A Bicentennial Tribute 1758-1958
by Rose Demorest,
late of the Pennsylvania Department.
Published by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 1958. © 1999 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Indians were here long before the first trader or settler arrived. How much longer or where they originally came from, no one knew, least of all the Indians themselves.
They had been here long enough, however, to have established settlements or Indian villages, at nearby Shannopin's Town on the Allegheny river and at Chartier's and Logstown on the Ohio. In these villages the first early traders met with the Indian chiefs and through interpreters tried to explain the reasons for their presence. From the first the Indian chiefs did not trust the "men with the white skin" as they referred to them. Christopher Gist, the noted guide, was a visitor to Shannopin's Town in 1750, where he was cared for during an illness and where he learned it was dangerous to let a compass be seen. The Indians had a fear of objects they did not understand, and worse fears that their lands might be taken from them by a survey. A compass was a surveyor's instrument.
In 1753 when George Washington located the land at the point as the future Pittsburgh, he considered the area very desirable, but apparently the Indians did not, as none settled here but chose a site across the Allegheny river opposite the point, where they lived for many years and had an extensive burial ground. It was here on August 24, 1758, that Christian Frederick Post, an early missionary, preached to them, talked peaceful existence and was rewarded by winning many of the hostile Indians to the side of the English. Much credit is given to him for the success of the Forbes campaign in keeping the Indians from the warpath.
Washington met Queen Aliquippa at her camp and Half-King at his and explained through his interpreter his reason for his journey. Presents were given to them, flowery speeches were made, flattering each other, but Half-King knew the designs which were now in process and that meant taking his lands, his hunting grounds from him. He reasoned, this land belonged to the Indians, they were here first and they needed it all as the wild animals wandered over the whole area and the hunters had to follow them to track them down. Neither the animals nor the Indians could be confined by limited areas or boundaries.
From this time on for almost a half century there was a continual battle for the Indian to hold fast to his beliefs and his possessions. He did not know that his future was decided for him by two great nations over the sea, as England and France fought with each other for the future Pittsburgh and its valuable location on the Ohio river.
The Indians had long been organized into tribes each with a different name, with chiefs as their leaders and they were well trained in their own way of fighting and had engaged in tribal warfare. They knew how to defend themselves against wild animals, they lived in a primitive condition and buried their dead in huge mounds, one of them being located at present day McKees Rocks. In person the Indians were tall and straight, their skins copper colored, black hair, haughty, keen and very observing and they could imitate the sounds of wild animals with such perfection, they could easily confuse their listeners. They maintained their lives by hunting, fishing, raising corn and a few vegetables in summer. They preferred living by rivers and streams, their homes were bark or log huts and they used animal skins to keep warm during the bitter cold winters. They built canoes of a crude type by felling large trees, burning out most of the center and then scraping the inside smooth with a sharp stone.
When they became ill they had numerous treatments of herbs and roots found in the forest and their steam baths were very effective for chills and fever. For this they built small huts with one opening and placed inside heated stones over which water was poured, as the patient sat nearby to receive the full effect of the steam. Dry clothing or a blanket was then wrapped about the ill person as he rested. This treatment was much enjoyed by Christopher Gist when he was here in 1750. Some observers said the Indians had no known remedy for the tooth-ache as they never had trouble with their teeth. Due to tribal wars, epidemics of disease and low birth rate, the Indian population was not very large around here. How the Indians lived and survived at all continues to amaze mankind.
And so the native Indians, in their half savage, half civilized state met their first future neighbors, the traders, looking for furs, a commodity of great value at this time. As the traders and Indians met and exchanged their goods they seldom became friendly nor did they ever understand each other.
The goods the traders carried were much enjoyed by the Indians, such as blankets, salt, beads, silver arm bands, hatchets, guns and powder. Later when early settlers arrived and built log cabins, they had blacksmiths with them, whose skills the Indians never had learned and they found the blacksmith a useful person.
Sign language became very useful and some examples used by the Indians were:
When they stamped their foot on the ground that meant that land was theirs.
When they threw their hatchet on the ground, especially when it was painted red, that meant war.
When they held belts or strings of beads, called wampum, in their hands, that meant a treaty.
When they sat in a circle and a pipe of tobacco was passed around for each person to take a puff, that meant peace.
As the Delawares, Senecas and Shawnees traded their valuable beaver skins and other furs, their loyalties were put to a test as a French army moved down the Allegheny in a fleet of boats and took possession of the point and built Fort Duquesne. They needed as many Indian allies as they could induce to join them. This move on the part of the French, taking land the English claimed, meant war and this gave the Indians an opportunity to put on war paint and feathers, sharpen their hatchets and use real guns and powder supplied by the French. Here also was an opportunity for the fighting Indians to use one of their most dreaded weapons and that was their war "halloo" or whoop. All who ever heard this admitted it was a dreadful and terrifying sound. Under French leadership they went into battle on a hot day in July 1755 and defeated General Braddock with fierce fighting and surprise attacks.
The great evil of Indian warfare was the lack of understanding concerning prisoners of war. To them, the prisoners, plus the scalps from those they killed, were trophies of war and theirs to do with as they pleased and what they pleased to do was cruel, barbarous and inhuman. As a part of the spoils of war a certain number of English prisoners were given to the Indians who took them to their own settlement across the river to present day Allegheny. Here they put them all to death with their most fiendish modes of torture and the screams of the victims were heard across the river at Fort Duquesne, where other prisoners were held but were being humanely treated.
The big battle was over and most of the Indians left Fort Duquesne and returned to their own scattered settlements. Few of them were with the French in 1758 when they withdrew from here and General Forbes took possession of the same area.
When the new and handsome Fort Pitt was built, the Delaware Indians gave the place a new name, "Menachk-sink" meaning "where there is a fence," referring to the stockade built around the fort. Efforts were made to keep the Indians friendly and conferences were held at Fort Pitt which were dramatic, hopeless and pathetic, as both sides knew the promises made could never be kept.
The first one of these historic meetings, called by Colonel Bouquet, took place among the ruins of Fort Duquesne on December 4, 1758, with the Delaware chiefs present. Colonel Bouquet spoke: "Brethren, the General waited several days with the army expecting to see you. But he was very unwell and was obliged to leave. He requested me to tell you what he intended to say. We have not come here to take possession of your hunting country in a hostile manner, as the French did, but to open a large trade with you." While at the same time (December 4) Forbes on his return journey to Philadelphia at Bouquet Camp was writing to Bouquet "I hope you will soon get quit of the Indians, as I pity you, as much as I detest them." More flattering words were spoken and following Indian custom a wampum belt was offered. The Delaware Chief replied: "We excuse the General for not waiting to see us as he was very unwell. We will give you our prisoners of your people. Our peace treaty will be welcome news to all the other Indians. But, Brother, why has your General left 200 men here? Why did not the General take all his men away over the great mountains till we drove the French out." Four strings of wampum were given to Colonel Bouquet as the Chief's questions remained unanswered.
