Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Not to be confused with Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Allegheny County Courthouse


Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County
Location in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Map of the United States highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
Founded September 24, 1788
Named for Allegheny River
Seat Pittsburgh
Largest city Pittsburgh
  Total 745 sq mi (1,930 km2)
  Land 730 sq mi (1,891 km2)
  Water 14 sq mi (36 km2), 1.9%
Population (est.)
  (2015) 1,230,459
  Density 1,686/sq mi (651/km²)
Congressional districts 12th, 14th, 18th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4


Designated December 30, 1982[1]

Allegheny County (/ælˈɡni/) is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2014 the population was 1,231,225,[2] making it the second-most populous county in Pennsylvania, following Philadelphia County. The county seat is Pittsburgh.[3] Allegheny County is included in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is in the Pittsburgh Designated Market Area.

Allegheny County was the first in Pennsylvania to be given a Native American name, being named after the Allegheny River. The word "Allegheny" is of Lenape origin, with uncertain meaning. It is usually said to mean "fine river", but sometimes said to refer to an ancient mythical tribe called "Allegewi" that lived along the river long ago before being destroyed by the Lenape.[4]


Not a great deal is known about the native inhabitants of the region prior to European contact. During the colonial era various native groups claimed or settled in the area, resulting in a multi-ethnic mix that included Iroquois, Lenape, Shawnee, and Mingo. European fur traders such as Peter Chartier established trading posts in the region in the early eighteenth century.

In 1749 Captain Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville, claimed the Ohio Valley and all of western Pennsylvania for Louis XV of France. The captain traveled along the Ohio and Allegheny rivers inserting lead plates in the ground to mark the land for France.

Since most of the towns during that era were developed along waterways, both the French and the British desired control over the local rivers. Therefore, the British sent Major George Washington to try to compel the French to leave their posts, with no success. Having failed in his mission, he returned and nearly drowned crossing the ice-filled Allegheny River. In 1754, the English tried again to enter the area. This time, they sent 41 Virginians to build Fort Prince George. The French got news of the plan and sent an army to take over the fort, which they then resumed building with increased fortification, renaming it Fort Duquesne.

The loss of the fort cost the English dearly because Fort Duquesne became one of the focal points of the French and Indian War. The first attempt to retake the fort, the Braddock Expedition, failed miserably.[5] It was not until General John Forbes attacked in 1758, four years after they had lost the original fort, that they recaptured and destroyed it. They subsequently built a new fort on the site, including a moat, and named it Fort Pitt. The site is now Pittsburgh's Point State Park.

Both Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed the region that is now Allegheny County. Pennsylvania administered most of the region as part of its Westmoreland County. Virginia considered everything south of the Ohio River and east of the Allegheny River to be part of its Yohogania County and governed it from Fort Dunmore. In addition, parts of the county were located in the proposed British colony of Vandalia and the proposed U.S. state of Westsylvania. The overlapping boundaries, multiple governments, and confused deed claims soon proved unworkable. In 1780 Pennsylvania and Virginia agreed to extend the Mason–Dixon line westward, and the region became part of Pennsylvania. From 1781 until 1788, much of what had been claimed as part of Yohogania County, Virginia, was administered as a part of the newly created Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County was officially created on September 24, 1788, from parts of Washington and Westmoreland counties. It was formed due to pressure from settlers living in the area around Pittsburgh, which became the county seat in 1791. The county originally extended all the way north to the shores of Lake Erie and became the "mother county" for most of what is now northwestern Pennsylvania. By 1800, the county's current borders were set.

In the 1790s, a whiskey excise tax was imposed by the United States federal government. This started the so-called Whiskey Rebellion when the farmers who depended on whiskey income refused to pay and drove off tax collector John Neville. After a series of demonstrations by farmers, President George Washington sent troops to stop the rebellion.

The area developed rapidly throughout the 19th century to become the center of steel production in the nation. Pittsburgh would later be labeled the "Steel Capital of the World".


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 745 square miles (1,930 km2), of which 730 square miles (1,900 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (1.9%) is water.[6]

Allegheny County is known for the three major rivers that flow through it: the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River converge at Downtown Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. The Youghiogheny River flows into the Monongahela River at McKeesport, 10 miles (16 km) southeast. Several islands are located within the riverine systems. Water from these rivers eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Although the county's industrial growth caused the clearcutting of forests, a significant woodland remains.

