The site at the mouth of Bull Creek was first inhabited by Shawnee Indians who established a village here in 1729. In 1734, a Frenchman, Peter Chartier, maintained a trading post here until the Shawnee moved down river in 1745. Old maps show the early site of Tarentum as "Chartier's Old Town".
By 1783, The Westoreland County militia erected a log blockhouse on Bull Creek for the safety of scouts keeping track of Indian movement in the region. At the close of the American Revolution, settlement on the west bank of the Allegheny River began to multiply.
Brackeridge, who owned land between Tarentum and Natrona, surveyed an area between Ross and Lock Streets and called the town "Tarentum" after an ancient Greek city-state in Italy. Thirteen years later, with a population of 300, the citizens petitioned the courts to incorporate as a borough which became effective March 7, 1842.
Tarentum soon became a frontier retail center and in 1837, James K. Fulton opened the first general store in town. Several other businesses soon followed. The town could boast of a school and post office by 1850.
The negley tract, west of Bull Creek did not become part of the town until 1842, when the widow of Felix Negley requested that her property be included in the town limits. Her husband erected a grist mill and a fulling mill on his property, and built a two story German-style log house in 1800 that stood on West 7th Avenue until it was razed in 1945. The Negley property was laid out into lots in 1873 as the "West Tarentum" plan.
The Methodist and Presbyterian churches were founded prior to 1842, and others soon followed. The first industry was C.L. Flaccus Glass, established in 1879 on Bridge Street. In 1884, Works 2, Pittsburgh Plate Glass was built in the West End, adjoining the Godfrey and Clark Paper Built, erected in 1885. Industrialization developed in the valley when the railroad replaced the old canal in 1866. Tarentum had a population of 4000 in the 1880's. The Allegheny Valley Times, EST. in 1881, was the first newspaper. During that period, a fire company, several fraternal lodges, and a bank was established. A police force was organized in 1900.
Two companies of young men were raised here and went off to serve in the Civil War. The town since has been home to several veteran groups. Riverview Memorial Park was dedicated to the memory of all veterans on September 6, 1926. Tarentum established the first high school in the valley in 1892 on Second Avenue. Today it is part of the Highlands School District.
Transportation was the key to the town's development. First by canal, then the Pennsylvania Railroad, and at present by the Allegheny Valley Expressway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
One hundred years after it's incorporation, Tarentum reached a population of over 9000 and was a leading mercantile center in the Valley. The town looks to an uncertain future, but with the anticipation that greater things are yet to be.
Population (year 2000): 4,993. Estimated population in July 2005: 4,677 (-6.3% change)
Males: 2,339 (46.8%), Females: 2,654 (53.2%)
Median resident age: 37.9 years
Estimated median household income in 2005: $29,200 (it was $26,895 in 2000)
Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $57,000 (it was $47,200 in 2000)
Races in Tarentum:
White Non-Hispanic (93.3%)
Two or more races (1.4%)
American Indian (0.7%)
Ancestries: German (28.4%), Irish (17.3%), Italian (15.3%), Polish (13.0%), Slovak (9.9%), English (7.1%).
Elevation: 768 feet
Land area: 1.2 square miles
More demographics available at http://www.city-data.com/city/Tarentum-Pennsylvania.html