The General, of course, referred to General Forbes and tradition has it that his military staff was anxious to keep the Indians out of sight as he left for his return trip to the east. He was so ill he was carried most of the time in a litter, which would not have been the Indian idea of the part a brave, conquering hero should play.
Another conference was held at Fort Pitt in August 1760, which must have been a spectacular affair as so many Indians attended. There were four Delaware chiefs, over 200 of their warriors, over 300 of their wives and children, besides chiefs, warriors, women and children of the Shawnees, Wyandots, Ottawas and two lesser tribes.
General Moncton represented the English Army, with a staff of military experts and Andrew Montour was the interpreter. What a big day this must have been and it is too bad there are no reports of it except the speeches made, with both sides trying to win each other with oratory, flattery and long speeches. General Moncton spoke: "Brethren, our King has sent me to this country to protect his subjects. His Majesty has not sent me to deprive you of your lands. As proof I give you this belt." The Indian Chief spoke: "To confirm the truth of our friendship we give you this string of wampum."
The Indians resented the settlers and the officers at Fort Pitt knew that encouraging trade meant encouraging new settlers, new homes and more trouble. The settlers who came and lived near Fort Pitt were aggressive and they planted and cultivated the land. The Indians had little interest in agriculture and cared little for the changed life going on all about them and they became bitter and committed numerous murders and atrocities. They were growing very dissatisfied and when the powerful Chief Pontiac sent word to them that he was gathering a force together to destroy Fort Pitt, the Indians here were ready for his leadership. It was during the summer of 1763 when they began a planned attack of the fort and against those who lived outside. They used all the skills of surprise they knew as they hurled burning torches, threw their tomahawks with great accuracy and fired at sentries or all who appeared to view, keeping it up continually, expecting their heroic leader Pontiac to arrive with additional help any day. But Pontiac never arrived nor did his warriors as they had been met by Colonel Bouquet at Bushy Run, about forty miles from Pittsburgh where he engaged them in battle and defeated them. The fort was saved and many of the local Indians left the area as their fighting strength was gone and there was no leader to hold them together for another battle with the white man.
The Indians who remained were confronted once again with taking sides as the Revolutionary period approached, but the residents of Pittsburgh placed little confidence in them for help or assistance. They were concerned, however, with the loyalties of the Indian agents and interpreters such as Alexander McKee and Simon Girty.
Eventually the war was over and a new nation was founded and life at Fort Pitt no longer depended upon furs and Indian trade. The fort, which had annoyed the Indians so much, was torn down and the town grew and flourished and became an important center of manufacture and commerce. A few Indians lived nearby and came into the town but they were not very impressive and perhaps not very welcome. Some of the chiefs, like Cornplanter, had remained loyal during the war and he was rewarded with a grant of land which became the Seneca reservation, but otherwise the Indian history was over in Pittsburgh.
The Indians were gone, but not the memory of them. Their names are on the rivers and streets, their carvings on stone are in the Ohio river bed near Beaver, their trails continued to become important highways and their cause remains a never ending dispute.
In 1792, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, an attorney and citizen extraordinary of Pittsburgh expressed his opinion as he saw it at the time, which appeared in the Gazette. In part he wrote, "any right to land not based on cultivation of the soil is not a right at all. The earth has been given to man in common and each should have his share. The Indian claimed, this land is mine because I first saw it. The buffalo might say, it is mine because I first ran over it."
And so the argument extends down through the ages as to the Indians, their rights, their treatment and their characters. To some writers they were simple children of the forest, unfairly treated, to others they were brutal savages and their cruelty toward helpless people was unforgivable. An attempt was made during the days of Fort Pitt to inoculate Indians nearby with smallpox, by giving them blankets which had been used by soldiers in the fort with the same disease. This was an early example of germ warfare whose results were never known, but the plan is now looked upon with horror.
To continue the memory of the Indian and especially his gift to mankind--tobacco--a symbol in years past was frequently found in front of cigar and tobacco stores. Known as the "wooden Indian" the figure was elaborately carved, painted in brilliant colors, with a feather headdress and with an axe in his raised hand, he was for many years a familiar sight.Even long after the cigar store Indian became a relic, found only in museums and antique shops, the subject remains a live and interesting one. The past is always a part of the present and the Indians have their part, as people today are eager to read about them and their place in the history of Pittsburgh.
In the Beginning. A Noted Battle. A Famous Explosion.
Fort Duquesne was the name given to the fort, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin to the log chapel, and the Belle Riviere to the Ohio river. Two of the popular commanders of the fort were DeBeaujeu and DeLigneris, and Father Denys Baron kept the records of marriages and deaths. The canoe-like boats were called bateaux, the French language was spoken and the French flag flew over the triangular piece of land later known as the Point.
The area was small, part of the land, of rich soil, was low lying and close to the three rivers which surrounded it, with a thick forest of trees in the background, totally uninhabited, except for the wild animals roaming about. Such was early Pittsburgh, a simple setting in a wilderness area, but destined to be a trouble spot for two powerful European nations, as France and England fought for its possession.
After George Washington located the place in 1753, England sent a small force from Virginia to build a fort, but they were driven out by the French who took possession in April 1754, where they remained for almost five years. Life no doubt was rather serene at least part of the time as the French built a village of log cabins for the families, bark huts for the Indians who lived nearby and were supplied by a fleet of bateaux arriving from Canada down the Allegheny river with food, clothing and ammunition. They no doubt felt secure in their fortified possession in the new world.
The Indian allies were excellent messengers as they sped through the woods on foot, visited other Indian settlements and knew what was going on all about them. And what was going on was not good news for the French as they learned the English were planning an attack as they still wanted this strategic area. At last word came that an army was on the way to take Fort Duquesne and the progress of the march was observed each day by Indian messengers and each day the news was more disturbing. The army, led by General Braddock, was a large one, well equipped with heavy ammunition, many English soldiers in gay military uniforms and provincial soldiers from the colonies.
