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Definition: Johnstown from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

city SW cen Pa. pop 23,906


Summary Article: Johnstown.
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1 City (1990 pop. 9,058), seat of Fulton co., E central N.Y.; founded 1772, inc. 1895. Its leather-glove industry dates back to 1800; other leather and knitted goods are also made. Johnson Hall was built by the city's founder, Sir William Johnson. Other notable buildings include the county courthouse (1774) and Fort Johnstown (1771), the county jail. The last Revolutionary battle in New York was fought in Johnstown on Oct. 25, 1781. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in the city.

2 City (1990 pop. 28,134), Cambria co., SW Pa., on the Conemaugh River at the mouth of Stony Creek; settled 1770, inc. as a city 1936. Formerly one of the great centers of U.S. heavy industry, its manufactures now include metal products, apparel, dairy products, machinery, furniture, and ice rinks. Branches of U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel were there before the decline of the steel industry in the 1970s and 80s. The first Kelly pneumatic converter for the transformation of crude iron into steel was built there in 1862. On May 31, 1889, South Fork Dam with its large upriver reservoir c.12 mi (19 km) above Johnstown broke as a result of heavy rains, and the city was flooded, with the devastating loss of nearly 2,200 lives; this was one of the greatest disasters of 19th-century America. The river was later channeled (completed 1943) for flood prevention. The Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, the National Drug Intelligence Center, and a state rehabilitation center are in the city. Part of an abandoned steel plant now houses a heritage museum in the city. Johnstown Flood National Memorial and Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site are nearby (see National Parks and Monuments, table).

  • See D. McCullough, The Johnstown Flood (1968, repr. 1987).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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