The Watershed » Cultural History
The Pittsburgh region has a rich cultural history. The Nine Mile Run Watershed reflects that richness and diversity in its neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own distinct flavor.
People have lived in the Nine Mile Run Watershed for centuries. The Native American Delaware were in the area until the 1600's. During the beginning of the 18th century, displaced Indian peoples from the east found temporary home in the area that is now Pittsburgh. Our watershed, with all of its small open streams was likely used for fishing.
In the 18th century, Europeans moved into the area and started small pioneering communities which quickly expanded. The region prospered with the rise of industry, particularly steel manufacturing in the first half of the 20th century. Once the steel industry began to decline in the 1970's, the Pittsburgh region suffered tremendous population loss. However, the region is reinventing itself as a post-industrial city with plentiful green space. Read on to learn more about some of the communities of the Nine Mile Run Watershed.
The majority of Wilkinsburg is in the Nine Mile Run Watershed. Wilkinsburg has had several different names throughout its history. The area was first settled by Samuel Rippey and his wife who built and ran a log tavern. Other settlers were attracted to the area and by 1788, it was known as Rippeyville. Two years later, Rippeyville changed to McNairsville, after Colonel Dunning McNair, who laid out the first lot plan for the settlement. The official birthdate of the borough of Wilkinsburg is October 5th, 1887. It is named for the Wilkins family, a prominent family with large land holdings. Wilkinsburg makes up the largest portion of the Nine Mile Run watershed, both by population and land mass. Wilkinsburg spans nearly 4 square miles and is home to over 20,000 people.
Named by Jane Grey Swisshelm, one the leaders of the abolition movement and friend Abraham Lincoln, Swissvale is a small borough spanning just under 2 square miles and boasting a population of about 10,000. About half of Swissvale is in the Nine Mile Run Watershed. When Swisshelm settled in the Nine Mile Run valley in 1842, she found the area beautiful and named her farm "Swiss-Vale." Later, when the Pennsylvania Railroad came through, the nearby station took the same name. Swissvale was officially incorporated as its own borough in 1898.
Summerset is a 700+ home development in Pittsburgh built on a reclaimed slag heap. It is considered one of the best examples of smart growth as an inter-city infill project, and also incorporates many other environmentally-friendly features.
Regent Square is a distinctive neighborhood made up of parts of Edgewood, Swissvale, Wilkinsburg, and the City of Pittsburgh.
Situated at the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio rivers, Pittsburgh was incorporated as a borough in 1794. Its population, as recorded two years later, was only 1300. The population grew quickly. The borough of Pittsburgh got its first bank in 1804, and many small industries were soon to follow. The small borough quickly expanded and was incorporated as a city in 1816. By the mid 1800s, the steel industry was beginning to take hold in Pittsburgh. Today Pittsburgh is a post-industrial city that covers an area of about 55 miles with a population of just over 350,000.
During the 1760's Squirrel Hill was a small pioneer farming community. Europeans were attracted to the area because of the plentiful game it offered. The area was considered a "wilderness," therefore the land was free. As more and more settlers moved into the area, businesses began to come into Squirrel Hill as well. By the mid-1800s, Squirrel Hill was considered an affluent suburb to the rapidly expanding Pittsburgh. And by 1868, Squirrel Hill was officially a part of the City of Pittsburgh.
Edgewood lies entirely within the Nine Mile Run watershed. It is a small borough with just over 3,300 residents and spanning less than 1.5 square miles. Edgewood was incorporated in 1888 after a struggle with Braddock Township, which opposed its "secession" from the borough. Edgewood won out. At incorporation Edgewood claimed no paved roads, about 400 residents, and a total land value of $500,000