Metropolitan Areas of Pittsburgh and Washington

Washington, D.C., city and district, capital of the UnitedStates of America. The city of Washington has the same boundaries as theDistrict of Columbia (D.C.), a federal territory established in 1790 as thesite of the new nation’s permanent capital. Named after the first U.S. president, George Washington, the city has served since 1800 as the seat offederal government. It is also the heart of a dynamic metropolitan region. During the 20th century, the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area grew rapidlyas the responsibilities of national government increased, both at home andthroughout the world.

The city is located at the confluence of the Potomac andAnacostia rivers and is flanked on the north, east, and southeast by Marylandand on the southwest by Virginia. Although the city has retained some aspectsof its Southern origin, it has assumed a much more cosmopolitan character.

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

Atthe same time, the city struggles with social and economic disparity, and anumber of its residential neighborhoods suffer from poverty and crime. Washington’s climate is hot and humid in the summer and cold and damp in thewinter. The average daily temperature range is -3 to 8C (27 to 46F) inJanuary and 22 to 31C (72 to 88F) in July. The city averages 98 cm (39 in)of precipitation per year.

The Outline ofthe City Designated to serve as the permanent seat of the federalgovernment beginning in 1800, the District of Columbia was named forChristopher Columbus. It was created from land ceded by the states of Virginiaand Maryland, and it incorporated the existing seaport towns of Alexandria,Virginia, and Georgetown, Maryland.

The district was originally 259 sq km (100sq mi), or 10 miles square, as established under the Residence Act of 1790. Thecentral town site was laid out by French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant in1791. The remaining land was an open area stretching north to the border withMaryland. It was designated as Washington County. In 1846 Congress returnedthat portion of the federal district that had originally been ceded byVirginia.

In 1871 the cities of Washington and Georgetown wereconsolidated with Washington County to become Washington, D.C., making thecity, the county, and the federal district one and the same. Washington, D.C.,has a total area of 176 sq km (68 sq mi), and the Washington metropolitanregionwhich in addition to Washington, D.C., contains 24 counties in thesurrounding states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginiahas a total area of17,920 sq km (6,920 sq mi).

Washington was slow to develop the dense patternof settlement characteristic of cities. By the 20th century, however,Washington had filled its open spaces and dominated the surrounding area, whichremained largely rural. This pattern changed after World War II (1939-1945), asthe city lost population to the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. While thefederal presence remained concentrated in Washington, it also expandedconsiderably to the suburbs. At the same time, new private businessthefastest-growing source of regional employmentconcentrated almost exclusivelyin the areas outside the city.

While the metropolitan area expanded outward, it did not doso randomly. Growth tended to follow the location of federal facilities outsidethe city and the development of major transportation routes. During World WarII, the construction of the Pentagon spurred development nearby on the Virginiaside of the Potomac River. Growth was also stimulated by other key facilities,notably the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia; and theAtomic Energy Commission (AEC), the National Bureau of Standards (now theNational Institute of Science and Technology), and the National Institutes ofHealth (NIH) , all in Maryland.

Population Washington, D.C., grew slowly from the time of its originsuntil the Civil War. Its founders expected it to emerge as a great city becauseof its favored trading site along the Potomac River. However, the city provedincapable of fully exploiting its opportunitiesdue to, among other things, alack of federal funding for developmentand it lagged behind other major portcities along the eastern seaboard. Washington’s population boomed during theCivil War, rising from a modest population of 61,122 in 1860 to 109,199 only adecade later. During the first half of the 20th century, the federal presencein the city expanded, and population grew with it, reaching a peak of more than800,000 in 1950.

Until recently the great majority of the black populationwas located inside the city. But like an earlier generation of whites, theblack middle class began to leave the city and move to the suburbs. In 1990,when the city’s population was 606,900, blacks constituted about 66 percent,compared with about 30 percent white. Hispanics, who may be of any race,constituted about 5 percent of the population. The city had about 400,000 blackresidents; however, just the two surrounding counties of Prince George’s,Maryland, and Fairfax, Virginia, contained a combined population of about430,000 black residents.

A small Chinese community formed in Washington in the late19th century. Originally concentrated downtown along Pennsylvania Avenue,Chinatown moved several blocks north to make way for completion of the FederalTriangle office complex in the 1930s. Chinatown still exists along H Street NW,but only about a third of Washington’s 3,000 Chinese listed in the 1990 censuslive in that area. An additional 37,000 Chinese live in surrounding suburbs. Inthe suburbs, they are joined by more recent immigrant groups from Asia, mostnotably Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Lao. Both suburban Maryland and northernVirginia support Asian populations of about 100,000 each.

