Brief History of Monroeville
Area locations of interest:
McCully Log House
Old Stone Church
Little Stone Bridge
By the latter part of the 1700s, Pittsburgh had become a bustling
pioneer village. Settlements began to spring up near Pittsburgh
to become small villages in themselves, but the hills to the
east remained sparsely populated. By the first half of the 1800s,
the area now known as Monroeville was nothing more than a small
village nestled among widely-scattered farms.
the grand-daddy of modern highways, the Northern Turnpike
was completed from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and Monroeville,
at its convenient location 13 miles out of Pittsburgh, became
the first stagecoach stop heading east on the new road. In
1810 the village could boast of two blacksmiths, two stores,
and an inn. And when a local farmer named Joel Monroe began
selling off lots along the road, he was to lay the down the
core of the modern community that bears his name. In 1849
the village became part of the newly-formed Patton Township.
In the late 19th century the coal mining industry, busy in
the hills around Pittsburgh, began to extend eastward. Patton
Township was to enjoy a boom in coal mining when many local
residents who didn’t work on the farms were to find
employment in the mines, or on the railroads.
But the coal boom ran its course, and by the first part of
the 1900s, life in the little farming community had lapsed
back to what it had pretty much been for the past hundred
years. Those who didn’t work on the farms might now
find employment in the nearby Westinghouse plant in Wilmerding,
or in the sprawling railroad yards in Pitcairn.
It was during the 20th century that Monroeville grew from
a farming village with horses and buggies traveling over dirt
roads, to a flourishing suburban community laced with major
In the 1940s the new William Penn Highway (US Route 22) set
the stage for today’s business strip that defines the
core of modern Monroeville. Soon a series of asphalt roads
and concrete highways, were crisscrossing Monroeville, and
in 1950 Monroeville was designated as the Pittsburgh interchange
for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The economic potential of the new road was seen by a group
of farsighted businessmen who bought some property along Business
Route 22 and proceeded to build a major shopping center --
The Miracle Mile, the biggest of its kind between New York
and Chicago when it opened in November, 1954.
Following the lead of Miracle Mile, other shopping strips
sprang up along Route 22, as did gas stations, car dealerships,
fast food stands, and banks. It was a classic case of improved
roads and greater access leading to commercial development
that, in turn, fueled the need for more housing and better
In 1963, the eastern extension of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway
was completed, giving commuters a direct modern highway into
downtown Pittsburgh. Residential and business construction
in Monroeville soared, and there was a dramatic surge in population.
As Monroeville grew, companies and corporations were increasingly
drawn to the attractive suburb. US Steel consolidated its
research labs here in1953, followed by a host of others. Westinghouse
built its nuclear research facilities here in 1965 and 1971;
Koppers Company opened a research center in 1961; Bituminous
Coal in 1962, and later, PPG Industries.
The area grew in importance as a shipping hub with the construction
of the Conrail Inter-modal terminal that used a portion of
the old Pitcairn Railway Yards for the trans-shipment of cargo
in containers hauled by trucks to trains. At the same time,
Monroeville’s reputation as a commercial and shopping
center was given additional stature with the opening of the
Monroeville Mall in 1969.
Today’s Monroeville is a Municipality of some 30,000,
and roads, travel and transportation remains the lifeblood
of the community.
Excerpted from: Getting Around: A History of Travel in Monroeville,
by Louis Chandler. The booklet is published by the Monroeville
Historical Society, and is available by contacting the author:
or phone: 724-327-6164.
Photos courtesy of the Monroeville Historical Society.
For more information, please visit the Monroeville
Historical Society website.