McKeesport, situated in Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, has been experiencing a significant decline in its population, as per the latest population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Although Pennsylvania is a state with a rich history and diverse culture, not all of its cities are thriving, and McKeesport is a prime example of this.
McKeesport’s Population Decline
Once upon a time, McKeesport thrived as a bustling industrial city, renowned for its coal mines and steel mills. Its population soared to over 55,000 people in 1940. However, with the downfall of the steel industry and closure of the mines, McKeesport faced severe economic challenges, leading to increased crime, unemployment, and poverty rates. As a result, numerous residents left the city in pursuit of better opportunities elsewhere.
The latest census report for 2020 reveals that the population of McKeesport has dwindled to just 17,731 individuals, which is a significant decline of 26.8% since 2000. This alarming statistic has earned McKeesport the title of the fastest shrinking city among the top 100 largest cities in Pennsylvania. Shockingly, the city has lost over two-thirds of its population since its highest recorded number in 1940.
McKeesport’s Challenges and Opportunities
As a shrinking city, McKeesport encounters numerous hurdles in its attempts to maintain public services, infrastructure, housing, and the well-being of its residents. Environmental problems, such as pollution, flooding, and abandoned buildings, only add to these challenges. The city is further burdened by a poverty rate of 32.5%, significantly higher than the state average of 12.5%, and a low median household income of $28,750, compared to the state average of $61,744. These factors make it difficult for McKeesport to sustain a high quality of life for its remaining population.
Despite the challenges, McKeesport presents opportunities for revitalization and growth. The city boasts a strategic location along the Monongahela River, which offers access to Pittsburgh and other markets. The city’s rich heritage and culture, including historic landmarks, museums, festivals, and a diverse community, further add to its appeal. Moreover, McKeesport has several assets and initiatives in place that aim to improve the city’s economy, education, health, and environment. Notable examples include the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus, the McKeesport Hospital Foundation, the McKeesport Collaborative, and the McKeesport Rising Project.
For decades, the population of McKeesport has been declining at an alarming rate. The loss of its industrial base has resulted in social and economic problems, making it the fastest shrinking city in Pennsylvania and one of the nation’s fastest shrinking cities. Despite the bleak situation, McKeesport is not a hopeless case. With its potential and available resources, the city can overcome its challenges and create a brighter future for its residents. However, this requires support, investment, and innovation to reverse the decline and restore the city’s vitality.
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