Pittsburgh is the second largest city in Pennsylvania and the seat of Allegheny County. The city covers and area of fifty-eight square miles and has a population of three hundred and sixteen thousand people. The downtown area of the city runs along a triangular tract carved by the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. The city can trace its history back to the eighteenth century when Europeans arrived in the area as traders. Europe settlement began in 1748, when an English land speculation company received a grant of two hundred thousand acres in the Ohio Valley.
In 1753, the governor of New France sent an expedition to build Fort Presque in present day Erie, Pennsylvania. Over the course of a few years, the French built several other forts in the area. Startled by the French expeditions into the Upper Ohio Valley, Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia sent Major George Washington to tell the French forces to withdraw. Major Washington arrived at the forks of the Ohio River in 1753. He then proceeded up the Allegheny River and gave Dinwiddie’s letter to the French commanders located at Venango and Fort Le Boeuf. Governor Dinwiddie then sent force down to the Forks of the Ohio to build a fort. Captain William Trent was sent to oversee the project and the resulting fort was named Fort Prince George, which was located at present day Pittsburgh.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Pittsburgh developed a bustling economy. The city was situated in the center of one of the most productive coal fields in the country. The Pittsburg region was also naturally rich in natural gas, petroleum and lumber. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the town had a population of over fifteen hundred people and had sixty shops which including stores, bakeries and retail shops. During the eighteen century, the city developed a thriving river trade. The War of 1812 caused major changes in the United States and in Pittsburgh. The war with Britain, cut off the cities supply of goods so it had to develop its own industries. The British blockade of the coast only served to increase inland trade, and the city received goods from every direction. In 1816, Pittsburgh was incorporated as a city and its industries were in full swing.
While the economy of Pittsburgh has historically been tied to the steel industry, today the city has shifted towards other industries. Other industries in the city include robotics, health care, biomedical technology, finance and tourism. Education is also a major part of the economy. The city is home to eight Fortune 500 companies which include Consol Energy, U.S. Steel, Mylan Laboratories, PPG Industries, WESCO International, H. J. Heinz Company and PNC Financial Services. Tourism is also a driving force in the city and millions of visitors come to Pittsburgh to see its rich collection of attractions.
A popular attraction in the city is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. This museum was founded in 1896 by Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It covers an area of one hundred and fifteen thousand square feet and has twenty galleries, research facilities, a library and office space. The museum holds over twenty-one million specimens and about ten thousand of these are on display at any given time. Major exhibits at the museum include Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt, Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, Benedum Hall of Geology, Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians and the Powdermill Nature Reserve. The research facilities of the museum are well organized and divided into the following departments; Paleobotany, Herpetology, Invertebrate Zoology, Anthropology, Mammals, Invertebrate Paleontology, Birds, Botany and minerals.
Another popular attraction in the city is the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium sits on seventy-seven acres and contains over four thousand animals taken from four hundred and seventy-five species. This zoo was originally opened in 1898 and over the years it has added new attractions. Features added since the zoo was built include a childrens zoo in 1949, Asian Forest in 1983, African Savanna in 1987 and a Tropical Rainforest in 1991. In 2000, a forty-five thousand square foot aquarium was added. This aquarium has forty exhibits and contains over three hundred and eighty thousand gallons of water. Feaures of the aquarium include Pennsylvania Waters Exhibit, Amazon Rainforest Exhibit, Open Ocean Tank and Stingray Tunnel. Animals housed at the zoo and aquarium include African Bush Elephants, Dwarf Crocodiles, African Wild Dogs, Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Angola Colobus, Bornean Orangutans, Tigers, Komodo Dragons, Xingu River Ray, Barn Owls, Gila Monsters, Mexican Redknee Tarantulas, Wild Turkey, South American Rattlesnakes, Colorado River Toads, Emperor Scorpions, California Sea Lions, Striped Skunk, Seba’s Short-Tailed Bats, White-Tailed Deer, Domestic Sheep, North American Beaver, Milk Snakes, Reindeer, Red-Bellied Piranha, Leafy Sea Dragon, Staghorn coral, Banded Archerfish, Common Creek Chub, North Pacific Giant Octopus, Blacktip Reef Shark, Macaroni Penguin, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, North American River Otter, Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill and Madagascar Day Geckos.
Other attractions in Pittsburgh include PNC Park, Senator John Heinz Regional History Center, National Aviary, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory, Carnegie Museum of Art, Andy Warhol Museum, Cathedral of Learning, Carnegie Science Center, Fort Pitt Museum, Heinz Field, Carnegie Institute, Squirrel Hill, Sandcastle Water Park, Roberto Clemente Bridge, Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, Prince Gallitzin State Park, Station Square, Kayak Pittsburgh, Mattress Factory, USS Requin, Point State Park, Allegheny Cemetery, Allegheny County Courthouse, Mellon Arena, Mount Washington, The Nationality Rooms, Schenley Park, Forbes Field, Ppg Place, Shadyside, Boyce Park Ski Area, University of Pittsburgh, David Lawrence Convention Center, Heinz Memorial Chapel, South Park and the ToonSeum. The city also has an extensive collection of bars, restaurants and hotels. Restaurants in the city include Tessaro’s Restaurant, Mallorca Restaurant, Dor-Stop Restaurant, F Tambellini, Mad Mex, De Luca’s and Palomino Restaurant Rotisseria. Hotels located in the city of Pittsburgh include the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, Hilton Pittsburgh, Omni William Penn Hotel, Priory Hotel, Doubletree Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh City Center, Hampton Inn Hotel-University Center and the Courtyard by Marriott.