Chronology‎ > ‎

1755 to 1864


Year

Event

Description

1755

French Build Fort Duquense

French commandant announces Fort Duquesne is completed. General Braddock's army is defeated by the French and native Americans.

1758

English take Fort Duquense

General Forbes's army took possession of the remnants of Fort Duquesne and renames it Pittsburg.

1760

Pittsburh population 149

Colonel James Burd counted the population finding 149 people in addition to the soldiers.

1763

Music at the Fort

One of the bastions of Fort Pitt is used for concerts, balls, plays, and comedies. Concerts were given by military bands.  Several concerts were given during Revolutionary war.

1779

Mason Dixon Line Established

Pennsylvania is granted control of the forks of the Ohio and the land north to lake Erie.

1782

First Church Established

German Evangelical Protestant Church held services in a small block-house at Wood and Diamond streets.

1786

Gazette newspaper & Pitt University founded

John Scull and Joseph Hall, both age 21, found the first newspaper West of the Alleghenies: the Gazette.  The Pittsburgh Academy which became the Univeristy of Pittsburgh is also founded.

1788

Allegheny County Created

The state General Assembly creates Allegheny County

1789

Edward Tyler Teaches Music

British chorister Edward Tyler comes to Pittsburgh to teach sacred vocal music. Leads a chorus of singers at McCullough's tavern.  Pittsburghers are entertained by traveling musicians and actors at taverns,

1790

County Population 10,309

Population: Pittsburg 376; Allegheny County 10,309

1792

Fort Pitt sold for scrap

Fort Pitt was razed and the materials were sold to the townsfolk.

1794

Borough Incorporation

Pittsburgh is incorporated as a borough.

1794

Whiskey Rebellion

President Washington sends 12,000 federal troops to Western Pennsylvania to put down the revolt against the whiskey tax.  The rebels wanted to create the 14th state "Westsylvania".

1799

County Courthouse Opens for Concerts

The great room of the county courthouse in Market Square became the Pittsburg's concert hall and theater. Over the next decade comic operas and plays were performed at the court house.  Pupils of music teacher Peter Declary give recitals court house.

1799

Peter Declary Teaches Music

Music teacher Peter Declary leads concerts of his students at the court house and at taverns. Billing himself as the "Music Master of Pittsburgh" he taught music until the 1820's and helped found the Pittsburgh Music Society

1800

County Population 15,087

Population: Pittsburgh 1565; Allegheny County, 15,087.  Pittsburgh has 63 shops, 23 of them general stores,

1803

Lewis and Clark buy the boat

Lewis and Clark buy a keelboat.and begin their expediation from Pittsburgh.

1803

First Night Threatrical Production

First theatrical production in the city, the Bromly and Arnold traveling actors troupe presents a tragedy, the Gamester, at the courthouse.

1805

Harmony founded

Harmonist Society established the village of Harmony along the banks of the Connoquenessing.  Christopher Mueller organizes the society's orchestra.

1807

Appolonian Society Goes Classical

The Apolloian Society, the first Pittsburgh music society, is formed by Samuel H. Dearborn to perform classical music concerts at the court house and at private homes.

1810

County Population 25,317

Population: Pittsburgh 4786; Allegheny County, 25,317.

1810

William Evans makes Pittsburgh Sing

Williams Evans, a composer, instrumentalist, and music teacher, comes to Pittsburgh.  He opens a music school in 1812 giving training in singing and all instruments.  For over fifty years he traveled around Western Pennsylvania establishing singing societies, teaching music, leading church choirs, and playing organ in churches.

1811

First Steamboat in the West

The streamboat "New Orleans" is constructed in Pittsburgh becoming the first steamboat in western rivers.

1812

First theatre opens

The city’s first theater “Theater on Third” opened with 400 seats on the corner of Third and Smithfield Street. It ran theatrical productions of touring companies until the 1830s when the building is sold for scrap lumber.

1812

First rolling mill opens

The city's first rolling mill is built by Christopher Cowan.

1814

Pittsburgh Pianos

Charles Rosenbaum begins manufacturing piano-fortes in Pittsburgh advertising them for sale in the Gazette for prices of  $250 to $300.

1818

Pittsburgh Musical Society performs Handel

William Evans founds Pittsburgh Musical Society made up of his students.  The society gives the first scared concert in Pittsburgh on July 4, 1818 performing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” in Dr. Herron’s church.  The society performed for 18 years.

1819

Factories powered by steam

Manufacturing growis with steam powered factories including the Union Rolling Mill, a cotton mill, flours mills, and a steam works..

1824

Economy home of the Harmonist Orchestra

Harmonist society moved to Economy near Ambridge where they built the large Feast Hall performance space. By 1830 the Harmonist Orchestra was one of the largest music ensembles in America with a repertoire of 300 pieces.

