Allegheny County, the second most populous county in Pennsylvania, forms the nucleus of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.
In its earlier years, the county’s deposits of iron and coal, as well as easy access for barge traffic, led the county to become one of the most important steel producing areas in the world. The steel plants are mostly idle now, as are the coal mines – except for tourists, who have an opportunity to be a real coal miner for one-half hour.
To experience what it was like to be a coal miner in 1850s Pennsylvania in an authentic coal mine, visitors don hard hats and travel one-half mile underground in a coal car at the Tour-Ed Mine, just 20 minutes outside downtown Pittsburg. Experienced coal miners guide visitors on an amazing, educational tour 160 feet below the earth’s surface.
Despite that death-defying experience, the county gets high marks for safety; a survey of 329 metropolitan areas by Rand McNally’s “Places Rated Almanac” gave Allegheny County the title “Most Livable Community in the Nation.” The county has also ranked as one of the top ten areas to live by Money magazine, Fortune magazine, National Employment Review and Century 21 Real Estate Corporation. The county boasts the lowest crime rates for any metropolitan area with more than one million citizens.
Despite the decline of heavy industry, Pittsburgh, the county seat, is home to the headquarters of a number of Fortune 500 corporations, including US Steel Corporation, PNC Financial Services Group, PPG Industries and H. J. Heinz Company.
Notable names of Allegheny County residents include Holly Hunter, Shirley Jones, Frances McDormand, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Keaton, Gene Kelly, Christina Aguilera, Perry Como, Henry Mancini, Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein and Andy Warhol.