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About This GigaPanToggle
- Taken by
- Brooke Keane
- Explore score
- 0.11 Gigapixels
- Date added
- March 09, 2010
- Date taken
- March 09, 2010
Straddling the line of Beaver and Lawrence counties in the middle of Western, Pennsylvania, sits the quaint borough of Ellwood City.
Once a booming suburb for steel workers, the borough has lost much of its gleam and the population has dwindled rapidly due to lack of job opportunities and relocation of youth.
Founded in 1892 by Henry Waters Hartman and named after Isaac Ellwood, an inventor of barbed wire, Ellwood City played an important role in early industry, including the large steel industry and the invention and production of seamless steel tubes by engineer R.C. Stiefel.
Because of its industrial influence, many European immigrants migrated to the growing community. Many of them being from Italy, lending itself to the boroughfs current great Italian population and multitude of Italian restaurants and pizza shops.
The now small borough has a population of just over 8,000 with one private and four public elementary schools and one public high school.
In its heyday, however, the borough of Ellwood was a popular spot for vacationing tourists, boasting 12 hotels. The largest and first of these 12, the Hotel Oliver, built in 1890, was a product of Hartman's entrepreneurial ideals. Fond of naming things after other people, Hartman named the hotel after Henry Oliver, a Pittsburgh steel man. Ahead of its time, the hotel was equipped with every possible modern amenity and built with the intention of it being a summer resort. Later in 1896, the name was changed to the Hotel Lawrence.
After more than two decades of success, the Hotel Lawrence was sold to the Board of Education in 1915. The property remains in possession of the School Board today as the current site of Lincoln High School.
Part of the lure of Ellwood as a vacation spot, was the popular Rock Point Park, just three miles west of the borough. Using the junction of the Connoquenessing Creek and the Beaver River to provide picnic grounds and entertainment drew in “some of the largest excursions out of Pittsburgh” from 1890 to 1900 according to the book, History of Ellwood City. Rock Point Park not only had picnic areas and trails, but had a dancing pavilion and a “shoot the shoots” water ride. The park also provided a weekend getaway for local families as well as gatherings for organizations.
Once choc-full of industry, Ellwood's residents were, and continue to be blue-collar workers. Over the years the borough has shrunk in population, but it's residents are true blue, many of whom have resided in Ellwood their entire lives, citing the quiet, safe atmosphere and friendly neighbors as reasons for sticking around.
Many of Ellwood's young people disagree though, hence the declining population. Many move out of the city, only returning to visit family, themselves citing lack of opportunity and entertainment as reasons for leaving. Though the members of the community make attempts to brighten up the area through the addition of places for young people to hang out, like coffee shops, and building a brand new library, the youth continue to leave.
Some of the youth who do end up staying find themselves with so few opportunities that they turn to illegal activities. Recently, 5 people, all under the age of 30 were arrested for the possession and sale of cocaine in the borough.
Though Hartman created a progressive town in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Ellwood is now seen by many as backward and old, though there are probably things currently in Ellwood that Hartman would have never imagined.