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Brookline Connection
Look Back in Time at Our Community

The Firehouse

♦ Brookline Boulevard
♦ Moore Park est-1939
♦ Brookline Park est-1947
♦ Breeze 5K Run est-1982
♦ Recreation Center est-1970
♦ Past Images of Brookline
♦ War Memorial est-1919
♦ Notable Brookliners

Neighborhood Churches
Brookline Firehouse
Local Schools
Building Brookline
School Picnic 1910-2015
Anderson Farm 1874-1947
Bus Service (1937-present)
Streetcar Service 1905-1966

Facts ♦ Photos ♦ History ♦
Liberty TunnelsBridge ♦
Pgh&CastleShannon RR ♦
Smithfield St Bridge ♦
Pittsburgh Inclines ♦
Little League est-1951 ♦
Youth Soccer est-1982 ♦
Knights Football 1974-2019 ♦

What's New?   ♦♦   Where's Brookline? ♦♦ Aerial Views ♦♦ Street Map ♦♦ Vintage Maps
Brookline History ♦♦ "Brookline Now" Archive (2008-2020) ♦♦ Trivia: Brookline - Pittsburgh

Random Photo Galleries:   Brookline Street Scenes (1) ♦♦ Brookline Street Scenes (2)
West Liberty Ave (1903-1915) ♦♦ West Liberty Ave (1915-1965) ♦♦ Brookline Blvd (1909-1990)
♦♦ Saw Mill Run Blvd (1909-1970) ♦♦ Vintage Brookline/Pittsburgh Images in Living Color ♦♦

View our Special Compilations: History of Floods, Snow and Tornados in Pittsburgh,
A History Of Pittsburgh And Western Pennsylvania Troops In The Great War - 1919,
Mayors of Pittsburgh, Whatever Happened To Skybus?, Lost Brookline and more.

From the Pittsburgh City Archives:
♦♦ West Liberty Borough Council Minutes (1894-1906) - PDF Version ♦♦
♦♦ West Liberty Borough Council Minutes (1906-1907) - PDF Version ♦♦
♦♦ West Liberty Borough Council Ordinances (1876-1907) - PDF Version ♦♦
♦♦ City of Pittsburgh Municipal Record (1868-present) - Online Database ♦♦
♦♦ Montooth Borough Council Ordinances (1896-1906) - PDF Version ♦♦
Note: The Borough of Montooth was formed from part of West Liberty Borough in 1896 over
a dispute regarding the placement of West Liberty School along Lang (Pioneer) Avenue.

Our community spans part of both the 19th and 32nd City Wards. When in need of
a Justice, who should you turn to? Learn more about
Brookline's two Magistrates.
♦♦ Got a Complaint? Dial 311 for the Pittsburgh Response Line or
submit online form. ♦♦

1951 Review / Brookline Journal Collection ♦♦ 1952 Review / Brookline Journal Collection
♦♦ Photo Gallery And A Short Video Of Brookline As Seen From Above ♦♦

   Brookline Facebook Links   
The Brookline Connection
The Brookline Breeze
Brookline Together - Formerly SPDC
and the Brookline Chamber of Commerce
Neighborhood Groups:    Brookline Youth Baseball/Softball   ♦♦ Brookline Youth Hockey ♦♦
♦♦ Moore Park University ♦♦ Brookline Forever ♦♦ Brookline Today ♦♦ Brookline Community ♦♦
♦♦ Brookline Teen Outreach ♦♦ Growing Up In Brookline ♦♦ Brookline Breezefest ♦♦
♦♦ Brookline Block Watch ♦♦ Brookline Youth Soccer ♦♦ Brookline Pride ♦♦

Our Brookline

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The Community of Brookline - 2015.
Click on image for a more detailed view.

Brookline is located in the South Hills section (4th City Council District, 19th and 32nd Ward) of the City of Pittsburgh. As of 2018, Brookline ranked as Pittsburgh's third most populous neighborhood behind Squirrel Hill South and Shadyside. Throughout its history, the area has retained a certain character and charm that has enriched its residents while creating a heritage spanning over two centuries, dating back to the days when taxes were paid to the King of England.

The first settlers in the region were frontier traders, craftsmen, farmers and miners that worked with the Native Americans and the French, then British, garrisons stationed in the neighboring outposts. In the colonial days, this region was considered wild country, inhabited only by the heartiest of settlers and the soldiers that protected them.

The borough of Pittsburgh was chartered in 1759. Native American resentment of the invaders from the east eventually led to open hostilities. During Pontiac's Uprising in 1763, many of the earliest settlers either perished or sought refuge in Fort Pitt, which was under siege for ten weeks. Afterwards, the fort was used as a staging area for military campaigns in the Ohio Territory.

After the American Revolution, freedom brought rapid expansion. Land grants were issued to veterans of the War of Independence. Many of those who settled in the South Hills area were former members of the Pennsylvania Militia. Pittsburgh was incorporated as a city in 1816, along with a number of nearby boroughs, townships and villages which formed around the same time.

A panorama view of the city of Pittsburgh - 2006.

Known as the "Gateway to the West," Pittsburgh became a vital port-of-call for the multitude of adventurers seeking passage to the vast western territories that would become part of the United States of America. Industry and commerce flourished.

In the mid-1800s, Richard and Harriette Knowlson, along with children Thomas, Elizabeth and John, settled in the southwestern portion of what would later become Brookline. The Knowlsons had family ties in the Brookline, Massachusetts area. Richard had spent several years there after migrating from England.

The terrain south of Coal Hill (Mount Washington) was part of Lower St. Clair Township known as West Liberty. This was prime farmland for much of the 19th century. West Liberty agriculture helped feed the growing population of the city.

Due to the abundance of small streams and the rolling hills, a landscape similar to the New England town, Richard Knowlson referred to the land surrounding his farm as Brookline. In 1905, when development came to this section of West Liberty Borough, the area was originally intended to emerge as an independent municipality, designated as "Brookline" by A. P. Haaz, an agent for the West Liberty Improvement Company.

The 1870s saw the arrival of the expanding coal industry. The Pittsburgh Coal Company soon had active mines in operation all along the valley floors of West Liberty. Other companies, like the South Hills Coal Company, remained until the early 1940s.

Brookline Boulevard in 1933.
 Color art by Doug Brendel.
Brookline Boulevard, looking from Stebbins Avenue towards Glenarm.

The 20th century saw the advent of the automobile, and the addition of electrified trolley service in 1901 led to the rapid residential development of the South Hills, including the Brookline community, then referred to as West Liberty Borough. The sale of ten farms to developers on March 12, 1905 marked the birth of Brookline. Annexed into the city of Pittsburgh in 1908 Brookline grew unabated throughout the 1920s, as did the entire South Hills area.

Brookline Boulevard, the community's main artery and home of the commercial district, was the central hub around which the neighborhood grew. It was similar to today's suburban malls, where most of the community's needs could be satisfied.

There were food stores, hardware stores, doctor's offices, soda shops, shoe stores, repair stores, dance halls, night clubs, a bowling alley and two movie theatres. For those who needed to travel, the public transportation network could get a person anywhere in the city.

The post-war years saw another spurt in the growth of Brookline. The country was growing rapidly and Pittsburgh's steel mills fed that growth. During Pittsburgh's Renaissance I in the 1950s, when the area of the Lower Hill District was demolished, many displaced city residents migrated to the area around lower Pioneer Avenue, spurring the last big population surge. Brookline's census numbers eventually peaked at nearly 21,000 residents in the late-1960s.

This is a painting done by renowned Brookline artist
Dino Guarino showing a 1960s Brookline Boulevard scene.
Painting by local artist Dino Guarino depicting a 1960s Brookline Boulevard scene.

The mid-1970s were a time of change for the city of Pittsburgh and the community of Brookline. The decline of the steel industry and the resulting loss in jobs caused the population to decrease for the first time since the Great Depression. In addition, the rise in popularity of the suburban mall brought many adjustments to the business community. Vacant homes and empty storefronts threatened to undermine the spirit of many Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Through the efforts of many concerned Brookliners, and with the help of the city and local community groups, Brookline survived the hard times and grew stronger as a result. By the dawn of the 21st century. Brookline Boulevard had come back to life, and the bonds that tie the community together as neighbors had never been stronger.

Images of  America - Brookline

The Brookline history book entitled "Images of America - Brookline" is still available for purchase online at amazon.com. The compilation, released in May 2005, is packed with interesting and revealing photos, with accompanying text detailing much of Brookline's heritage. It's a must for anyone interested in the history of our community.

The community of Brookline marked the 100th anniversary of its annexation into the city of Pittsburgh, our neighborhood centennial, on January 6, 2008.

It was a time for the older generation to look back with pride at a century filled with fond memories of family, friends and the growth of their hometown. It was also a moment for the younger generation, the future of our community, to look forward with fresh minds and new ideas to guide our neighborhood through the challenges of the next 100 years.

Brookline was, is, and always will be a special place for Brookliners everywhere. The community motto, "Character, Charm, Convenience" defines the spirit that binds us. This website is dedicated to the history of our proud community. We hope you enjoy this look back in time.

One last note about the history of Brookline, and for that matter most of the city of Pittsburgh. This area has been extensively mined, for so long that the State of Pennsylvania can't say for sure where all the mines are.

The rich Pittsburgh Coal Seam ran right under the Brookline area and, if you make your home here, there is a 95% chance that your property has been undermined. For all Brookline property owners, we offer three important words, Mine Subsidence Insurance. It is offered by the State of Pennsylvania and is affordably priced.

A rainbow over Brookline
November 24, 2014
Photo by Michael Cahill.

Brookline - A Special Place!

Brookline Connection webpage designed and maintained
by Clint Burton, in honor of so many ...
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Brookline PA

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Last Modified: 20 June 2024