Hispanics form the other major immigrant group in the area. Although the District of Columbia’s population is about 5 percent Hispanic, thelargest number of these immigrants are located in the suburbs: an estimated90,000 in Maryland and 100,000 in Virginia. In 1991 the Washington metropolitanarea ranked tenth in the nation as a destination for new immigrants. Major EconomicActivities From the time of its origin, Washington was expected toemerge as a great trading city because of its site along the Potomac River.

However, the city lagged behind other major port cities, such as Baltimore,along the eastern seaboard. Instead of trade, the driving force of the city’seconomy has proved to be the federal government. At first employing no more than several hundred workers,the federal bureaucracy grew steadily in the 19th century and exploded in the20th century.

By 1940, 44 percent of civilian workers in the city of Washingtonwere federal employees. Although the private economy grew faster than thepublic sector after World War II, it still remained closely tied to the federalpresence through the proliferation of national associations, lobbyists,subcontractors, lawyers, and accountants associated with government work.

America’s increasingly global role created scores of jobs in such organizationsas the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization ofAmerican States, in addition to the U.S. government’s own departments of stateand defense. These federal jobs stimulated the economy and boosted the value ofreal estate in Washington, especially in the 1980s, and the federal governmentcontinued as a major presence in the city throughout the 1990s.

Tourism is the second most important aspect of the city’seconomy. The national monuments and museums attract more than 18 millionvisitors each year; hotels are numerous. The city hosts many conventions, and amajor convention center opened in 1983. The functions of federal and localgovernment and the tourism industry have created a large service economy, whichemploys more than one-third of all the city’s workers.

Manufacturing is of onlyminor importance and is dominated by the printing, publishing, and foodindustries. Economic Problems A result of the growth of Washington’s white-collaremployment in the 1980s was an increasing gap in income among the city’sresidents. Disadvantaged areas, predominantly black neighborhoods, becamesubject to a plague of drugs and associated violence.

These areas wereconcentrated in the older sections of the northeast and the southeast quadrantsof the city. Even as downtown real estate values rose, so did Washington’smurder rate. During the 1990s it became one of the most deadly cities in thenation. While the region prospered through most of the last half of thecentury, much of the inner city lagged behind. The city’s tax base declined asmore and more middle- and upper-middle-class families moved to the suburbs. This lower tax base contributed to a fiscal crisis for the city.

Unlike any other part of the United States, Washingtonlacks full political representation. While its political structure has changedover time, the city has remained subordinate to the federal government. Thissituation is sustained under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, whichstates, The Congress shall have power … to exercise exclusive legislation inall cases whatsoever over such district … as may by the cession of particularStates, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government.

Theidea of exclusive jurisdiction solidified in 1783 when Congress, then meetingin Philadelphia, faced angry veterans of the American Revolution who demandedback pay. When Pennsylvania authorities failed to intervene to protect theCongress, many members insisted that any permanent seat of government should beunder congressional control. From that virtually forgotten experience,Washington remains without direct representation in the national government thatoversees much of its operation.

The Constitution, however, did not prohibit theestablishment of a lower government body to deal with local affairs. In 1802Congress authorized an appointed mayor and an elected city council forWashington. In 1820 it broadened the franchise and made the office of mayorsubject to popular election.

In 1871 Congress substituted a largely appointedterritorial governmentalthough city residents still voted for a house ofdelegatesas an instrument to consolidate the cities of Washington and Georgetown with Washington County. When the experiment generated costs thatCongress found too expensive, it eliminated popular election in Washington in1874 by placing local government under a three-person commission appointed bythe president. Initially this system was favorably received for replacingpartisan politics with professional management.

However, flaws of thecommission became apparent over time. In 30 investigations conducted between1934 and 1941, Congress found that power and responsibility were poorly dividedbetween commissioners and different federal agencies, and that political whimcontrolled most actions. Starting in 1949 and lasting for more than a decade,the Senate voted repeatedly to grant Washington local elections. However, theHouse District Committee refused for more than 20 years to bring the bill tothe floor for a vote.