The eventful day came when the inevitable conflict would take place. The French in Fort Duquesne were ill prepared to defend themselves and there was some consideration of deserting the fort, but at the last a decision was made to meet the attack. The enemy had to be met outside the range of the log fort as it could never stand a heavy artillery firing. Under the leadership of DeBeaujeu, a small French army of Canadian soldiers and their Indian allies marched eight miles out from the fort and met the enemy on July 9, 1755, little knowing they were making military history. General Braddock was killed and his well trained army completely defeated in a surprise attack. The news of this battle and its results was a shock to the world and this conflict remains today one of the controversial battles of modern times.
Fort Duquesne continued to control all trade with the Indians in the area, but rumors persisted that the English had not given up their claim for this desirable place. At last in November 1758, the French authorities in Canada could well see the beginning of the end and ordered the French to withdraw from the Belle Riviere and give up Fort Duquesne.
DeLigneris was in command when they were ordered to evacuate, which had to be done within a few days. The Indians with their families were first sent away and their bark huts burned, the stakes around the fort were removed, the presents for the Indians were packed up and sent to Ohio, the prisoners of the French were sent down the Ohio river to the Illinois country and so were the cannon and ammunition.
When all the families had left, either down the Ohio or up the Allegheny, the final destruction was to take place. The log cabins were filled with wood and branches of trees so as to be certain they would burn completely. DeLigneris then sent the remaining troops to a place on the Allegheny about a mile away, where he would join them later, as he had one last, dramatic act to perform and then Fort Duquesne would be no more. He had left in the powder magazine sixty barrels of powder and this was blown up, while he and several of his staff were at a safe distance. As soon as he heard the roar of the explosion he sent some of his men by land to see the extent of the damage. They reported the fort was reduced to ashes, and that the enemy would find nothing but the ironwork of the community building. DeLigneris and his soldiers left the area to go to another French settlement and the occupation of the French on the Belle Riviere was over.
A few French names are all that now remain of an interesting and romantic past.
A New Name. A New Flag. An Unfinished Letter.
It was a cold day on that Saturday, November 25, 1758. A triumphal march, a military parade, was about to take place, but no one was present to watch the arrival of the procession, hear the beating of the drums nor see the drama of the big event. On this day late in the afternoon a city was founded and given the name of Pittsburgh.
John Forbes, from Scotland, a General in the English army had arrived to claim, in his words, "this prodigious tract of fine, rich country" in the name of his king. He and his army of several thousand had arrived from a march over the rough, rugged Allegheny mountains and they had endured much in the way of hazards and hardships. The progress had been slow as a road had to be built ahead of them, it was bitter cold and as a special favor, an order was issued that each hard working soldier could have, daily, a gill of spirits, diluted with water before it was delivered. Hostile Indians were a continual menace along the way and the possibility of the French, their enemy, awaiting them at their destination, was uppermost in their minds. But now all those troubles were over, the French had left, and this day, November 25, 1758, was of such great importance that London rejoiced and New York and Philadelphia celebrated in real military fashion.
The army with General Forbes consisted of the Scotch Highlanders, picturesque in their battle dress of plaids and tartans and of great curiosity to the Indians, the Royal Americans, the Colonials and the Indians wearing head bands of different colors to denote they were friendly to the English. The staff officers with Forbes were young, ambitious and had brilliant military careers ahead of them. Archibald Montgomery came from Scotland, Henry Bouquet from Switzerland, John Armstrong of Indian wars fame, George Washington with the Virginia troops, Joseph Shippen, a Princeton graduate and member of a prominent Philadelphia family, Harry Gordon a noted military engineer and William Byrd and George Mercer of Virginia. Present too were George Croghan, a prominent Indian agent, and John Ormsby who later became a well known citizen of the city. The military task had been accomplished by a notable group of leaders and it must have been an impressive sight as the newly arrived army, wearing gay uniforms, marched in four columns, with flags flying and drums beating. They reached the camping ground, halted and took possession, while Colonel John Armstrong raised the flag, the Union Jack, over the British territory.
Signs of ruin and destruction were all about them and Colonel Bouquet later wrote to a friend, "They have left us no other cover than the heavens, nothing but smoking chimneys left standing." General Forbes was soon established in his tent, with as many comforts as possible for his feeble and ailing condition. The other officers and soldiers had nothing more than a blanket to wrap around them and lie down on the cold, hard ground with a knapsack for a pillow. Before retiring, however, a regular military camp was organized and orders were issued. "One Captain and 50 men to mount guard immediately in the fort, no embezzlement to be made of the things now in the fort. Put out all fires except the one for the benefit of the guards. All the troops are to attend divine service to-morrow to return thanks, to be held at the General's tent at one o'clock. The square logs left from the French settlement are to be saved and so is any iron work found in the ruins. A special camp is to be set aside for George Croghan and all the Indians and none of the troops of the line are to have any communication with the Indians." So ended the first day of a conquered city where no guns were fired nor battles fought, but fears were still present that the French and Indians might return.
On Monday, November 27th, the General sat in his tent to write a letter to William Pitt in London. This letter, long and formal was dated "Pittsbourgh" and has become famous in our history concerning the correct spelling as well as the correct date of the naming of Pittsburgh. He reported in his letter on the "success over all his enemies upon the Ohio, having obliged the enemy to burn and abandon Fort Duquesne." A few more details were given on the military affairs involved and then the General grew too tired to finish it. Not until he was in Philadelphia in January did he write the sentence that established the name as follows: "I have used the freedom of giving your name to Fort Duquesne." His staff officers knew however that the name had been chosen before this. While here the General was so ill it was doubtful whether he would survive the return trip over the mountains to Philadelphia during the worst kind of winter weather. Why General Forbes was selected for this strenuous expedition, the success of which was so important to England, is not known. He was very ill when he arrived in this country and while on the march with his army over the mountains, he was a great burden to himself and to all who surrounded him. Special conveniences had to be built for his protection from the weather and a litter type of hammock was used to carry him much of the way. The General remained here but one week and on Sunday morning December 3, 1758 he left Pittsburgh with a large staff, including the Highlanders, and returned by slow, painful stages to Philadelphia where he died March 11, 1759, age forty-nine years. He was buried in Christ churchyard.
Before the General left Pittsburgh he saw the ceremony of a seven gun salute to celebrate the taking of Fort Duquesne and he also issued orders that a garrison of 200 colonial soldiers under Colonel Bouquet remain here to guard the place. When George Washington protested the use of his Virginia soldiers, as they had little food and clothing for this occupation in such cold weather, the General replied that he had no authority to leave English soldiers here.
