Vandergrift, Pennsylvania

Coordinates: 40°35′58″N 79°34′11″W / 40.59944°N 79.56972°W / 40.59944; -79.56972
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Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
Houses in Vandergrift
Houses in Vandergrift
Location in Westmoreland County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
Location in Westmoreland County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
Vandergrift is located in Pennsylvania
Vandergrift is located in the United States
Coordinates: 40°35′58″N 79°34′11″W / 40.59944°N 79.56972°W / 40.59944; -79.56972
CountryUnited States
 • TypeBorough Council
 • MayorLenny Collini
 • CouncilKathy Chvala President
 • Total1.42 sq mi (3.68 km2)
 • Land1.36 sq mi (3.52 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
879 ft (268 m)
 • Total5,075
 • Density3,728.88/sq mi (1,440.21/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Zip code
Area code724
FIPS code42-79776

Vandergrift is a borough in Westmoreland County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, approximately 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Pittsburgh. Early in the 20th century, it had the largest sheet steel mill in the world.

On June 28, 1915, the Borough of Vandergrift Heights was consolidated with Vandergrift.[3] In 1900, 2,076 people lived here; in 1910, 3,876. The 1915 consolidation almost doubled Vandergrift's population when Vandergrift Heights added approximately 3,438 new residents (1910 population). By 1940, 10,725 people lived in Vandergrift. The population was 5,455 at the 2000 census, and 5,205 in 2010.


Dutch (Van der Grift): topographic name from Middle Dutch grifte ‘man-made channel'


Vandergrift, Pennsylvania – before and after
July 1895, before construction of the town
May 1896

In the 1890s the Apollo Iron and Steel Company was in a dramatic round of industrial restructuring and labor tension, ending a bitterly contested labor dispute at its Apollo, Pennsylvania, steelworks by hiring replacement workers from the surrounding countryside. To avoid future unrest, the company sought tighter control over its workers, not only at the factory, but also in their homes. Drawing upon a philosophy of reform movements in Europe and the United States, the company's leader, George McMurtry, adopted what was later known as welfare capitalism, with the company going beyond paychecks to provide for the social needs of the workers, and providing a benign physical environment and good housing, to make for happier and more productive workers. Wanting a loyal workforce, McMurtry developed a town agenda that drew upon environmentalism as well as popular attitudes toward capital's treatment of labor.

In 1895, Apollo Iron and Steel built a new, integrated, non-unionized steelworks and hired the nation's preeminent landscape architectural firm, Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot, to design the model industrial town, to be named Vandergrift (for Capt. J.J. Vandergrift, a director of the steel company). The Olmsted firm translated this agenda into an urban design that included a novel combination of social reform, comprehensive infrastructure planning, and private homeownership principles. The rates of homeownership and cordial relationships between the steel company and Vandergrift residents fostered loyalty among McMurtry's skilled workers and led to McMurtry's greatest success. In 1901 he used Vandergrift's worker-residents to break the first major strike against the United States Steel Corporation.[4]

St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church and the Vandergrift Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), of which 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (5.34%) is water.


Vandergrift has a humid continental climate, featuring an average low temperature of 22 degrees in January and an average high temperature of 82 degrees in July.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[6]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 5,455 people, 2,414 households, and 1,489 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,389.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,694.9/km2). There were 2,772 housing units at an average density of 2,230.8 per square mile (861.3/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 97.43% White, .45% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.37% of the population.

There were 2,414 households, out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 21.9% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.7 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $26,935, and the median income for a family was $35,984. Males had a median income of $29,781 versus $20,829 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $16,285. About 12.0% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over.


People of Italian ancestry account for 68.7% of the population. People of Irish ancestry are another sizable group, at 16.4%. Other ancestries include Polish, at 8.3% and Slovak, at 6.6%.[8]


Arts and culture[edit]


Vandergrift has a theater - the Casino Theater, and a museum called the Victorian Vandergrift Museum & Historical Society.

Many of the exterior shots in the 2011 science fiction film I am Number Four were filmed in Vandergrift, which was a stand-in for the fictional town of Paradise, Ohio.[citation needed][9]

The city center was a reference for the town center of Possum Springs in the lauded PC game Night in the Woods.[10]

Festivals and parades[edit]


  • "Vandergrift Cleanup Day".
  • "Vandergrift Ethnic Days". The carnival and ethnic food festival takes place at Kennedy Park and is sponsored by Vandergrift Fire Companies Nos. 1 and 2.[11]
  • Memorial Day. A parade begins at Vandergrift Elementary School and proceeds down Grant Ave. to a veteran's memorial service at the Casino Theatre.[12]



  • "RFG Sideshow Festival". This festival is free admission to the public. Enjoy good food, great music and dancing and the best entertainment this side of the Kiskiminetas River! Brought to you by RFG Association of Performing Arts and Vandergrift Vol. Fire Department no.2
  • "[1]




  • "Vandergrift Oktoberfest". This usually a three-day festival held in Kennedy Park by the Vandergrift No. 2 Volunteer Fire Department.[13]


  • "Lightup the Night". This is the annual Christmas parade and celebration on Grant Ave. the Friday after Thanksgiving.[14]


64.19% of Vandergrift residents are affiliated with a religious congregation. Of those affiliated, 55.4% are Roman Catholic, 12.2% are Methodist, 9.9% are ELCA Lutheran, 6.5% are Presbyterian, 16% are "other".[15]


Vandergrift borough is the owner of Davis Field, the former football home of the Cavaliers, Kiski Area School District's football team. A baseball field and football practice field also lie between Davis Field and Kennedy Memorial Park, which sits at the corner of Jackson and Walnut Streets. The fields serve local little league and midget football play.


Borough council[edit]

Vandergrift has a weak mayor-council government system. In a "weak" mayor-council system. The mayor of Vandergrift is Lenny Collini. Vandergrift Borough Council is elected every two years.

State representation[edit]

At the state level, Vandergrift is within Pennsylvania's 60th House of Representatives District, represented by Abby Major (R). Vandergrift is also within the 41st Senatorial District represented by Sen. Joe Pittman (R).

Congressional representation[edit]

Federally, Vandergrift is part of Pennsylvania's 14th Congressional District, represented by Guy Reschenthaler (R). The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Bob Casey, elected in 2006. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Republican Pat Toomey, who was elected in 2010.



Vandergrift is within the Kiski Area School District.


The former St. Gertrude School in Vandergrift, which was established in 1922, served students in kindergarten through sixth grade, until it officially transitioned to a regional school with a new name in fall 2005. The formal announcement and dedication of the Cardinal Maida Academy took place with a special Mass November 27, 2005, at St. Gertrude Parish, and Cardinal Adam J. Maida, whose episcopal motto is “To Make All Things New,” returned to his roots in the Diocese of Greensburg to help a small Catholic school celebrate a new beginning.[16]



The area is served by the Valley News Dispatch, a daily newspaper serving the Alle-Kiski Valley. Until the mid-1980s, this newspaper maintained a branch sales office in Parks Township, across the river from Vandergrift. It was also served by its own local newspaper, The News-Citizen, which maintained an office on Walnut Street, started as a daily newspaper, before reducing to a weekly publication by the mid-1980s. It ceased publication by the end of the 20th century.


Vandergrift is served locally in part by radio station WJFA, licensed to Apollo, Pennsylvania.


Vandergrift lies within the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area and is served by KDKA-TV (CBS), WTAE-TV (ABC), WPGH-TV (FOX), and WPXI (NBC).


The Westmoreland County Transit Authority provides service to Vandergrift directly via the Route 15 bus. It runs Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm between New Kensington and Avonmore. It stops at McMutury Towers, Jackson/Longfellow Avenues, and Grant/Sumner Avenues six times a day. About 2 miles from downtown Vandergrift, the Route 14F bus, from New Kensington to Pittsburgh, and the Route 12 bus, from New Kensington to Greensburg, both stop in the Allegheny Plaza parking lot below Save-A-Lot. Visit the WCTA website[permanent dead link] for details on schedules, fares, and service alerts.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  2. ^ "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Oct 12, 2022.
  3. ^ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Secretary of the Commonwealth. Commission Bureau. Governor's Minutes, January 1913 to December 1918, p. 280.
  4. ^ Anne E. Mosher, "'Something Better than the Best': Industrial Restructuring, George McMurtry and the Creation of the Model Industrial Town of Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, 1883-1901," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 1995 85(1): 84-107.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  7. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ "Vandergrift, Pennsylvania (PA 15690) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news, sex offenders". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  9. ^ Rittmeyer, Brian C. (February 6, 2011). "'I Am Number Four' offers many Western Pennsylvania locations". Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  10. ^ Benson, Scott (4 September 2019). "Alec". Medium.
  11. ^ Guido, George. "Vandergrift FD hopes ethnic days will be annual event". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  12. ^ Hayes, Liz. "Memorial Day celebrations to honor Alle-Kiski Valley veterans". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  13. ^ EndPlay (2010-08-17). "VANDERGRIFT: Octoberfest". WPXI. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  14. ^ "VIP - Light up the Night". Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  15. ^ Source: Jones, Dale E., et al. 2002. Congregations and Membership in the United States 2000. Nashville, TN: Glenmary Research Center.
  16. ^ "Cardinal Maida Academy - About Us". Retrieved 10 March 2017.

External links[edit]