Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh in was incorporated as a borough in 1794 and as a city in 1816.  The official spelling was changed to Pittsburg in 1891, but officially changed back in 1911.

George Evans, son of steam engine pioneer Oliver Evans, proposed to build water works for the city of Pittsburgh in 1813.  Nothing came of this, apparently because the city did not want to enter into a contract for water works.  George was the first superintendent of the city's water works from 1827 until his death in 1830.

In January 1818, William Barclay Foster (father of composer Stephen Collins Foster) and William Hamilton petitioned for permission to supply water, but nothing is known to have come of their request,  Foster was the father of composer Stephen C. Foster. 

The City of Pittsburgh borrowed money to build a water system, which began service in August, 1828 but was not fully operational until the following year.  The first plant was on Cecil Alley next to the Allegheny River, and remained in service until a replacement plant was built in 1844.

The Water Works Company of the Northern Liberties of Pittsburgh was incorporated in 1836 with Alexander Ingram, James Blackely, W. H. Tottany, John H. Shoenberger, Mark Lowrey, John H. Ralston, William Bayne, D. P. Ingersoll, Wilkins McNair, Robert Glass Esq., William Sutch, E. H. Hastings, and Ethrington Appleton appointed as commissioners of the company for the "purpose of enabling it to contract with the corporation of the borough of the Northern Liberties of Pittsburg, for the purpose of supplying the said borough with good and wholesome water from the Allegheny river."  This company is not known to have built anything, as the Borough of Northern Liberties was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh in 1837 and the 1844 water works pumping plant was built in the annexed territory.

The second city plant opened on July 4, 1844 on Etna Street between O'Hare and Walnut, on the Allegheny River.  This plant operated until 1879.

The Monongahela Water Company was incorporated in 1855 with James Salisbury, David Chess, James M. McElroy, Christian Ihensen, Thomas McKee, Alexander McLain, John D. Miller, Daniel Berg, Henry J. Metz, John Evans, and R. A. Bausman appointed as commissioners with "power to raise and introduce into the boroughs of Birmingham, East Birmingham and South Pittsburg, in the county ot Allegheny, a sufficient supply of Monongahela river water for the use of the inhabitants of said boroughs."  This company built a plant at the foot of 29th Street in the Borough of Ormsby on the south side of the Monongahela river that began service around 1866.  This plant had three pumps with a total capacity of ten million gallons a day in 1874.  Most of the areas served by this company were annexed in 1872, but the company had the right to distribute water until 1906 and could only be acquired with its consent.  The city authorities wrestled with this question for many years, and finally bought the company 1909 after its charter had expired..

A small pumping plant was built in 1870 at 45th street, and was taken out of service when the 1879 water works opened.

A new city pumping plant opened in 1879 at the Brilliant Station.  This plant was remodeled in 1894 and took water directly from the river until a filtration plant was built across the river in 1908 that supplied filtered water to the city. 

The city acquired the Allegheny City water works when that city was annexed in 1907.

In 1930 the Pennsylvania Water Company and South Pittsburgh Water Company were supplying small areas of the city.

Water is provided by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, which was created in 1984 and absorbed the City's water department in 1995. The authority has a good history page.


References
1813 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, November 26, 1813, Page 3.
Communication.  Having been urged by many of our citizens to make proposals for watering Pittsburgh by the power of Steam, the subscriber takes this method of informing that he is now ready to furnish the requisite power.  He will, at his own expence, raise water sufficiently high to run to any part of the town, at three cents per barrel.  A more particular statement is not considered necessary until some person or persons are appointed to confer with him. George Evans. November 22, 1813.

1824 An Ordinance providing for the raising of a sum of money, on loan, for supplying the city of Pittsburgh with water. February 16, 1824.

1824 Reservoir on Grant's Hill, $3,800, Engine House Site at the foot of Cecil Alley on the Allegheny River $1,425.

1826 An Ordinance authorizing the Mayor to borrow twenty thousand dollars, in order to raise a sum of money, which shall be appropriated towards defraying the expense of supplying the city with water.  February 6, 1826.