While here George Washington wrote to a friend in Virginia: "I have the pleasure to inform you that Fort Duquesne or rather the ground on which it stood, was possessed by his Majesty's troops on the 25th and the British flag flies over the bastion. The enemy, after letting us get within a day's march of the place burned the fort and ran away, by the light of it, at night, going down the Ohio. The possession has been a great surprise to the whole army. We are now here without tents or baggage. A garrison will be left here of 200, no more because of want of provision and our men are in a miserable situation with hardly rags to cover themselves." By the term "our men" he was referring to his Virginia troops and he was quite angry over the order that part of his regiment should remain. He was weary after the long and laborious campaign and was glad it was over. He returned to Virginia by way of the Braddock Road and reached home before Christmas. He resigned his military commission and in January married his Martha and so to Mount Vernon.
The days of conquest were now over and Colonel Bouquet was alone in charge of his small garrison. He too wrote letters while stationed here and one of them went to "My dear Nancy" who lived in Philadelphia and was dated, "Fort Duquesne, Nov 25th," the day the army arrived. He seemed most anxious to acquaint her of the success of the campaign and wanted her to know about the beauty of the situation, "which appears to me beyond description." He also wrote urgent letters to those in charge of supplies for the army as he needed essentials for the very existence of his garrison during the bitter cold winter. They needed tents, shoes, food, clothing and presents for the Indians.
Supplies had to be kept moving through Fort Ligonier, the nearest military center. Bouquet left in December but he was to return many times and by his genius for the right military decision, rescued the people from disaster, saved them from the Pontiac attack and did more for the city in its infancy than any other person. Building on faith was a strong trait of Colonel Bouquet as he planned for the future of Pittsburgh.
The famous Forbes Road that was built to bring the army and all of its heavy military equipment to take Pittsburgh has long been a landmark in western Pennsylvania. Some of the traces of this road are unknown today but much of the way has been located and established. Also some of the locations associated with the original road have become well known, such as Shawnee Cabins, Bedford, Ligonier, Greensburg, Murraysville and Turtle Creek. The exact marching route through the city itself remains open to dispute, but most persons agree the army followed present day Penn avenue. Just where they camped or how near Fort Duquesne they located does not seem to be known, but conjecture places their camp quite near the Point.
And so Pittsburgh, a name with a heritage of the past, was founded in one of the truly dramatic ventures of the times and in one of the historic events of the period.
Pittsburgh Pentagon. A New Freedom.
Fort Pitt, a handsome, sturdy, five sided fort, large enough to hold a regiment, was built at great expense by the British government. A British officer, General Stanwix, one of the early commandants, named the fort in honor of William Pitt in a letter he wrote to him November 20, 1759. It was built as a protection against the Indians and as an encouragement to them to bring their valuable furs to the fort for trade and exchange. Pittsburgh in early days enjoyed all of the formalities, ceremonies and gayety that a military post could afford. There were parades, music, sentries on duty, changing of the guard with the beating of drums at four o'clock and military balls in the officers quarters. For parties and entertaining outside the fort there were the "King's Gardens" a short distance away near the banks of the Allegheny river. This was a delightful, park-like area of fruit trees and arbors and pleasant paths for walking and where the barbecues were held for their outdoor parties. The Artillery Gardens were near here too, and provided added area for outdoor enjoyment and entertainment.
The village around the fort was growing steadily. The military authorities requested that a count of inhabitants be made, including names and occupation. We thus have the census of 1760 which showed 149 inhabitants. Many visitors came here either on business or out of curiosity to see the new town, located so far away from other settlements.
In the fort the officers in charge held meetings with the Indians and made treaties with them in hope of keeping them happy and under control, which was pretty well accomplished until the summer of 1763 when the Indian chief Pontiac directed an attack against Fort Pitt, with a plan for destroying it and all that it stood for. Colonel Bouquet was the hero of the time as he and his army met and scattered the Indian forces at Bushy Run Battlefield.
The little trading post of Pittsburgh did not remain little very long and as it grew and developed and more settlers arrived and more log cabins were built, it became more important than the fort itself. A survey with a map was made in 1764 and some of the present day streets were on the plan. When George Washington was here in 1770 he was more impressed with the thriving town than with the fort, as he commented on the number of log cabins, other homes of brick and stone and he liked Semple's Tavern very much where he stayed while here. The British officers entertained him at dinner, as they did other noted guests, little realizing how soon they would be ordered from the fort to join General Gates and his army as an enemy of their recent dinner guest.
By 1772, the international claim to Pittsburgh was over and the new town was in the hands of the settlers who remained here and could well see the future that had been predicted many years before. The pioneer settlers were inured to hardships and challenges and they met the news of another war with bravery and confidence as they were called upon to defend their country. With few military supplies, the men were organized into a militia of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment. A small number remained to guard the people, but the larger part of the Regiment left Pittsburgh in January 1777 and marched to the east over the Allegheny mountains during bitter, cold weather, ill-prepared for such a journey. Their suffering, endurance and heroism could well be compared to Valley Forge. Those who survived, returned and many of them became leading and successful business men of the city.
The struggle for a new nation was over and the future held promise for a peaceful existence, except for sporadic attacks by the Indians in nearby areas. Fort Pitt, which had once seemed so important, so worthwhile had a sudden ending, for its usefulness was gone. Military life was over and living did not revolve around a military atmosphere. The building materials in the fort were, however, valuable and these were sold and used for other building purposes. The barracks, the officers quarters and all traces of Fort Pitt were gone, except for one of the small outposts or blockhouses near the Allegheny river, which has had a charmed life and has withstood all the building changes which have taken place in the area. It stands today sturdy and strong as the only symbol of the past.
A new survey was made in 1784 by Colonel Woods and the map shows the names and locations of present day streets and the lot numbers given at that time have never been changed.Early industries which were now essential for comfortable living were saw mills, grist mills and glass works, especially to make glass for windows, a real luxury for the period. While plain, simple living prevailed, high thinking was evident as some of the influential citizens were Princeton graduates who were attorneys, some were ministers, medical doctors, printers and publishers. Mrs. Pride opened a private school for girls in 1786 and H. H. Brackenridge wrote an article of glowing praise on Pittsburgh as a tribute to the advantages here, while one visitor's impression was favorable as to the location: "Lofty hills and endless woods with which they are bordered make the whole scene delightfully romantic."
