35 Facts About Pittsburgh You Weren’t Taught in School

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There are so many facts about Pittsburgh, you could spend the rest of your days trying to learn them all.  Pittsburgh is known for so many things.  Steel.   Rivers.  Sports.  Food.  The people.   Here are 35 facts about Pittsburgh that you probably didn’t learn in school.   You learned them from living here.  Or from reading this post.

We’ve categorized these Pittsburgh facts according to things Pittsburgh did first (Pittsburgh Firsts), Pittsburgh historic facts (Pittsburgh History) , facts about sports in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Sports), facts about business or industry in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Industry), and some random facts about Pittsburgh.

So… let’s start with our first Pittsburgh fact category…

Pittsburgh Firsts

We all use emojis or emoticons in our emails in texts.  Did you know that a Carnegie Mellon University professor and computer scientist, Scott Fahlman, was credited with the creation of the first emoji in 1982?   Yes… that long ago!

facts about pittsburgh
The emoticon proposal by Scott Fahlman of CMU

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is home to the worlds first  Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) Skeleton.

facts about Pittsburgh

The first modern movie theater was opened by Harry Davis and John P. Harris on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh in 1905.  It was called a Nickelodeon.

facts about Pittsburgh

The first radio broadcast of a Major League Baseball game took place in Pittsburgh.   August 21, 1921 saw the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Philadelphia Phillies.

facts about Pittsburgh

In 1913, on the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in East Liberty, the very first gasoline station (full service, of course) was opened.

facts about pittsburgh

The world’s first modern museum of art, The Carnegie Museum of Art, opened it’s doors in Pittsburgh in 1895.

facts about Pittsburgh

KDKA became the world’s first commercial radio station.  It began with broadcasting the results of the Presidential election on November 2, 1920.

facts about pittsburgh

The world’s first retractable dome stadium for a major sports team and entertainment venue opened in 1961.  The Civic Arena became known to Pittsburghers as the “Igloo”.

facts about pittsburgh

A first for television, in 1954 the first public television station in the country went on-air.   It was WQED.

facts about pittsburgh

On June 30, 1909, Forbes Field became the country’s first concrete and steel constructed baseball stadium.

facts about pittsburgh

Pittsburgh History

Lewis & Clark, the famed explorers who opened up the west for Thomas Jefferson to purchase the Louisiana Territory, actually met in Pittsburgh first.  They then headed west down the Ohio to St. Louis.

facts about Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Agreement, signed in 1918, was the actual creation of Czechoslovakia when a delegation of Czechs and Slovaks gathered in Pittsburgh to sign the agreement.

facts about pittsburgh

During his tenure as a soldier for the British in the mid 1700s, George Washington made many trips to Western Pennsylvania, and even another trip back during the Whiskey Rebellion as President of the United States, leading his troops.  He is the only President to ever lead troops into a potential conflict as the Commander-In-Chief.

facts about pittsburgh

At one time, there were as many as 17 inclines in the City of Pittsburgh.  Today, 2 of them (The Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline) are still in operation.

facts about Pittsburgh

The Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, south of Pittsburgh, is thought to be the oldest site of human habitation in North America.

facts about pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s name spelling has changed many times.   The “h” on the end of Pittsburgh was actually left off, added, taken off again, and added back.  I wrote a post about that.  Here is where you can read more about how Pittsburgh got it’s name.

facts about pittsburgh

The largest memorial museum dedicated to those who served in all branches of the military is located in Pittsburgh.  It’s Soldier’s and Sailors Memorial Hall, in Oakland.

facts about pittsburgh

Point State Park is the site of the oldest structure in Pittsburgh.  The Fort Pitt Blockhouse was built in 1764.

facts about pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers logo has stars, right?  Not really.  They are actually called “hypocycloids”.  The logo is actually a derivative of the U.S. Steel Logo.

facts about pittsburgh

Forbes Field is the place where Babe Ruth hit the last 3 home runs of his fabulous career.  He had been traded to the Boston Braves.  One of the home runs he hit actually flew the entire way out of the ball park.  The first home run at Forbes Field to do so.

facts about pittsburgh

World War II had a profound effect on professional football in Pittsburgh.  During the 1943-44 season, the Steelers and Eagles combined teams and formed the “Steagles”.  Their record?  5 wins, 4 losses and 1 tie.  It was the FIRST winning season for the Eagles, and the SECOND for the Steelers.  Go figure!

facts about Pittsburgh

The first World Series, between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans, was played.   The winner… the Boson Americans – 5 games to 3.

facts about pittsburgh

Donora, PA – about 30 miles south-southeast of Pittsburgh, is the birth place of two baseball Hall of Fame members.  Stan Musial and Ken Griffey Jr.   They were actually both born on the same day…  49 years apart.  November 21st.

facts about pittsburghfacts about pittsburgh

Western Pennsylvania and the suburbs of Pittsburgh have produced quite a few NFL legends at quarterback.  Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas and Jim Kelly.

facts about pittsburgh
From Steelers.com

Pittsburgh Industry

Besides steel, glass was one of the largest industries in Pittsburgh.  During the 1920s, Pittsburgh produced almost 80% of all of the glass made in America.

