One of the most desirable and prettiest suburbs of Pittsburg is Sheraden borough. On the downtown portion of the city it can be reached by steam in a remarkably few number of minutes, and by trolley in just about a quarter of an hour. It has miles of paved streets, which are lined with shade trees, is composed almost entirely of good residences and is populated mostly by business and professional men who come to and forth from the city daily. Close by are railroad yards which rank second in business in the entire Pittsburg district. There is not a licensed house in the suburb, while there are seven church buildings, several other congregations and three schools.
Sheraden borough is long and narrow, lying in a beautiful valley which is protected from the keen winds incidental to this season of the year. Scores of years ago it was the location of a great Indian camp, and these Aborigines were very clever at picking out an ideal site when they wished to pitch their tepees in a permanent way.
The old Indian name for the valley was "Aschenaz." That this fact has not been forgotten is proved by the naming of one of the principal avenues in the new borough. "Aschenaz" is supposed to have been the name of an Indian princess. In the early 70's the site on which Sheraden now stands was merely farm land, and was considered as quite a distance from Pittsburg. Now most trains can whirl a resident there from Fourth avenue station in about eight minutes.
Andrew Patterson was about the first man to see the possibilities of this beautiful valley, and in 1879 acquired from Colonel Sawyer most of the land the latter owned. Patterson and Sawyer began laying the territory out in plans of lots, the first being named after Colonel Sawyer. So rapidly were these locations taken up that it soon became necessary for these pioneers to acquire more land. Plan after plan was opened and curiously enough it was the prosperous business men or professional men who sought to make his residence there.
In these days, of course, Sheraden was actually far in the country and was rather hard to reach. But notwithstanding these drawbacks, the population increased steadily. In about 10 years it had risen to about 500. But since then on account of the improved transportation facilities the borough has increased by leaps and bounds. It is almost entirely residential, and the Panhandle Railroad, keeping this fact in mind, has given it perhaps the best passenger train service of any of Pittsburg's suburbs. Through the Sheraden station every day pass 52 trains, east and west. The majority of these are crowded into the business hours or, in other words, around about breakfast time and the close of the day, so that the residents of the valley who do business in the city can get a train in the morning or evening at about 15 minute intervals.
Another advantage is that the steam carfare between Pittsburg and Sharaden [sic] is five cents, the same as that on trolley cars within the limits of the city. Electricity, as has been said, takes the residents home in just about 15 minutes and the fare again is only a nickel. That the railroad and the street car company should favor Sheraden shows that they think of its future possibilities. They seem to realize that Sheraden is only just beginning to grow.
Sheraden was incorporated as a borough in 1904. Compared with the 500 population in 1891, at the first election after incorporation 240 voters cast their ballot, and the interests of the residents was shown by the fact that there were 36 candidates for the various borough officers. Now there are over 1,400 registered voters, although some of the old-timers assert that at the first election a few "dead ones" were voted from Hollywood Cemetery.
The Sheraden Land Improvement Co. has had a good deal to do with the rapid building up of the borough. This company laid out five plans in almost as many years, followed this with Sheraden Terrace, one of the prettiest parts of the little town, and altogether to the present time there have been eight separate additions. In 1891 the Wood-Harmon Co. secured the Nimick property in the valley, and after most extensive and judicious advertising, opened the Melrose plan, which proved so successful that all the rest of the Nimick property was bought up to satisfy the popular demand.
The Melrose plan excited a great deal of interest in Pittsburg, because a prize was offered for the most appropriate name, and the one word "Melrose" secured the house and lot, which had been offered as a bonus. This was won by a woman, and sometime afterwards the prize house was destroyed by fire, on account of the incautious use of an oil can.
The borough extends from the under-grade crossing of the Panhandle Railroad to the White bridge crossing Chartiers Creek, near the old Bryan Tavern at the south end of McKees Rocks. This is a dantance [sic] of nearly two miles. It incorporates 19 plans. The Panhandle Railroad runs through the center of the town.
To show the value at which property in the valley was held, it is only necessary to state that the market garden tract of William Sheraden was sold to John Murphy in the early nineties for $140,000. What was then a truck farm has now become part of the little city, with remarkably well-paved streets lined with trees, with find [sic] dwellings on each side.
Ever since the first plan was laid out it has been the policy of the officials to see that all streets were planted with shade trees and paved with brick as soon as possible. The result now is that Sheraden can boast of 16 miles of as well paved thoroughfares as can be found anywhere in this vicinity. Except between the street car track where Belgian block has been used the authorities have insisted on smooth brick paving.
Public buildings or department stores have not been neglected and it is possible to get almost all city facilities without having to make the short journey to Pittsburg. Three splendid school buildings have been erected and seven congregations have provided dignified homes for themselves. Some of the other denominations have not yet acquired the numerical and financial strength necessary for the erection of a sacred edifice but these are surely coming.
The borough touches the city line along the borders of what used to be Elliot borough, but which lately became the Thirty-ninth ward of Pittsburg. Although the sentiment is probably towards annexation to the city, the majority of the residents believe that this will finally be accomplished by State legislation rather than by the individual vote of the residents of Sheraden. They are all very proud of their little city and in some places where the shade tree planting has been slightly overlooked the residents themselves have gone to the trouble and expense to see that there is one tree at last in front of every lot. They take especial pride in their lawns and some down there would compare favorably with the most famous in the millionaires' parts of the East End. Of course, this does not mean in extent, but in quality.
Every section of the borough has been sewered in the most up-to-date style, and not only this but unlike most suburbs even the curbing is of the standard size—6 inches instead of the usual narrow coping to be found in places beyond the limits of the city.
The business man who wishes to start in a fashion not too pretentious could not find a better location than in Sheraden. The needs ofthe [sic] borough are growing every day and storerooms are being erected in order to supply the demands of families. One property owner alone has 16 storerooms which are now occupied by tenants whose business is increasing daily. It can be readily understood that there are a great number of requirements in such a family sectio nfor [sic] which it is impossible to make even a short journey to the city. The local dealers are reaping the profits of this demand and it is growing visibly. Indeed, the population of Sheraden is growing so fast that it is taxing storekeepers in all lines to handle the business that is now pouring in on them.
Since the incorporation of the borough somewhat over a year ago there have been a thousand buildings erected. John Murphy has at the present time 17 in process of erection and since 1897 hsa put up altogether 200 and he is not the only contractor. He admits very modestly that in the eight years in which he has been adding to the size of Sheraden he has increased the tax valuation of the place, each year, by $50,000. Without using exact figures it is within the mark to say that the tax valuation of Sheraden borough at the present time will exceed $5,000,000.