The beautiful and historic Sewickley Valley is a collection of municipalities located twelve miles outside of Pittsburgh on the north bank of the Ohio River. The Native Americans who had formerly lived in the area, tapped the abundant sugar maples, which they called “Seweekly” trees for their “sweet water”.
The first permanent settlers in the Sewickley Valley arrived by the end of the 18th century. These early residents were farmers, but a number of inns and taverns soon sprang up to accommodate the increasing traffic. The area experienced rapid growth with the arrival of the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad in 1851, which transformed the sparsely-settled region of farms, taverns and scant commerce into a burgeoning—and highly coveted—suburban area. Commuting to Pittsburgh became much more convenient; a journey that used to take about four hours by road and several hours by steamboat was now reduced to a mere half hour. The population of the area doubled in the next decade, now that businessmen could escape the grit and congestion of the city for a quiet home on a large lot in the Sewickley Valley. On July 6, 1853, the Borough of Sewickley was incorporated.
The Heights above Sewickley remained underdeveloped, even wild in some places, partially because the lands there were far from the river and not readily accessible, and also because the initial owners did not exploit their holdings. Eventually, the Tuxedo Land Company purchased 2200 acres in the late 1890s. Some of the land was then sold to a number of wealthy men who found the rolling hills and spectacular views ideal for summer country homes. Soon magnificent estates covered the hilltops, giving Sewickley a far grander image than it had before 1900.
Throughout the 20th century, transportation to and from Sewickley continued to improve and expand. In 1911, the Sewickley-Coraopolis Bridge was completed, uniting the north and south banks of the Ohio. In 1929, the railroad tracks were moved closer to the river, and the Ohio River Boulevard was constructed. Sewickley is also a convenient distance from the Pittsburgh Airport.
And so, the town continues to flourish, endeavoring to preserve its past while embracing the future, blessed by luck, geography and the careful planning of its residents.
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