1827 An Ordinance authorizing the Mayor to borrow a further sum of twenty thousand dollars.  October 29, 1827.

1828 An Ordinance authorizing the Mayor to borrow the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for supplying the city with water.  June 30, 1828.

1830 The Register of Pennsylvania, 7(18):281 (April 30, 1831)
Pittsburg. December 24, 1830.  The City Water Works, erected in 1828,—a noble and valuable monument of liberality and enterprize. The water is elevated 116 feet, from the Allegheny river, by a pipe of 15 inches in diameter, and 2,439 in length, to a basin or reservoir, on Grant's Hill, 11 feet deep, and calculated to contain 1,000,000 of gallons. The water is raised by a steam engine of 84 horse power, which will elevate 1,500,000 gallons in 24 hours. 

1830 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, October 8, 1830, Page 3.
Obituary of Oliver Evans [1784-1830] Sixteen years since he foresaw the advantages to be derived by our city from a regular supply of water.---He then attempted, in connexion with one of our most enterprizing citizens now living, to establish a water works on their own responsibility.  The project failed, if the writer of this is correct, by objections raised on the part of our corporation to granting certain privileges required.  Recently, our city authorities have had a water works erected under his superintendence, which exists as another evidence of his abilities as a mechanic.--These works are perhaps equal to any in the United States, and had he finished them in accordance with his intentions, Pittsburgh could now boast of the most perfect works for the supply of water in the world.

1832 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, June 5, 1832, Page 3.
Proposals will be received at the office of the City Water Works, until the eighth inst., for building the Brick and Carpenter Work of Engine House, and for building Engine and Pump for the City Water Works.  Robert Moore. June 5, 1832.

1835 Map of Pittsburgh and its environs.  Shows 1828 water works engine house on Cecil Alley on the Allegheny River.

1836 An act to enable the Governor to incorporate "The Water Works Company of the Northern Liberties of Pittsburgh," March 29, 1836.

1837 The Western Address Directory: Containing the Cards of Merchants, Manufacturers and Other Business Men, in Pittsburgh, (Pa.) Wheeling, (Va.) Zanesville, (O.) Portsmouth, (O.) Dayton, (O.) Cincinnati, (O.) Madison, (Ind.) Louisville, (K.) St. Louis, (Mo.) Together with Historical, Topographical & Statistical Sketches, (for the Year 1837,) of Those Cities, and Towns in the Mississippi Valley. Intended as a Guide to Travellers. To which is Added, Alphabetically Arranged, a List of the Steam-boats on the Western Waters, by William Gilman Lyford
Page 75-76: Pittsburgh - The Water Works are seated on the bank of the Allegheny river, and were erected by the city in 1828.— The water is forced by steam machinery through the main shaft, 2,439 feet in length, and 15 inches diameter, to the top of Grant's hill, which is 116 feet above the Allegheny river, where it is discharged into a basin, the capacity of which is 1,000,000 of gallons, at the rate of 1,344 gallons a minute, the wheel making, ordinarily, within that period, 14 revolutions, and sometimes 15.— About 90 bushels of coal are used per day. The basin is eleven feet in depth, and contains a partition wall for the purpose of filtration.  From this reservoir the city is at present plentifully supplied with water; and above half of the various mills, factories, &c., within the city proper, use it, paying an annual tax for the consideration, the total amount of which, for the last year, was $13,000. The tax to some families is $3, and is graduated according to the demand—some of the manufacturing establishments paying as high as $120. Fire plugs are conveniently located, that recourse may be had to them when needed. As the city increases in extent and population, and a greater supply of water becomes requisite, the basin will probably be changed to a point farther east, which the corporation has already secured, on a more elevated site, made larger, and of course will have a greater head.

1837 Pittsburgh Daily Gazette, November 2, 1837, Page 2.
Report of the Water Committee on a new reservoir, October 30, 1837.

1838 Annual report of the Watering Committee for the year 1837 to the Select and Common Councils of the city of Pittsburgh

1838 Sketch of the civil engineering of North America: comprising remarks on the harbours, river and lake navigation, lighthouses, steam-navigation, water-works, canals, roads, railways, bridges, and other works in that country, by David Stevenson
Page 280:   Pittsburg, on the Ohio in the State of Pennsylvania, is supplied with water from the river Alleghany. It is raised by a steam-engine of 84 horses power into a reservoir capable of containing 1,000,000 gallons of water, and elevated 116 feet above the level of the river. The main leading from the pumps to the reservoir is fifteen inches in diameter, and the pump raises 1,500,000 gallons in twenty-four hours.

