Pittsburgh (pĬts´bərg), city (1990 pop. 369,879), seat of Allegheny co., SW Pa., at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers, which there form the Ohio River; inc. 1816. A major inland port of entry, it is located at the junction of east-west transportation arteries.
Pittsburgh's access to large reserves of raw materials, especially coal, was instrumental to the emergence of the "Steel City" as a leading industrial center in the late 19th cent. Industries include transportation equipment; metal, wood, plastic, paper, and glass products; printing and publishing; oil refining; textiles; chemicals; and computers. After the mid-1970s, as the number of those employed in the steel industry declined, the city's economic base underwent a dramatic shift from manufacturing to service industries and commercial enterprises. Once a major center for corporate headquarters, many departed in the 1990s, a period, however, that saw the growth of high-technology companies.
The city was founded on the site of the Native American town of Shannopin, a late-17th-century fur-trading post at the junction of many canoe routes and trails. Fort Duquesne, built by the French in the middle of the 18th cent., later fell to the English and was renamed Fort Pitt. The village surrounding the fort was settled in 1760, and it prospered with the opening of the Northwest Territory. At the height of industrial development in the late 19th cent., Pittsburgh was a hotbed of labor unrest and union movements. The "Steel City" was once also called the "Smoky City" because of severe pollution; the problem, however, gradually abated by the late 1970s as industrial production fell. Sprawled over a hilly area, Pittsburgh has become an attractive city, but the loss of steel industry jobs has also led to a population decline. The business district was refurbished and marked by a construction boom that began in the 1980s.
Points of Interest
The downtown area, known as the Golden Triangle, includes Gateway Center, a landscaped hub of office and hotel space. Pittsburgh is the seat of Carlow Univ., Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Chatham Univ, Duquesne Univ., and the Univ. of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts and neighboring theaters, the Carnegie Institute's art and natural history museums, the Carnegie Library, the Andy Warhol Museum, and the Senator John Heinz History Center are noteworthy. On the Univ. of Pittsburgh campus is a memorial hall dedicated to Stephen Foster, who was born (1826) in Lawrenceville, now part of the city.
Pittsburgh has a fine park system, of which Schenley Park is the principal unit. The blockhouse of old Fort Pitt is preserved in Point State Park. Two botanical conservatories, the Buhl Science Center, a planetarium, a civic arena (with a retractable dome), an aviary, the Flag Plaza, and the Pittsburgh Zoo are among the city's other features. Pittsburgh is home to the Pirates (National League baseball), Steelers (National Football League), and Penguins (National Hockey League). A casino opened in the city in 2009.
See R. Lubove, Twentieth Century Pittsburgh (1969); J. D. Van Trump, Life and Architecture in Pittsburgh (1985).