City Spotlight: Coraopolis, PA

Coraopolis
This is an early-20th-century photograph of Coraoplis, in its earliest days. This engine may have been used to thresh wheat. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone with the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 29, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).


‚ÄčA borough located just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Coraopolis began as just a 350-acre tract of land in 1769 after an Indian interpreter was granted a land patent following the French and Indian War. However, Coraopolis wasn’t formally settled until 1773, when Captain Robert Vance moved into the area just prior to the beginning of the American Revolution. Vance, a military man who had served in the French and Indian War, was focused on providing protection from raiders to himself and others who had moved into the area. As a result, Vance built a stockade and blockhouse, today known as Fort Vance. This fort was the very beginning of Coraopolis, which continued to grow over the years. By the 1800’s, the area had come to be known as “Middletown,” and was a growing community located between Pittsburgh and Beaver, Pennsylvania.


Coraopolis
One of the first homes in Coraopolis was this log cabin built in the 1700s. James McCabe, one of Coraopolis’s early settlers, married the daughter of Robert Vance. Together they bought 20 acres of land and built this home. Gentlemen are delicately doing work on the roof of this building. The geographical location of this log cabin in Coraopolis is State Avenue. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone and the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 31, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).


The 19th century saw many changes for Coraopolis, most notably in its nomenclature. In 1861, the area was established as a village known as Middletown – this name, however, created a large amount of confusion for the United States post offices, as there were several areas of Pennsylvania also known as Middletown. The town was therefore renamed when it was incorporated as a borough in 1886 by its first mayor, Josiah Dillon. A clergyman, Dillon spoke Greek, and suggested combining the Greek words kore, meaning “maiden,” and opolis, meaning “city” to create Koreopolis, or Maiden City. The translation of the word into English, though, resulted in its present-day spelling of Coraopolis.



Coraopolis
Images of early-20th-century pioneering families in Coraopolis, such as the one featured here, are rarely seen. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone and the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 30, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).


The 1800’s were also a large time of industrial development for the Coraopolis area. In the 1830’s, the influential Watson family built the first sawmill in the area, bringing manufacturing and jobs to the area. They later went on to build a larger grist mill, which operated until the late 19th century. In addition, Coraopolis developed alongside the building of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroad, also known as the “Little Giant.” The railroad connected Pittsburgh with Youngstown, Ohio, and mainly serviced the steel industry. However, community and industrial development began to soar at the turn of the 20th century, when the area became the first in the United States to construct a high-speed electric street railway in 1892. This railway, which ran up to 40 miles per hour, connected Coraopolis to McKees Rocks, by the way of Neville Island. The establishment of the street rail brought several industries with it, including the Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company, which employed many residents of the area until its closure in the 1960’s, and other industries located on Neville Island.


Coraopolis

As seen in this photograph, this electric streetcar would have been going near Mill Street heading towards Sewickley. Streetcars became one of the main sources of transportation, aside from the railroad stations in the early days of Coraopolis. The first electronic street railway began operating in 1894. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone and the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 37, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).


However, progress found many obstacles in Coraopolis. One of the largest, perhaps, was the Pittsburgh Flood of 1936, a natural disaster resulting in over 46 feet of floodwaters in Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas, including Coraopolis. The flood was due to rapidly melting snow and torrential rain during early spring in the area, and lasted only five days, but caused significant damage. In Pittsburgh alone, nearly 250 million dollars-worth of damage was done, a figure that works out to around to 4.46 billion dollars today. In addition, electric service was suspended, and could not be resulted until nearly a week after the flood had receded.


Coraopolis
Would-be classic 1930s automobiles are submerged, floating down Fifth Avenue, lost and ruined. The depth of this floodwater in 1936 demonstrates just how destructive it was to the community. Business were in complete ruin and homes were destroyed. Many victims of the flood endured this bitter cold, ice, water, and loss of electricity. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone and the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 108, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).


Coraopolis
This is a photograph celebrating the 50th anniversary of Coraopolis. The date is July 5, 1937. The semicentennial was postponed one year because of the 1936 flood. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone and the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 48, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).


Since the turn of the 21st century, Coraopolis has entered a period of revitalization and progress. The area has seen many new business open its doors within the borough, and the city continues to work on projects like a new athletic center and a new community center/event space.



Coraopolis
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Coraopolis reporter put out a special edition. History would not be complete if it had not been for this local newspaper reporting all the facts and details of everyday life in the town of Coraopolis. As well as being fine reporters, the staff members have made themselves excellent historians and storytellers of the town. Reprinted from Coraopolis by Gia Tatone and the Coraopolis Historical Society (pg. 83, Arcadia Publishing, 2007).



To read the full history of Coraopolis, check out the book!

Coraopolis






 
Posted: 2/14/2018 12:00:00 AM| with 0 comments


Comments
Comments
Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
 Security code