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Washington, sometimes referred to locally as Little Washington to distinguish it from Washington, D.C.[citation needed], is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States,[3] within the Greater Pittsburgh Region in the southwestern part of the state. The population was 13,663 at the 2010 census.

Washington, Pennsylvania
City of Washington
Downtown Washington at night
Downtown Washington at night
Little Washington
Location of Washington in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Washington in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Washington is located in Pennsylvania
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°10′30″N 80°15′02″W / 40.17500°N 80.25056°W / 40.17500; -80.25056Coordinates: 40°10′30″N 80°15′02″W / 40.17500°N 80.25056°W / 40.17500; -80.25056
CountryUnited States
 • MayorScott J. Putnam
 • Total2.95 sq mi (7.63 km2)
 • Land2.95 sq mi (7.63 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
 • Total13,663
 • Estimate 
 • Density4,601.76/sq mi (1,777.01/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)724
FIPS code42-81328

Washington is home to Washington & Jefferson College and Pony League baseball.


According to the United States Census Bureau, Washington has a total area of 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2), all land.[4]

Surrounding communitiesEdit

Washington has four borders, including East Washington to the east, South Strabane Township from the north to south-southeast, North Franklin Township from the south to southwest, and Canton Township from the west to northwest.


City Hall in Washington, PA
The George Washington Hotel, South Main Street

Delaware Indian chief Tangooqua, commonly known as "Catfish", had a camp on a branch of Chartiers Creek, in what is now part of the city of Washington.[5] The French labeled the area "Wissameking", meaning "catfish place", as early as 1757.[5] The area of Washington was settled by many immigrants from Scotland and the north of Ireland along with settlers from eastern and central parts of colonial Virginia. It was first settled by colonists around 1768.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed an act on March 28, 1781, erecting the County of Washington and naming "Catfish Camp" as the place for holding the first election. This was the first county in the U.S. to be named in honor of General George Washington. David Hoge laid out a plan of lots immediately after the legislature's action. His original plot carried the name "Bassett, alias Dandridge Town," but before the plot was recorded, lines were drawn through "Bassett, alias Dandridge Town" with ink, and the word "Washington" was written above. There have long been rumors among locals that the town was named “Washington” because George Washington spent the night in the region once. This is not true however; Washington had never been to the area.

The original plot dedicated a tract of ground to the people for recreational purposes. A lot was given for a courthouse where the current building now stands, and Lots 43 and 102, according to the plan, were presented by Hoge to "His Excellency, General Washington, and Mrs. Washington."

Washington, Pennsylvania, was the center for the 'Whiskey Rebellion' of 1791, which was one of the first open rebellions against the new U.S. government and Constitution. The rebellion was centered on a tax being imposed on whiskey distillation in the region. The house of David Bradford, one of the leaders of the rebellion, is now a museum devoted to the Whiskey Rebellion, the David Bradford House, located on South Main Street of the city.

The town was incorporated as a borough on February 13, 1810, and became a city of the third class in 1924.[6]

In August 1875, construction began of the 3 ft (914 mm) Waynesburg and Washington Railroad, conceived by John Day in 1874 and chartered in 1875.[7] Passenger services ended in 1929, conversion to standard gauge followed in 1944, when it was renamed the Waynesburg Secondary. Freight services ended in 1976, although part of the line still survives for access to a coal mine.

The discovery of oil and natural gas among the Washington oil field caused a boom period from the 1880s to the early 1900s.

James B. Wilson chartered the Washington Electric Street Railways in 1889 with construction beginning in November 1890. The first line was built from the Waynesburg and Washington Narrow Gauge station to Wilson Orchard, just north of the present day site of the Washington Hospital.[8]

In 1903 the Washington and Canonsburg Railway Company linked the two towns with a trolley line. The company was bought by the Philadelphia Company in 1906, later becoming part of the Pittsburgh Railway Company, linking through to Pittsburgh as part of their interurban service in 1909.[9] The line closed on August 29, 1953. A short section of the line and a number of trolley cars are preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum north of the city.

According to a walking tour brochure researched and written by two Washington & Jefferson College professors in 2012, fifteen American presidents have visited Washington before, during, or after their presidential terms: James Monroe (1817); Andrew Jackson (several stops 1820s and 1830s); John Quincy Adams (1843); Ulysses S. Grant (several stops 1860s and 1870s); William Henry Harrison; James K. Polk; Zachary Taylor; Benjamin Harrison (1876, 1892); William Howard Taft (1916); Warren G. Harding (1922); Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932); Harry S. Truman (1953); John F. Kennedy (1962); Bill Clinton (1992, 2008); Barack Obama (2008).