Having chaplains and doctors with the army, provided the early settlers with spiritual guidance and medical care, not common to many pioneer towns. One of the early physicians, Dr. Hugh Martin, a surgeon of one of the regiments stationed at Fort Pitt, announced he had discovered a cure for cancer. He claimed he found the root in the neighborhood of the fort and it was known and used by the Indians. This root was dried and converted to a powder and then used on the cancerous growth. The news of this discovery reached Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia and he made a full report of the claims to a medical society there in 1786, two years after Dr. Martin had died.
Educational and cultural advantages were increased with the opening of an Academy, later the University of Pittsburgh, a weekly newspaper, the Gazette was published, a music school was opened and skilled mechanics were taught in a day and evening school, all before 1790. In 1792 Pittsburgh was again in the national news as the Whiskey Insurrection broke out which required United States troops to suppress the farmers of the area, who objected to the United States excise tax on the whiskey, the product of their farms. This disturbance caused great excitement in the town and nation and books and many articles have been written on this historic event.
Pittsburgh was given a governmental status in 1794 when it was created a borough. The same year a red brick Court House was built at Market street and Diamond square, where the affairs of the city and county were held, for many years to come. Fort Fayette was ordered to be built by the United States government where ammunition was to be stored to be shipped down the river as needed. It was located, well out of town, on the Allegheny river, while manufacture, trade and business was concentrated near the wharf, on the Monongahela and business was booming.
Gateway to the West—Steam upon the Waters.
A new century began and with it thousands of immigrants were moving into the West, many of them through Pittsburgh, which gave rise to the slogan of "Gateway To The West." Most of the families went down the Ohio river which gave a tremendous impetus to two industries here—boat-building and outfitting the boats for the journey.
The wharf along the Monongahela was a busy place as it was lined with boats either in process of being built or the owners waiting for the proper level of water in the river before beginning the trip. The early boats built were a very plain, simple kind and just so that they would remain afloat and have a roof or covering to protect the families, their goods and even their cattle from the weather, was all that was required. They all had to be propelled with poles and the trips in them were long and tiresome. When the immigrant reached his destination he used the wood in the boat to build his new home. There was no thought of any of the boats making the return trip back to Pittsburgh as "up stream was a hazardous journey." These boats were called barges, flat boats, keel boats, rafts and broadhorns and their use covered a romantic, colorful and rugged period of pioneer life, but they were soon replaced because of a new invention as a stirring event took place in Pittsburgh in 1811. Nicholas Roosevelt, a noted marine engineer from New York came here to build a new boat, the first one propelled by steam. When it was finished it was named the New Orleans, as it sailed down the Ohio river on its first voyage. The citizens and even the newspapers took the news of the launching very calmly as they had little to report upon it. Perhaps the minds of those who saw could not grasp what had taken place, or they were not prepared for so big a change or perhaps had great misgivings as to the probable success of the venture. This was the way the age of steam upon the waters happened at Pittsburgh.
Zadok Cramer, did not build boats but he had a tremendous contribution to make to all those who used them when he published his series of Navigators, a guide book to the rivers, the curves, the ripples, the islands they could expect to encounter in them and also the names of the towns or settlements they would pass on their journey as well as the mileage along the way. He published almanacs too and had a book-store on Market street. He became famous for his Navigator in his time and at present they are rare and valuable books to own.
In 1806 public opinion was greatly aroused against the ancient and evil custom of duelling after the death of young Tarleton Bates, a popular and promising politician. The incident that led to the duel was a slight one, but the feeling of the uselessness of it was not slight. There were no more duels after this one.
By 1819 a feeling of civic pride was being felt and complaints were heard of the lack of beauty in architecture and planning of the public buildings. Wrote one observer: "Pittsburgh contains no public buildings worth particular notice. The Court House at present accommodates both the county and city courts and serves for a variety of other purposes. The interior of it exhibits a great deal of incongruous architectural display, but the exterior is plain and heavy, except the frontispiece of the door which is absurdly ornamental. It stands at the only public square in the city on the western side of Market street. Opposite this or eastern half of the square is the Market. There are eleven churches in the city, several of them spacious enough but they are destitute of pretentions to architectural elegance. The Presbyterian Church has a fine chandelier of German make, lately presented to it by General O'Hara, but its magnificence glares in unbecoming contrast to the Quakerlike plainness of the house. The Episcopal Church has a cupola and both church and chapel each have an organ, small but otherwise good instruments. There are some good rows of houses on Wood and Market streets and some good single homes. The two bridges here will no doubt attract much attention from strangers."
One person, who lived here and then moved to Philadelphia, wanted to return so much that he expressed his feelings in a long poem, perhaps the most vivid, homesick poem ever written. Farewell to Pittsburgh and the Mountains, by the Reverend John Wrenshall was published in 1818 and describes his feelings as he traveled over the mountains with his daughters after his wife and a baby daughter had died and were buried here."Neglected muse, assist my humble theme
To sing of Pittsburgh and the road we came;
To please my girls, for tis at their request
I court thy aid, a substitute for rest."
There was however a happy ending for the homesick minister as he returned later to live here.
Transportation was provided by turnpikes over which ran Conestoga wagons, huge freight-like wagons, covered by a canvas to protect the large amount of goods carried and drawn by six horses, equipped with bells to announce their arrival. For passengers there were the romantic, handsome stage coaches, decorated with elaborate hardware and harnesses of the horses trimmed in silver, which made frequent trips into the city, coming from Philadelphia in three to four days. The arrival of the stage coaches and the Conestoga wagons in front of the inns where the drivers and passengers were stopping provided much excitement for the day. Many famous persons made the journey here in this manner and all complained about the uncomfortable though handsome coaches.
A new mode of transportation across the state was provided when the Pennsylvania Canal was built in 1834. Great hopes were placed in it for the amount of freight that could be hauled. The canal boats were small, but business was brisk as they landed daily with goods from the east and returned with Pittsburgh goods on their return trip.
Business and social circles received a shock one morning in February 1842 when residents heard of the elopement of Mary Elizabeth Croghan, a Pittsburgh heiress, with Captain Edward Schenley of England, many years older than his young bride. William Croghan, the father who was an attorney, had sent his daughter to a select school in Staten Island, New York, for protection and the proper education of a young lady of wealth. Her grandfather, James O'Hara, had left her a vast estate. The school was operated by a relative of Captain Schenley who was supposed to have aided and abetted the runaway pair. Newspapers both in Pittsburgh and New York referred to it as "a painful affair." The marriage, however, was a happy one and the couple lived in fine style in a town house in London and in the winter at a beautiful home at Cannes, France, on the Riviera. Many gifts were made to Pittsburgh by Mrs. Schenley and she apparently had a real fondness for her early childhood home.
