is large and is growing rapidly. Coal is being shipped by river to New Orleans, and by rail to New York and Philadelphia for export. Manufactured iron and steel also are exported in immense quantities.

Government. The government of Pittsburg is vested in a mayor and a bicameral city council. The title of the chief executive was changed from mayor to recorder by an act of Legislature passed in 1901, regulating the government of second-class cities, and his powers were much enlarged, but in 1903 the former title was restored. He now appoints, with the consent of Select Council, the city treasurer, assessors, directors of the departments of public works, public safety, charities, and the department of law, and five police magistrates. Councils elect their own presiding officers and the city clerks. The comptroller is chosen by popular vote. The city has a pension fund for the benefit of veteran employees of the police and fire bureaus, and a disability fund for the assistance of those killed or injured while on duty. The police administration is, under the director of the department of public safety, in the hands of two coordinate bureaus, police and detective. The fire department is under the control of a chief engineer. Its equipment is excellent, but the water supply at present is inadequate, and insurance rates are accordingly high.

Municipal Finances. The total assessed valuation of the city in 1903 was $375,163,051. The gross bonded indebtedness was $21,391,201, and the net debt $15,740,838. The limit of indebtedness is fixed by law at seven per cent. of the assessed valuation. The real estate owned by the city, exclusive of school properties, is valued at $17,406,206, the water plant forming the largest single item—$5,969,300. The water supply is drawn from the Allegheny River, and is not good. The electors have authorized the construction of an extensive sand filtration plant from the proceeds of a bond issue. The parks are valued at $3,436,835; the bureau of fire properties at $815,000; the bureau of police properties at $203,400; and the municipal hall at $870,000. The total revenue of the city for the fiscal year ending January 31, 1903, applicable to general expenditure, was $7,094,204. Of this sum the department of public works expended $1,394,745, including $235,000 for the repaving of streets. During the same period $886,000 expended for the paving and sewering of new streets was paid by the owners of abutting property. The department of public safety expended $1,387,035, the principal items of which were for fire and police protection. The department of charities maintains a city farm at Marshalsea, and on this and for outside relief expended $131,352. The appropriation for interest and sinking fund was $1,595,834. The city maintains a municipal hospital for contagious diseases, and was one of the first in the country to engage in the production and free distribution of diphtheria antitoxin serum.

Population. The growth of Pittsburg during the past few decades has been very rapid. In 1900 the city's population was 321,616. In 1800 it was but 1565. The population by succeeding censuses follows: 1810, 4768; 1820, 7284; 1830, 12,542; 1840, 21,115; 1850, 46,601; 1860, 49,221; 1870, 86,076; 1880, 121,799; 1890, 238,617. Of the population in 1900, 236,738 were native born and 84,878 foreign born, while 171,225 were of foreign parentage. The preponderance of the iron and steel industries draws a large foreign population to the city and vicinity. The colored population is large, in 1900 having been 17,195.

History. As early as 1730 the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers became a centre of trading operations with the Indians. France and England were rival claimants to the region, and on the English side both Pennsylvania and Virginia asserted jurisdiction. While on his mission to warn the French away from the Allegheny Valley, Washington visited the site of Pittsburg in November, 1753. He wrote in his journal: “I spent some time in viewing the rivers and the land in the forks, which I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has absolute command of both rivers.” In the interest of the Ohio Company (q.v.). Captain Trent, with a few Virginia militia, began to build a fort at this place, in February, 1754. On April 17th a force of 700 French and Canadians forced the Virginians to leave. The works were completed and enlarged by the French and named Fort Duquesne. In an effort to retake the place a strong British expedition under General Braddock met disastrous defeat at the hands of the French and Indians, eight miles from Fort Duquesne, on July 9, 1755. In 1758 General Forbes, moving from Philadelphia, led an army of 7500 against Fort Duquesne. A party of 800, under Major James Grant, attempted to surprise the fort on the morning of September 14th, but was overwhelmed and routed. The site of this defeat is a hill in the business centre of the city, now occupied by the Court House and the Frick Building. Forbes by November 24th was within fifteen miles of Fort Duquesne. The French then burned the fort and fled. Forbes occupied the place on November 25th and named it “Pittsburgh,” in honor of England's Prime Minister. A small garrison remained over winter, and in 1759 General Stanwix constructed Fort Pitt. During Pontiac's war in 1763 the fort was vigorously besieged by the Indians from June 27th to August 6th. Col. Henry Bouquet, with 500 British regulars, marched from Carlisle to the relief of the fort, defeated the Indians at Bushy Run, 30 miles east of Pittsburg, after a two days' fight, and reached the fort on August 9th. In 1764 Bouquet erected a brick blockhouse a short distance from the fort, and this is the only structure of colonial times remaining at Pittsburg. It is owned and preserved by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In 1768 John Campbell laid out a small plan of lots near the fort, whereon cabins were erected by sufferance of the fort's commander. The title to the country surrounding Pittsburg was bought from the Iroquois in 1768, and in April, 1769, the Penns opened a land office, but sold nothing within the manor of Pittsburg. Titles under Pennsylvania were not popular, but a strong emigration set in from Virginia. Washington, on a journey down the Ohio River to seek bounty lands for his soldiers, visited Pittsburg in October, 1770. He then wrote: “The houses, which are built of logs, and ranged in streets, are on the Monongahela, and I suppose may be about twenty in number and inhabited by Indian traders.” In 1772 Fort Pitt was evacuated by the British, but two years later it was occupied by Virginia militia and Virginia authority was established. Virginia courts were held in Pittsburg in 1775-76 and Virginia governed the country until the boundary dispute was adjusted in 1781. During the Revolution Fort Pitt was garrisoned by Continental troops, who were occupied in frequent excursions against the Indians. The Penns began the sale of lots in the manor of Pittsburg in 1784, in which year Arthur Lee thus described the place: “Pittsburgh is inhabited almost entirely by Scots and Irish, who live in paltry log houses. There are in the town four attorneys, two doctors, and not a priest of any persuasion, nor church, nor chapel, so that they are likely to be damned without the benefit of clergy. The place, I believe, will never be very considerable.” Allegheny County was erected in 1788, and the court house was established at Pittsburg. The opening of the Northwest Territory gave an impetus to trade, but Pittsburg's real growth did not begin until the close of Indian hostilities in 1795. In 1794 Pittsburg took an active part in the Whisky Insurrection (q.v.), houses being burned, large meetings of the disaffected held, and destructive fires, supposedly incendiary, breaking out, so that troops had to be sent here to enforce the law. Pittsburg became a borough in 1794 and a city in 1816. In 1796 its population was but 1400. The making of window glass began in 1796, and during the first ten years of the nineteenth century shipyards, foundries, the first bank, cotton factories, and shops for metal-working came into existence. The Pennsylvania Canal was opened to Pittsburg in 1834, and the era of activity and prosperity that followed was only temporarily checked by the fire of 1845, which destroyed property valued at $6,000,000. In 1877, during the great railroad strike, property valued at more than $3,000,000 was destroyed by the rioters.

Consult: Craig, Olden Time (Pittsburg, 1846-48); Craig, The History of Pittsburg (ib., 1851); Albach, Annals of the West (ib., 1856); McKnight, Our Western Border (ib., 1875); Chapman, The French in the Allegheny Valley (Cleveland, 1887); Thurston, Allegheny County's Hundred Years (Pittsburg, 1888); Darlington, Fort Pitt and Letters from the Frontier (ib., 1892); Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare (Cincinnati, 1895); Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, 1890); Hassler, Old Westmoreland: A History of Western Pennsylvania During the Revolution (Pittsburg, 1900).