Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
The house at Robin Hill Park, a large community center area in Moon Township
Location in Allegheny County and state of Pennsylvania
|Coordinates: 40°31′N 80°14′W / 40.517°N 80.233°WCoordinates: 40°31′N 80°14′W / 40.517°N 80.233°W
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| • Chairman
||1,775 ft (358 m)
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||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
| • Summer (DST)
Moon Township is a township along the Ohio River in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States. Moon is a part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area and is located 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Pittsburgh. The origin of its name is unknown; historians suggest it was derived from a crescent-shaped bend in the river. Local lore tells of a waning crescent moon that descended to plow furrows in farmer's fields with its sharp cusp, but killed many excited witnesses who cursed and praised the moon's early morning activities. The population was 24,185 at the 2010 census.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early history (1756-1773)
- 1.2 Settlement times (1773-1799)
- 1.3 1900s to present
- 2 Expansion and development
- 2.1 US Airways development
- 2.2 West Hills Shopping Center
- 2.3 University Boulevard
- 2.4 Explore Our Universe
- 2.5 Moon Park renovations
- 3 Moon Area School District
- 4 Surrounding communities
- 5 National recognition
- 6 Notable residents
- 7 Moon in the media
- 8 Geography
- 9 Demographics
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early history (1756-1773)
The initial settlement of Moon Township was a direct result of the westward expansion of English settlers and traders who arrived in the Ohio Valley in the early to mid-18th century. During the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War), the Iroquois, which controlled the land for hunting grounds through right of conquest, ceded large parcels of southwestern Pennsylvania lands through treaty or abandonment to settlers; in some cases, the land was already occupied by squatters. The ceding of these lands occurred either through early treaties or outright abandonment by the Iroquois nation, the avowed owners of the land.
Indian settlements of the south bank of the Ohio River typically relocated to more populous areas of the north bank in the current locales of Sewickley, Aliquippa and Ambridge.
On the southern banks of the Ohio, political disputes among settlers clouded the disposition of lands. Generally, the Pennsylvania Land Office apportioned land to owners through grants. But, some of the land encompassing what is now the Coraopolis Heights, Thorn Run valley, and Narrows Run valley were claimed through the process of "Tomahawk Improvements". Settlement processes were often convoluted because of differences among land policies of the several colonies claiming the land, specifically Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Each colony had its own means of either granting or restricting settlement opportunities. Each settler claiming land in what is now Moon Township had to go through a multi-level process of application for grant, warrant of property, and survey to ensure the physical boundaries of the property, and patent approval whereby the applicant paid for the land and title was conferred.
On April 3, 1769, Andrew Montour, an Indian interpreter who had provided service to the English settlers during the French and Indian War, was granted one of the first land patents for approximately 350 acres (1.4 km2) of what later became the borough of Coraopolis and Neville Island. In 1773, the settler John Meek was awarded a 400-acre (1.6 km2) land grant from Virginia above the river bottom and between the Thorn Run and Montour Run valleys, and "Moon Township" was born.
Settlement times (1773-1799)
The settlers Robert Loudon and John Vail were awarded grants to a total of 600 acres (2.4 km2). Loudon's tract was situated on the Coraopolis Heights adjacent to the Meek grant. Vail's grant was established somewhere between the current Thorn Run and Narrows Run valleys (although this location is open to some interpretation).
Three other early grants were warranted by either Virginia or Pennsylvania land speculators. The boundaries of these land tracts are hard to identify, but historians believe that they encompassed about 700 acres (2.8 km2) or so, and were occupied by anonymous squatters. while the history is not known, scholars believe the squatters were somehow marginal to the social order. In abandoning their lands, the squatters ceded any potential claims to settlers who would otherwise improve and/or cultivate the land.
As the 18th century drew to a close, abandoned lands were taken up by new settlers who were drawn to the region by the fertility of the soil. This round of pioneers were, by and large, wealthier than their predecessors and had the means to develop the broken and hilly areas into plots suitable for farming.
At this time Moon Township occupied an enormous tract of land - possibly 145 square miles (380 km2). The sheer difficulty of residents performing their civic duties (e.g., report to assigned polling places or attend jury trials) made it necessary for local governing authorities to parcel out the land into smaller municipalities. So in 1790, the current Fayette Townships were portioned off from Moon Township, to be followed by Findlay and Crescent townships, respectively.
1900s to present
In 1943, the federal government designed and built a housing plan known as Mooncrest for defense workers. Mooncrest residents produced armor plates, munitions and ships at the nearby Dravo Corp. during World War II. Operated by the U.S. Air Force after 1945, homes were sold to private investors in the mid-1950s.
Moon became home to Pittsburgh's modern-day airport in 1951, replacing the Allegheny County Airport as the main terminal for the region. The area developed mainly due to the airport. Prior to this time, the western hills of Allegheny County consisted largely of rolling farms and small residential developments. On April 1, 1956, TWA Flight 400 crashed on takeoff from the airport, killing 22 persons just past the east end of the runway, which lies in Moon Township.
