Pittsburgh as an Energy Capital: Perspectives on Coal and Natural Gas Transitions and the Environment

Date of Original Version



Book Chapter

Abstract or Description

Throughout most of its history Pittsburgh has been closely identified with the fossil fuel coal as a source of both industrial progress and of environmental degradation. Located on top of the high-quality Pittsburgh bituminous coal seam, the city’s businesses, industries, residents, railroads, and steamboats benefited from the high-energy and easily available fuel. Coal has shaped the pattern of industrial development, settlement, population, and labor force composition. Its mining and consumption also drove the environmental contamination and physical alteration of land and water, as well as seriously polluting the air. Without coal and the advantages of its location, Pittsburgh would not have become one of the world’s great industrial powers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.1 The tentacles of the city’s industrial and financial interests and its ecological footprint spread throughout the region, tying its hinterland ever closer to the city


Published In

Energy Capitals: Local Impact, Global Influence, Joseph A. Pratt, Martin V. Melosi, and Kathleen A. Brosnan (eds.), 5-29.