The Advantages of a Better Community: Historically Proud

Advantages Explored!

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, On Self-Reliance

I’ve always found comfort in those words.  Hasn’t each of us realized that we probably have more in common with each other than we first thought? I’m not saying that our likes and tastes are all the same (that would be boring), but that our basic hopes and desires look – in the end – very similar.  

Over the next few months, I want to explore in more detail the Advantages of a Better Community, one at a time, in no specific order. These are, to me, the “common denominators” of good community. In some ways, they are reflective of the foundations that already exist here in Coraopolis; in other ways, they are aspirational. Some will resonate with you more than others, but I think you’ll agree they all are advantages we seek. They are the advantages I am working for each day.   I look forward to your own thoughtful comments!


The Advantages of a Better Community: #6 – Historically Proud

No April Fool’s joke: Our original name was Middletown!

According to local historian Stacey Christe, whose love of history and community inspired her to singled-handedly bring us the most thorough and comprehensive archive of our town in her website, Coraopolis History Archive, the name Coraopolis was not the town founders’ first choice.  From the website:

Coraopolis Station 1890s.jpg
Before it was Coraopolis, in the 1870s it was the town located at Middletown Station on the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, named such because it was midway between Pittsburgh and Beaver. Regional residents often referred to Middletown as ‘on the Ohio River, 12 miles West of Pittsburg(h)’ so as not to confuse it with Middletown, CT on the Connecticut River, or other more well-developed regions. Alternately, it was also referred to as being ‘on Montour’s Bottom’, a flat region alongside Montour Run named for Andrew “Henry” Montour, a celebrated Native-American interpreter and diplomat, to which the land was first granted.
— Coraopolis History Archive

We should be grateful today that we aren’t called “Montour’s Bottom” – or we’d really have an identity crisis!

Now I’ll be honest with you, I wrote a press release yesterday (March 31) in which I proposed, as a campaign platform, to change the town’s name back to Middletown.  It was, of course, an April Fool’s joke, and a follow-up press released would have announced as much.  However, as much as we all appreciate a good joke, it seemed inappropriate to allow for one more jab to hit us. We are Coraopolis, and we’re proud of how we all got here.   We have so much history, and so many reasons to be proud.

Did you know, for instance, that Coraopolis – often center for heated debate around education – made two significant contributions to modern educational practice? In 1955, Dr. Harry Houtz published a six year study in the National Education Journal demonstrating that phonics was a more effective way of teaching reading, and in 1957, Herbert Snell published his study of performance-based academic tracking in junior high, which became widely adopted.  (Pennsylvania PTA Call to Convention 2012 vol87, no.3, page2.)  





Further, did you know that Coraopolis was one of the first towns of its size to have its own water source?  According to an article published in 1907:

The civic spirit that always existed is well illustrated by the manner in which municipal affairs have been administered. The result is that there is possibly no other town of its size in the country which has advanced so far in the solution of many ordinarily bothersome problems. The borough owns its own electric light plant and water system and is operating them at a profit. It has a complete and modern sewage system and when additions now under way are completed will have nearly five miles of well paved streets… Dozens of boroughs of double its age and double its population cannot boast of such an array of improvements.
— The Gazette Times, May 12, 1907 “Coraopolis Growing Suburb” page 1.

Stacey Christe adds “Based on the newspapers, it was clearly a source of pride that Coraopolis had its own independent source of water. This was used as a selling point for area real estate.”

You don’t have to walk around town very long to see the history in our homes, business, churches and other structures. My personal favorite, our historic Train Station, is being lovingly restored back to its original splendor, and will be one of the crowning jewels of our community’s pride in the coming years.  Many of you have histories of your own that go back generations. There is a wonderful sense of pride that emerges when we all talk about our past; we also are hearing a new tone of pride and hope when we talk about our future.

You tell me: what about our history makes you most proud? We’d love to hear your own stories and see your own pictures of Coraopolis’s past.  You can email us or post!  Oh, and if you want a copy of the press release that didn’t go out last night, shoot me an email.

Shawn P. Reed
Democrat Candidate for Mayor