Pittsburgh is the seat of Allegheny County and with a population of 306,211 is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. With a metropolitan combined statistical area population of 2,661,369, it is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia and the 20th-largest in the U.S. Pittsburgh is known as both "the Steel City" for its more than 300 steel-related businesses and "the City of Bridges" for its 446 bridges. The city features 30 skyscrapers, 2 inclined railways, a pre-revolutionary fortification, and the source of the Ohio at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. This vital link of the Atlantic coast and Midwest cuts through the mineral-rich Alleghenies which made the area coveted by the French and British Empires, Virginia, Whiskey Rebels, Civil War raiders and media networks.
Known for steel, Pittsburgh also led innovations and industries in aluminum, glass, shipbuilding, petroleum, foods, appliances, sports, transportation, computing, retail, cars, and electronics. This creative wealth placed Pittsburgh third (after New York City and Chicago) in corporate headquarters employment for much of the 20th century, second only to New York in bank assets and with more stockholders per capita than any other U.S. city. America's 1980s deindustrialization laid off area blue-collar workers, with thousands of downtown white-collar workers joining them after multi-billion-dollar corporate raids relocated the longtime Pittsburgh-based world headquarters of Gulf Oil, Sunbeam, Rockwell and Westinghouse. This status as a global industry center, its melting pot of immigrant workers, and top-10 rank among the largest cities in the U.S. until 1950 and metro areas until 1980 left the region with a plethora of internationally regarded museums, medical centers, parks, research infrastructure, libraries, and a vibrantly diverse cultural district.
These legacies have earned Pittsburgh the title of America's "most livable city" by Places Rated Almanac, Forbes, and The Economist while inspiring National Geographic and Today to name the city a top world destination. Since 2004, the area has added over 3,000 hotel rooms with higher occupancy than 11 comparable cities.
Apple, Google and Intel are among 1,600 technology firms generating $10.8 billion in annual Pittsburgh payrolls, with the area serving as the long-time federal agency headquarters for cyber defense, software engineering, robotics, energy research and the nuclear navy. R&D leaders Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh annually produce multiple startups as the city has earned the top rank as "America's smartest" with a total of 68 area colleges and universities, 38 of them non-profit.
The nation's fifth-largest bank, nine Fortune 500 companies, and six of the top 300 US law firms make their global headquarters in the Pittsburgh area, while RAND, BNY Mellon, Nova, Bayer, FedEx, GSK and NIOSH have large regional bases that helped Pittsburgh become the sixth-best metro area for U.S. job growth.
Pittsburgh is a leader in environmental design with 60 total and 10 of the world's first green buildings, including downtown's convention center, even as billions have recently been invested in the area's energy renaissance with Marcellus shale. A renaissance of Pittsburgh's 116-year-old film industry—that boasts the world's first movie theater—has grown from the long-running Three Rivers Film Festival to an influx of major productions including Disney and Paramount offices with the largest sound stage outside Los Angeles and New York.
The area of the Ohio headwaters was inhabited by the Shawnee and several other settled groups of native Americans. The first European was the French explorer/trader Robert de La Salle in his 1669 expedition down the Ohio River from Quebec. European pioneers, primarily Dutch, followed in the early 18th century. Michael Bezallion was the first to describe the forks of the Ohio in a 1717 manuscript, and later that year European traders established area posts and settlements. In 1749, French soldiers from Quebec launched a serious expedition to the forks to unite Canada with French Louisiana via the rivers. Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia sent Major George Washington to warn the French to withdraw. During 1753–54, the British hastily built Fort Prince George before a larger French force drove them off. The French built Fort Duquesne based on LaSalle's 1669 claims. The French and Indian War began with the future Pittsburgh as its center. British General Edward Braddock was dispatched with Washington as his aide to take Fort Duquesne. The British and colonial force met defeat at Braddock's Field and it was not until General John Forbes's 1758 march that the French surrendered the forks. Forbes began construction on Fort Pitt, named after British Secretary of State and soon-to-be Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder while the settlement was named "Pittsborough".
Pontiac's Rebellion had native tribes lead a siege of Fort Pitt for two months until Colonel Henry Bouquet's victory at the Battle of Bushy Run. The battle's outcome may have been decided by the first use of biological warfare. Lord Jeffrey Amherst is claimed to have ordered blankets inoculated with smallpox distributed to the tribes surrounding the fort in 1763, although this claim is disputed.
The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix allowed the Penns to purchase the modern region from the Iroquois. A 1769 survey of the land situated between the two rivers referenced the future city as the "Manor of Pittsburgh". Both the Colony of Virginia and the Province of Pennsylvania claimed the region until 1780 when it was agreed to extend the Mason-Dixon Line westward, placing Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. On March 8, 1771 Bedford County, Pennsylvania was created to govern the frontier. On April 16, 1771, the city's first civilian local government was created with Pitt Township. William Teagarden was the first constable with William Troop the first clerk.
Following the American Revolution, the village of Pittsburgh continued to grow. One of its earliest industries was boat building for settlers of the Ohio Country. In 1784, Thomas Viceroy completed a town plan which was approved by the Penn family attorney. Pittsburgh became a possession of Pennsylvania in 1785. The following year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was started, and in 1787, the Pittsburgh Academy was chartered. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 saw unrest and federal troops. By 1797, glass began to be manufactured in the city as the population grew to around 1400.
The American Civil War boosted the city's economy with increased iron and armament demand. Andrew Carnegie began steel production in 1875 at the Edgar Thomson Steel Works in North Braddock, Pennsylvania, which evolved into the Carnegie Steel Company.
In 1901, Carnegie merged several companies into U.S. Steel. By 1911 Pittsburgh was the nation's 8th largest city accounting for between a third and a half of national steel output. The city's population swelled to over a half million with European immigration via Ellis Island. By 1940, non-Hispanic whites were 90.6% of the city's population. Pittsburgh was a main destination of the African-American Great Migration with 95% percent becoming unskilled steel workers. World War II saw area mills operate 24 hours a day to produce 95 million tons of steel, but also recorded the highest levels of air pollution in its almost century of industry. The city's reputation as the "arsenal of democracy" was being overshadowed by James Parton's 1868 observation of Pittsburgh being "hell with the lid off".
Following the war, the city launched a clean air and civic revitalization project known as the "Renaissance." This much-acclaimed effort was followed by the "Renaissance II" project in 1977 and focusing on cultural and neighborhood development. The industrial base continued to expand through the 1970s, but beginning in the early 1980s both the area's steel and electronics industries imploded, with massive layoffs from mill and plant closures.
In the latter 20th century the area shifted its economic base to education, tourism, and services, largely based on healthcare/medicine, finance and high technology such as robotics. Although Pittsburgh successfully shifted its economy and remained viable, the city's population never rebounded to its industrial-era highs. While 680,000 people lived in the city proper in 1950, a combination of suburbanization and economic turbulence caused a decrease in city population.
During the late 2000s recession Pittsburgh was economically strong, adding jobs when most cities were losing them, and one of the few cities in the United States to see housing property values rise. Between 2006 and 2011, the Pittsburgh MSA experienced over 10% appreciation in housing prices—the highest appreciation of the largest 25 MSAs in the United States as 22 of the top 25 MSAs saw a depreciation of housing values. Pittsburgh's story of economic regeneration was the inspiration for President Barack Obama to host the 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit.