Chronicling Pitt

Issue Date: 
February 18, 2008

An ongoing series highlighting University of Pittsburgh history

On Feb. 18, 1819, the Pennsylvania State Legislature approved the charter for what would become known later as the University of Pittsburgh.

At the time, Pittsburgh was rising in prominence as an industrial city and the largest city west of the Alleghenies, according to Robert C. Albert’s Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787-1987. Yet the city’s young people still had to travel several hundred miles east to receive a higher education, putting them in jeopardy of “falling prey to all the moral dangers of living far from home in a strange city,” Albert wrote.

In late 1818, the Pittsburgh Academy’s trustees petitioned the legislature for a charter for the Western University of Pennsylvania. Once approved, the legislators also granted the institution 40 acres of land.