Adjacent counties

Major Highways

Law and government

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

Before the implementation of the home-rule charter on January 1, 2000, there were three county commissioners. These were replaced with an elected chief officer (the county executive), a county council with 15 members (13 elected by district, two elected county-wide), and an appointed county manager. The changes were intended to maintain a separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches while providing the citizens with greater control over the government.

County Medical Examiner office

The county has 130 municipalities, each governing itself; no other county in Pennsylvania has nearly as many, with Luzerne County's 76 being second.[7] The county has one Second Class City (Pittsburgh) and three Third Class Cities (Clairton, Duquesne, and McKeesport).

A 2004 study by the University of Pittsburgh stated that Allegheny County would be better served by consolidating the southeastern portion of the county (which includes many small, poor communities) into one large municipality, called "Rivers City", which would have a combined population of approximately 250,000.[8]

State relations

Under the Onorato administration, Allegheny County paid $10,000 per month to Robert Ewanco, of Greenlee Partners, to lobby the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[9][10] County officials credit him with a "20-fold" return in the form of appropriations for a widening project on Pennsylvania Route 28, as well as a footbridge and security cameras at Duquesne University.[10]

County Executive

County Council

Other elected county offices


Allegheny County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic
2016 39.6% 257,488 55.8% 363,017
2012 42.0% 269,039 56.5% 352,687
2008 41.9% 269,819 57.2% 368,453
2004 42.1% 271,925 57.2% 368,912
2000 40.4% 235,361 56.7% 329,963
1996 37.9% 204,067 52.8% 284,480
1992 29.8% 183,035 52.8% 324,004
1988 39.4% 231,137 59.5% 348,814
1984 42.8% 284,692 56.0% 372,576
1980 43.8% 271,850 47.9% 297,464
1976 46.8% 303,127 50.7% 328,343
1972 55.6% 371,737 42.3% 282,496
1968 37.1% 264,790 51.1% 364,906
1964 33.6% 241,707 66.0% 475,207
1960 42.8% 320,970 57.1% 428,455

As of November 2014, there are 881,622 registered voters in Allegheny County.[11]

The Republican Party had been historically dominant in county-level politics; prior to the Great Depression Pittsburgh and Allegheny County had been Republican. Since the Great Depression on the state and national levels, the Democratic Party has been dominant in county-level politics and is the Democratic stronghold of western Pennsylvania. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won 56% of the vote and Republican George W. Bush won 41%. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry received 57% of the vote and Bush received 42%. In 2006, Democrats Governor Ed Rendell and Senator Bob Casey, Jr. won 59% and 65% of the vote in Allegheny County, respectively. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama received 57% of the vote, John McCain received 41%, and each of the three state row office winners (Rob McCord for Treasurer, Jack Wagner for Auditor General, and Tom Corbett for Attorney General) also carried Allegheny.

State senators

US representatives


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20151,230,459[12]0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790–1960[14] 1900–1990[15]
1990–2000[16] 2010–2013[17]

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,223,348 people residing in the county. The population density was 1676 people per square mile (647/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 82.87% White, 14.39% Black or African American, 2.94% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. About 1.31% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

At the census[18] of 2000, there were 1,281,666 people, 537,150 households, and 332,495 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,755 people per square mile (678/km²). There were 583,646 housing units at an average density of 799 per square mile (309/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.33% White, 12.41% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 1.69% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. About 0.87% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.0% were of German, 15.0% Italian, 12.7% Irish, 7.5% Polish and 5.1% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.5% spoke English and 1.3% Spanish as their first language.

There were 537,150 households out of which 26.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.10% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.10% were non-families. Some 32.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.96.

The age distribution of the population shows 21.90% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 28.30% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 17.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40. For every 100 females, there were 90.00 males; for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.20 males.


In the late 18th century farming played a critical role in the growth of the area. There was a surplus of grain due to transportation difficulties in linking with the eastern portion of the state. As a result, the farmers distilled the grain into whiskey, which significantly helped the farmers financially.

The area quickly became one of the key manufacturing areas in the young nation. Coupled with deposits of iron and coal, and the easy access to waterways for barge traffic, the city quickly became one of the most important steel producing areas in the world. Based on 2007 data from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh is the second busiest inland port in the nation.

With the decline of the steel industry in the US, the area shifted to other industries. Today, it is known for its hospitals, universities, and industrial centers. Despite the decline of heavy industry, Pittsburgh is home to a number of major companies and is ranked in the top ten among US cities hosting headquarters of Fortune 500 corporations. These include U.S. Steel Corporation, PNC Financial Services Group, PPG Industries, and H. J. Heinz Company.

