George Kruth

George Takes readers on a historical journey with his  Shalercrest: A Defense Housing Project  

 During World War II, there was a housing shortage among factory workers.  To help with the war effort, the federal government provided housing for defense laborers.  One such region that was built in 1940 was called Shalercrest, which is located on Mt. Vernon in Shaler Township.  George Kruth, 77, of Shaler lived in this 251-unit facility, so he is familiar with its history. 

         Kruth recently published the book Shalercrest: A Defense Housing Project.  The story chronicles everyday life growing up in Shalercrest with family and friends.  Kruth, along with his parents, Ruth and Florence, and his eight siblings, resided in Shalercrest from 1943-1962. 

        “The central focus of the book is to provide the historical background of Shalercrest as not only a project but rather as an essential part of the war effort, especially here in Pittsburgh with all the steel-related industries. The people who resided in these projects at the time supported the war effort in the surrounding communities or they had to be servicemen or women.  They were involved in the manufacturing of various armaments, ships, bombs, ammunition and other goods and services for the military.  Also, a component of this story is how the proud people became owners of the Shalercrest community, as co-ops, once the war concluded,” Kruth said. 

         The inspiration for the book began with Shaler North Hills librarian Sharon McRae.  She was speaking with Kruth and mentioned there was no information regarding Shalercrest in their library.  She asked him if he would be interested in writing a book about this Shaler Township neighborhood to add to the township history. “I took up the challenge about four years ago and began my extensive research into the many World War II defense housing projects initiated by the federal government for specific steel-related industry communities. Ramping up of the war support effort required an influx of workers and housing in these communities. Many of these projects were identified as middleincome projects required to support the war effort,” said Kruth.  

          I have been a life-long resident of Shaler Township and have a strong connection to my roots just like many of the people I grew up within Shalercrest.  I also enjoy writing and research.  So this was the perfect combination of skills and interest to preserve the history of this important Shaler Township community.  My wife, Mary Lou, was great support for my long hours of research and writing the manuscript.  We are the proud parents of five children and four grandchildren,” Kruth added.   

          The book can be purchased for $24.95 at the Shaler North Hills Library on Mt. Royal Blvd., or the Shalercrest Housing Association Business Office on Mt. Vernon Drive.  You can meet George Kruth at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 13, at the Shaler Library.  Kruth will enlighten visitors on the Shalercrest book.  The event is free and open to the public, register at (412) 486-0211. 

By Paula Green