1838 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, November 27, 1838, Page 2.
Sealed proposals will be received by the Superintendent of the Water Works, addressed to the water committee, until the 14th December next, for grading the reservoir lot on Prospect Hill, preparatory to the excavation of the basins, being about 80,000 yards.
Proposals will also be received for the erection of two Steam Engines and Forcing Pumps plans and dimensions of which can be seen on application to the superintendent at the water works.  Robt. Moore, Superintendent. nov 22

1838 Purchase of new reservoir site 160 feet above the river at Prospect and Elm street, construction began following year.  Now site of Washington Park

1842 Pittsburgh Daily Post, September 15, 1842, Page 2.
New Water works. The workmen are getting along well.  It will not be a great while till it will be in operation.--It will be only second to Croton, when finished, and we presume, ourcitizens, not to be outdone by the Gothamites, will have a jollification.

1844 Pittsburgh Daily Post, January 8, 1844, Page 2.
Annual Report of the Water Committee for the year 1843.  Your Committee are of opinion that a large additional revenue may be had by supplying the city of Allegheny with water.

1844 New water works began service on July 4 with two steam engines, named Hercules and Samson, that could pump a total of 9 million gallons daily.

1845 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, January 17, 1845, Page 2.
Report of the Water Committee.  Since the month of June, the city has been exclusively supplied with water from the new work; the old ones were then abandoned.

1845 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, January 27, 1845, Page 2.
For Sale.  Two high steam engines and two double forcing pumps, suitable for Water works.

1848 $30,000 for constructing basin or reservoir now known as Bedford Reservoir, completed in 1850  In September, 1848, -the old pumping plant on Cecil alley was sold for $24,000.

1849 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, March 15, 1849, Page 3.
To Engine Builders - Proposals will be received at the office of the Pittsburgh Water Works until Tuesday, 13th inst., at 5 o'clock, P. M., for making a small Steam Engine.  Drawings and specifications are to be seen at the office in the old C. H.  J. H. McClelland, Supt.

1850 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, January 15, 1850, Page 2.
Hale's Rotary Pump.  On Saturday last, we visited the Water Works, in this city, and after a cursory examination of the improvements over the past year, our attention was particularly called to the new "Doctor" and Pump recently erected there by Messrs. Preston and Wagner of this city.  The "Doctor" is a beam engine, ten inches diameter, thirty inch stroke.  40,000 gallons per hour.

1852 Pittsburgh Daily Post, January 15, 1852, Page 2.
Report of the Water Committee; Report of the Superintendent of the Water Works, for the year 1851.

1853 Annual Report of the Board of Water Commissioner of the City of Detroit. In 1853, the new Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Detroit sent superintendent Jacob Houghton, Jr. to visit and report on water works in other cities, including Pittsburgh.
Page 21: Pittsburgh.  Is supplied with water from the Allegheny River. At this place there are two reservoirs, at different elevations, the lower one at one hundred and sixty feet, and the upper one at three hundred and ninety-six feet above low water mark. The water is elevated into the lower reservoir from the river, by means of two large high-pressure engines, through a distance of two thousand feet.
At the lower reservoir are two smaller engines, driving pumps which elevate the water into the upper reservoir through a pipe about one-fourth of a mile in length.
This pumping pipe is also used as a distributing main, being connected with the distributing pipes; and, while the engines are running, the entire service connected with the upper reservoir is supplied directly from the pumps. This mode of using the pump main, for the double purpose of an inlet and outlet, has proved an unfavorable experiment. All means of circulation are prevented, and the water, becoming stagnant, has a bad taste and odor, and gives rise to a great deal of complaint. The reservoirs are built of earth embankments, the inside slopes paved with brick.
These works have cost about $700,000, and supply 50,000 inhabitants with water.

1855 Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, with parts of adjacent boroughs.  Shows 1844 water works pumping station on Etna Street between O'Hare and Walnut, on Allegheny River.

