THE HISTORY OF WEST VIEW

The Borough of West View has a rich history. This page serves to provide a summary of the history of our community, from its earliest Native American inhabitants to West View Park. To discover and share more about our history, check out the West View Historical Society page on Facebook!

Native Americans

Southwestern Pennsylvania has had numerous Native American inhabitants throughout its history. The Adena people inhabited the area from 1000 to 200 BC, followed by the Hopewell people from 200 BC to 500 AD. The Monongahela tribe then lived in the area from 1050 AD until the early 17th century, when they disappeared, likely from disease or merging with another tribe. Starting in the 18th century, several Native American groups who were forced off their land started heading west towards the Pittsburgh area. Delaware, Erie, Seneca, Shawnee, and Wyandot Indians all traveled through the area.

 

Origins of the West View/Ross Area

This all changed in October 1784, when the “Last Purchases” were made at Fort Stanwix. Prior to the treaty, all the land west of the Allegheny and north of the Ohio was considered “Indian country." This treaty designated the West View/Ross area as the “Depreciation Tract” and was to be given to Pennsylvanians who had enlisted in the Continental Army. The area was particularly attractive to settlers because a road, the Venango Trail, ran through the area. The path, used by Cornplanter Indians, started in Pittsburgh and went north through West View and continued north to Presque Isle.

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West View's First Settler

The first European settler to arrive in West View was Casper Reel. Reel obtained a 727-acre plot of land in the West View/Ross area for his service in the Revolutionary War. He built a log cabin in 1795, which still sits on Georgetown Avenue. You can find more about Reel here.

 

Creation of West View

The name “West View” came from pioneers, traveling north from Pittsburgh, who enjoyed the view to the west as they traveled the Venango Trail. However, the name “West View” was actually used to describe three different places along the trail at one point in time. In the early 1900s, the Allegheny-Bellevue Land Company began purchasing lands that had once belonged to people such as Casper Reel and Barnabas Hilands (find out more about them on the People Profiles page. The purchase price for the 1.3 square mile which became West View was $276,500. The Land Company started on six housing projects between 1903 and 1914.

 

Streetcars

Pittsburgh had an extensive electric railway system that went through the suburbs. One of West View's draws in the early days was this railway system. The Pittsburgh Railway Company built bridges and combined its West View and Bellevue routes on May 15, 1906. Pittsburgh, Butler, and New Castle Railway Company started operations in 1907. The Allegheny-Bellevue Land Company formed the Allegheny-Bellevue Railways Company which allowed streetcars to extend into new developments like West View.

Our summary of West View's history would not have been possible without the help of several external sources for research and images. Click here for a list of sources that may be useful for additional research. Many of these pages are still being added to, and new pages are still being created. Stay tuned for future history pages!

West View Historical Society

View of Highland Avenue looking down from Columbia Ave (Casper Reel's log cabin is visible), 1910