Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

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Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Allegheny County Courthouse
Flag of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Seal of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the United States highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
FoundedSeptember 24, 1788
Named forAllegheny River
Largest cityPittsburgh
 • Total745 sq mi (1,929 km2)
 • Land730 sq mi (1,891 km2)
 • Water15 sq mi (39 km2), 1.95%
 • (2010)1,223,348
 • Density1,675.8/sq mi (646.9/km²)
Congressional districts12th, 14th, 18th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
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Not to be confused with Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Allegheny County Courthouse
Flag of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Seal of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the United States highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
FoundedSeptember 24, 1788
Named forAllegheny River
Largest cityPittsburgh
 • Total745 sq mi (1,929 km2)
 • Land730 sq mi (1,891 km2)
 • Water15 sq mi (39 km2), 1.95%
 • (2010)1,223,348
 • Density1,675.8/sq mi (646.9/km²)
Congressional districts12th, 14th, 18th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4

Allegheny County is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,223,348,[1] making it the second most populous county in Pennsylvania following Philadelphia County. The county seat is Pittsburgh.[2]

Allegheny County is included in the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, as well as the much larger Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV Combined Statistical Area. The county is in the Pittsburgh Designated Market Area.


Plaque on the statue next to the Frick Fine Arts Building

Allegheny County was the first in Pennsylvania to be given a Native American name, being named after the Allegheny River. The word "Allegheny" is of Lenape origin, with uncertain meaning. It is usually said to mean "fine river", but sometimes said to refer to an ancient mythical tribe called "Allegewi" who lived along the river long ago before being destroyed by the Lenape.[3]

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.[4] 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".

Law and government[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]

State relations[edit]

Under the Onorato administration, Allegheny County paid $10,000 per month to Robert Ewanco, of Greenlee Partners, to lobby the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[7][8] 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.[8]

County Executive[edit]

County Council[9][edit]

Other elected county offices[edit]


Presidential Election Results 1960–2012
201256.54% 352,68742.01% 269,039
200857.20% 368,45341.89% 269,819
200457.15% 368,91242.13% 271,925
200056.65% 329,96340.41% 235,361
199652.82% 284,48037.89% 204,067
199252.75% 324,00429.80% 183,035
198859.51% 348,81439.43% 231,137
198455.96% 372,57642.76% 284,692
198047.87% 297,46443.75% 271,850
197650.68% 328,34346.79% 303,127
197242.26% 282,49655.60% 371,737
196851.12% 364,90637.09% 264,790
196466.03% 475,20733.58% 241,707
196057.07% 428,45542.76% 320,970

As of November 2008, there are 955,982 registered voters in Allegheny County.[12]

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[edit]

US representatives[edit]


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 15 square miles (39 km2) (1.95%) is water.[13]

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[edit]


Historical population
Est. 20131,231,5270.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
2012 Estimate[1]

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

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

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


In the late 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.[16]



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 at most two cases, towns. Allegheny County also labels four of its municipalities as being simply "Municipalities" without using any of the specific qualifying labels.[17] The following cities, municipalities, boroughs and townships are in Allegheny County:





Census-designated places[edit]

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[edit]

Former municipalities and political subdivisions[edit]

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

County Population Ranking[edit]

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Allegheny County.[19]

county seat

RankCity/Town/etc.Population (2010 Census)Municipal typeIncorporated
1Pittsburgh305,704City1794 (borough) 1816 (city)
2Penn Hills42,329Municipality1958
3Mt. Lebanon33,137Municipality1975
4Bethel Park32,313Municipality1949 (borough) 1978 (municipality)
7Allison Park21,552CDP
8West Mifflin20,313Borough1942
10McKeesport19,731City1842 (borough) 1891 (city)
13Franklin Park13,470Borough
16Jefferson Hills10,619Borough
22Castle Shannon8,316Borough1919
23Pleasant Hills8,268Borough
25White Oak7,862Borough
26Clairton6,796City1903 (borough) 1922 (city)
27West View6,771Borough
28Forest Hills6,518Borough1919
30McKees Rocks6,104Borough1892
33Duquesne5,565City1891 (borough) 1918 (city)
34Fox Chapel5,388Borough
35Turtle Creek5,349Borough
37North Braddock4,857Borough
41Green Tree4,432Borough1885
43Port Vue3,798Borough
49Mount Oliver3,403Borough
52Trafford (mostly in Westmoreland County)3,174Borough1904
65McDonald (mostly in Washington County)2,149Borough1889
66East McKeesport2,126Borough
68West Homestead1,929Borough
69Braddock Hills1,880Borough1946
70East Pittsburgh1,822Borough
72Ben Avon1,781Borough1891
82Bell Acres1,388Borough1960
86Bradford Woods1,171Borough1915
92Sewickley Heights810Borough
95Pennsbury Village661Borough
96Sewickley Hills639Borough
99Glen Osborne547Borough
101West Elizabeth518Borough
104Rosslyn Farms427Borough
105Ben Avon Heights371Borough1913


Colleges and universities[edit]

Full list of colleges and universities in Pittsburgh

Community, junior and technical colleges[edit]

Public school districts[edit]

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts

Public charter schools[edit]

Pennsylvania charter schools participate in PSSA testing just like all public schools.

per 2012 - Pennsylvania Department of Education EdNA Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Approved private schools and charter schools for the blind and deaf[edit]

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[edit]

21st Century Community Learning Centers[edit]

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, DC.

Major roadways[edit]

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

Parks and recreation[edit]

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.

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Fiske, John (1902). New France and New England, pp. 290–92. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  5. ^ "Pennsylvania Municipalities Information". Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  6. ^ Cohan, Jeffrey (1969-12-31). "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  7. ^ "Lobbyist Profile – Ewanco, Robert J." (database). Pennsylvania Lobbyist Database. Pennsylvania General Assembly. Archived from the original on 2009-12-01. 
  8. ^ a b Bumsted, Brad; Mike Wereschagin (November 29, 2009). "Lobbyist expenses wasteful, critics say". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "DeFazio elected Allegheny County Council president - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  11. ^ "Video - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  12. ^ "Running for Office". Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ "Automatic defense cuts would affect some contractors in Pittsburgh region - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  17. ^ "Allegheny County Municipality Map". Allegheny County Government. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f Schmitz, Jon (July 23, 2012). "Kirwan Heights loses Interstate 79 designation". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  19. ^
  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

External links[edit]

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