1825

W.C. Peters Pittsburgh's first pro musician

W.C. Peters, a English born composer/arranger, who is fluent on organ, piano, flute, and violin arrived in Pittsburgh. He earns his livelihood giving concerts, leading choirs, playing organ in churches, and teaching music.  Among his music students where Stephen Foster's older sisters.  The Harmonist Society commissioned W.C. to write orchestral works.

1826

Stephen Foster is born

Composer Stephen Collins Foster is born on July 4th in Lawrenville at the While Cottage.

1830

County Population hits 50.552

Population: Pittsburgh, 12,568; Allegheny City 2801, Allegheny County, 50,552.

1831

First Music Store opens dawntahn

First music store opens  W.C. Peters and John H. Mellor establish the C.C. Mellor store on Wood Street.

1831

First American Symphony Performance

First symphony written in America, "Symphony in D" by W.C. Peters, is performed by the Harmony Society

1832

Henry Kleber arrives to influence Foster

Henry Kleber emigrates from Germany at age 16.  He becomes a music teacher, composer, a tenor, music store owner, concert promoter, and church organist. He organizes the first band west of the Alleghenies: the Citizen’s Brass Band.  He organizies the Troubadours club in 1874 and the Mozart Club in 1878.  He was Stehen Foster's teacher, mentor, and collaborator.Foster. 

1833

Pittsburgh Theatre Opens

Pittsburgh Theatre on Fifth street with 1,200 seats opens.  It later is called the Old Drury Theater.  Francis Wemsyso runs the theater. offering plays, musical events, and operas. Thomas Dartmouth Rice who originates the minstrel character Jim Crow performs there frequently.

1838

First Opera Performance

Wemyss produces "The Barber of Seville" at the Pittsburgh Theatre, the first full length opera performed in Pittsburgh. 

1840

Allegheny City goes official

Allegheny is incorporated as a third-class city with a population of 10,989.  Stephen Foster's father serves 2 terms as mayor.

1840

Theatre Construction Boom

To met demand for live entertainment a boom in construction of theatre and music venues begins.   By the 1860s Pittsburgh has several dedicated playhouses, 25 stages, several concert saloons, and four assembly halls.  Driving the demand for entertainment minstrel show craze of the 1840s.

1844

Music education goes public

Pittsburgh became the first public school district in Pennsylvania and the fifth in the country to institute required music education.  Students were taught singing, harmony, and music theory

1845

Cotton Mill Girls Revolt

1500 female cotton mill workers go on strike against their 72 hour work week hours and $2.50 weekly pay. After they stormed a cotton mill they won an 10 hour work day at reduced wages.

1845

Great Fire Destroys Pittsburgh

A great fires destroys 938 structures, a third of the city's buildings.  Stephen Foster and his brother help fight the fire.

1846

Sign of the Harp Music Store Opens

Kleber opens the “Sign of the Golden Harp” music store at 301 Third Street. 

1847

OH! Susanna Premieres

Stephen Foster's “Oh! Susanna” is performed for the first time publicly on September 11, 1847 by the Kneass Opera Troupe at the Eagle Ice Cream Saloon.

1849

Foster becomes the first full time song writer

Foster returns to Pittsburgh to pursue his song writing career spending next six years writing songs in his study. During the 1850s Foster writes most of his best-known songs for the Christy Minstrels.  His publisher calls him "THE SONGWRITER OF AMERICA."

1850

County Population hits 138.290

Population: Pittsburgh, 46,601; Allegheny City, 21,262; Allegheny County, 138,290.  One third of Pittsburghers are foreign born immigrants

1850

Fugitive Slave Law is Passed

Hundreds of escaped slaves who had been living in freedom in Pittsburgh flee to Canada.

1851

Jenny Lind Flees Rable Crowd

Henry Kleber books singing sensation Jenny Lind for two nights at the Masonic Hall on Fifth Avenue. The first night is attended by 1000 persons by the equivalent of $194 a piece for tickets. Jenny flee Pittsburgh after the first show fearful of the noisy large crown of 7,000 to 8,000 of that gathered outside the Masonic Hall.

1852

Pennsylvania Railroad Constructed.

Pennsylvania Railroad line linking Pittsburgh to Philadelphia is completed

1853

American Iron Works opens

The American Iron works in constructed with a complex of puddling furances and rolling mills.

1854

Pittsburgh Orchestral Society forms

The visit by the touring Germania Society orchestra triggers the founding of the Pittsburgh Orchestral Society by Gottlieb A. Anton.

1856

Republican Party founded in Pittsburgh

The founding convention of the Republican party was held at Lafayette Hall in Pittsburgh.

1859

First Pittsburgh blast furnance fires up

The first blast furnace, the "Eliza" is opened by J&L Steel

1864

The Beautiful Dreamer Stephen Foster

Foster writes his last great song “Beautiful Dreamer" and passes away in New York at age 37.