The county leads the commonwealth in number of defense contractors supplying the U.S. military.[19]



Colleges and universities

Full list of colleges and universities in Pittsburgh

Community, junior and technical colleges

Public school districts

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts

Approved private schools

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has 36 Approved Private Schools including the Charter Schools for the Blind and Deaf. Students attending these schools come from across the commonwealth. The private schools are licensed by the State Board of Private Academic Schools. They provide a free appropriate special education for students with severe disabilities. The cost of tuition for these schools is paid 60% by the state and 40% by the local school district where the student is a resident. Pennsylvania currently has four PA chartered and 30 non-charter APSs for which the Department approves funding. These schools provide a program of special education for over 4,000 day and residential students. Parents are not charged for the services at the school.[20] In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Education budgeted $98 million for tuition of children in approved private schools and $36.8 million for students attending the charter schools for the deaf and blind.[21] The majority of these schools are located in the southeastern region and southwestern region of Pennsylvania.

Private high schools

21st Century Community Learning Centers

These are state designated before and after school program providers. They receive state funding through grants. CCLCs provide academic, artistic and cultural enhancement activities to students and their families when school is not in session.[22]


Allegheny County's public transportation provider is the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The Allegheny County Department of Public Works oversees infrastructure, maintenance and engineering services in the county.

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail provides uninterrupted bicycle and pedestrian connections along the three rivers in the city, and the Great Allegheny Passage trail runs from downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

Major roadways

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

Parks and recreation

There are two Pennsylvania state parks in Allegheny County. Point State Park is at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Downtown Pittsburgh, and Allegheny Islands State Park is in the Allegheny River in Harmar Township and is undeveloped as of August 2010.



Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, with municipal labels showing cities and boroughs (red), townships (white), and census-designated places (blue)

Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and (in one case) a town. The following municipalities are in Allegheny County:




