Pittsburg is a town in Crawford County, in the Ozark region of Southeast Kansas. The population was 19,243 at the 2000 census. Pittsburg claims P. J. Forbes, Roy Glenn, Don Gutteridge, Vance Randolph, Bill Russell, and Paul White as natives.


Pittsburg is 27 miles south of Fort Scott, Kansas, 96 miles west of Springfield, Missouri, and 137 miles northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is the most populous city in Crawford County, and it is the most populous city in Southeast Kansas. It was founded on May 20, 1876 and named after and in honor of the city Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Franklin Playter is credited with being the city's founder, establishing a government from its earlier incarnation as a coal mining camp in the 1870s.

Pittsburg is the home to Pittsburg State University. It is also home to two high schools, Pittsburg High School, or United School District USD 250 and St. Marys-Colgan High School.

Pittsburg is located at 37°24'37N, 94°41'59W (37.410320, -94.699816). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.4 km² (12.5 mi²). 32.2 km² (12.4 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.48%) is water.

The city has a rich cultural heritage from many European mine workers who settled in and around Pittsburg. There is a grocery store operating under an Italian name (Pallucca's) in the nearby town of Frontenac. The city was founded in 1876, and incorporated in 1880. It is situated in the center of productive coal fields.

Little Balkans Days is a celebration that is unique to Pittsburg. This celebration of the community's European ethnic heritage features games, entertainment, a parade, competitions, and arts and crafts. It is held in conjunction with the Labor Day holiday. The city is the birthplace & childhood home of broadcast journalism pioneer Paul White, legendary news director for CBS in the 1930s and 1940s.

Early History of Pittsburg
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
Pittsburg, one of the important cities of southeastern Kansas, is located in Crawford county, 11 miles southeast of Girard, the judicial seat. It is 3 miles from the Missouri line and 134 miles from Kansas City, at the junction of four railway systems—the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Missouri Pacific, the Kansas City Southern and the St. Louis & San Francisco. The main shops of the Kansas City Southern are located here and give employment to 1,600 men. It is in the mineral and oil district and the zinc smelters give employment to 1,200. Coal is extensively mined and shipped.

Other important industries are the foundries and machine shops, cornice works, flour and planing mills, tent and awning factory, boiler works, paving and building brick plant, sewer pipe works, factories for the manufacture of gloves, mittens, garments and cigars, stone quarries and packing houses. There are 4 banks, 4 newspapers (the Headlight, the Kansan, the Labor Herald and the Volkesfreund), and a monthly fraternal paper (the Cyclone). The city has electric lights, fire and police departments, sewer system, waterworks, paved streets, electric street railway, a $60,000 opera house and fine school and church buildings.

This is the seat of the manual training branch of the state normal school, a Catholic academy, and a German Lutheran school. There are telegraph and express offices and an international money order postoffice with eight rural routes. This is one of the points designated by the government for a postal savings bank. The population in 1910 was 14,755.

Pittsburg was laid out in 1876 by Col. E. H. Brown for Moffett & Sargent. The postoffice was established that year with George Richey as postmaster. The first dwelling was built by J. T. Roach in July, and the first business house was erected about the same time by G. W. Seabury & Co., who started a general store. By fall there were 100 inhabitants. In 1879 the town was incorporated as a city of the third class and the first officers were: Mayor, M. M. Snow; councilmen, J. R. Lindburg, W. McBride, F. Kalwitz, P. A. Shield and D. S. Miller.

The Girard & Joplin R. R., which had been built prior to the founding of the town connected it with these two points. In 1880 the railroad was sold to the St. Louis & San Francisco company. A new addition of 40 acres was platted about that time and in 1882 another addition of like extent. The first newspaper was the Pittsburg Exponent, established in June, 1882, by L. C. Hitchcock. By 1884 the population was 4,000, six years later it was 6,697, in 1900 it had grown to 10,112. In 1891 there were 29 corporations doing business in Pittsburg with a combined capitalization of nearly $10,000,000. In 1904 there were 55 coal companies employing 11,835 men in addition to many small operators, and 44 new coal mines were opened. During the year ending in Sept., 1904, about 700 new dwelling houses were built and $3,000,000 spent in public improvements.

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,243 people, 7,980 households, and 4,213 families residing in the city. The population density was 596.8/km² (1,546.2/mi²). There were 8,855 housing units at an average density of 274.6/km² (711.5/mi²). The people are 92.34% White, 2.61% Black/African American, 1.08% Native American, 1.94% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 1.90% from other races, and 2.08% from two or more races. Hispanic of any race were 3.84% of the population.

There were 7,980 households out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.0% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.2% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.8% under the age of 18, 24.1% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,221, and the median income for a family was $36,674. Males had a median income of $26,312 versus $20,132 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,318. About 13.6% of families and 22.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.2% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over.

Notable natives

P. J. Forbes — former Major League Baseball player

Roy Glenn — actor

Don Gutteridge — former Major League Baseball player and manager

Vance Randolph — folklorist

Bill Russell (baseball) - former Major League Baseball player, coach, and manager

Paul White — broadcast journalism pioneer and CBS news director

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