Meadville is a city in and the county seat of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city is within 40 miles of Erie, Pennsylvania and 90 miles of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the first permanent settlement in northwest Pennsylvania. The population was 13,388 at the 2010 census. The city of Meadville is part of the Meadville, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Meadville was founded on May 12, 1788 by a party of settlers led by David Mead. Its location was chosen well, for it lies at the confluence of Cussewago Creek and French Creek, and was only a day's travel by boat to the safety of Ft. Franklin.
The neighboring Iroquois and Lenape befriended the isolated settlement, but their enemies, including the Wyandots, were not so amiable. The threat of their attacks caused the settlement to be evacuated for a time in 1791.
Around 1800, many of the settlers to the Meadville area came after receiving land bounties for service in the Revolutionary War. Allegheny College, the second oldest college west of the Allegheny Mountains, was founded in Meadville in 1815 and is the oldest college west of the Allegheny Mountains that has kept its original name. Meadville became an important transportation center after construction of the French Creek Feeder Canal in 1837 and of the Beaver and Erie Canal it connected to at Conneaut Lake and subsequent railroad development.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Meadville played a small part in the Underground Railroad helping escaping slaves to freedom. An event in September 1880 led to the end of segregation by race in the state's public schools. At the South Ward schools, Elias Allen tried unsuccessfully to enroll his two children. He appealed to the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Pearson Church declared unconstitutional the 1854 state law mandating separate schools for Negro children. This law was amended, effective July 4, 1881, to prohibit such segregation.
By the late 19th century, Meadville's economy was also driven by logging, agriculture, and iron production. The Talon Corporation, headquartered in Meadville, played a major role in the development of the zipper. Since the clothing industry was largely unaffected by the Great Depression, the community saw a population boom at that time. During World War II, the nearby Keystone Ordnance plant brought additional jobs to the area.
After the war, Meadville's industrial growth continued. Talon remained a major employer, along with the Erie Railroad, American Viscose (later known as Avtex Fibers), Channellock tools, and Dad's Pet Food. In the 1980s, the Great Lakes region saw a decline in heavy industry. By the early 1990s, Channellock and Dad's were the only large companies operating in Meadville. This blow to the local economy was softened by subsequent surge in light industry, mainly tool and die machine shops, earning Meadville the nickname Tool City, USA. The area has seen growth in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century. The song "Bittersweet Motel" by Vermont jam band, Phish, was inspired when keyboardist, Page McConnell, left a wedding in Meadville and drove down to the Pittsburgh Airport.
In addition to the Meadville Downtown Historic District, the Baldwin-Reynolds House, Bentley Hall, Independent Congregational Church, Dr. J. R. Mosier Office, Roueche House, Ruter Hall, and Judge Henry Shippen House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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