Pittsburgh Suburbs: History of Swissvale

history of Swissvale

A Brief History of Swissvale

history of Swissvale

Swissvale Coffee Mug
The Swissvale mug. Part of the PB Neighborhood Series. Get yours today!

Swissvale is a borough in Allegheny County located just 9 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. The community was named after James Swisshelm, who served under General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He also is said to have camped at Valley Forge. The company was a supplier of railway signaling equipment. Since 1874, the Allegheny Car and Transportation Shops gave jobs to Swissvale citizens. The shops were later bought out by Westinghouse, who formed The Union Switch and Signal Company of George Westinghouse. Vladimir K. Zworykin, one of those who invented television, worked for Westinghouse and lived in Swissvale with his wife and daughter.

Facts about Swissvale

History of Swissvale

Swissvale is bordered by Edgewood, Braddock Hills, North Braddock, the city of Pittsburgh itself, as well as Rankin, Regent Square and Swisshelm Park. Directly across the Monongahela River is the neighborhood of Munhall (also a borough). Notable people from Swissvale include Billy Gardell, of Mike and Molly fame, David Conrad and Frank Conrad—creator of KDKA Radio, screenwriter Agnes Christine Johnston and Dick Groat, Pirates player. As of the 2000 Census, there were 9,653 people living in Swissvale. The borough reaches a total of 1.3 square miles. The most popular age group living in Swissvale are those ages 25-44, with 31.7 percent of the population.

16 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Suburbs: History of Swissvale”

  1. In 1907 my grandfather moved from Braddock to Swissvale & built a house. Swissvale was the place to go at that time!

      1. Sadly, I just discovered that she passed away in 2012. She lived most her life in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Married to Donald C Mahoney. Had 2 daughters, Stacy and Kelly. I don’t know anything about them, as I’m was doing genealogy research, trying to find lost relatives of a cousin of mine. He didn’t know about them. Her death record is listed under “Leona (or Leone) Barbara Mahoney”. I can’t find an obituary. Her husband and children are on facebook.

  2. Liveing in Edgewood for 26 yrs i spent a lot of time in Swissvale Even lived there for a year After marrying ! Spent many dollars @ Frankies & Johnies !

  3. Regent Square is Swissvale, a major part is in Swissvale, some of it is in Edgewood, and still some more in Pittsburgh. There may be a little portion that sits in Wilkinsburg. Going toward the junction on South Braddock Ave, the right side is Edgewood (notice there are no bars on that side,) the left side is Swissvale (4 bars on that side.) There is supposedly a house that sits on the borders of all 4, makes for a hell of a school, wage, and local tax payment.

  4. Jennifer Robertshaw

    My father was born in Swissvale. He was born in a home on Melrose St. My paternal grandfather worked at Union Switch and Signal. My mother and her father worked at Westinghouse. Although I never lived in Pittsburgh, my heart belongs there! Wonderful memories!

    1. Jennifer,

      I just found this web site by accident. I lived on Hampton St. in Swissvale. In the 50s we played a lot of games in and around Newmire Payground. I remember a little kid that seemed to always be underfoot. One day we asked him what his name was and he proudly announced that “I am Harry Robertshaw Jr.” Got to be him.

      Rich Crawford

      1. Rich – my aunt, Sarah Bamford was principal of the Newmire school back in the 1950s. Thanks for the memory jog.

        1. Walter, when I started first grade at Wilkins in the mid 40s, Sarah Bamford was the principal there.

  5. My mother’s family moved from Braddock to Hampton Street, corner of Graff, in1915. That house had belonged to Frank Conrad and it was from that garage that he made the first experimental broadcasts of what would become KDKA. When we lived there, I recall large steel straps in the basement, where Frank had kept the dynamos that powered the station. Later, when they downsized, my grandmother designed the splitting of that house into 2 parts. We lived in the uphill half until I was 5, then we moved to Macon Ave. in Regent Square.
    My mother and her 4 siblings all graduated from Swissvale High, as did I.

  6. My mother grew up in Swissvale with her sister. Their father (my grandfather) took the “67” streetcar to downtown, the Frick Building where he was part of the Duff, Scott & Smith law firm. He was attorney for the local school board for decades. An auditorium at the old high school was named in his honor, I believe. His name was John Smith, ironically. Many fond memories visiting the home.

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