Finally in 1973, Congress authorized the popular electionof a mayor and city council for Washington. In 1974 the Home Rule Act, which established the mayor andcity council, became law. The act, though restoring popular elections, retainedconsiderable power for Congress to review legislation and authorizeWashington’s budget. It also prohibited the city from taxing federal propertiesor income earned in the city by people who commuted to work from outside thedistrict. These restrictions remain a cause of tension between city officialsand Congress.

In the mid-1970s local activists started an effort tosecure Washington’s independence. They argued that the Constitution dictatesonly a maximum size for the federal district, not a minimum size. Therefore,they suggested that the federal district shrink to the area between the WhiteHouse and the Capitol and that the residential portion of the District ofColumbia become a new state, New Columbia. Congress, however, failed even tovote on the proposition until 1993, when the House of Representatives rejectedthe measure, 277-153. Further efforts by city residents to securerepresentation in Congress were rebuffed when a three-judge panel ruled inMarch 2000 that it had no means to remedy their exclusion.

Marion Barry dominated local Washington politics during thelast quarter of the 20th century. He served as mayor all but four years from1978 to early 1999. During his early years in office, Barry established areputation as an able administrator and a defender of home rule who wascommitted to solving the city’s social problems.

In later years, scandaltouched his administration, and in 1990 he lost a bid for a council seat afterhe was arrested and convicted of smoking crack cocaine. After serving sixmonths in prison, he made a spectacular comeback, securing election first tocity council in 1992 and then as mayor in 1994. Barry’s return to power sparkedimmediate controversy. However, it soon became clear that the city faced aneven greater crisis in a projected budget deficit of more than $700 million in1995.

With the city unable to secure loans from the privatesector to pay its debts, Congress intervened by passing the District ofColumbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995. Thismeasure established a control board with significant powers, a move Congressjustified on grounds that poor management and overstaffing had jeopardized thecity’s credit. Under terms of the act, the president appointed five people tothe board to bring the city’s finances under control. Congress directed thecontrol board to cut jobs.

Barry, however, refused to cooperate with the control board,and instead chose to stress the city’s needs. He claimed that Washington’sproblems derived more from inadequate revenues than high costs, and he urgedthe federal government to pay more toward Washington’s obligations. Herecommended that the federal government assume many of the costs of statefunctions borne by the city since 1974, but his proposal received no sympathyin Congress.

However, two years later, without input from the mayor, PresidentBill Clinton incorporated Barry’s approach in his proposed federal budget. InAugust 1997 the national government raised its share of Medicare and highwaycosts in the city, assumed responsibility for funding Washington’s pensionplan, and took over operation of the District’s prison system.

In accepting these measures, Congress insisted onexercising greater influence in Washington. It empowered the control board tochoose its own city manager and to extend its operational control over all buta small portion of daily operations. Under the terms Congress set inestablishing the control board, these powers will revert to the city only afterit achieves four balanced budgets in a row. After the election of AnthonyWilliams, who replaced Barry as mayor in early 1999, Congress returned many ofthe powers of government to the city.

The control board retained significantauthority, however, which left Washington with limited control of its own localaffairs at the beginning of the 21st century. Introduction to Pittsburgh Pittsburgh was the nation’s foremost industrial city of the19th century and was famous for its steel production. Beginning in the 1970s itunderwent severe reindustrialization as its massive steel complexes began toclose. Today Pittsburgh is a postindustrial city, with an economy based onservices, especially medical, financial, corporate, and educational, ratherthan steel.

Pittsburgh sits astride the Monongahela and Alleghenyrivers where they unite to form the Ohio River. Much of the city lies on hillssurrounding this historic river junction, although Pittsburgh’s downtown coreis clustered on a wedge of level ground framed by the rivers and dubbed theGolden Triangle. Winters in Pittsburgh can be cold and snowy and summers hotand humid, but seasons are usually moderate. The average high temperature inJanuary is 1 C (34 F) and the average low is -8 C (19 F); the average highin July is 28 C (83 F) and the average low is 16 C (62 F). The cityannually receives 936 mm (36.9 in) of precipitation, with accumulations evenlydistributed throughout the year.

The city developed around a frontier fort used by both theBritish and the French in the 18th century. In 1794 Pittsburgh was incorporatedas a borough and in 1816 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted it citystatus. It is named after William Pitt, prime minister of Britain in the late18th century.

Pittsburgh occupies a land area of 143.7 sq km (55.5 sqmi). Over the years it has grown primarily by annexation. Between 1868 and1900, for example, the city increased its land area nearly 16 fold to 73 sq km(28 sq mi). In 1907 it annexed the neighboring industrial city of Allegheny,increasing its land area by 21 sq km (8 sq mi) and its population by 150,000. Average elevation of the city is 226 m (743 ft).