1855 An act to incorporate the Monongahela Water Company.  April 21, 1855.

1856 Pittsburgh Daily Gazette, January 8, 1856, Page 1.
Report of the Water Committee; Report of the Superintendent of Water Works

1857 An act to authorize the Select and Common Councils of the city of Pittsburg to assess Water Rents.  February 20, 1857.

1859 Pittsburgh Daily Gazette, February 21, 1859, Page 1.
Report of the Water Committee; Report of the Superintendent of Water Works

1860 A supplement to an act to incorporate the Monongahela Water Company.  April 2, 1860.

1861 A further supplement to an act to incorporate the Monongahela Water Company.  May 1, 1861.

1864 A further supplement to an act to incorporate the Monongahela Water Company, approved the twenty-first day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five.  March 17, 1864.

1865 A further supplement to an act incorporating the Monongahela Water Company.  March 22, 1865.

1866 A further supplement to an act, entitled "an act to incorporate the Monongahela Water Company," approved the twenty-first day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five.  February 15, 1866.

1868 Foster & Co. v. Fowler & Co., 60 Pa. 27 November 18, 1868. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a lien filed against a engine pumping-house owned and operated by a privately held entity, the Monongahela Water Company, was invalid because the pumping-house was used to supply water to the citizens of Birmingham, East Birmingham, and south Pittsburgh.  Id. at 30-31.

1870 The Pittsburgh Daily Commercial, March 12, 1870, Page 4.
Our Water Works. Reports of the Department.  Contracts have been let for a new engine and pump at the upper works.

1870 Water supply for higher territory being inadequate a small pump was installed at the lower basin to pump water to the Bedford basin, and at this time a substation was erected at 45th street, to supply the Lawrenceville district.

1871 A further supplement to an act, entitled "An act to incorporate the Monongahela Water Company," approved the twenty-first day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five.  March 1, 1871
SECTION 2. That said company be and it is hereby authorized and empowered to extend its main supply, and all other pipes for conducting and supplying water to, in and through the boroughs of Ormsby, St Clair, Allentown, Mount Washington, West Pittsburg and Temperanceville, and the townships of Lower St Clair, Union and Chartiers..

1872 Atlas Plate showing 45th Street Water Works Pumping Plant.  Atlas Plate showing works of Monongahela Water Company.

1872 complete rebuilding of system

1873 An act authorizing the city of Pittsburg to erect engine house and pumping works in the bed of the Allegheny river.  March 18, 1873.

1874 The Pittsburgh Commercial, May 5, 1874, Page 4.  Water committee meeting, reports on south side water works.

1874 The Pittsburgh Commercial, July 27, 1874, Page 4.  Water committee meeting, reports on south side water works.

1875 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, March 13, 1875, Page 4.
The cylinder of the Samson engine, at the old water works, broke about on o'clock this morning.  The city now depends exclusively for its water supply on the old engine Hercules, which is not near as strong as its name implies.

1875 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, December 10, 1875, Page 4.
A Water Famine.  The Hercules and and Samson Engines Disabled. The city is now without an adequate supply of water.

1875 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, December 13, 1875, Page 4.
Both the "Samson" and "Hercules" engines at the lower water works are in successful operation again.

1876 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, May 19, 1876, Page 4.
The City Water Supply.  Annual Report of Superintendent Atkinson.

1879 Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, August 5, 1879, Page 4.
The New Water Works.  Preparing to Lay the Distributing Main.
Dr. Evans - The new engines are numbered.  I think this is a poor way to designate them.  The old engines are named Sampson and Hercules.
Mr. Herron - I moved that Dr. Evans be appointed a committee of one to christen the new engines.
The motion carried amidst a great deal of laughter.

