The first settler in McCandless was James Duff, who had purchased 400 acres in 1796. Farming increased in the area, and in 1849, meetings were held, presided over by Daniel Vogel, for the purpose of forming a local government. The Township was originally founded in 1851 and called Taylor. The Township was incorporated in 1857 as a Second Class Township and renamed McCandless in honor of District Judge Wilson McCandless. The published population was 1,482 persons.
Allegheny County Commissioner E. V. Babcock initiated the establishment of Allegheny County's North Park. He purchased the land and later sold it to the County at cost. North Park was founded in 1927 by Allegheny County. Approximately 1600 acres of the park, 2.5 square miles, are located in McCandless. This area represents approximately 15.2% of the Town.
Between 1930-1950, the Town more than doubled its population (from 2,653 to 6,488). By 1960, the population had redoubled (14,582) and has since doubled again. As per the 2000 Census, the number of households in the Town is 11,159.
Expanding population and traffic brought more diversified development into the area. McKnight Road was built in the mid 1950s and became the primary access into the north suburban areas. Retail and office occupy some of the McCandless segment of the McKnight corridor. Yet undeveloped property promises to be a "signature" Town center, comprised of office, retail, housing and entertainment opportunities.