PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Dan Rooney has been a United States ambassador, brokered peace in Ireland, has six Super Bowl trophies, is an accomplished business man, and a philanthropist, but what he’s talking about now is his other passion- the history of the North Side.
KDKA-AM’s Larry and John talked to Ambassador Rooney about his new book, “Allegheny City: A History of Pittsburgh’s North Side.” The book he co-wrote with Carol Peterson is a fascinating story about Allegheny City and North Side history from the days of canals and cotton mills through the present day.
One of the interesting facts from the book is that North Side was once known as Allegheny City, and was a rival city to Pittsburgh until it was annexed into the City of Pittsburgh. Back then, Allegheny City was home to some high-profile people.
“There were more millionaires in the Allegheny West then there were anywhere in the world,” says Ambassador Rooney. “Not just Pittsburgh or the United States, but the world. That’s when you had the Joneses, the Laughlins, the Olivers, and people like that.”
And while stadiums are mentioned, this book isn’t a sports book- it’s all history.
During research for the book, Ambassador Rooney learned about the history of his family home in the North Side, which was bought in 1939.
“The home was built by a fella in the rope business,” says Ambassador Rooney. “Rope was a big thing in this area with all the ships, and he got into that business and was highly successful.”
Allegheny City wasn’t just home to the rich – there were lots of trades like blacksmiths, horse shoers, , iron workers, and carpenters. In it’s heyday, Allegheny City was the third largest city in Pennsylvania, and was famous for businessmen from cities like Philadelphia and New York to travel for investments there.
Today’s story of the North Side is one of hope as the area comes out of decline. All over the North Side are new businesses, investment, and a spirit of renewal.
“The North area is doing very well,” says Ambassador Rooney. “With the North Shore, the many bridges across from Pittsburgh, and now a subway, I think there’s great potential.”
Ambassador Dan Rooney and Carol Peterson will have a book signing and present a short program about “Allegheny City” beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street in Pittsburgh. Copies of the book will be on sale, and admission is free.