Vandergrift, Pennsylvania

Vandergrift is a borough in Westmoreland County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, approximately 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Pittsburgh. Early in the 20th century, it had the largest sheet steel mill in the world.

Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
Houses in Vandergrift
Houses in Vandergrift
Location of Vandergrift in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Location of Vandergrift in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Vandergrift, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
Location of Vandergrift in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°35′58″N 79°34′11″W / 40.59944°N 79.56972°W / 40.59944; -79.56972Coordinates: 40°35′58″N 79°34′11″W / 40.59944°N 79.56972°W / 40.59944; -79.56972
CountryUnited States
 • TypeBorough Council
 • MayorBarbara Turiak
 • CouncilBrian Carricato President
 • Total1.42 sq mi (3.68 km2)
 • Land1.36 sq mi (3.52 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
879 ft (268 m)
 • Total5,205
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,581.93/sq mi (1,383.45/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Zip code
Area code(s)724 Exchanges: 567,568,571
FIPS code42-79776

On June 28, 1915, the Borough of Vandergrift Heights was consolidated with Vandergrift.[3] In 1900, 2,076 people lived here; in 1910, 3,876. The 1915 consolidation almost doubled Vandergrift's population when Vandergrift Heights added approximately 3,438 new residents (1910 population). By 1940, 10,725 people lived in Vandergrift. The population was 5,455 at the 2000 census, and 5,205 in 2010.


Dutch (Van der Grift): topographic name from Middle Dutch grifte ‘man-made channel'


In the 1890s the Apollo Iron and Steel Company ended a bitterly contested labor dispute by hiring replacement workers from the surrounding countryside. To avoid future unrest, however, the company sought to gain tighter control over its workers not only at the factory but also in their homes. Drawing upon a philosophy of reform movements in Europe and the United States, the firm decided that providing workers with good housing and a good urban environment would make them more loyal and productive. In 1895, Apollo Iron and Steel built a new, integrated, non-unionized steelworks and hired the nation's preeminent landscape architectural firm, Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot, to design the model industrial town: Vandergrift. (named for Capt. J.J. Vandergrift, a director of the steel company).

Vandergrift, Pennsylvania – before and after
July 1895, before construction of the town
May 1896

Mosher (1995) shows how Vandergrift was representative of the new industrial suburbs of Pittsburgh. Caught up in a dramatic round of industrial restructuring and labor tension, Pittsburgh steelmaker George McMurtry hired Frederick Law Olmsted's landscape architectural firm in 1895 to design Vandergrift as a model town. McMurtry believed in what was later known as welfare capitalism, with the company going beyond paychecks to provide for the social needs of the workers; he believed that a benign physical environment made for happier and more productive workers. A strike and lockout at McMurtry's steelworks in Apollo, Pennsylvania, had prompted him to build the new town. Wanting a loyal workforce, he developed a town agenda that drew upon environmentalism as well as popular attitudes toward capital's treatment of labor. The Olmsted firm translated this agenda into an urban design that included a unique combination of social reform, comprehensive infrastructure planning, and private homeownership principles. The rates of homeownership and cordial relationships between the steel company and Vandergrift residents fostered loyalty among McMurtry's skilled workers and led to McMurtry's greatest success. In 1901 he used Vandergrift's worker-residents to break the first major strike against the United States Steel Corporation.[4]

St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church and the Vandergrift Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), of which, 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (5.34%) is water.


Vandergrift has a continental climate with cold winters averaging 22 degrees in January and 82 in July.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)4,875[2]−6.3%

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 5,455 people, 2,414 households, and 1,489 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,389.9 people per square mile (1,698.5/km2). There were 2,772 housing units at an average density of 2,230.8 per square mile (863.1/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 94.43% White, 3.45% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.37% of the population.

There were 2,414 households, out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 21.9% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.7 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $26,935, and the median income for a family was $35,984. Males had a median income of $29,781 versus $20,829 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $16,285. About 12.0% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over.


People of German descent form the largest single ethnic group in the borough, making up 27.7% of the population, followed by Italians, accounting for 25.8% of the population. People of Irish ancestry are another sizable group, at 16.4%. The largest block of Eastern European ancestries include Polish, at 8.3% and Slovak, at 6.6%.[9]


Arts and cultureEdit


Vandergrift has a theater - the Casino Theater, and a museum called the Victorian Vandergrift Museum & Historical Society.

Many of the exterior shots in the 2011 science fiction film I am Number Four were filmed in Vandergrift, which was a stand-in for the fictional town of Paradise, Ohio.[citation needed][10]

The city center was a reference for the town center of Possum Springs in the lauded PC game Night in the Woods.[11]

Festivals and paradesEdit


  • "Vandergrift Cleanup Day".
  • "Vandergrift Ethnic Days". The carnival and ethnic food festival takes place at Kennedy Park and is sponsored by Vandergrift Fire Companies Nos. 1 and 2.[12]
  • Memorial Day. A parade begins at Vandergrift Elementary School and proceeds down Grant Ave. to a veteran's memorial service at the Casino Theatre.[13]



