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Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
Houses in Vandergrift
Houses in Vandergrift
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Westmoreland
Settled 1895
 • Total 1.3 sq mi (3 km2)
 • Land 1.2 sq mi (3 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0 km2)
879 ft (268 m)
 • Total 5,205
 • Density 4,389.9/sq mi (1,694.9/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
Zip code
Area code(s) 724 Exchanges: 567,568,571
Website Vandergrift

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. 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.

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.



In the 1890s the Apollo Iron and Steel Company ended a bitterly contested labor dispute by hiring replacement workers from the surrounding countryside. To avoid future unrest, however, the company sought to gain 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 firm decided that providing workers with good housing and a good urban environment would make them more loyal and productive. 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: Vandergrift.

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

Mosher (1995) shows how Vandergrift was representative of the new industrial suburbs of Pittsburgh. Caught up in a dramatic round of industrial restructuring and labor tension, Pittsburgh steelmaker George McMurtry hired Frederick Law Olmsted's landscape architectural firm in 1895 to design Vandergrift as a model town. McMurtry believed in what was later known as welfare capitalism, with the company going beyond paychecks to provide for the social needs of the workers; he believed that a benign physical environment made for happier and more productive workers. A strike and lockout at McMurtry's steelworks in Apollo, Pennsylvania, had prompted him to build the new town. Wanting a loyal workforce, he developed a town agenda that drew upon environmentalism as well as popular attitudes toward capital's treatment of labor. The Olmsted firm translated this agenda into an urban design that included a unique 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.

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


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) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (5.34%) is water.


Vandergrift has a continental climate with cold winters averaging 22 degrees in January and 82 in July.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 2,076
1910 3,876 86.7%
1920 9,531 145.9%
1930 11,479 20.4%
1940 10,725 −6.6%
1950 9,524 −11.2%
1960 8,742 −8.2%
1970 7,889 −9.8%
1980 6,823 −13.5%
1990 5,904 −13.5%
2000 5,455 −7.6%
2010 5,205 −4.6%
Est. 2015 5,032 −3.3%

As of the census 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 people per square mile (1,698.5/km²). There were 2,772 housing units at an average density of 2,230.8 per square mile (863.1/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 94.43% White, 3.45% 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 German descent form the largest single ethnic group in the borough, making up 27.7% of the population, followed by Italians, accounting for 25.8% of the population. People of Irish ancestry are another sizable group, at 16.4%. The largest block of Eastern European ancestries include Polish, at 8.3% and Slovak, at 6.6%.

Arts and culture


- Casino Theater

- Riverside Drive In

- Victorian Vandergrift Museum & Historical Society

Festivals and parades


  • "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.
  • Memorial Day. A parade begins at Vandergrift Elementary School and proceeds down Grant Ave. to a veteran's memorial service at the Casino Theatre.





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


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


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".


Public Transportation

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 for details on schedules, fares, and service alerts.

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