1881 Pittsburgh, Engineering News, 8:234-234 & 242-243 (June 11 & 18, 1881)

1882 Pittsburgh from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1882 Atlas plate showing Brilliant Reservoir, and Highland Reservoir;  Atlas Plate showing Brilliant Pumping Station

1884 Engineering News 12:250 (November 22, 1884)
The Water Committee, of Pittsburgh has awarded the contracts for supplying the Southside with city water.  The contract for supplying the pipe was given to A. H. McNeal, of Burlington. N. J., and for laying the pipe, to Booth and Flinn. The contracts are subject to the approval or disapproval of Councils.
PITTSBURGH WATER-WORKS.
Mr. Emile Low, C. E., has kindly sent the subjoined account of the early history of the Pittsburgh. Pa., Water Supply, which is fuller and more detailed than the account given in "The History and Statistics” on page 235, Vol. VIII. Eengineering News, June 11, 1881  J. J. R. C.
The project of supplying the city of Pittsburgh with water, was first broached in the year 1826. On the 24th of February of that year an ordinance providing for a loan to construct water-works was introduced in the borough councils. A committee of the councils called the Water Committee. was charged with the supervision of the work. The Pittsburgh and the Exchange Banks advanced the necessary funds.
A lot of ground on which the engine house was erected, situated at the corner of Duquesne Way and Cecil Alley, was purchased for $1,425.
The reservoir was located on Grant Street opposite the site of the court house which was burned down about two years or more ago. The lot on which the reservoir was built was 240 feet square, and was obtained for the sum of $3,800. The first annual report was submitted by the committee on January 9, 1827, according to which the citizens had declared by nearly an unanimous vote to build water-works
The revenue from the works in the year 1829 amounted to $3.086. For the first three years the consumption of water was not over 4,000 gallons per day or at the rate of 1,460,000 gallons annually.
On account of the rapid growth of the city. the works now proved unable to supply the ever increasing demand, and about the year 1842 the construction of new works on a more extensive scale was decided upon.  Mr. R. Moor, was placed in charge and superintendeded both the building of the engines and reservoir. The site selected for the engine house was at the foot of what is now Eleventh Street, immediately above the old Aqueduct crossing the Allegheny River at this point, but long since torn down, and the reservoir was located on the hill just back of the Union Station, P.R.R. and below the present High School.
The works were completed July 4, 1844, being put into operation on that day.
The capacity of the two engines was together 9,000,000 gallons per day. An amount six times greater than the consumption at that date, which did not exceed 1,000,000 gallons per diem.

1888 "Pittsburgh," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1888 Allegheny County's Hundred Years, by George Henry Thurston
Page 163-164:  The manufacturing of Wrought Iron Pipe is also one of the more important industries of Allegheny county. In addition to the works at Pittsburgh, there is also at McKeesport the largest iron pipe manufactory in the United States. This industry had its beginning in Allegheny county nearly half a century ago, when the making of wrought pipe was begun by Spang & Co., in 1840, which firm was succeeded in 1856 by Spang, Chalfant & Co. In 1864 A. M. Byers & Co. established the second works of this kind. In 1866 another was put in operation by Evans, Clow, Dalzell & Co., who were succeeded by Evans, Dalzell & Co. This firm having financially failed their works passed into the possession of the Pennsylvania Tube Works.
In 1871 Wm. Graff & Co. also established another tube works at Herr's Island, Allegheny City, these subsequently passing into the possession of Rhodes & Porter {Joshua Rhodes and --- Porter), Mr. Rhodes becoming subsequently interested in the Pennsylvania Tube Works, which, as before stated, came into the ownership of the works of Evans, Dalzell & Co.
In 1879 the National Tube Works were built at McKeesport by the National Tube Works Company. In 1884 the Continental Tube Works Company built extensive works in the Twenty-third ward of Pittsburgh, the firm style being subsequently changed to Continental Tube Works, limited. In 1885 the Pittsburgh Tube Works were built by the Pittsburgh Tube Company.
The facilities at Pittsburgh for manufacturing this article are not approachable at any other point. That covers the subject without further words, as a consideration of the facts given in the various remarks in this volume as to the iron, steel and fuel resources of the city demonstrates. Iron tubing from i inch to 16 inches in diameter is made at all the mills engaged in this class of manufactures, and two-thirds of all the iron tubing made in the Middle States is the product of the tube works of Allegheny county.
This class of manufactures in Pittsburgh is in advance of the quality and mechanism of any of their product in any other part of the world, not excepting England. Orders for the products of these works are filled in sharp competition with the bids of European plants, large quantities being lately shipped to Russia and also Canada, at which point Pittsburgh makers are not only able to pay the duties, but still undersell the English houses.
The capacity of these six mills is about 180,000 tons, and the area of ground occupied by them approximates fifteen acres, and the value of the plants is estimated at $4,000,000. They employ an average of 2,500 hands running full, which they are now doing up to their capacity, and distribute wages to the amount of between $1,200,000 and $1,400,000. The value of the output of these mills is from $8,000,000 to $9,000,000.
Page 167-168:  In 1828 the first contract for water pipe for the city of Pittsburgh was made with Alexander McClurg & Co., of the Pittsburgh foundary, and Kingsland, Lightner, & Co., of the Jackson and Eagle Foundaries.  The first pipe was cast 1827, and tested at a pond then to be seen between the Cathedral and Smithfield Street.
Page 171-172:  There was also at an early date the Columbia Steam Engine Company, originating with George Evans, of which Lewis Peterson, who died about 1886, at the age of 90, was the secretary.
This is possibly the same work mentioned as Stackhouse & Rodgers, in 1813, or suceeded it, as it was managed by M. Stackhouse and M. Rogers.  These works constructed the machinery of the first water works at Pittsburg, under the superintendence of George Evans.
The Columbia Steam Engine Company about 1830 passed to Warden & Benney, and afterwards to John B. Warden & Son. In 1820 Arthurs & Benney built what was known as the Union Works at the corner of First avenue and Redoubt alley, which at a subsequent period passed into the possession of A. Irwin & Co. In 1828 James Nelson succeeded to the steam engine and machine division of the works of Arthurs & Nicholson, they retaining the foundry. By him the engines of the second water works of Pittsburgh were built