Census Pop.
Est. 201813,508[2]−1.1%

As of the census[12] of 2010, there were 13,663 people residing in the city. The population density was 4,140.3 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was (10,373) 75.92% White, (2,803) 20.52% African American,(131) 0.96% Asian, and (107) 0.78% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were (249) 1.82% of the population.

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 15,268 people, 6,259 households, and 3,486 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,199.2 people per square mile (2,005.1/km²). There were 7,111 housing units at an average density of 2,421.5 per square mile (933.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.88% White, 14.60% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 2.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.94% of the population.

There are 6,259 households out of which 24.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.7% were married couples living together, 17.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% were non-families. 38.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 13.2% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,764, and the median income for a family was $34,862. Males had a median income of $29,977 versus $22,374 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,818. 20.7% of the population and 16.4% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 29.2% of those under the age of 18 and 15.8% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Points of interestEdit

"Old Main" is the most recognizable building on the W&J Campus
The Washington County Courthouse in downtown Washington

Washington is home to Washington & Jefferson College, a small, co-educational private liberal arts college founded in 1781. Located in downtown Washington, the college now enrolls over 1,500 students. It is noted as an excellent pre-med and pre-law institution due to its fine liberal arts curriculum and is considered a good preparatory school for graduate level studies in general. W&J's 60-acre (240,000 m2) suburban campus includes more than 40 academic, recreational, and residential buildings, as well as a 54-acre (220,000 m2) biological field station. In the 2006 U.S. News and World Report "America's Best Colleges" guide, W&J was ranked #94 among the top 100 Liberal Arts Schools in the US.

The Washington area is home to PONY Baseball and Softball's headquarters, but also the PONY League World Series (for 13- and 14-year-old players). The PONY League World Series is held at historic Lew Hays Field located in the city's Washington Park.

Also in the city are two historic homes, that of David Bradford on Main St. and that of F. Julius LeMoyne on Maiden Street. Bradford's home was later the birthplace of American realist author Rebecca Harding Davis in 1831. LeMoyne was an ardent abolitionist whose home was part of the Underground Railroad; LeMoyne was a doctor who also built the first crematory in America. The David Bradford House and F. Julius LeMoyne House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the Administration Building, Washington and Jefferson College, Dr. Joseph Maurer House, Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Station, Washington Armory, Washington County Courthouse, and Washington County Jail.[14]

Founded in 1891, Beth Israel Congregation is the only synagogue in Washington County. Immaculate Conception Church is a large Catholic church which serves the community and has a long history.

On January 27, 2006, to commemorate the Pittsburgh Steelers' appearance in Super Bowl XL, the city council voted to symbolically rename the city "Steelers, Pennsylvania" through February 5, 2006.[15]


The Observer-Reporter Building on South Main Street

The Observer-Reporter is a daily newspaper that traces its history to 1808. Washington's commercial radio station is WJPA (95.3 FM / 1450 AM), located on South Main Street in downtown Washington. Washington & Jefferson College is home to WNJR FM radio station and the Red & Black college newspaper.


Washington Symphony Orchestra, founded 2002, offers four to five concerts annually.[16] The Washington Community Theatre presents several musicals and other productions throughout the year, with a feature production held each June in the Main Pavilion at Washington Park. WCT celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009.[17]


Major employers in Washington include The Washington Hospital, Washington County and Washington & Jefferson College[18]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Mar 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  5. ^ a b Walkinshaw, Lewis Clark (c. 1939). Annals of southwestern Pennsylvania, Vol. 1. New York. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc, p. 16.
  6. ^ City of Washington home page Archived 2010-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The Waynesburg and Washington RR". 2003. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  8. ^ Observer Reporter. Washington, Pennsylvania. August 15, 1983 Retrieved December 18, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Grefenstette, Jerry (2009). Canonsburg – Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-7385-6533-0. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
  10. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Pennsylvania" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Pennsylvania: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  13. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  14. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  15. ^ Washington, Pa., renamed until end of Super Bowl – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Archived 2008-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "About the WSO". Washington Symphony Orchestra.
  17. ^ "Washington Community Theatre". Washington Community Theatre, Inc. 2012–2015.
  18. ^ Major Private Employers

External linksEdit