Western Pennsylvania’s Earliest Chinese Communities

Most Pennsylvanians recognize Philadelphia’s popular Chinatown, yet far fewer know of the significant presence of Chinese immigrants in western Pennsylvania. On April 16, 2022, the Pittsburgh branch of the Organization of Chinese Americans dedicated a Pennsylvania Historical Marker for Pittsburgh Chinatown in front of the Chinatown Inn at 520 Third Avenue in the city. Six months prior, a marker...
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Sylvania Electric Products

Nestled in the valley of the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek sits Emporium, the seat of Cameron County. Emporium was known for industries that were prominent in other central Pennsylvania towns: lumber, coal, dynamite, iron smelting and tanning. By the early 20th century, however, the borough made a name for itself as the home of Sylvania Electric Products, which produced...
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Charles F. West: Athlete, Physician and Trailblazer

On September 18, 2021, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) dedicated a Pennsylvania Historical Marker honoring Charles Fremont West (1899–1979) of the W&J Class of 1924. West was a true hometown hero, as he was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, attended Washington High School, and then graduated from W&J. The dedication was...
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Cambria City

Nestled between a bend in the Conemaugh River and a steep bluff, Cambria City is a distinctive, dense neighborhood that tells the story of hundreds of immigrants who came to work in Pennsylvania’s steel mills and coal mines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Following the founding of the Cambria Iron Works in 1852, investors purchased land across the river from the mill, subdivided it,...
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Susquehannock Village at Lemoyne

Around 1610 a group of Susquehannocks, an Iroquoian-speaking Native American tribe, established a village perched on a bluff overlooking the Susquehanna River in what is today Lemoyne, Cumberland County. Fast forward to 2007 when archaeologists began excavating that site in advance of a proposed railroad connector project. There they uncovered evidence of the village, including a wooden...
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Linton Park, Pennsylvania Folk Artist

  Linton Park (1826-1906) is recognized today as a significant artist in the primitive or folk tradition; however, his work was unknown during his lifetime. At his death, in fact, he had less than $100 to his name. He never married or had children, and his relatives and neighbors considered him an eccentric hermit. Evidence indicates that he was a self-taught painter, only beginning in the...
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Dorothy Mae Richardson, Community Activist

In the 1960s older intercity neighborhoods in Pittsburgh were being demolished as part of an urban renewal program called the “Pittsburgh Renaissance.” Many lower income residents, primarily African Americans, were forced out of their homes. Some were relocated into public housing, but others were left without a plan for affordable living. Additionally, financial institutions began “redlining”...
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ENIAC, the First All-Purpose Digital Computer

Seventy-five years ago, in February 1946, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer — ENIAC — was publicly demonstrated as the world’s first large-scale general-purpose digital computer. It was designed by John Mauchly (1907–80) and J. Presper Eckert (1919–95) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering in Philadelphia. Research began during World War II in...
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Tommy Loughran, Boxing’s “Philly Phantom”

The sport of boxing emerged in America in the 1800s, and by the early 20th century it had become one of the country’s most popular spectator sports. Philadelphia was a leading center of boxing at the time, and many of the best fighters hailed from the city. Thomas Patrick “Tommy” Loughran (1902–82) was born in Philadelphia to Irish Catholic immigrants during the heyday of boxing. He began in the...
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Barbara Gittings, Activist for LGBTQ Equality

Barbara Gittings was one of the leading activists for LGBTQ equality, from the early years of the gay rights movement in the late 1950s until her death in 2007. Born in Austria in 1932 and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, she grew up feeling disconnected from her peers in a time when homosexuality was taboo in American society. She attended college in Chicago where she was called a lesbian. When...
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