Ross Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

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Ross Township, Pennsylvania
Township, Census-designated place
Township of Ross
House in the historic Evergreen Hamlet neighborhood
House in the historic Evergreen Hamlet neighborhood
Nickname(s): North Hills, Ross, McKnight
Location in Allegheny County and state of Pennsylvania
Location in Allegheny County and state of Pennsylvania
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Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny
Incorporated June 26, 1809
Named for James Ross
 • Type Board of Commisioners
 • President of the Board of Commisioners Grant Montgomery
 • Township Manager Douglas Sample
 • Total 14.4 sq mi (37.4 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 31,105
 • Density 2,200/sq mi (830/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 15116, 15202, 15209, 15212, 15214, 15229, 15237
Area code(s) 412/878

Ross Township is a township of the first class in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States. Ross Township is a sprawling suburban community about 6 miles north of the city of Pittsburgh. While most areas of the Township are residential, a strong retail corridor is located along McKnight Road, along with business districts on US Route 19 and Babcock Boulevard. The population of the township was 31,105 at the 2010 census. In September 2007, Ross Township adopted the Strong Mayor/Weak Council form of government allowed by Pennsylvania statutes for townships of its class.

Ross Township, along with the borough of West View, Pennsylvania, comprises the North Hills School District, and participates in the multi-municipality Northland Public Library.


On June 26, 1809, John McKnight, along with 30 other residents of Pine Township petitioned the courts of Allegheny for the formation of a new township. In the November term, permission was granted and Ross Township was born. It was so called Ross after a prominent Pittsburgh attorney James Ross. He represented Western Pennsylvania at the convention to ratify the Pennsylvania Constitution in 1790. Ross was a United States Senator and the personal land lawyer to George Washington.

Many of the early settlers lived in fear of the Native American since many Indians did not agree with Chief Cornplanter’s treaty with George Washington in 1784. For Ross Township was the Seneca tribe’s hunting grounds and the “white” men were trespassers. Not until 1794 did Casper Reel decide to finally settle in our area, after being formally chased out by a group of Indians. His twin sons, David and Casper Junior became the first white men born north of Pittsburgh.[1]

One of Ross Township’s earliest claims to fame was the roads that passed through the area. The Native Americans traveled the Venango Path, later called the Franklin Road, and was one of the most important routes used by Commodore Oliver Perry in the “Battle of Lake Erie” in the War of 1812. After his victory, the road was once again changed to the Perrysville Plank Road. During this time the road had large wooden planks on one side to assist in traveling during inclement weather. It wasn’t until State Senator Herman P. Brandt petitioned to have the road paved from the city line to Perrysville in the 1920s. The road changed names once again to what is now known as Perry Highway.

Along the road was built the Hiland Presbyterian Church around 1799. The church, which still stands today, served as the hub of the community with most of the early families worshiping there and as its use as the town meeting hall. Adjoined to church property was the Perrysville School. This was the setting of one of both Pittsburgh’s and Ross Township’s most infamous prison escapes. On January 30, 1902, Katherine Soffel, wife of the warden of the Allegheny Jail, helped the Biddle Brothers, whom she was in love with, escape. It was during this escape through a blinding snow storm that they found themselves on Perrysville Plank Road looking for shelter, transportation and something to eat. Having nowhere else to stay, they broke into the one room Perrysville school house and warmed up next to the pot-bellied stove still warm from the days classes. Wanting something to eat, the Biddle’s traveled up the road to the White House Hotel where they requested six ham sandwiches and a pint of whiskey. Realizing they were short on cash, Ed Biddle pulled out a woman’s pocketbook and paid for them. He did not have enough room in his coat so he pulled out his gun in full sight of the bartender, Christ Weller. After many failed attempts to steal horses and a buggy, they found an open barn along Three Degree Road where their attempt proved successful.[2] Word of their escape broke out in the morning of January 31 in which they were tracked and later caught up with in Butler County.[3] Along with these infamous strangers, some of the residence of Ross had fame in the lives as well. Herman P. Brandt was a State Senator, Casper Reel & Jacob Weitzel were famed Revolutionary War Soldiers, Simon Girty was a renegade traitor to the settlers and has been written about many times all over the world.[4]

In 1908, the Perrysville Volunteer Fire Company was formed.[5]

On August 1, 1962, Northway Mall in Ross Township opened with 62 stores. The unique mall was the site of the very first enclosed mall in the state of Pennsylvania.[2][6][7]

In 1984, the Pittsburgh Chinese Church purchased its current building at 8711 Old Perry Highway.[8]

Ross' borders changed over the course of time when Allegheny City was formed to the south and Shaler Township was formed to the east. Both took place before the turn of the 20th century. In 1905 the borough of West View seceded from Ross and was formed in the southwest corner of Ross Township. Since then, the borders have remained relatively unchanged.

Notable Events

In the summer of 1967, Jim Delligatti invented the Big Mac sandwich in the kitchen of his McDonald's located on McKnight Road.[2][9]


  • Keown Station
  • Berkeley Hills
  • Kinvara
  • Perrysville
  • Laurel Gardens
  • Evergreen Heights
  • Highcliff
  • McKnight Business District
  • Northway
  • Babcock Business District
  • Evergreen Hamlet
  • White Oak Heights


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According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 14.4 square miles (37 km2). A small amount of land is covered with water.

Neighboring communities

Ross Township is bordered by McCandless to the north, Hampton Township to the northeast (touching at one point), Shaler Township to the east, Reserve Township and the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Summer Hill, Perry North and Brighton Heights to the south, the borough of Bellevue to the southwest, Kilbuck Township and Ohio Township to the west, and the borough of Franklin Park to the northwest. Ross Township wholly surrounds the borough of West View.


As of the census[10] of 2010, there were 31,105 people, 14,125 households, and 8,310 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,160.1 people per square mile (831.7/km²). There were 14,909 housing units at an average density of 1035.3/sq mi (398.6/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 94.0% White, 2.1% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 14,125 households, out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.7% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.2% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 31.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the township the population was spread out, with 17.5% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 29.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45.4 years. For every 100 females there were 88.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $57,354, and the median income for a family was $75,319. Males had a median income of $46,124 versus $32,529 for females. The per capita income for the township was $33,121. About 4.3% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.0% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.


  1. Schalcosky, John D. (May 2, 2011). ASIN 0738574546. Pittsburgh: Arcadia Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 978-0738574547. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brandolph, Adam (2011-06-02). "Ross historical society president authors book about township - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". Retrieved 2015-05-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Sebak, Rick (2009-02-01). "The escape of the Biddle Boys & Mrs. Soffel". WiesnerMedia. Retrieved 2014-05-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Schalcosky, John D. (2011). Ross Township. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-7454-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Perrysville Volunteer Fire Company, Station 248 on Facebook
  6. The Grand Opening of Northway Mall.
  7. "The Opening of Northway Mall".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Our History". Pittsburgh Chinese Church. 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Vanchieri, Barbara (1993-05-04). "Golden Arch Angel". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2015-04-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-04-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links