Let's Learn From the Past: University of Pittsburgh 225th anniversary

March 8, 2012 12:01 am

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This year marks the 225th anniversary of the founding of Pittsburgh's oldest university. The University of Pittsburgh began as the Pittsburgh Academy with only a handful of students in a one-room log cabin near Fort Pitt at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in 1787, two years before the fledgling United States had even ratified its Constitution.

As the new nation grew, so did Pittsburgh's population and the demand for higher education on the Western frontier. As Pittsburgh established itself as the "Gateway to the West" in the early 1800s, the Academy evolved into the Western University of Pennsylvania and moved across the river to bustling Allegheny City, today's North Side.

After a century of operating in buildings scattered across the city, the university consolidated its campus on 43 acres purchased by the board of directors in Pittsburgh's hilly Oakland countryside.

By 1908, the school changed its name again, calling itself the University of Pittsburgh to distinguish itself from Philadelphia's University of Pennsylvania. With its designation as a state-related university with subsidized tuition, the university's admissions soared through the late 1960s.

With more than 34,000 students today, Pitt is a nationally recognized leader in philosophy, business, engineering and medical science, as well as one of the nation's oldest institutions of higher education.

In addition to the 132-acre, 90-building main campus in Oakland, the university includes four regional campuses in Greensburg, Johnstown, Titusville, and Bradford -- remarkable growth considering its humble beginnings.

Visitors to the Heinz History Center can celebrate the University of Pittsburgh's 225th and learn more about hundreds of local innovators who have enhanced the region and the world as part of the "Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation" exhibition. For more information, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:43:24

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