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McKeesport is a city in Allegheny Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, in the United Statesmarker; it is located at the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers and is part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area. The population was 24,040 at the 2000 census. It is the second largest city (not including townships and boroughs) in the county, after Pittsburghmarker.

Settled in 1795 and named in honor of John McKee, its founder, McKeesport remained a village until 1830 when coal mining began in the district. Large deposits of bituminous coal existed.

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 1914 (US estimate), 45,965; and in 1920, 45,975. 55,355 people lived in McKeesport in 1940. The decrease in the population is attributable to the general economic malaise which 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 5 and 10 cents store.


John McKee, an original settler of Philadelphiamarker 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. The city's population reached a peak of 55,355 in 1940. Families arrived from other parts of the Eastern United Statesmarker, Italymarker, Germanymarker, Russiamarker, Polandmarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, and Hungarymarker, with most working at the National Tube Company. National Tube closed in the 1980s, along with other United States Steel plants in the Mon Valley.


McKeesport is located at (40.343919, -79.848844). McKeesport is about 12 miles upstream [south] from Pittsburgh, at the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.4 square miles (13.9 km²), of which, 5.0 square miles (12.9 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it (7.06%) is water.

Surrounding and adjacent neighborhoods


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 2000 census, 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/sq mi (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.

Households: 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.

Age Distribution: The population was well distributed by age, 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.

Income: 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.

Points of interest

Notable natives and residents

Actors and broadcasters

Musicians and artists







  • Bette Ford – first American bullfighter ever to fight in the Plaza Mexicomarker, making history for the United States


Politicians and governmental leaders

Military heroes

Business and industry


File:CarnegieFreeLibraryofMckeesport.jpg|The Carnegie Free Library of McKeesport, built in 1902.File:JeromeStreetBridge.jpg|The Jerome Street Bridge (aka Lysle Blvd or 5th Avenue Bridge).

Notes and references

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder, retrieved 2009-10-23

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