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North Side: History


What was the early industrial history of the old City of Allegheny?

In 1800 a glass factory was begun (1), a ropeworks in 1813 (2) and an iron rolling mill in 1826 (3) "followed by a plow works, paper manufacturer, woolen mill and other factories." (4)

In what year did Allegheny become a borough?

In 1828, "with a population of 1,000, the little frontier town was incorporated as the Borough of Allegheny." (5)

In what year was Allegheny incorporated as a city?

"Allegheny was incorporated as a city in 1840." (6)

Who was the first mayor of the City of Allegheny?

"In 1785, William Robinson was operating a ferry from Allegheny to Pittsburgh, near the site of the present Sixth Street Bridge. His son, William Jr., was the first non-Indian child born in the area. He became Allegheny's first mayor when it became a city in 1840." (7)

How did the composer, Stephen Foster, come to live in old Allegheny?

"The home of Stephen Foster [was] on Union Avenue, where he lived when his father was mayor of Allegheny back in 1842....It was here that Foster wrote his first love song... 'Open Thy Lattice, Love.'" (8)

What engineering first can the City of Allegheny lay claim to?

"In 1845 John A. Roebling built the world's first wire suspension bridge to carry the Portage Canal and its barges across the Allegheny River from a point near present Madison and River Avenues." (9)

What is the origin of the Central North Side's Mexican War Streets?

"The Mexican War Streets were laid out in 1848 by General William Robinson, Jr. who later became mayor of the city of Allegheny. Just returned from service in the Mexican War, he subdivided his land and named the new streets after the battles and generals [Buena Vista Street, Filson Way, Monterey Street, Palo Alto Street, Resaca Place, Sherman Avenue, Taylor Avenue] of that war.
"With the spread of a streetcar network in the 1860s, larger areas of land around the center of Allegheny City became accessible to streetcar "commuters," and new "suburban" neighborhoods (like the Mexican War Streets) were quickly settled by middle class businessmen and professionals." (10)

Where in the old city of Allegheny was there said to be a station on the underground railroad?

"Historians say the [Felix Brunot mansion on Stockton Avenue] was once a station on the underground railway, where fugitive slaves from the South stopped for food and shelter." (11)

What happened to the Civil War monument for which Monument Hill was named?

"The Civil War monument for which it was named was moved to West Park." (12)

What occupies Monument Hill today?

Today, Monument Hill is occupied by the Allegheny Campus of the Community College of Allegheny County.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, what goods were being produced in Allegheny?

"The 'Made in Allegheny' label could be found not only on basic iron but on rope, plows, cotton cloth, wool, food, paper, paint, steam engines, wagons and carts, meat, soap, candles, lumber, linseed oil, furniture and a host of other diversified products." (13)

What ethnic groups made Allegheny their home?

"Alleghenians were an ethnic mix. The English settlers had been followed by the Scotch-Irish, the Scots and the Irish. Germans came in large numbers. The Croatians, Czechs, Lusatian Sorbs (Wends), Slovaks, Carpatho-Rusins, Ukrainians and Greeks were all drawn by the city's promise of employment. Blacks migrated to the North Side later." (14)

How did democracy play itself out at the old Market House at Federal and Ohio Streets?

"The rich from Millionaires' Row on Ridge Avenue and the housewives of Dutchtown rubbed elbows as they did their weekly shopping at the stands inside and from the farmers who displayed their wares on the sidewalks outside. The rich came in their carriages. The poor came on foot lugging huge market baskets." (15)

Was it ever a crime to walk on the grass of City of Allegheny parks?

Yes. "Walking on the grass of the parks was [once] a crime.... Many an old-timer still talks of how officer George Geisinger, the one-armed Civil War veteran who headed the park police, would race you if you ventured on the grass. Geisinger could throw his cane with great accuracy, and many a boy felt its sting when he ventured on the grass against the officer's orders." (16)

When was it permissible to walk upon the grass?