1890 "Pittsburgh," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Pittsburgh," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1893 "The Water Supply of Pittsburg and Allegheny City," by James Hayward Harlow, Proceedings of the Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania 9(3):17-33 (March, 1893)

1894 "Report of Committee on Water Supply of Pittsburg and Allegheny," by James Hayward Harlow, Proceedings of the Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania 10(4):1-4 (April, 1894)

1897 "Pittsburgh," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1908 "Early Water Works," from A century and a half of Pittsburg and her people, Volume 2, by John Newton Boucher, Editor in chief
page

1908 "The Water Supply of the City of Pittsburgh. The Main Pumping Stations and Filtration Plant," by H. G. Manning, Iron Age, 82(10):636-637 (September 3, 1908)
The Brilliant Station is situated seven miles from the City Hall up the Allegheny River, and all of its 10 pumping engines, with a total normal capacity of 130,000,000 gal. per day, are now cut off from any communication with the river, the suction trunk leading directly from the filtered water basin of the new filtration plant.  All of the pumps in the Brilliant Station are high duty, pumping against a head of some 350 ft.

1909 Agreement between the City of Pittsburgh and the Monongahela Water Company

1912 Flood Control Map showing location of Brilliant Pumping Plant, originally built in 1879.

1914 "Thirty-Five Years of Typhoid: The Economic Cost to Pittsburgh and the Long Fight for Pure Water," by Frank E. Wing, from The Pittsburgh Survey: The Pittsburgh district civil frontage, edited by Paul Underwood Kellogg.

1915 "Report on Water Conditions at Pittsburgh," Fire and Water Engineering, 58(6):82-83. (August 11, 1915)

1916 "Pittsburgh's Water Supply," from The City of Pittsburgh and Its Public Works by Pittsburgh (Pa.). Dept. of Public Works

1922 History of Pittsburgh and Environs, Volume II, by George Thornton Fleming
Page 62: In 1818 W. B. Foster and William Hamilton petitioned councils for the privilege of supplying the city with water, both for the inhabitants and utilities.
Page 64: The mayor was authorized to negotiate water certificates to the amount of $20,000 in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. In December, contracts were awarded for the construction of a reservoir upon a site at Fifth and Grant streets and Diamond and Cherry alleys, together with the building of "a pump with a fourteen-inch cylinder and a double stroke, capable of raising to the new reservoir 600,000 gallons in twelve hours, at a cost of $2,000 for the pump." In January, 1827, Council appropriated $12,000 for the new water works, and later authorized the issue of loan certificates to the amount of $20,000 in denomination of $100 each at six per cent. interest.
Frederick Graeff of Philadelphia, in token of appreciation for his services in furnishing gratuitously plans and estimates for the new city water-works, was presented with some fine Pittsburgh glassware by vote of city council."
Page 65: River water was first furnished to Pittsburgh residents and to all business houses in September, 1828.
It was a premature announcement, that of the opening of the water works in September, 1828, because pipelayers failed to finish until December, when George Evans was elected superintendent of the new city works.

