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Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Allegheny County is a county located in the U.S. State of Pennsylvania. As of 2000, the population is 1,281,666. The county seat is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Law and Government
3 Geography
4 Demographics
5 Economy
6 Cities and Towns
7 Colleges and Universities


Before it was settled by Europeans, the county was mostly wilderness and uninhabited except for wandering Indians such as the Iroquois, who were the largest tribe in the area. The Allegheny River, Mountains, and County get their name from the Allegwi Indians who were also in the area.

The first Europeans to enter the area were the French in 1749. Captain Pierre Joseph de Celeron, sieur de Blainville claimed the Ohio Valley and all of Western Pennsylvania for Louis XV of France. The captain travelled along the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers inserting lead plates in the ground to mark the land for France.

Since most of the towns in that time were developed along waterways, both the French and the British desired control over the rivers in the area. So the British sent Major George Washington to try and compel the French to leave their posts, with no success. Having failed in his mission he returned, crossing the ice-filled Allegheny River where he almost drowned. 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 fort and sent an army to take over the fort. The French resumed building on the incomplete fort and fortified it. They renamed the fort to 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, by General Edward Braddock, failed miserably. It was not until General John Forbes attacked in 1758, four years after they had lost the fort, that they recaptured and destroyed the fort. They built a new fort with a moat and named it Fort Pitt.

Allegheny County was officially created in 1788 due to pressure from settlers living in the area around Pittsburgh, which became the county seat in 1791. Shortly afterwards 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 a local town's marshal. After many demonstrations by farmers, President George Washington sent in troops to stop the rebellion.

Since that time, the county has become a productive member of the nation. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Pittsburgh became the center of steel production in the nation, launching the area into huge social and economic growth. It would later be labelled as the "Steel Capital of the World."

Before January 1, 2000, there were 3 commissioners. These were replaced with an elected chief officer, a county council with 15 members (13 elected members), 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.

Law and Government

For most of the 20th century until 1999, the 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.

The county has 731 municipalities with their own governmental setup. The county has one Second Class City (Pittsburgh) and 3 Third Class Cities (Clairton, Duquesne, and McKeesport).


Allegheny County is known for the three rivers that flow through the county and meet in Pittsburgh: the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. The land is covered with large amounts of forests.

The county has a total area of 1,929 km2 (745 mi2). 1,891 km2 (730 mi2) of it is land and 38 km2 (15 mi2) of it is water. The total area is 1.95% water.


As of 2000, there are 1,281,666 people, 537,150 households, and 332,495 families residing in the county. The population density is 678/km2 (1,755/mi2). There are 583,646 housing units at an average density of 309 persons/km2 (799 persons/mi2). The racial makeup of the county is 84.33% White, 12.41% 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. 0.87% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 537,150 households out of which 26.40% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.10% are married couples living together, 12.40% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 38.10% are non-families. 32.70% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.20% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.31 and the average family size is 2.96.

In the county, the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 90.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.20 males.


In the late 1700s 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 country. Pittsburgh quickly became the largest inland port in the nation, which it remains today. Coupled with deposits of iron and coal and the easy access to waterways, the city quickly became one of the most important steel producing areas in the world.

With the decline of the steel industry, the area shifted to other industries. Today the area is known for its hospitals, universities, and industrial centers. Because of this, the city is the home to a number of large companies such as the H J Heinz Corporation.

Cities and Towns

Colleges and Universities