Manchester is Pittsburgh’s largest historic district, protecting 609 buildings over 51.6 acres. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated a City Historic District in 1979.
Manchester, named after its industrial English counterpart, was originally laid out in 1832 along old Beaver Road by Thomas Barlow, Thomas Hazelton, Samuel Hall, C.L. Armstrong, and John Sampson. At that early date, Manchester was still considered a rural town. The town itself was configured on a grid pattern–vestiges of which can still be seen to this day. By 1843, Manchester was designated a Borough. As population began to increase, and transportation corridors such as the Manchester, Allegheny, and Pittsburgh Railway began to connect the area with the neighboring cities of Allegheny and Pittsburgh, Manchester became a hub of economic and residential development. In 1867, Manchester merged with Allegheny City as its 5th and 6th Ward and became the industrial heart of that city. Industries such as Union Salt Works, Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works, La Belle Steel, Star Iron Works, Pittsburgh Brass Company, Allegheny County Light Company, Pittsburgh Clay Pot Company, Consumer’s Ice Company, and Hall and Speer Plough Works, among many others, were located in Manchester.
Manchester grew exponentially throughout the 19th century and became a thriving suburban and residential center — home to prominent businessmen, merchants, shop keepers, churches, synagogues, industrial workers, builders, and speculators, among many others. Many of the houses in Manchester date to this period of fluorescence; and such architectural styles as Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne, American Shingle, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Colonial Revival can still be seen. Throughout its long history, the community always maintained its unique diversity – home to waves of English and Irish immigrants, German immigrants, a strong and vital African American population, a Jewish population, to mention but a few of the many peoples who have made Manchester their home.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, growth of suburban neighborhoods outside of Pittsburgh, coupled with expansion of heavy industry in the city, began to draw population away from many Northside neighborhoods, including Manchester. This trend would continue through the mid-twentieth century. Coupled with this trend was the eventual decline and loss of nearly a third of the housing stock in the Manchester area by the 1950s. Construction of Route 65 in the 1960s as part of Pittsburgh’s first Renaissance further segmented the community by physically separating its business and residential components. In 1971, the Manchester Citizens Corporation was formed as a neighborhood advocacy group for the community and assisted in curtailing the blight in the area. Along with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, a partnership was formed to renovate many areas/homes in Manchester. As part of these efforts, the Manchester National Historic District was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. A little over 20 years later, the Manchester Historic Society, Inc. was formed, in part, to continue to make people aware of this beautiful historic neighborhood, to promote home ownership within Manchester, and encourage restoration, renovation, and beautification projects that benefit the entire community while at the same time preserving Manchester’s unique place in the history of the city.