Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania

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Wilkinsburg is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States adjacent to the city of Pittsburgh. The population was 19,196, at the 2000 census, having lost more than 10,000 in 60 years since 1940 when 29,853 people were enumerated. The borough was named in honor of William Wilkins, Secretary of War under President John Tyler.



Wilkinsburg was founded and developed by highly religious European immigrants. The borough has a remarkably high concentration of churches, mostly Protestant, which is unusual in a predominantly Catholic region of the country. Bars are prohibited within the borough limits. Wilkinsburg separated from the city of Pittsburgh in 1871. According to borough leader James Kelly, this was in order to maintain the religious integrity of the community. Wilkinsburg was known during this time by many as "The Holy City".

In 1916, the world's first commercially licensed radio station, KDKA, began broadcasting here as experimental station 8XK from a small garage owned by Frank Conrad before it was launched with its current call letters on November 2, 1920. In 1923, Wilkinsburg-based Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin designed and patented the iconoscope, the photocell "eye" of early television cameras. Today, ABC affiliate WTAE-TV is located in the borough on Ardmore Blvd.

In more recent years, the borough has become economically depressed. On March 1, 2000, Wilkinsburg received national attention when Ronald Taylor, a man suffering from schizophrenia, killed three people and wounded two others in a spree that occurred in part at the local Burger King and McDonald's restaurants [1].

Wilkinsburg was home to the infamous Larimer Avenue-Wilkinsburg (LAW) Gang, which was indicted by the federal government under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The indictment started in 1995, when the federal government began to investigate and arrest many people with criminal ties or activities [2].

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