Young men from prominent families in Pittsburgh went to the Mexican War in 1843 and in 1845 the city met with a disaster as a terrible fire burned out a great portion of the business area on April 10th. The entire lower section of the city beginning at Fifth avenue and Smithfield street down to the edge of the Monongahela river and west to the Market street area was included and since most of the buildings were frame and the wind was high that day, nothing in the way was saved. The news of this fire was known all over the world. There was much rebuilding afterward as the area destroyed was all replaced and many of the old landmarks were gone forever.
Adventurous young men left Pittsburgh in 1849 to join those who were going to California as the gold rush was on. One of those who went, William G. Johnston returned to write a book about his experiences called The Forty-Niners. Both his book and the map with it are valuable to-day as a contribution to one of the exciting national events of the century.
This decade was one of frequent disasters as the destructive forces of nature were upon the city many times. This was also a period of great significance for the future as the oil age was ushered in and a new process for steel was an amazing discovery.
The ten hour labor law was the cause of serious trouble in the cotton factories.
Complaints were made that the school system was not up to standard, improper selection of books, lack of funds for proper support, teachers not well trained and reports not full enough to show their program.
Smallpox cases were prevalent because the practice of vaccination was too much neglected or else the virus used was not genuine.
In August there were many cases of cholera in the city, but not as many as the reports which had been circulated over the country, doing great harm to business here as people were afraid of the disease. Dr. James R. Speer lamented that the city had not established a board of health which could function at such a time as this and prevent panic among the residents. Most of the cases were in the Lawrenceville district.
A severe hail storm in September was a damaging one to property and crops.
The Whig political party was very much out of favor and rumors were heard of a new party that would take its place.
It was generally accepted that transportation by canal was an outmoded method and a gigantic new system was taking its place, as the railroad era was dawning.
Masonic Hall opened a new building, providing a suitable meeting place for large groups.
St. Paul's Cathedral burned in a spectacular fire down town on the present site of the Union Trust Building. This location gave rise to a legend that still prevails, that all buildings on the same site must have a chapel as a part of the construction.
Jane Swisshelm, the first woman editor of this city, had her own newspaper in which she advocated many reforms, wrote with a barbed satire unlike any one else of her time and had a column "just for the girls," a newspaper feature far in advance of her times.
Another outbreak of the cholera which caused much alarm.
The National Free Soil political party held their national convention to nominate their presidential candidate, with their meetings held in Masonic Hall in August.
Great excitement was provided when railroads reached the city and October saw the completion of the connection with Philadelphia. This was a blow to much of the river trade and many owners of the packet lines sold their boats, fearful that the railroads would take all their trade from them. Some people hailed the railroad with "success to the new enterprise." Others, especially later in 1854 objected very much for safety reasons when the Pennsylvania tracks were laid down Liberty avenue to a freight depot near the Point, in order to transfer their freight to boats.
An iron works was founded which later became Jones and Laughlin Steel Company.
A local Board of Trade made a statistical report on the manufacture and trade, which made a good showing in spite of the many troubles of the year. The weather was dry for six months of the spring and summer and no boats could leave the wharf as the water in the river was so low. Great stocks of coal which should have been moved were in stock piles, along with other products.
A Board of Health for the city had been organized and in good time too as this was the year of a terrible plague. Asiatic cholera, which started in India and China, reached Pittsburgh probably by way of New Orleans and swept the city during September and October and the death record was very high. This was the most severe attack that ever visited the city and the people were so frightened that many left their homes until the epidemic was over. Persons who became ill seldom lived more than twenty-four hours. Coal was burned in the streets at night to help purify the air. The summer had been hot and dry and "the sky is brass and the earth iron," was one description of the time. The terrible epidemic was over by October 20 in time for any one to feel safe to attend the County Fair on October 24.
There were no doubt juvenile delinquents during this period too as on December 13, there was dedicated a House of Refuge for juvenile offenders. Judge McClure and the Honorable William Wilkins presided at the opening of the building located three miles below Pittsburgh on the Ohio. It was intended, "for the vicious, the vagrant and the young offender" and could care for 228 boys and girls and could be enlarged to hold 500.
Another hot dry summer which always interrupted boat service, as goods remained on the wharf while citizens and newspapers complained that river improvement to prevent such conditions was a necessity and looked to the United States Government for help.
The first high school, Central, conducted by the public schools was opened September 25. It was located in an office building downtown as a separate building was not built until later.
The winter months were very cold. The rivers were frozen solid and boats could not move.
National news centered here as a convention was held in Lafayette Hall when the Republican Party was founded February 22. This meant the end of the Whig Party.
Stephen Foster was writing songs that people would sing for one hundred years to come. They became popular during Civil War and western wagon train days.
A commercial depression was felt in the city as the entire country was the victim of over building and over investment in railroads after the gold rush excitement in California.
Complaints were heard about excessive smoke in the city.
A patent was issued to Hamilton E. Smith of this city for a mechanical washing machine, the beginning of an invention whose future development could scarcely have been anticipated by Mr. Smith.
A phenomenal invention, creating future opportunities and boundless wealth for Pittsburgh was announced this year as the Bessemer process for making steel was proven to be a satisfactory method of refining the natural products. William Kelly of Pittsburgh worked on the same idea in his experiments as Sir Henry Bessemer of England, but the process and the converter became known as Bessemer.
This was an anniversary year as Pittsburgh was now 100 years old.
The United Presbyterian church was founded May 26 and 100 years later merged with the Presbyterian denomination.
People were reading Bancroft's History of the United States which contained his famous quotation on Pittsburgh which has remained a popular one to the present. "As the banners of England floated over the waters, the place at the suggestion of Forbes, was with one voice called Pittsburgh. It is the most enduring monument to William Pitt. Long as the Monongahela and Allegheny shall flow to form the Ohio, long as the English tongue shall be the language of freedom in the boundless valley which their waters traverse, his name shall stand inscribed on the Gateway of the West."
The actual celebration commemorating the founding on November 25th was all over in one day. There was a military parade on lower Liberty avenue. A play was given in the New National Theatre called, Fort Duquesne or Pittsburgh One Hundred Years Ago. The theatre was crowded and the newspapers considered the play a good one and the production fine and called it a "spectacular drama."
Letters and telegrams were received by the committee from many noted persons including one from President Buchanan with regrets that he was unable to attend the celebration. He was a busy man at this time with affairs of Congress and a sad one as he viewed the future of the union of the country with misgiving and wondered what the condition might be as Pittsburgh celebrated its next one hundred years.
