Allegheny County

allegheny county

Allegheny County is located in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania.  According to the 2020 census, its population is 1,250,578, ranking it as the second largest county in the state, following Philadelphia County. The county’s most populous city and county seat is Pittsburgh, which is also the second most populous city in Pennsylvania. Allegheny County serves as the hub of the Pittsburgh, PA metropolitan statistical area and the Pittsburgh media market.

Exploring the Hidden Gems of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: An Insider’s Guide

The county’s allure is not just in its famous landmarks, but also in its ability to surprise visitors with its lesser-known treasures. From picturesque parks to historic neighborhoods, and from world-class museums to cozy eateries, Allegheny County has something for everyone. The warmth of the locals and the diversity of experiences make it an ideal place for travelers seeking an authentic slice of American life.

The History of Allegheny County

Allegheny County played a pivotal role in the broader American story. The area has been a witness to key historical events and has been home to influential figures who have left indelible marks on the nation’s development. From its role in the French and Indian War to its place in the heart of the steel industry, the county’s history is a microcosm of American resilience and innovation.

The transformation of Allegheny County from a frontier land into an industrial powerhouse is a narrative of progress and perseverance. The county’s past is immortalized in its architecture, monuments, and museums, which stand as silent sentinels to the evolution of a community. The historical richness offers a captivating journey for those who seek to understand the forces that have shaped the modern American landscape.

Allegheny County

For history enthusiasts, Allegheny County is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Each neighborhood, each landmark, tells a story that contributes to the larger mosaic of the county’s heritage. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of industrial magnates, explore the battlegrounds of early American conflicts, and witness the remnants of bygone eras that still echo through the county’s streets.

The Geographic Location of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania

Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers, Allegheny County boasts a strategic geographic location that has been instrumental in its growth and development. The county’s terrain is marked by rolling hills and verdant valleys, offering scenic beauty and a wealth of natural resources that have attracted settlers and businesses alike.

Allegheny County’s position within Pennsylvania places it at the crossroads of the Northeast and the Midwest, making it accessible from various parts of the United States. Its well-connected infrastructure, including highways, railways, and the Pittsburgh International Airport, facilitates travel to and from the area, inviting tourists and professionals to discover its charms.

The county’s climate is characterized by four distinct seasons, each presenting its own set of attractions. Whether it’s the blossoming of spring, the warmth of summer, the colorful foliage of autumn, or the snowy landscapes of winter, Allegheny County offers a picturesque backdrop for visitors year-round. The changing seasons not only bring visual delights but also a variety of activities suited to the weather, ensuring that there’s always something new to experience.

Allegheny County

Top Tourist Attractions in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Allegheny County is home to some of Pennsylvania’s most visited landmarks and tourist attractions. The city of Pittsburgh, the county seat, is renowned for the iconic skyline dominated by the towering skyscrapers of its Golden Triangle. The Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium are just a few of the cultural and educational highlights that attract crowds from far and wide.

The county also boasts several historical sites such as the Fort Pitt Museum, which offers insights into the region’s role during the French and Indian War. Meanwhile, the Heinz History Center delves into the area’s industrial and cultural heritage, including the storied legacy of the Heinz Company. Sports enthusiasts flock to the county to catch a game at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, or Acrisure Stadium, where the Pittsburgh Steelers reign supreme.

For those seeking entertainment, the county provides a bustling nightlife with an array of theaters, live music venues, and festivals. The Benedum Center and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre are cornerstones of the performing arts scene, while annual events like the Three Rivers Arts Festival celebrate the county’s artistic vibrancy. Each attraction offers a glimpse into the soul of Allegheny County, making it an ever-appealing destination for tourists.

Allegheny County

The Under-the-Radar Destinations in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Beyond the well-trodden paths of Allegheny County’s popular tourist spots lies a realm of hidden destinations that offer unique experiences for the discerning traveler. Small towns like Sewickley and Oakmont are charming enclaves with boutique shops, quaint cafes, and a slower pace of life that provides a refreshing contrast to the city’s hustle and bustle.

The county’s numerous parks and nature reserves, such as North Park and the Montour Trail, present opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to hike, bike, or simply unwind amidst natural beauty. These spots are often overlooked by the casual tourist, yet they represent the heart of Allegheny County’s commitment to preserving green spaces for recreation and relaxation.

Historic gems like the Hartwood Acres Mansion and the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark offer a peek into the county’s opulent past and industrial might. These sites, though lesser-known, are just as integral to understanding the county’s identity and provide a more intimate look at the local history and architecture.

Interesting Activities and Things to Do in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

The array of activities and things to do in Allegheny County ensures that visitors are never at a loss for ways to fill their itineraries. Adventure seekers can take to the rivers for kayaking and paddleboarding, or explore the numerous trails that crisscross the county on foot or by bike. For those interested in the arts, workshops and classes at places like the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts allow for hands-on learning and creativity.