Pittsburgh is the center of a metropolitan area coveringAllegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Beaver, Butler, and Fayette counties, aregion of 11,976 sq km (4624 sq mi). The metropolitan area has several smallcities and substantial towns, including Butler, Greensburg, McKeesport,Uniontown, and Washington. Among Pittsburgh’s suburbs are Bethel Park, FoxChapel, McCandless, Monroeville, Mount Lebanon, Penn Hills, and Sewickly. Pittsburgh has many distinct neighborhoods; 90 are officially recognized.

The city is remarkable for its grand entrances, especiallyif approached from the west through the Fort Pitt tunnel and bridge or from thenorth on Interstate 279 and the Fort Duquesne or Veterans bridges. The city’score remains hidden by hills until travelers come upon its central businessdistrict, the Golden Triangle, centered where the Allegheny and Monongahelarivers join to form the Ohio River. Greeting visitors is Point State Park, withits tall lighted fountain at the triangle’s tip, and a number of uniquelydesigned skyscrapers.

Notable among Pittsburgh’s buildings are the Gateway CenterComplex (1950-1953), the Gothic towers of the PPG World Headquarters (1984),One Mellon Bank Center (1983), One Oxford Centre (1983), the Columbia NaturalGas Building (1987), Fifth Avenue Place (1987), and the USX Tower (1971), at 64stories the tallest building between New York and Chicago. Other architecturallandmarks within the Golden Triangle include the Allegheny County Courthouseand Jail (1888), designed by the noted American architect Henry HobsonRichardson; the Trinity Cathedral (1872); the First Presbyterian Church (1905);and the Union Trust Building (today Two Mellon Bank Center, 1916).

he population of Pittsburgh has steadily declined since1950, when it peaked at 676,806 residents. While some people left the cityproper for suburban communities within the region, many moved out of the areain search of jobs. According to the 1990 census, the city had 369,879 persons,a decrease of 12.8 percent from its population of 423,938 in 1980. Pittsburghwas the nation’s 30th largest city in 1980 and the 40th largest city in 1990.

In 1994 it ranked 45th. The population of Pittsburgh in 1998 was 340,520. The population of Allegheny County dropped from 1,450,085in 1980 to 1,336,449 in 1990. The number of residents in the six-countymetropolitan area fell from 2,571,000 in 1980 to 2,395,000 in 1990. However,the decline in population in the metropolitan area halted in the 1990s, withestimates of the 1995 population virtually unchanged from the count five yearsearlier.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have a relatively elderlypopulation compared to many other citiesin 1990 some 17.9 percent of cityresidents were age 65 years or older, compared to 12.5 percent for the countryas a whole. Pittsburgh had large immigration from Great Britain,Ireland, and Germany through the first century or so of its existence. Laterthe nationalities of those arriving shifted to Poles, Hungarians, Serbs,Croatians, Italians, and Russian Jews. Most emigration to the city halted atthe outbreak of World War I in 1914. Since then relatively few people have cometo Pittsburgh from other countries, even though the nation as a whole has seena large increase in Hispanic and Asian immigration.

While foreign-born persons made up only 4.6 percent of thecity’s population in 1990, Pittsburgh retains a strong ethnic character. Manyneighborhoods have a clear ethnic identification, such as Bloomfield (Italian),the South Side and Polish Hill (Polish), and Squirrel Hill (Jewish). Theeastern neighborhoods of Point Breeze, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill areattractive city living areas, while other sections of the city afford views ofthe rivers and the Golden Triangle from houses constructed on steep slopes.

Pittsburgh’s black population began to arrive far back inthe city’s history, but its biggest growth came in the first half of the 20thcentury largely through migration from the South. Blacks predominate in severalareas throughout the city, the largest being Beltzhoover, the Hill,Homewood-Brushton, and Manchester. The black community possesses a richcultural heritage in jazz and art, as well as having been the sponsor of thetwo of greatest baseball teams in the former Negro League, the Crawfords andthe Homestead Grays.

According to the 1990 census, whites are 72.1 percent ofthe population, blacks 25.9 percent, Asians and Pacific Islanders 1.6 percent,and Native Americans 0.2 percent. The remainder are of mixed heritage or didnot report ethnicity. Hispanics, who may be of any race, are 0.9 percent of thepeople.