1923 "Description of Pittsburgh Water Works," by Erwin Eugene Lanpher, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 10(6) 1027-1034 (November 1923)

1929 "A Century of the Pittsburgh Water Works," Erwin Eugene Lanpher. Proceedings of the  Engineer's Society of Western Pennsylvania, 44(10):331-346.  (January, 1929).

1930 City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: its water works, by Erwin Eugene Lanpher and Typhoid Fever Statistics by Chester F. Drake. | PDF file with OCRd text |

1934 "Electrification of the Brilliant Pumping Station at Pittsburgh, Pa.," by James H. Kennon, Managing Engineer, Bureau of Water, Pittsburgh, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 26(2):189-193 (February 1934)

1937 Map showing Brilliant Pumping Station, originally built in 1879

1945 "The Old Fifth Ward of Pittsburgh," recollections of James A. Beck, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, 28(3-4):111-126 (September-December 1945)
Page 111: The borough of Bayardstown was laid out in 1816: it was succeeded by the borough of Northern Liberties in 1829, and as annexed by the city of Pittsburgh in 1837 it became the Fifth Ward. As the city expanded and its subdivisions were reorganized, the Fifth Ward became the Ninth and Tenth Wards. Inrecent years the city has been divided into twenty-seven wards, the Old Fifth becoming part of the Second Ward, as at present.
Page 112:  William Smith's foundry was located at Locust (19th) Street and Pike Street, and specialized in cast-iron water-pipe up to three feet in diameter. These huge pipes were trundled along on the street by Frank Ardary's "Timber Wheels," a carrier consisting of two huge timbers of great length supported by high blocking on wheels from six to
eight feet high, equipped with heavy screw hooks and chains for raising and lowering the pipe in transporting, and drawn by from six to ten horses, depending on the load. Most of the water pipes used by the city came from "Smith's," and were tested at the foundry before acceptance. Matthew McCandless was the official tester for many years.
Page 113: The city waterworks was situated at the foot of O'Hara (12th) Street at the river. This building was erected in 1842 by Charles and John Beck [the author's granduncle and grandfather], contractors, and the construction was remarkable for those days. The building was 100 x125 feet, providing for twohorizontal engine pumps, boilers, and offices for the superintendent and others. The water was drawn direct from the river,and pumped to the basin on Bedford Avenue adjacent to the old Pittsburgh Central High School above the Pennsylvania Railroad depot. The site of this basin is now the Washington Play Grounds. The two engines and pumps, walking beam type, were named "Samson and Hercules."
The roof of the waterworks building was supported on huge wooden trusses which were built and bolted together on the ground. The placing inposition of these trusses was a gala day for contractors and builders. Many contended that they could not be raised to their position by manpower, as steam was not yet utilized for such work. Finally, when all
was ready, the windlasses were manned, and the trusses were hoisted to the top of the walls, and swung into position without mishap to workmen or walls, much to the disappointment of some of the pessimists. This pumping station was discontinued about 1879 when the Brilliant waterworks station was placed in service.

1954 The Pittsburgh Press, July 2, 1954, Page 7
City's Typhoid Fighter Quits Filtration Post

1962 "Pittsburgh," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker

1962 "Smoke, Smoke, and Health in Early Pittsburgh," by John Duffy, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 45(2):93-106  (June 1962)

1988 Water Supply for the Greater Pittsburgh Area - 1998 and beyond, December, 1988

2004 History of the Pittsburgh Public Water Supply - City of Pittsburgh (Powerpoint presentation)







© 2016 Morris A. Pierce