The weather was cold and considerable snow fell, which is exactly the kind of weather that prevailed 100 years before. A newspaper editor made a prediction as he wrote "Fancy then the orator of 1958 standing in the midst of assembled thousands in the city of half a million people, relating to them with their grandfathers did 100 years ago."
The month of June was a period of disaster as it was the time of the "big frost," when on Saturday, the 4th, a killing frost resulted in heavy damage to crops and fruit. Peaches and apples showered down from the trees, grapes withered on the vines and tender growing blades were wilted. The Pittsburgh Horticultural Society was active and held an exhibition of their finest specimen of flowers. Strawberry festivals were popular social functions.
For human welfare, Dixmont hospital to care for the mentally ill, was planned while a new industry of tremendous importance began as Pittsburgh became the business center for oil distribution following the spectacular drilling near Titusville in August.
The worry and concern which was so well expressed in President Buchanan's letter was now upon the nation. Pittsburgh contributed cannon, ammunition and Allegheny Arsenal was an active center and distributing post. One order came here which was never fulfilled and the mystery of it all never quite cleared up. In December 1860, Secretary of War Floyd sent an order to Pittsburgh for a shipment of cannon to go down the Ohio river to New Orleans. The citizens, when they heard of this, objected and announced the guns would never leave the wharf if they had to destroy the boars on which the cannon were to be placed. There was threat of much trouble over this, but calmer leaders wanted the situation handled in a peaceful way, so a telegram was sent to Edwin Stanton of Pittsburgh who was now in the President's cabinet in Washington. There was a delay in a return answer and as the large cannon were moved out onto Liberty avenue to go toward the wharf, the crowd of objectors became very hard to handle and there no doubt would have been serious trouble for all concerned, but Secretary Stanton's telegram arrived in time to cancel the order. No one seems to know why the original order was sent or for what purpose, who authorized it or who received the order here.
This incident, the account of the Sanitary Fair held here, and the map made to show the plan of forts for defense of Pittsburgh remain active interests to this day for this period of disturbing times of the Civil War. The Sanitary Fair was a combination charitable and social function and was like a bazaar where the ladies met together and sold many objects, the proceeds of which were to purchase comforts and medical supplies for the soldiers.
Industries increased, the people prospered and they built beautiful homes in lower Penn avenue and in Allegheny city. Some old world customs still prevailed, however, as the night watchman called out the hours of the night, "Ten is the hour and all is well."
A splendid reception had been given by a large crowd, to Abraham Lincoln as he passed through here on his way to Washington in February 1861. While here but a very short time, he created a famous landmark when he spoke from the balcony at the Monongahela House, the most noted hotel in Pittsburgh.
An interest in science was shown as Allegheny Observatory was opened in 1867, with Professor Samuel Langley in charge, who later made significant contributions to flying, with experiments he made while here. Prosperity for this time was given a severe jolt in September, 1873, when a panic of extensive proportions spread all over the country. This period included the famous Jay Cooke bank failure of Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh was greatly affected by it.
The railroad riots of July 1877, were of national interest. There was a great amount of useless damage as a result of the violence involved over the reduction of wages and regulation of running the trains. The financial settlement to property damage was not concluded until many years later.
Allegheny County in 1888 celebrated its 100th anniversary which included the dedication of a handsome new stone Court House. The architect was H. H. Richardson and this building stands today as one of the notable public buildings in the entire country.
Scientific approach to a new business entered the field of industry as the success of experiments in aluminum was announced in 1888 and a great future was in the distance for a new and extensive product.
Immigration continued during this period and people arrived in great numbers and from many different countries, especially from southern Europe and Russia. They frequently settled together in groups or colonies and with them were their priests or ministers and with newspapers printed in their own languages, they could feel quite at home in a new land. In time as they learned the language they could feel very much a part of the community in which they lived. Their interest in the customs, traditions and old world costumes remained with them, however, down through the succeeding generations. The women of the different nationality groups have had great influence in keeping their traditions alive, as they have celebrated feast days when they served their native food, made costumes of their country to wear on festive days and taught their children songs and dances native to their countries. All this creates a colorful atmosphere for bazaars and other celebrations when nationality groups in Pittsburgh assemble for special occasions. This is especially true at the Christmas festival of "All Nations" at Carnegie Music Hall.
George Ferris, an engineer, left Pittsburgh in time to build his Ferris Wheel as a big attraction at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. Panthers, in stone, were supposed to be mascots for the city as their likenesses were place on Panther Hollow Bridge in Schenley Park.
In 1892, Pittsburgh again was in the national news as labor strife in the steel mills took place at Homestead. It has been known ever since as the Homestead Strike. Whether any labor issues were ever proven in this conflict does not seem to be known. It has remained however one of the interesting cases of labor history and is today a popular subject for study by students.
Carnegie Library and Music Hall were opened in 1895. The building was later enlarged to include the present Museum and Art Galleries.
As the century was drawing to a close, an affair took place in Schenley Park, which was a portent of things to come as the first automobile race was held on July 4, 1899. The large crowd was present mainly however to see the horse races, a typical sports event of the day.
Pittsburgh was by this time a noted industrial center. With vast deposits of coal nearby and other natural resources, the city was a natural place of manufacture. In addition there were men here who had the courage to risk all they had in a new venture.
The new century began with Pittsburgh in the position of being one of the industrial centers of the country. In 1901 when the steel corporation was formed in New York, there was fear that some of the steel making might be taken from the city, but this never happened and more steel than ever was produced. Many other industries expanded and greatly increased their production capacity during this period.
In a large and growing community social problems were many and apparent. The housing for workmen was inadequate, child labor was all too frequent, health and sanitary laws were not enforced and the time had come for reforms, both moral and social. Many agencies were organized to assist the state and city officials and the Russell Sage Foundation became so interested in the plan of the work here, they sent a staff of social workers to Pittsburgh to make a survey. The results of the survey were published in book form with fine pictures of the early 1900s which are valuable today.
Pittsburgh became a larger city in 1907 when Allegheny was merged with it. The two cities were one in time to celebrate in 1908 the sesquicentennial of the founding of the city and the affair was an elaborate one showing civic interest and pride.
