The earliest history of Baldwin Township, taken from Thomas Cushing's 1821 text, History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: Including its early settlement and progress to the present time ; a description of its historic and interesting localities; its cities, towns and villages; religious, educational, social and military history; mining, manufacturing and commercial interests, improvements, resources, statistics, etc.; also, biographies of many of its representative citizens.
-- Thumbnail above will link to a larger graphic --
An 1876 map of Baldwin. This map is Plate 44 in the Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs. Published by G.M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, in 1900.
-- Thumbnail above will link to a much larger graphic --
The Allegheny County Court of Quarter Sessions established Baldwin Township on February 24, 1844. Petitioners named the land for Henry Baldwin, a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 1830 to 1844. One of 12 children born on a farm in Connecticut, Baldwin graduated from Yale University at age 17, studied law, and opened an office in Pittsburgh in 1799, where he started a career that led him to fortune in industry and fame in the courts and politics.
Originally, Baldwin Township consisted of 10,550 acres of land. The present-day neighborhoods of Carrick, Whitehall, Hays, Brentwood, Castle Shannon, Overbrook and Baldwin Borough made up the Township's area in 1844.
Industry thrived in Baldwin Township and its surrounding area. The rich coal seam which underlaid the Township's original acreage made mining the area's largest industry. Baldwin Township also contained the first glass factories in Allegheny County and emerged as an important agricultural area between 1753 and 1876. Cherries of excellent quality became the region's most well-known agricultural product. Whiskey production was also important in this area, and many settlers played an active role in the Whiskey Rebellion.
Baldwin Township flourished during the late 19th century. In the the early 1900's however, its area started to decrease as residents broke away from the Township to form their own communities. Due to the size of the Township, services such as road crews could not be provided to all areas in need.
The loss of communities almost wiped Baldwin Township off the map. In 1901, 205 acres became Hays. Carrick took 1,058 acres in 1904 and Brookline, consisting of 138 acres, became a ward of the city of Pittsburgh. Between 1915 and 1951, approximately 8,700 acres of the Township went to Brentwood, Castle Shannon, Overbrook, Mt. Lebanon, Whitehall, the city of Pittsburgh, and Baldwin Borough. Today only 400 acres of the original area make up Baldwin Township.
Currently, Baldwin Township claims one square mile with six miles of road and 894 homes. Baldwin Township also contains a thriving business district which includes restaurants, a supermarket, and a variety of other ventures.
Baldwin Township has existed in a variety of stages, from an agricultural area populated by a handful of settlers and Indians, to a community consisting of 10,550 acres, to its present state, a small community nestled in the South Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh. Historians believe that if Baldwin Township had never been divided, it would now be the second-largest community in Allegheny County, with a population of over 100,000. Since the 1950's, Baldwin Township has been a close-knit, well-run community that is able to accommodate its residents' needs.