Census-designated places

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

Unincorporated communities

Former places

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

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Allegheny County.[27]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Population (2010 Census) Municipal type Incorporated
1 Pittsburgh 305,704 City 1794 (borough) 1816 (city)
2 Penn Hills 42,329 Municipality 1851 (Penn Twp.) 1958 (Penn Hills Twp.) 1976 (municipality)
3 Mt. Lebanon 33,137 Municipality 1912 (township) 1975 (municipality)
4 Bethel Park 32,313 Municipality 1949 (borough) 1978 (municipality)
5 Monroeville 28,386 Municipality 1951
6 Plum 27,126 Borough 1788 (township) 1956 (borough)
7 Allison Park 21,552 CDP
8 West Mifflin 20,313 Borough 1942
9 Baldwin 19,767 Borough 1950
10 McKeesport 19,731 City 1842 (borough) 1891 (city)
11 Wilkinsburg 15,930 Borough 1871 (Sterrett Twp.) 1887 (borough)
12 Whitehall 13,944 Borough 1948
13 Franklin Park 13,470 Borough
14 Munhall 11,406 Borough
15 Carnot-Moon 11,372 CDP
16 Jefferson Hills 10,619 Borough
17 Brentwood 9,643 Borough 1916
18 Swissvale 8,983 Borough
19 Glenshaw 8,981 CDP
20 Dormont 8,593 Borough 1909
21 Bellevue 8,370 Borough 1867
22 Castle Shannon 8,316 Borough 1919
23 Pleasant Hills 8,268 Borough
24 Carnegie 7,972 Borough 1894
25 White Oak 7,862 Borough
26 Clairton 6,796 City 1903 (borough) 1922 (city)
27 West View 6,771 Borough
28 Forest Hills 6,518 Borough 1919
29 Oakmont 6,303 Borough 1889
30 McKees Rocks 6,104 Borough 1892
31 Crafton 5,951 Borough
32 Coraopolis 5,677 Borough 1886
33 Duquesne 5,565 City 1891 (borough) 1918 (city)
34 Fox Chapel 5,388 Borough
35 Turtle Creek 5,349 Borough
36 Bridgeville 5,148 Borough 1901
37 North Braddock 4,857 Borough
38 Avalon 4,705 Borough 1874
39 Tarentum 4,530 Borough 1842
40 Glassport 4,483 Borough
41 Green Tree 4,432 Borough 1885
42 Sewickley 3,827 Borough
43 Port Vue 3,798 Borough
44 Millvale 3,744 Borough
45 Pitcairn 3,689 Borough
46 Etna 3,451 Borough
47 Sharpsburg 3,446 Borough
48 Springdale 3,405 Borough
49 Mount Oliver 3,403 Borough
50 Ingram 3,330 Borough
51 Brackenridge 3,260 Borough 1901
52 Trafford (mostly in Westmoreland County) 3,174 Borough 1904
53 Homestead 3,165 Borough
54 Edgewood 3,118 Borough 1888
55 Churchill 3,011 Borough
56 Aspinwall 2,801 Borough 1892
57 Gibsonia 2,733 CDP
58 Liberty 2,551 Borough
59 Imperial 2,541 CDP
60 Verona 2,474 Borough 1871
61 Emsworth 2,449 Borough
62 Greenock 2,195 CDP
63 Wilmerding 2,190 Borough
64 Braddock 2,159 Borough 1867
65 McDonald (mostly in Washington County) 2,149 Borough 1889
66 East McKeesport 2,126 Borough
67 Rankin 2,122 Borough
68 West Homestead 1,929 Borough
69 Braddock Hills 1,880 Borough 1946
70 East Pittsburgh 1,822 Borough
71 Dravosburg 1,792 Borough
72 Ben Avon 1,781 Borough 1891
73 Bakerstown 1,761 CDP
74 Cheswick 1,746 Borough
75 Sturgeon 1,710 CDP
76 Edgeworth 1,680 Borough
77 Versailles 1,515 Borough
78 Elizabeth 1,493 Borough
79 Oakdale 1,459 Borough
80 Russellton 1,440 CDP
81 Blawnox 1,432 Borough 1925
82 Bell Acres 1,388 Borough 1960
83 Whitaker 1,271 Borough
84 Heidelberg 1,244 Borough
85 Leetsdale 1,218 Borough
86 Bradford Woods 1,171 Borough 1915
87 Rennerdale 1,150 CDP
88 Lincoln 1,072 Borough
89 Curtisville 1,064 CDP
90 Enlow 1,013 CDP
91 Harwick 899 CDP
92 Sewickley Heights 810 Borough
93 Chalfant 800 Borough
94 Bairdford 698 CDP
95 Pennsbury Village 661 Borough
96 Sewickley Hills 639 Borough
97 Wall 580 Borough
98 Noblestown 575 CDP
99 Glen Osborne 547 Borough
100 Boston 545 CDP
101 West Elizabeth 518 Borough
102 Thornburg 455 Borough
103 Clinton 434 CDP
104 Rosslyn Farms 427 Borough
105 Ben Avon Heights 371 Borough 1913
106 Glenfield 205 Borough
107 Haysville 70 Borough

Notable people

See also


  1. "PHMC Historical Markers Search" (Searchable database). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  2. United States Census Bureau
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. Stewart, George R. (1967) [1945]. Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (Sentry edition (3rd) ed.). Houghton Mifflin. pp. 8, 193. ISBN 1-59017-273-6.
  5. Fiske, John (1902). New France and New England, pp. 290–92. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  6. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  7. "Pennsylvania Municipalities Information". Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  8. Cohan, Jeffrey (June 20, 2004). "Can 39 towns be turned into one?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  9. "Lobbyist Profile – Ewanco, Robert J." (database). Pennsylvania Lobbyist Database. Pennsylvania General Assembly. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009.
  10. 1 2 Bumsted, Brad; Mike Wereschagin (November 29, 2009). "Lobbyist expenses wasteful, critics say". Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
  11. "Voter Registration Statistics". Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  12. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  13. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  14. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  15. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  16. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  17. "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  18. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  19. "Automatic defense cuts would affect some contractors in Pittsburgh region". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 3, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  20. Approved Private Schools and Chartered Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, Pennsylvania Department of Education website, accessed April 2010.
  21. Tommasini, John, Assistant Secretary of Education, Testimony before the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Hearing on SB982 of 2010. given April 14, 2010.
  22. Pennsylvania Awards $29.9 Million to Support 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Pennsylvania Department of Education Press Release, April 7, 2010
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Schmitz, Jon (July 23, 2012). "Kirwan Heights loses Interstate 79 designation". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  24. "Profile: Cuddy, Pennsylvania". Mapquest. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  25. "Profile: Sheraden, Pennsylvania". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  26. "Mifflin Township Historical Society Attraction Details".
  27. Center for New Media and Promotions(C2PO). "2010 Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 21, 2013.

External links

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Allegheny County.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Coordinates: 40°28′N 79°59′W / 40.47°N 79.98°W / 40.47; -79.98

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