During 1918, while World War I was in progress, the city was seized with the worst epidemic since cholera days, as influenza became completely out of control. Many deaths occurred and hospitals were taxed beyond capacity. Other events, of national importance, were a steel strike in 1919, KDKA the first radio station to begin broadcasting in 1920 and a skyscraper university was promised in 1925 when the University of Pittsburgh announced its building program. In 1934 Hervey Allen, a Pittsburgh author received national acclaim for his book "Anthony Adverse," while John Kane, a house painter was honored by art critics for his paintings of a simple and primitive type.
1936 A Day to Remember.
Saint Patrick's day has long been a popular holiday to celebrate in Pittsburgh. It is a day for gay fun when people entertain, many go to theatres, night clubs, hotels and in general a holiday spirit prevails. The 17th of March in this year was the same as other Saint Patrick's days even though some reports of a threatened flood had been announced, which was not surprising after a winter of heavy snow. The evening before, the downtown was filled with people bent on pleasure. No one knew exactly how it happened or why they had not been warned, but the flood waters came so fast, that many people had to be carried from the theatres as all of the lower downtown was flooded. The water rose higher and higher all night long and by noon on the 17th boats were used on Wood street and Sixth avenue as far as the Duquesne Club and the First Presbyterian church, and stranded street cars were completely covered. Stores, schools and colleges were closed, street cars were not running, electric current was gone, and elevators could not operate. Much wonder and amazement was expressed at the lack of information available that such a flood, the most disastrous one in the entire history of the area, could happen so suddenly. One explanation given was, that there were not enough hydraulic engineers who could have measured the volume of water as it rushed toward the city and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. The city officials and others concerned gazed about them and viewed the extent of the destruction and said, "This must never happen again." Flood control was planned soon after with the combined efforts of the government, state and local officials and as a result such a destructive flood is unlikely to happen again.
City planning began on an extensive scale in 1939, when Robert Moses an expert on transportation, came here to study the local problems and help provide a solution. In 1941, there was passed an ordinance which was in many ways the most drastic step ever taken toward making Pittsburgh a different place in which to live. The smoke, which had always been a part of the city, was outlawed by a city ordinance. Strict regulation of control by city officials, a co-operative public and new technical improvements made the whole program a success. World War II from 1941 to 1945 required all the energies and defense materials the city could produce, so the plans for other city improvements were delayed for this time.
As the war was drawing to a close, Pittsburgh business and political leaders organized the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and it has been active in planning a new city since 1943. The state granted them a charter in 1944 and they have broadened their interests to include many physical changes for Allegheny County. The redevelopment of Pittsburgh has been so extensive that many writers refer to the plans here as a "renaissance." The old Point area, where the rivers meet, has been completely changed and all traces of buildings, homes, storerooms, railroad and street car tracks have been removed. Handsome office buildings have been added and an extensive park area is in process, as the Point was renamed Gateway Center.
A Redevelopment Authority was appointed in 1946 and great progress has already been made toward improving the business section of the city. New office buildings, including the first one of all aluminum, have been built, old buildings have been renovated and a charming city park is located in a central business district. The new Pittsburgh airport, fifteen miles from the city, is a handsome one, located in an attractive setting.
Standards for all housing have been established and blighted areas will be torn down. A public auditorium, rather close to the business area, is now in process of construction. Pittsburgh has been in the national news to a considerable extent because of its rebuilding program.
1950 The Big Snow
A pleasant Thanksgiving was in prospect on Wednesday, November 23, and the weather prediction was for a mild day on Thursday, with some rain and a high of 45 degrees. The holiday came and many people had left the city while others came here and students returned home for the happy holiday and traffic was heavy. Toward evening a light rain fell and froze as the temperature dropped, making the roads icy and driving hazardous. Early Friday a light snow began to fall and by noon it was wet and soggy but continued to fall and the wind blew and the temperature dropped. By three o'clock in the afternoon some office workers were dismissed from work in order to get home early. Some of these people were still sitting in street cars at four o'clock the next morning or even later, others were never able to get on a street car or bus and walked many miles to their destination. The weather reports by this time were of little interest, as it was now a battle to find a way to get safely home. The snow continued the rest of Friday and all night and when the city woke on Saturday morning it was gripped as in a vise as forty inches of snow had fallen, more than the whole winter in normal times.
Mere figures give no conception of the difficulties, not only to travel but even to move, as drifts were reported in various parts of the city high enough to cover automobiles completely. All places of business and schools were closed and radio announcers remained at their posts and kept the listeners well informed of the travel situation. Heavy machinery from the army was used to move the accumulation of snow from vital areas and state highway patrolmen remained on duty to keep all persons away from cleared areas until the emergency condition was over. By Wednesday a thaw had started and nature served its purpose clearing most of the snow away. The money loss to the city was small compared to the flood loss of 1936, but the memory of the experiences of those who were victims of this storm remain very much alive and the "Big Snow" has been a favorite topic of conversation.
By 1948 the trend for family living was toward "suburbia" which meant new housing developments in townships near Pittsburgh. Many of the areas had been farm lands and wooded hillside locations and the new developments were handsomely planned and very desirable for home owners.
Many families moved to the new home developments in the township areas of the county, but the city remained the center of business, finance, shopping and amusement and the responsibility for the new way of living increased for Pittsburgh. New highways and rapid transit became necessities. Other services were provided when the city and county health departments were merged, and Carnegie Library facilities were extended to county residents.
1957 A New Age--Atomic Energy.
The electric lights which glow in the city are now a symbol as well as a fact of the future of a new power. Since December a full scale atomic power plant has been in use. This city was honored when it was permitted to build this plant at Shippingport, a small river town on the Ohio, forty miles below Pittsburgh. This is the first electric power plant of its kind ever built and is a new way of adapting atomic power to peacetime use.
As the time for celebration of the birthday of the city approaches, the gap of two hundred years is a wide one to fill. But here we have revealed, in brief flashes, historic incidents as they happened and in these fragments there is revealed the struggles that produced a city.
As we enjoy the beauty of the setting in Gateway Center, the past creeps in to remind us, this is the land of historic memories; this is where Washington stood, this is where General Stanwix walked, these are the waters where the Indians crossed and this is where the flags of two foreign nations flew over Pittsburgh.
The past and the present mingle through the streets as their names are of early origin, while the reality of what happened here two hundred years ago gives the events a place in history.
The Bicentennial Committee, which has been organized to plan a celebration, has chosen as their theme "Gateway To The Future." It is the recommendation of this Committee to honor the background out of which the city emerged and recognize the historic facts and human endeavors out of which the spirit of the city was created.
Here is to be found a vivid story of drama, inspiration and achievement, from the founding to the present, as men and women of vision changed a wilderness area into the city of Pittsburgh.