Economy Because of its location west of the Allegheny Mountains,excellent river transportation, and high quality bituminous coal deposits,Pittsburgh in the 19th century became one of the nation’s most industrializedcities. It was best known for its steel production, but it also produced manyother products. Manufactures included aluminum (from the Aluminum Company ofAmerica, now ALCOA); electrical generators and appliances (WestinghouseElectric); glass (Pittsburgh Plate Glass, now PPG Industries); coke-makingmachinery (Koppers); railroad cars and locomotives (Pressed Steel Car Companyand Pittsburgh Locomotive); coke and coal chemicals (H. C. Frick & Companyand Pittsburgh Coal Company); and food products (H. J. Heinz). Extensive coalmining was also carried on in the Pittsburgh area as well as the processing ofcoke, essential to the steel making process, from soft coal.

By the mid-1980s, however, many of the region’smanufacturing plants had gone out of business or left the area. The greatestlosses were in steel, with the elimination of over 100,000 steel andsteel-related jobs between 1978 and 1983. By the mid-1990s what once was theworld’s greatest steel making complex had been reduced to only one majorintegrated mill (the Edgar Thompson Works); a specialty steel plant (AlleghenyLudlum); a strip mill (the Irwin Works); and two plants where coke was producedas a by-product. A dramatic sight is the empty land lining the river banks inthe Monongahela Valley where steel mills formerly stood. Numerous projects,however, are planned for these sites. For example, the Pittsburgh TechnologyPark was built on a former industrial site on the north side of the MonongahelaRiver.

The economy of Pittsburgh is now based on services ratherthan manufacturing. The region’s largest employer is the University ofPittsburgh, especially the University Health Center. Other universities andcolleges, such as Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University, are majoremployers. In addition, the region’s corporate headquarters, as well as branchoffices of other firms, provide considerable employment. Pittsburgh also servesas the U.S. center for a number of foreign corporations. The region’shigh-technology sector has grown, as has the number of firms involved either inenvironmental cleanup or the manufacture of pollution control equipment. Todaythe number of workers in service jobs far exceeds those in manufacturing.

Pittsburgh’s transportation network includes a new airport,opened in 1992, that serves as a major airline hub. Principal highways are thePennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76 running east and west), Interstate 376(the Parkway East), Interstate 279, Interstate 79 (connecting with Interstate279), and State Route 28 (from the north) as well as on other state roads. Amtrak provides rail passenger service east to New York and west to Chicago.

Freight lines still carry large amounts of coal and other heavy goods in and outof Pittsburgh. The Port of Pittsburgh is a leading inland port. City and countyresidents are served by Port Authority Transit of Allegheny County, whichoperates an extensive network that includes two major busways and a light-railsystem with a downtown subway loop.

Government Pittsburgh has a mayor-council form of government, with themayor acting as chief executive and the nine-member council setting citypolicy. All are elected to four-year terms. The Port Authority Allegheny County(urban transit) and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (waste disposal)offer service throughout the county, while the Pittsburgh Water and SewerAuthority and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority operate only in the city.

Pittsburgh developed initially as a commercial city becauseof its location west of the Allegheny Mountains at the headwaters of the OhioRiver, a major transportation route. In 1811 the first steamboat to ply theMississippi River system was built in Pittsburgh, and the New Orleans steamed down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to itsnamesake city in Louisiana.

The Pennsylvania Mainline Canal reached Pittsburghin 1837 and the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1851. As the 19th century progressed,Pittsburgh became one of the nation’s greatest industrial cities, and was aleading producer of glass, iron, and textiles. Cheap energy in the form ofhigh-quality bituminous coal found nearby in a coal field called the PittsburghSeam played a major role in the city’s rise.

The Pittsburgh Renaissance lasted until 1969, when MayorPeter H. Flaherty ended the public-private partnership and instead advocatedneighborhood renewal and tax reduction. Richard S. Caliguiri became mayor in1976 and restored the public-private partnership with the beginning ofRenaissance II in 1980. As a result, Pittsburgh’s downtown remained viable andservice jobs grew, despite a severe downturn in the steel industry. Pittsburghin the 1990s is both a modern postindustrial city and a city that retainsremnants of its industrial past. Pittsburgh was once called the Smoky City,but today the Renaissance City is still in the making.


This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

Metropolitan Areas of Pittsburgh and Washington. (2019, May 12). Retrieved from