Whisky was also a huge industry in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.  Allegheny County distilled enough whiskey in the early 1800s to provide nearly a barrel of whiskey for every American citizen.

What do battleships from World War II, the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge have in common?  Steel from Pittsburgh was used in their construction.

Some Random Pittsburgh Facts

Pittsburgh’s nickname as the “City of Bridges” comes from the fact that there are 446 of them.   We always like to say that we have more bridges than Venice, Italy… but really… who’s counting?  We have lots of bridges.  Everywhere.

Canton Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood, is home to what is possibly the steepest street in the entire country.   The incline of Canton Avenue is 37 degrees.   That makes it slippy in the winter.

The Cathedral of Learning, on Pitt’s Campus, was once the tallest educational building in the world.  At 535 feet tall, it now ranks as the second tallest university building in the world, behind  the main building at Moscow State University.

Cathedral of Learning

St. Anthony’s Chapel in Troy Hill houses somewhere between 4000 and 5000 Catholic relics.  This makes it the largest collection of Catholic relics anywhere in the world, second only to the Vatican.

The particular region of the mid-west Pittsburgh is located in is known as Appalachia.  This region stretches for much of the length of the Appalachian Mountains.  From Northeast Pennsylvania through the heart of Tennessee and parts of Northern Alabama and Georgia.  Pittsburgh is the largest city in this region and is sometimes referred to as the “Paris of Appalachia”.

We all know Pittsburgh has hills.   And stairs.   There are over 700 sets of stairs in the city of Pittsburgh alone.

Jim Delligatti, a Pittsburgh area McDonald’s franchisee owned several local McDonald’s restaurants.   The Big Mac, one of his creations, was first named the “Aristocrat” and the “Blue Ribbon Burger”.  The name “Big Mac” actually came from Esther Glickstein Rose, who was a secretary at McDonald’s headquarters in Oakbrook, Illinois.   The Big Mac made it’s debut at Delligatti’s Uniontown store in 1967 and cost 45 pennies!

Dr. Jonas Salk, a medical researcher and virologist at the University Of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, created the Polio vaccine at what is now UPMC in 1950.

25 thoughts on “35 Facts About Pittsburgh You Weren’t Taught in School”

  1. Lindsay Stanton

    Very interesting. Some I knew about but there were many facts that were new to me.

    1. How about a car made just north of Pittsburgh in the thirties. The Bantam was made in Butler , county seat of Butler county. They made general purpose vehicles (Jeeps) during world war 2. Sadly after the war they went under.

  2. deborah stueber

    great article, but since you’re a publication you may want your text proofread, you used it’s several times when it should be its and it’s Soliders not Soldier’s

    1. Did you know that the CATHEDTAL OF LEARNING was built from the top down? True. My father was on the constuction crew.

  3. Mary Ellen Frabutt

    I always enjoy Pittsburgh Beautiful but this was especially wonderful. Thank you and keep up the great work

  4. Emilia Donatelli

    Thanks, these facts were great! Can anyone find out where Andrew Carnegie’s first home was ? I read that it was in Homewood. Thanks

  5. Pittsburgh is not in the Midwest. Also steel from Pittsburgh was used in the building of the Arch in St Louis.

    1. kenneth l wojcik

      The components of the arch were fabricated on Neville Island as well as the World Trade Center twin towers Pittsburgh Des-Moines Steel Co.


    1. Canton Avenue is actually now the second steepest street in the world. It lost that title in 2019.

  7. The first radio broadcast of a Major League Baseball game was August 5th 1921, not August 21. The Pirates beat the Phillies 8-5. It was broadcast by KDKA staff announcer Harold Arlin.

  8. Thank you! It’s a great article!

    36. There were ghosts in Pittsburgh 🙂 In the 90s the Penguins played Darius Casparaitis for Pittsburgh under the nickname “Casper the unfriendly ghost”.

  9. Babe Ruth’s final home run cleared the right field roof. The first to do so. Home runs to left , left center, center (though few) and right that cleared the wall ALL were hit out of the park.

  10. Washington led the army out from Philadelphia, but returned to Philadelphia when they got to the mountains. Hamilton led them into Pittsburgh.

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