Cultural festivals throughout the year celebrate everything from the county’s ethnic diversity to its love of food and drink. The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival transports visitors back in time with medieval reenactments and artisanal crafts, while the Pittsburgh Beerfest celebrates the region’s burgeoning craft brewery scene. Each event is a chance to mingle with locals and immerse oneself in the county’s vibrant community spirit.

For a more leisurely experience, riverboat cruises along the city’s three rivers offer panoramic views and a unique perspective on the Pittsburgh skyline. Alternatively, guided tours of the city’s historic districts can uncover architectural marvels and hidden stories that even long-time residents may not know. Allegheny County’s diverse offerings ensure that each visitor’s journey is filled with excitement and discovery.

Perry North (Observatory Hill)

A Genealogical and Biographical History of Allegheny County

The roots of many American families can be traced back to Allegheny County, making it a significant site for genealogical research. The region’s archives and libraries, such as the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, house extensive records that provide a window into the past for those seeking to construct their family trees and uncover their heritage.

Biographical histories of notable residents and local heroes are preserved in the county’s historical societies and museums. These narratives offer insights into the lives of the men and women who have shaped Allegheny County’s trajectory, from industrial tycoons to grassroots activists. The personal stories of triumph, struggle, and everyday life add depth and texture to the broader historical context of the area.

For anyone interested in a genealogical and biographical history of Allegheny County, resources like the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society provide support and guidance. The society’s workshops and seminars are invaluable for both novice and experienced genealogists aiming to connect with their ancestral past and understand the legacies that have influenced their present.

Unique Cultural Experiences in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Allegheny County’s cultural scene is as diverse as its population, offering a tapestry of experiences that reflect the region’s rich tapestry of influences. The county’s arts are celebrated in venues like the Pittsburgh Cultural District, where theaters and galleries showcase both local talent and international stars. Live music ranges from classical symphonies performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to cutting-edge concerts at independent venues across the county.

The county’s ethnic neighborhoods provide a cultural journey through the traditions and customs of the communities that have found a home here. From the Italian flavors of Bloomfield to the Polish heritage of the Strip District, each area offers authentic cuisine, festivals, and markets that allow visitors to experience the world within the confines of the county.

Educational institutions like the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University contribute to the cultural fabric with their museums, lecture series, and public events. These universities not only foster academic excellence but also serve as incubators for innovation and cultural exchange, enriching the county’s intellectual and artistic life.

fall foliage near pittsburgh

The Best Local Food and Drink Experiences in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

The culinary landscape of Allegheny County is a delightful journey for the palate, where traditional dishes meet contemporary gastronomy. Pittsburgh’s famous Primanti Bros. sandwiches, stacked high with fries and coleslaw, are a must-try for any food lover. The county’s diverse dining scene also includes upscale restaurants led by award-winning chefs, cozy bistros, and ethnic eateries serving authentic global cuisines.

Local breweries and distilleries are at the heart of Allegheny County’s drink culture, offering craft beers and spirits that reflect the area’s history and innovation. Brewpubs and tasting rooms provide a convivial atmosphere for sipping and socializing, while tours give insight into the production processes that create these beloved beverages.

Farmers’ markets, such as historic Market Square and the seasonal Squirrel Hill Farmers Market, provide a showcase for the county’s agricultural bounty. Here, visitors can sample and purchase fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and homemade goods, connecting with the land and the people who cultivate it.

Why Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Should Be Your Next Destination

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is a tapestry woven with the threads of history, culture, and natural beauty. It offers an unparalleled mix of attractions that cater to every interest, from the excitement of urban exploration to the tranquility of pastoral landscapes. The county’s hidden gems and popular destinations together create a mosaic of experiences that are both enriching and enchanting.

Visitors to Allegheny County will find themselves swept up in the warmth of its people and the pride they take in their home. The area beckons with a promise of discovery and the joy of new experiences, ensuring that those who come here leave with stories to tell and a desire to return. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deeper connection with America’s past, Allegheny County is a place where every journey can be unique and every moment cherished.

For those ready to embark on an unforgettable trip, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, should be at the top of the list. With its rich tapestry of offerings, this remarkable corner of the world is waiting to reveal its secrets to those eager to explore. Come and uncover the hidden gems of Allegheny County—an insider’s guide to a destination that’s as surprising as it is satisfying.

An Early History of Allegheny County

The county of Allegheny in Pennsylvania was the recipient of the first Native American name in the state. Its name originated from the Lenape term for the Allegheny River, though the exact meaning of “Allegheny” remains unclear. It is commonly believed to signify a “fine river”, but according to Stewart, it may also be derived from an old Lenape legend about a tribe known as the “Allegewi” who inhabited the river before being conquered by the Lenape.

