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Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania
Entrance to Wilkinsburg's municipal building and library, 605 Ross Avenue
Entrance to Wilkinsburg's municipal building and library, 605 Ross Avenue
Location in Allegheny County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
Location in Allegheny County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
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Coordinates: 40°26′38″N 79°52′39″W / 40.44389°N 79.87750°W / 40.44389; -79.87750Coordinates: 40°26′38″N 79°52′39″W / 40.44389°N 79.87750°W / 40.44389; -79.87750
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny
 • Total 2.25 sq mi (5.83 km2)
 • Land 2.25 sq mi (5.83 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
 • Total 15,930
 • Estimate 
 • Density 6,793.43/sq mi (2,622.80/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
FIPS code 42-85188

Wilkinsburg is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States, with a population of 15,930 as of the 2010 census. Wilkinsburg is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The borough of Wilkinsburg was named for John Wilkins, Jr., a United States Army officer who served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802.


Wilkinsburg was founded and developed by highly religious European immigrants. The borough has a remarkably high concentration of churches, mostly Protestant, which is unusual in a predominantly Catholic region of the country. Wilkinsburg separated from the city of Pittsburgh in 1871. According to borough leader James Kelly, this was in order to maintain the religious integrity of the community. Wilkinsburg was known during this time by many as "The Holy City".

In 1899 the Wilkinsburg library was founded as a branch of the Braddock library, which was the first of the Carnegie libraries in the nation. The Wilkinsburg library also serves as a meeting place for council members as well as being the home of the local police department.

In 1916, the world's first commercially licensed radio station, KDKA, began broadcasting here as experimental station 8XK from a small garage owned by Frank Conrad before it was launched with its current call letters on November 2, 1920. In 1923, Wilkinsburg-based Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin designed and patented the iconoscope, the photocell "eye" of early television cameras. Today, ABC affiliate WTAE-TV is located in the borough on Ardmore Boulevard.

Although the borough has become economically depressed in recent years, many efforts are being made to change this. The Wilkinsburg Community Development Center (WCDC, open since 2008) on Wood Street has become a huge part in bringing positive change to the neighborhood through helping local businesses move in, spreading the word about events going on, and bringing the people of Wilkinsburg together.


Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, from Homewood Cemetery, 01
The central business district of Wilkinsburg

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2), all of it land.

Surrounding communities


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,529
1890 4,662 204.9%
1900 11,886 155.0%
1910 18,924 59.2%
1920 24,403 29.0%
1930 29,639 21.5%
1940 29,853 0.7%
1950 31,418 5.2%
1960 30,066 −4.3%
1970 26,780 −10.9%
1980 23,669 −11.6%
1990 21,080 −10.9%
2000 19,196 −8.9%
2010 15,930 −17.0%
2020 (est.) 14,349 −9.9%

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,196 people, 9,138 households, and 4,477 families residing in the borough. The population density was 8,335.1 people per square mile (3,222.4/km2). There were 10,696 housing units at an average density of 4,644.3 per square mile (1,795.5/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 29.25% White, 66.51% African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.81% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.13% of the population.

There were 9,138 households, out of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 24.3% were married couples living together, 20.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.0% were non-families. 44.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 23.4% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 78.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.0 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $26,621, and the median income for a family was $33,412. Males had a median income of $26,813 versus $26,196 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $16,890. About 15.9% of families and 18.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.8% of those under age 18 and 14.2% of those age 65 or over.


Wilkinsburg has three stations on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway.

See also: Pennsylvania Railroad Station-Wilkinsburg

Until September 14, 1975, Wilkinsburg had inter-city passenger rail service. On that day Amtrak discontinued service, citing a total of 128 passengers boarding or alighting in the first six months of 1975, the lowest system-wide. The last train serving Wilkinsburg was the National Limited, which operated daily between New York City and Kansas City, Missouri. The PennDOT-operated Parkway Limited provided commuter service to Pittsburgh for nine months in 1981 but was also canceled because of low ridership.


In its early history, education in Wilkinsburg was completely private. Many schools were started by different teachers and held in their homes. The Wilkinsburg Academy, founded in 1852, was the beginning of large-scale schooling. The Free Common School Act of 1834 was adopted by the borough in 1840; James Kelly loaned money for the first common school which served until 1850. From this time, the number of students rose exponentially. By 1910, there were 4,253 students in six public schools. Today, Wilkinsburg School District consists of Kelly Elementary and Turner Elementary schools. Due to lack of funding, Wilkinsburg's Junior and Senior High schools recently closed. The district now outsources Junior and Senior High School education to Westinghouse High School in the Pittsburgh Public School district. The graduating class of 2016 was the last to graduate from Wilkinsburg High School.

Wilkinsburg is also home to the Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy. This is a Catholic elementary school which was formed as a merger of St. James School in Wilkinsburg and Holy Rosary in Homewood (Pittsburgh). The new school is housed in the former St. James School building and educates children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Notable people

  • Les Biederman (1907–1981), sports writer, columnist and editor for the Pittsburgh Press
  • Daniel Carter, jazz musician
  • Frank Conrad, radio broadcast pioneer
  • Charlie Deal, Major League Baseball infielder for Chicago Cubs
  • Richard Frankenburg (1929–2015), former Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  • Vic Fusia (1916–1992), American football player and coach
  • Dick Groat, All-American college basketball player, and shortstop for the 1960 World Series winning Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team
  • Amzi D. Harmon (1845–1927), Medal of Honor recipient in the American Civil War
  • Bob Hoffman (1898–1985), weightlifter and bodybuilder
  • Kimmarie Johnson, actress, model, businesswoman and beauty pageant titleholder
  • Bill McKechnie, baseball player and manager
  • M. Graham Netting, herpetologist and conservationist
  • Dunning R. McNair, Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate from March 17, 1853 to July 6, 1861
  • Edward Ormondroyd, author
  • Bunny Yeager, photographer and model
  • Ralph "Brigham" Young (1898–1967), politician
  • Treyvon Hester, NFL lineman for the Green Bay Packers

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