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Braddock History

Early History The town of Braddock owes its name to Gen. Braddock who in 1755 lead an expedition against the French at Ft Duquesne...and lost. Another important piece of history which took place in Braddock was the Whiskey Rebellion where rebesl met to march in protest of a tax on whiskey. This is the first time in United States history where the federal government under the Constitution used military power to exert control over the people. However, until Carnegie’s purchase in Braddock, town remained rural and was used for farming due to fertile land The first business in Braddock was a barrel factory in 1850 however, the city also had a PA railroad running through it. In 1863 Braddock contained a Civil War camp as well as a hospital which are Braddock's main contributions to the Civil War. Starting somewhat earlier than the Civil war, between the years of 1830 and 1917, interestingly Braddock was known as the city of churches and there where 44 churches established during that time.

Carnegie's Early impact (1870's and 80's) In 1873 the age of Carnegie Steel began with Andrew Carnegie's first investment in steel; a purchase of 100 acres in Braddock. There, he established the Edgar Thomson Works, which opened in 1875. Following the introduction of the steel mill, business was good and in 1887 the city was rapidly expanding. With the growth of the community, Andrew Carnegie decided to give back to the community by establishing the first Carnegie library in 1889.

Growing Braddock The building of the library was one of the many signs of growth but was not the only aspect of the community to implemented. For example the Braddock General Hospital expanded to include a school for nursing in 1906. That same year the Braddock National Bank Opened. In the year 1910 alone, the population grew by about 5000 residents and saw that construction of a new post office and government buildings. In 1913 the Edgar Thomson Mill was renovated to keep up with the growing industry and community. However, despite the prosperity in the area, the mill workers were being worked for long hours and in 1916 staged several riots and protests for the eight hour work day, which resulted in a temporary closing of the mills. The riots were solved when armed forces were used to split up the angry crouds. Although the industry was seeing some turmoil with strikes the city still grew and by 1920 there were an estimated 21000 residents.

30’s – 50’s The 30’s however brought some problems with strong and frequent floods, which slowed down work and damaged several buildings however, city growth did not slow. By the 1940’s a large population of African Americans emigrated into Braddock for work along with shopkeepers and businesses and in 1947 several schools were built and growing. WIth the conclusion of WWII, suburban housing opened and offered residents better options outside the city, however many of the popular shops and stores where in much better reach while staying in Braddock so many residents did not leave. In 1951, Braddock did however, show more expansion with the construction of the George Franklin Bridge.

60’s-80’s Finally in the 1960’s Industry slows. When a highway was built eastwards from Braddock, people no longer found it necessary to stay within the city to shop there and thusly moved to the more attractive suburban houses. The local government also found hardships after reducing taxes which left them with no money for expansion. In late 1960’s several steel plants closed taking much of the business with them. However the only mill that survives is the original Edgar Thomson Mill. Even after the Braddock Library was registered on the National Register of Historic places in 1973, it was abandoned and closed a year later. Luckily in 1979 the library was reopened and renovation began. In the 1980's Braddock's decay continued with the collapse of the overalll steel industry and the introduction of crack cocaine as a widely used and sold illegal substance.