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Pittsburgh History

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Pittsburgh History Facts & Information

During the 1700's a dispute between the French and the English came about over each country's claim to the Ohio Valley. The French built an outpost on the Allegheny River. The English quickly built a fort to defend their position. They placed it at the junction of the three rivers. The officer choosing the site was, then Major, George Washington. In 1758 Pittsborough was named in honor of the British statesman, William Pitt.

After the Revolutionary War, the city, then called Pittsburgh, grew quickly. By the late 1700's, the iron and steel industry was already being established here. By the turn of the 18th century, the area had a post office, a network of roads and also the first newspaper published west of the Allegheny Mountains, The Pittsburgh Gazette.

During the 1800's, Industry won its place in Pittsburgh and gave the city its nickname of "The Iron City." All of this industry also gave Pittsburgh another nickname of "The Smoky City" because of all the billows of smoke from the thousands of stacks in the city. By the end of World War II, steps began to be taken to clean up the air in Pittsburgh. Gradually, the air became cleaner and the area more pleasant with its clearer skies.

The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center

The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, operated by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, opened on April 28, 1996. Located in the city's historic Strip District, its home is the former Chautauqua Lake Ice Company building.

Devoted to the history and heritage of Western Pennsylvania, the History Center is a 160,000-square-foot museum and research facility, which is about to grow by roughly 40,000 square feet when its five-story addition opens in 2004.

Original artifacts and interactive exhibits will appeal to newcomers and long-time residents, and people of all ages. The History Center is a great place to explore family roots — photographs, maps, books, and manuscripts relating to Western Pennsylvania history may be found in our Library & Archives, located on the sixth floor.

The Historical Society, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution since 2000, also operates Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life in Avella, Washington County, Pa.