Before the arrival of Europeans, this region was inhabited for numerous centuries by a series of indigenous cultures. In the colonial period, the native communities that were recognized by the colonizers to have settled in the area included western groups like the Iroquois Seneca, the Lenape who were displaced by European-American settlers from the East, the Shawnee who also had land in Ohio, and the Mingo, a collective of individuals from various eastern tribes. In the early 1700s, European traders specializing in fur, such as Peter Chartier, set up trade outposts in the vicinity.

European Settlement

In 1749, Captain Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville declared the Ohio Valley and the entirety of western Pennsylvania as the property of King Louis XV of France. The captain journeyed along the Ohio and Allegheny rivers, placing lead plates into the earth to designate the territory for France.

During the specified time period, the majority of towns were established near waterways that served as the main means of transportation and a source of water for daily household needs. Throughout the 18th century, the French and British engaged in a rivalry for dominance over the rivers in this unexplored region of North America. The Native American groups and tribes formed alliances with the colonizers, influenced by their trading connections. Major George Washington was deployed by the British to remove the French from their strongholds, but his efforts were unsuccessful. He also encountered a near-death experience in the frigid Allegheny River on his way back to camp.

In 1754, the English made another attempt to create a settlement in the region. They dispatched 41 individuals from Virginia to construct Fort Prince George. However, the French became aware of their intentions and deployed a military force to seize the fort. Despite this setback, the English resumed their construction efforts and strengthened the fort’s defenses, eventually renaming it Fort Duquesne.

Fort Duquesne was a crucial location during the French and Indian War due to its strategic position on the Ohio River. Despite the initial failure of the Braddock Expedition, British forces, led by General John Forbes, were able to recapture the fort in 1758. To prevent its use by the French, Forbes ordered the destruction of the fort. A new and larger fort, Fort Pitt, was built on the same site by the British, complete with a moat. Today, the historic site is known as Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, preserving its significance.

The land that is now known as Allegheny County was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia under their colonial charters. Pennsylvania controlled most of the region through Westmoreland County, while Virginia saw everything south of the Ohio River and east of the Allegheny River as part of its Yohogania County, which was governed from Fort Dunmore. Additionally, the proposed British colony of Vandalia and the proposed U.S. state of Westsylvania also had parts of the county within their boundaries. However, the conflicting boundaries, multiple governing bodies, and unclear ownership resulted in an impractical situation. To resolve this, in 1780, Pennsylvania and Virginia agreed to extend the Mason-Dixon line westward, giving control of the region to Pennsylvania. This area was then administered as a part of the newly established Washington County, Pennsylvania, from 1781 to 1788, instead of being considered part of Yohogania County by Virginia.

Allegheny County is Established

The county of Allegheny was established on September 24, 1788, after being carved out of Washington and Westmoreland counties. Its creation was prompted by the growing number of settlers in the Pittsburgh region, which became the designated county seat in 1791. At its inception, the county stretched as far north as Lake Erie, but its boundaries were later reduced to its current size by 1800. As the population in the area continued to grow, neighboring counties were established.

Allegheny County

During the 1790s, the federal government of the United States enforced a tax on whiskey. However, farmers who relied on the income from selling whiskey refused to pay and initiated what became known as the Whiskey Rebellion by chasing away tax collector John Neville. As a result of numerous protests by farmers, President George Washington dispatched troops to quell the uprising on the frontier. The region quickly flourished in the 1800s due to industrialization and eventually became the top producer of steel in the country by the end of the 19th century, earning Pittsburgh the nickname “Steel Capital of the World”.

The County’s Area and Population

Allegheny County, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, covers a total land area of 745 square miles, with 730 square miles as land and 14 square miles coverd by water. The county is intersected by three main rivers: the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River, which meet at Downtown Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River, and the Youghiogheny River, which joins the Monongahela River at McKeesport, located 10 miles southeast. These rivers are home to numerous islands. Ultimately, they flow into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. While the county’s industrial development in the past resulted in deforestation, the area has since seen regrowth, and a significant amount of woodland still remains.

Allegheny County

County Government

Prior to January 1, 2000, the government of Allegheny County was governed by the Second Class County Code of Pennsylvania. This government was responsible for overseeing all local affairs, such as elections, prisons, airports, public health, and city planning. All public positions were held by elected officials, including the three county commissioners. However, on January 1, 2000, a Home-Rule Charter was implemented, replacing the three commissioners with a single elected leader (the County Executive), a county council consisting of 15 members (13 elected by district and two elected county-wide), and a county manager appointed by the council. These changes were implemented to maintain a clear separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, while also giving citizens more control over the government. Allegheny County has the highest number of self-governing municipalities in the state (130), with Luzerne County coming in second with 76. The county also has one Second Class City (Pittsburgh) and three Third Class Cities (Clairton, Duquesne, and McKeesport). A study conducted in 2004 suggested that the southeastern portion of the county, which includes several small communities with limited economies, should be merged into a larger municipality known as “Rivers City” with a combined population of approximately 250,000 for more efficient governance.  This was never acted on.