During the Cold War, Moon Township was the location of Nike Site PI-71, which was a battery of Nike Ajax and/or Nike Hercules surface-to-air missiles, used by US armed forces for high – and medium-altitude air defense. The former missile site is now a nature preserve.
Development of Pennsylvania Route 60 (now Interstate 376) to the Pittsburgh airport, plus the addition of the Parkway West from Pittsburgh and nearby exits of Interstate 79, allowed Moon to become the area's crossroads for transportation via air and road.
In 1991, the relocation of the landside terminal of the Pittsburgh International Airport to nearby Findlay Township resulted in a loss in traffic to the township. Moon experienced a significant loss of tax revenues but has since rebounded as the cargo area for the airport.
A large part of the airport's runways and facilities are located within the boundary of Moon Township, although the terminal and about half of the airport's land area are in Findlay Township, to the west.
The township is home to the Air Force Reserve 911th Airlift Wing, which was established in 1943. Moon is also home to the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pa. Air National Guard. Additionally, the Army has its 99th Regional Readiness Command, built in the late 1990s in Moon Township.
Since the loss of the airport terminal, the township has shifted its focus from airport commerce to corporate development, residences and university hub. The main campus of Robert Morris University is also located within the township.
Major corporation headquarters like Nova Chemicals, FedEx Ground, First Health/Coventry and the consumer division of GlaxoSmithKline are located in Moon.
Expansion and development
Growth is expected to continue in Moon in the near future due to many new construction projects such as the redevelopment of University Boulevard and conversion of the West Hills Shopping Center into a new shopping plaza.
Ground was broken in late 2006 on the new Cherrington Parkway extension. The extension, anticipated to be opened in early 2008, will create additional shovel-ready land for Class A office space, for corporate development.
As a result of Robert Morris University, the college feeds much of the economy along the township's University Boulevard area.
Several new businesses have opened recently, including the new DoubleTree Hotel and restaurants including Primanti's. A new Walgreens has been completed.
US Airways development
After years of declining its operations in Moon Township, US Airways announced Feb. 20, 2007, it would build its flight operations center on a piece of land adjacent to the Pittsburgh International Airport and Business Route 60 (now Interstate 376 Business). The center would retain 450 high paying jobs and increase it by 150 for a total of 600 jobs. The facility was closed following the 2015 merger of US Airways and American Airlines, and replaced by a different facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
West Hills Shopping Center
The West Hills Shopping Center, once the heart of Moon's commercial business, was sold to Wal-Mart for $4.7 million and announced to the public on January 3, 2007.
Wal-Mart officials announced their plans to build a supercenter location on the site of what's now the West Hills Shopping Center. The company also purchased two adjacent parcels of land along Brodhead Road. Preparation of the site begin in the second half of 2015. Officials hope to see the store open by October 2016.
On the morning of August 14, 2003, the former Beers School and Narrows Run roads became known as University Boulevard, a move that helped to promote the township as the home of Robert Morris University.
The new road name also depicts the township's efforts to re-emerge as a business-dominant community. Since the 2003 renaming, township officials have researched various zoning ordinances to piece together Moon's main business corridor.
Explore Our Universe
Playing off the township's unique name, supervisors in 2005 gave Moon a new slogan, "Explore Our Universe." "The slogan is a play not only on the township's lunar name but also on Robert Morris University and the University Boulevard business corridor, which township officials would like investors and consumers to explore a little more thoroughly," wrote the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005.
Moon Park renovations
Moon Park, the township's largest community park, was to begin a $10 million renovation in the spring of 2008.
Moon Area School District
Moon Township is home to the Moon Area School District, which consists of students from both Moon and Crescent townships. The school district enrolls approximately 3,800 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.
Moon Township is surrounded on land by Coraopolis, Crescent Township, North Fayette Township, Findlay Township, Hopewell Township, Aliquippa and Robinson Township.
The township is accessible to the adjacent boroughs of Glen Osborne, Sewickley, Leetsdale, and Edgeworth via the Sewickley Bridge over the Ohio River.
In 2007, Moon Township was honored with several honors as one of the country's best places to live.
BusinessWeek.com ranked Moon one of five best affordable suburbs in the North East.
Township officials had no idea the community received the award until Greg Smith, the township's manager, found the report online. The recognition includes the 15108 zip code covering Coraopolis borough, Kennedy and Moon townships.
Moon also was included in the 2007 "Best Places To Raise Your Family" published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. Moon is featured on pages 166-167. This listing included Coraopolis and Moon as the rankings are based on zip code.
Moon was nominated as a runner up in the list of top Pittsburgh suburbs to raise a family in 2013.
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