Wilkinsburg is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States, with an official population of 15,930. Wilkinsburg is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, which has a population of 2,324,743, thus the largest metropolitan area in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, and also the second-largest in Pennsylvania (behind Philadelphia), and the 27th-largest in the United States. Wilkinsburg is adjacent to five neighborhoods of the city of Pittsburgh and borders four other boroughs and one township. The population of Wilkinsburg was 15,930, according to the 2010 census, having declined by 13,923 official residents in the 70 years since the 1940 census, when 29,853 people were enumerated. The borough of Wilkinsburg was named for John Wilkins, Jr., a United States Army officer who served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802.
Historically, Wilkinsburg was located in an area on the Appalachian Plateau where various land and water transportation routes joined together, which had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. Wilkinsburg was formed from the area of a valley going through the hills located east of the three rivers confluence, the Allegheny River, the Monongahela River, and the Ohio River: this natural valley allowed passage by land through the east–west barrier of the Appalachian Mountains to and from the east, whether to or from Philadelphia or other parts of the Atlantic coast, along the rivers (which eventually join the Mississippi River and flow into the Gulf of Mexico), through the Cumberland Gap (to or from the south), or by other transportation routes. A key section of this major land road or pathway is now known as Penn Avenue, a major street and area of Wilkinsburg.
In the early 1700s, European traders arrived, and by mid century had some established colonial sites, including Fort Duquesne, established by France. Subsequently, the general area became a major battleground during the French and Indian Wars, during which George Washington (who passed through what is now Wilkinsburg in 1753, on a diplomatic mission to French territory), General Braddock, and General Forbes gained fame and enhanced the land transportation routes. The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was fought between France, England, and various Native groups for territorial control.