In the mid-1880s, if one were to compare the City of Pittsburgh to the parcel of land that lay on the northern banks of the Allegheny River, one could not help but notice the difference.
While the area which is now Aspinwall was quiet country, primarily owned by the descendants of James Ross, Pittsburgh, just seven miles away, was rapidly becoming a busy industrial center. Bessemer Steel Company, Union Switch and Signal, H.G. Frick Coke Company, Jones and Laughlin Limited, Westinghouse Electric Company, Pittsburgh Reduction Company (the first aluminum producing company), and Oliver Iron and Steel Company were all in operation by 1890. Pittsburgh also had street cars, the inclines and department stores. The population of Pittsburgh itself was 238,617; of neighboring Allegheny City (across the river) 105,287.
In order to escape the dirt, noise and confusion of the big city scene, some farsighted individuals took a long look at the pastoral area just a few miles up the Allegheny River. Henry Warner, the superintendent of the Allegheny County Workhouse, conceived the idea of a residential community along the bank of the river.
Warner traveled to New York, discussed the matter with Mrs. George (Annie) Aspinwall, and purchased 155 acres from her. When the Aspinwall Land Company was formed in 1890 he became its first president. Pittsburgh residents, mostly upper middle class, purchased lots from among the 60 available for home sites, and Henry Warner's dream started to become reality.
Records show that by 1890, the little town had approximately 400 residents. Many of these residents were young couples with children - - a nucleus for a growing town. The need for a school became apparent. Although a school was in existence, it obviously could not handle the increasing population. As the new development grew, it meant that increasing pressure was placed on the existing government of O'Hara Township to provide the necessary services to the residents of this rapidly growing area. By 1892 it was apparent that O'Hara Township would have difficulty meeting some of the new population's needs. Accordingly a group of forty residents, men and women alike, signed a petition requesting incorporation as "The Borough of Aspinwall, a self- governing unit."
Rachel L. Cook, in her Borough of Aspinwall Historical Book for the 75th anniversary of the Borough, describes the actual incorporation process as follows: "Forty resident citizens within the limits of said proposed Borough, all of them free holders therein, signed the petition which Clifton H. Beach presented to the Court on July 25, 1892. As they appeared on the petition, the signers were Louis Walser, W.R. Hastings, Henry Warner, Sarah E. Marshall, Clifton H. Beach, Anna M. Black, C.H. Love, J.L. Love, Samuel Doubt, Cyrus A. Keck, Mrs. Laura Watkins, W.C. Scott, Mrs A.M.E. Scott, H.A. Stout, W.R. Smith, Mrs. Nellie L.R. Armstrong, Mrs. Charlotte Y. Cowan, Annie K. Hall, George Robinsteen, Martha B. Beach, William McMorran, William M. Campbell, James Patton, Richard Harris, R.H. Love, Lizzie Creese, Ella Creese, Nannie Emrick, Margaret Emrick, William B. McNeely, R.A. McDonald, Lizzie FIhy, Mary A. Miller, Chester Robie, Lizzie M. Bowman, Sarah J. Love, Grant Darby, William H. Boyle, Samuel Lindsay and Charles A. Gernn."
On December 28, 1892, the Borough of Aspinwall officially became incorporated.
Next . . . The Early Years, 1893 - 1920