Pittsburgh’s explosive industrial and population growth between the mid-nineteenth century and the Great Depression required constant attention to city-building. Private, profit-oriented firms, often with government involvement, provided necessary transportation, energy resources, and suitable industrial and residential sites. Meeting these requirements in the region’s challenging hilly topographical and riverine environment resulted in the dramatic reshaping of the natural landscape. At the same time, the Pittsburgh region’s free market, private enterprise emphasis created socio-economic imbalances and badly polluted the air, water, and land. Industrial stagnation, temporarily interrupted by wars, and then followed deindustrialization inspired the formation of powerful public-private partnerships to address the region’s mounting infrastructural, economic, and social problems. The sixteen essays in Making Industrial Pittsburgh Modern examine important aspects of the modernizing efforts to make Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania a successful metropolitan region. The city-building experiences continue to influence the region’s economic transformation, spatial structure, and life experience.
Edward K. Muller is emeritus professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a former chair of the Department of History, former director of the urban studies program, and a Fulbright Research Scholar in New Zealand. He is founding member and former chair of the Board of Trustees of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.
Joel A. Tarr is the Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University where he has taught for over fifty years. He is the recipient of CMU’s Robert Doherty Prize for “substantial and sustained contributions to excellence in education” (1992), the Leonardo da Vinci Medal of the Society of the History of Technology (2008), the American Environmental History Association Distinguished Service Award (2015), and the Founders Award, National Council on Public History (2018).