A Brief History of Tarentum

Tarentum

Tarentum is a borough in Allegheny County. The history of the town dates back to the early 1700s when the area was inhabited by the Shawnee. In 1734, Peter Chartier, a French settler, kept up with a trading post until the Shawnee moved down the river in the 1740s. Maps from around then named Tarentum “Chartier’s Old Town.”

Tarentum was officially founded by Judge Henry Marie Brackenridge in 1829. At the time, the Pennsylvania Canal was completed between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Brackenridge called the town Tarentum after an ancient Greek city-state of the same name in Italy.

A population of around 300 citizens petitioned for the courts to incorporate the town on March 7, 1842. Industrialization came about in the valley when the railroad replaced an old canal in 1866. Tarentum had a population of 4,000 in the 1880s. Transportation was key to the development of the town—canal, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Allegheny Valley Expressway and the PA Turnpike. Approximately 100 years after it was incorporated, Tarentum reached a population of over 9,000 and was then in turn a leading mercantile center. By the 2010 census, the borough reached a population of 4.530. Since then, Tarentum has been working on its revitalization efforts within the community.

Facts about Tarentum

Tarentum

Two statues of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth are displayed in the borough (perhaps a nod to its name origins). There are three different streams in the neighborhood—the Allegheny River, Bull Creek and Little Bull Creek. Tarentum is bordered by East Deer Township, Frazer Township, Brackenridge, Fawn Township and Harrison Township, as well as New Kensington and Lower Burrell. Notable people from Tarentum include John Filo, a photographer who took the famous award-winning Kent State photo while living in Tarentum, screenwriter John Grant (Abbott and Costello) and Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza’s mother on Seinfeld.

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