Since 2000, Allegheny County has had a Home Rule Charter form of government. It is comprised of three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The County Executive, elected for a four-year term, is the head of the executive branch while the County Manager, appointed by the County Executive, oversees the daily operations of county departments. Currently, the County Executive is Sara Innamorato, a Democrat who assumed office in 2024. The County Manager is William D. McKain, who was chosen by Fitzgerald in 2012 and reappointed in 2016 and 2020. The legislative branch is made up of 15 members who are elected for four-year terms from single-member districts. This County Council serves as the primary legislative and policy-making body for the county. The current County Council President is Patrick Catena, a Democrat who represents District 4 and was elected by his fellow council members in 2018 and 2020. The judicial branch includes the Court of Common Pleas, which is the main trial court for the county, and the Magisterial District Courts, which handle minor criminal and civil cases. The judges of these courts are elected for ten-year terms. The current President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas is Kimberly Berkeley Clark, who was elected by her fellow judges in 2018 for a five-year term.

Cities, Towns, Municipalities and Townships

Allegheny County has the highest number of autonomous municipalities in PA, totalling 130. These include 96 boroughs, 30 townships, one city (Pittsburgh), and two home rule municipalities (Bethel Park and McCandless). Each of these municipalities is governed by its own set of elected officials, including mayors, council members, commissioners, and supervisors. They are also responsible for providing local services such as police, fire, and public works. Additionally, some municipalities have established their own authorities to handle services like water, sewer, and transit.

Agriculture and Industrial Production

During the late 18th century, agriculture was a crucial factor in the development of the region. The lack of efficient transportation to the eastern part of the state led to a surplus of grain, prompting farmers to convert it into whiskey. This proved to be a significant source of income for the farmers.

Pittsburgh rapidly emerged as a crucial industrial region in the newly formed country. With abundant reserves of iron and coal, and convenient access to waterways for transporting barges, the city swiftly established itself as a leading hub for steel production on a global scale. According to statistics from the US Army Corps of Engineers in 2007, Pittsburgh ranks as the second busiest inland port in the nation, following closely behind Laredo, Texas.

During the latter part of the 20th century, there was a decrease in steel production in the US which resulted in a shift in the economy of Allegheny County towards other industries. Presently, the county is renowned for its hospitals, universities, and industrial hubs. Despite the decline in heavy industry, Pittsburgh is still home to numerous major companies and is ranked among the top ten cities in the US with the most headquarters of Fortune 500 corporations, including U.S. Steel Corporation, PNC Financial Services Group, PPG Industries, and H. J. Heinz Company. Additionally, the county is a leader in the state when it comes to the number of defense contractors supplying the US military.

Allegheny County is home to two Pennsylvania state parks, namely Point State Park and Allegheny Islands State Park. Point State Park, located in Downtown Pittsburgh, sits at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, while Allegheny Islands State Park is situated in Harmar Township along the Allegheny River. As of August 2010, Allegheny Islands State Park is still undeveloped. Additionally, Allegheny County is also home to Pennsylvania State Game Lands Number 203, which offers activities such as hunting. The regional land conservation group, Allegheny Land Trust, is headquartered in Sewickley and has acquired land in the county for the purpose of creating public green spaces for recreational and scenic purposes. In 2012, the group purchased land that was previously owned by the Pittsburgh Cut Flower Company in Richland Township. In 2020, they were granted permission to transform a former country club into a public green space. Most recently, in December 2020, the group donated 20 acres of undeveloped land across three parcels in Hampton to expand North Park.

Allegheny County is also home to a variety of cities, boroughs, townships and incorporated areas.   Here is a list of them:




Census-designated places

Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the US Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.

Unincorporated communities

  • Acmetonia
  • Blackridge
  • Blanchard
  • Broughton
  • Bruceton
  • Buena Vista
  • Creighton
  • Cubbage Hill
  • Cuddy
  • Dorseyville
  • Ewingsville
  • Harmarville
  • Indianola
  • Ingomar
  • Karns
  • Keown Station
  • Kirwan Heights
  • Library
  • McKnight
  • Moon Run
  • Mount Vernon
  • Natrona
  • Natrona Heights
  • Nevillewood
  • Prest0
  • Regent Square
  • Rural Ridge
  • Sheraden
  • Warrendale
  • Wexford
  • Wildwood
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