"There were two days in the year when we were allowed on the grass. One of those days was the Fourth of July, when everybody gathered in the park around Lake Elizabeth to watch the fireworks on Monument Hill. The other day was Jubilee Day...the last day of school. Then the school children marched to the parks and, after drills and exercises for their parents, were treated to lemonade by the School Board." (17)

What early and unusual research in aerodynamics was carried on by Samuel Pierpont Langley on Observatory Hill?

"On the lawn of the [Allegheny] Observatory [on Observatory Hill] he constructed with the assistance of young William R. Ludewig (now [1933] Pitt engineering professor) and Brother Joseph Ludewig his celebrated 'whirling table'--an apparatus resembling a horizontal ladder whirled about like a merry-go-round. At one end was a weight; at the other, a grooved pair of uprights. Stuffed birds--a frigate bird, a condor, an albatross--were wired in the grooves with wings extended. Whirled at 60 m.p.h., they rose from their grooves in similitude of flight. Studying them and various other planes & wheels, Langley laid down his principles of aerodynamics." (18)
"Mary Roberts Rinehart, in 'My Story,' mentions this whirligig, with which Langley was experimenting 'on the hill over our heads' when she was a girl." (19)

What early and peculiar aeronautic feat was undertaken from Monument Hill?

In the early years of this century, on Monument Hill, Fred Haworth, using equipment from John Brashear's laboratory, flew cameras attached to kites to photograph The Point, Downtown and North Side (then the City of Allegheny). (20)

How did some residents of old Allegheny choose to remember the assassinated president, William McKinley?

"In September of 1901 the funeral train bearing the body of assassinated President McKinley went through Allegheny, flattening thousands of coins that had been placed on the tracks." (21)

Where was the first World Series played?

"The first World Series was played...at Exposition Park [by the Pittsburgh Pirates and] Boston in 1903." (22)

Where were the Jehovah's Witnesses organized?

Now demolished, the house at 612 Arch Street was where "Charles Taze Russell organized what is now known as Jehovah's Witnesses." (23)

What would have been the equivalent of roller-blading or skateboarding in the old City of Allegheny in the 19th century?

Hoop rolling (24), using barrel staves, was a very popular pastime in the nineteenth century. The hoops would be rolled using the hand or a "skimmer."

In what year was the City of Allegheny annexed to the City of Pittsburgh?

"1907." (25)

Is all peace and harmony between what used to be the old City of Allegheny and the City of Pittsburgh that annexed it?

"Animosity runs high toward the carpetbaggers from across the river who for 70-odd years have brought such progress and improvement as the rape of East Street, the near-destruction of Manchester and Chateau Street, the forever stalled Stadium project, the half-baked Allegheny Center project, and more." (26)

What is one contemporary view of the annexation of the City of Allegheny by Pittsburgh?

Allegheny was "stolen. Annexed by the City of Pittsburgh at the turn of the century by a Harrisburg rigged vote that allowed the whole city, not just the North Side to vote on whether Old Allegheny would 'join' Pittsburgh. Thus although two-thirds of North Siders said 'no,' the theft became law." (27)

Was the North Side subject to redevelopment?

Yes. In Manchester, for example, "each block bears the scars of every redevelopment strategy of the last quarter-century--slash and burn clearance to suburban bungalows, high-rises to historic restoration." (28)

What exactly did happen to East Street?

"An entire neighborhood was ripped off the face of the earth for someone else's convenience. To build up the North Hills. To make a feeder to town." (29)

How many hills are there on the North Side?

"North Side has seven hills (Observatory, Monument, Troy, Spring, Seminary, Fineview and Mt. Troy)." (30)

What are some of the neighborhoods that go to make up the North Side?

Among the neighborhoods that make up the North Side are: Allegheny Center, Allegheny West, California-Kirkbride, Central North Side, City View, East North Side, East Street Valley, Fineview, Ivory Avenue District, Marshall-Shadeland, Manchester, North Shore, Northview Heights, Perry Hilltop-Perrysville Avenue, Pleasant Valley, Spring Garden, Summer Hill.

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In memory, how is old Allegheny remembered?

With nostalgia.


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