McKeesport is a city in Allegheny County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania; it is situated at the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers and is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The population was 19,731 at the 2010 census. It is the second-largest city (not including townships, boroughs, and Home Rule Municipalities) in the county after Pittsburgh.
McKeesport was incorporated as a borough in 1842 and as a city in 1891. Its population grew steadily until the mid-20th century, when it peaked in the 1940s. The city's population in 1900 was 34,227; in 1910, 42,694; in 1920, 45,975; and in 1940, 55,355. The decrease in the population since the 1940s is attributable to the general economic malaise that descended upon the region when the steelmaking industry moved elsewhere. The major employer was the National Tube Works, a manufacturer of iron pipes, which once employed 10,000 men. McKeesport was the site of the first G. C. Murphy five-and-ten-cent store.
John McKee, an original settler of Philadelphia and son of David McKee, built a log cabin near the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers, the site of present-day McKeesport. After taking over his father's local river ferry business, he devised a plan for a city to be called McKee's Port. John set out his proposal in the Pittsburgh Gazette, as part of a program under which new residents could purchase plots of land for $20.00 (a lottery was the means to distribute the plots to avoid complaints from new land owners concerning "inferior" locations).
Around the time of the French and Indian Wars, George Washington often came to McKeesport to visit his friend, Queen Alliquippa, a Seneca Indian ruler. After being settled by the McKee family in 1795, McKeesport began to grow in 1830 when coal mining began. The first schoolhouse was built in 1832, with James E. Huey as its schoolmaster (Huey Street in McKeesport is named for him). The city's first steel mill was established in 1851.
The National Tube Company opened in 1872 and became part of U.S. Steel. In the years directly following the opening of the National Tube Company, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, McKeesport was the fastest growing municipality in the nation. Families arrived from other parts of the eastern United States, Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, with most working at the National Tube Company.
McKeesport rose to national importance during the 1900s as a center for manufacturing steel. The city's population reached a peak of 55,355 in 1940
National Tube closed in the 1980s, along with other U.S. Steel plants in the Mon Valley. The city with the help of regional development agencies has conducted efforts to revitalize the former mill sites.
Thirteen years before both faced off in some of the most memorable televised Presidential debates, future presidents (and contemporary Senators) Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy met in McKeesport for their first of five debates on April 22, 1947, to debate labor issues.
Major fires in McKeesport history
Throughout its history, several fires have caused a large amount of damage within the city. It is worth noting that the figures for cost of damage are in the respective time period. Due to inflation this means the damage would cost much more in modern day.
Date, Details, Dead and/or Injured, Cost of Damage
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and , or 7.06%, is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, McKeesport has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
Demographics and culture
The population has fallen to less than half of its war-time high. In 2008 the U.S. Census estimated that only 22,130 people remained.
As of the census of 2000, there were 24,040 people, 9,655 households, and 5,976 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,806.9 people per square mile (1,856.4/km²). There were 11,124 housing units at an average density of 2,224.3 per square mile (859.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.40% White, 24.46% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.59% from other races, and 2.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.50% of the population.
There were 9,655 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.7% were married couples living together, 21.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.4% under 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 20.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40. For every 100 females, there were 84.8 males; for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,715, and the median income for a family was $31,577. Males had a median income of $27,412 versus $21,977 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,242. About 18.1% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.9% of those under age 18 and 12.1% of those age 65 or over.
McKeesport's population is a diverse mix of races and nationalities. As a celebration of these heritages, McKeesport hosts an annual ethnic food festival and community celebration referred to as International Village. Started in 1960, the three-day festival is one of the Pittsburgh-area's largest and oldest ethnic festivals and features traditional cuisines from Africa, China, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Vietnam.