  • "RFG Sideshow Festival". This festival is free admission to the public. Enjoy good food, great music and dancing and the best entertainment this side of the Kiskiminetas River! Brought to you by RFG Association of Performing Arts and Vandergrift Vol. Fire Department no.2
  • "[1]




  • "Vandergrift Oktoberfest". This usually a three-day festival held in Kennedy Park by the Vandergrift No. 2 Volunteer Fire Department.[14]


  • "Lightup the Night". This is the annual Christmas parade and celebration on Grant Ave. the Friday after Thanksgiving.[15]


64.19% of Vandergrift residents are affiliated with a religious congregation. Of those affiliated, 55.4% are Roman Catholic, 12.2% are Methodist, 9.9% are ELCA Lutheran, 6.5% are Presbyterian, 16% are "other".[16]


Vandergrift borough is the owner of Davis Field, the football home of the Cavaliers, Kiski Area School District's football team. The school district maintains the field. A baseball field and football practice field also lie between Davis Field and Kennedy Memorial Park, which sits at the corner of Jackson and Walnut Streets. In addition to Kiski Area sports, the fields serve local little league and midget football play.


Borough councilEdit

Vandergrift has a weak mayor-council government system. In a "weak" mayor-council system, the mayor has no formal authority outside of the council; he/she cannot appoint and/or remove officials and lacks veto power over council votes.[17] The mayor of Vandergrift is Barbara Turiak. Vandergrift Borough Council is elected every two years.

State representationEdit

At the state level, Vandergrift is within Pennsylvania's 55th House of Representatives District, represented by Joseph A. Petrarca, Jr. (D), elected 1995. Vandergrift is also within Pennsylvania's 38th Senatorial District, represented by Jim Ferlo (D), elected 2003.

Congressional representationEdit

Federally, Vandergrift is part of Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District, represented by Democrat Mark Critz, elected in 2010 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of long-time Democratic congressman John Murtha. Critz ran for re-election to a second full term in the 2012 election, but was defeated by Republican challenger Keith Rothfus. Critz garnered 48.5% of the vote to Rothfus' 51.5%.[18] The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Bob Casey, elected in 2006. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Republican Pat Toomey, who was elected in 2010.



Vandergrift is within the Kiski Area School District.


The former St. Gertrude School in Vandergrift, which was established in 1922, served students in kindergarten through sixth grade, until it officially transitioned to a regional school with a new name in fall 2005. The formal announcement and dedication of the Cardinal Maida Academy took place with a special Mass November 27, 2005, at St. Gertrude Parish, and Cardinal Adam J. Maida, whose episcopal motto is “To Make All Things New,” returned to his roots in the Diocese of Greensburg to help a small Catholic school celebrate a new beginning.[19]



The area is served by the Valley News Dispatch, a daily newspaper serving the Alle-Kiski Valley. Until the mid-1980s, this newspaper maintained a branch sales office in Parks Township, across the river from Vandergrift. It was also served by its own local newspaper, The News-Citizen, which maintained an office on Walnut Street, started as a daily newspaper, before reducing to a weekly publication by the mid-1980s. It ceased publication by the end of the 20th century.


Vandergrift is served locally in part by radio station WXJX, licensed to Apollo, Pennsylvania.


Vandergrift lies within the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area and is served by KDKA-TV (CBS), WTAE-TV (ABC), WPGH-TV (FOX), and WPXI (NBC).


The Westmoreland County Transit Authority provides service to Vandergrift directly via the Route 15 bus. It runs Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm between New Kensington and Avonmore. It stops at McMutury Towers, Jackson/Longfellow Avenues, and Grant/Sumner Avenues six times a day. About 2 miles from downtown Vandergrift, the Route 14F bus, from New Kensington to Pittsburgh, and the Route 12 bus, from New Kensington to Greensburg, both stop in the Allegheny Plaza parking lot below Save-A-Lot. Visit the WCTA website[permanent dead link] for details on schedules, fares, and service alerts.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Secretary of the Commonwealth. Commission Bureau. Governor's Minutes, January 1913 to December 1918, p. 280.
  4. ^ Anne E. Mosher, "'Something Better than the Best': Industrial Restructuring, George McMurtry and the Creation of the Model Industrial Town of Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, 1883-1901," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 1995 85(1): 84-107.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Vandergrift, Pennsylvania (PA 15690) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news, sex offenders". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  10. ^ Rittmeyer, Brian C. (February 6, 2011). "'I Am Number Four' offers many Western Pennsylvania locations". Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  11. ^ Benson, Scott (4 September 2019). "Alec". Medium.
  12. ^ Guido, George. "Vandergrift FD hopes ethnic days will be annual event". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  13. ^ Hayes, Liz. "Memorial Day celebrations to honor Alle-Kiski Valley veterans". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  14. ^ EndPlay (2010-08-17). "VANDERGRIFT: Octoberfest". WPXI. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Source: Jones, Dale E., et al. 2002. Congregations and Membership in the United States 2000. Nashville, TN: Glenmary Research Center.
  17. ^ ^ Saffell, Dave C. and Harry Basehart. "State and Local Government: Politics and Public Policies." McGraw Hill. 9th ed. Pg. 237
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2013-01-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Cardinal Maida Academy - About Us". Retrieved 10 March 2017.

External linksEdit