"Pennsylvania" United States of America Things to Do Tip by traveldave

United States of America Things to Do: 953 reviews and 1,331 photos


Nickname: Keystone State; Land Area: 44,820 square miles (116,100 square kilometers); Population: 12,702,379; Capital: Harrisburg; Largest City: Philadelphia

Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in Pennsylvania, with a population of about 2,450,000 in the greater metropolitan area. The city was founded on a point of land where three rivers meet: the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio (formed by the confluence of the other two rivers).

In the early 1700s, the French and the British recognized the strategic importance of the confluence of the three rivers. The area was key to the defense of trade routes linking Canada to New Orleans. The French were the first to establish a fort when they built Fort Duquesne. It was not long before the British attacked and took over the area. They renamed the fort after William Pitt, the then-Prime Minister. After the American Revolutionary War, the Americans took over the fort and the small settlement that had begun to grow up around it.

In 1811, the New Orleans, the first steamboat built in the United States was constructed in Pittsburgh. The popularity of steamboat travel made Pittsburgh the most important inland port in the nation. This attracted large numbers of immigrants to work in the manufacturing industries.

After the American Civil War, Andrew Carnegie established a steel empire, and Pittsburgh became the center for steel production in the United States. However, for over 150 years, the city was covered with a thick pall of smoke from the steel mills, and the rivers were full of industrial waste. In 1945, the city began to clean itself up, and today Pittsburgh is one of the cleanest and most pleasant cities in the country.

Pittsburgh suffered economically between 1975 and 1990 when over 800,000 people left the area. Most of the jobs in the steel industry moved to countries where labor costs were lower and production techniques were more efficient. Nowadays, though, the economy has rebounded with an influx of such industries as high-tech, health care, medical research, financial management, and banking.

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  • Updated Jul 20, 2012
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