Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Join PittGirl on One of Her Revealing Researching Adventures

Discovering things you may not know about Pittsburgh is a whole lot of work and a whole lot of fun.



Aside from my current gig as “person pretending to be a real, grown-up writer,” I think my next favorite dream profession would be “fact-checker.” Facts. Checking 'em. Looking at them from all angles. Digging in. Getting lost in the depths of books, newspapers, microfilm, museums, volumes of tomes. Heaven.

The incredibly thorough fact-checkers at Pittsburgh Magazine are charged each year with vetting my list of “Things You Probably Didn't Know About Pittsburgh” column that appears in the annual City Guide. I try to help them out and give them a head start by offering up what my research revealed, and this year, I wanted to share those images and accounts with you, so you, too, can get a deeper look at some great, mostly unknown facts about our city’s past.

1. Pittsburgh was the home of the world’s first floating heliport, and here it is on the day it opened to much fanfare, as shown in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article screencap:
 


 

2. Ebenezer Denny, Pittsburgh’s first mayor, was a young man fighting in the Revolutionary War when he encountered a huge jagoff, and here’s a snippet of just one of the many accounts you can read online of the flag-usurping incident. This one is from the Pennsylvania Archives published in 1880:
 


 

3. Pittsburghese is much older than I had anticipated when I first started researching it. Here’s proof from the Post-Gazette online archives:

Here’s "gumband" in 1931:
 


 

"Redd up" in 1906:
 


 

"Nebby" in 1887:
 


 

"Slippy" in 1880:
 


 

The predecessor of "jagoff," "jagging," in 1876:
 


 

And the earliest version of our modern day "yinz" is this contraction that appeared in the paper in 1871:
 


4. The Wright Brothers’ first successful flight did indeed have an important Pittsburgh connection, and you can read about it here.

5. Yes, a whole buncha 'Burghers, including some children, lost consciousness when a traffic jam caused toxic fumes to form in the unvented, just-opened Liberty Tubes back in 1924. You can read a detailed account and see photos of the victims being treated at the tunnel mouth here. You’ll need to scroll a bit to get there.
 


 

6. Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 visit to Pittsburgh was positively Beatlemania-ish. Massive throngs of ‘Burghers impeded his progress at every turn, and were so enthusiastic in their adoration, that Abe was seen to be comically trying to conceal his hands from fans’ crushing handshakes. But he didn’t hide his hands from one particular man. Read the account here, which includes his speech in its entirety. The whole story is just fantastic.

7. Pittsburgh was home to the first African-American owned Negro League ballpark, Greenlee Field, and you can read all about it and see pictures here.

8. And finally, famed Pirates slugger Honus Wagner played the early part of his baseball career sometimes under the identity of his brothers, even signing his first contract as William Wagner. You can read the account of these shenanigans in Honus’ own words right here. Just wait until you read how he walked out of his job as a barber. For love of the game.

And there you have it. Grab a cup of coffee and dig deep into Pittsburgh’s rich past with the links I’ve shared. And as always, throw me an email or tweet if you’re sitting on some great, mostly-unknown fact about Pittsburgh. But don’t give me TOO much information lest you rob me of the joy of fact-checking.
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Hungry for Something Good, Pittsburgh? Where We're Eating in July

Lidia Bastianich Shares Her American Dream in a New Memoir

PM Dining Critic Hal B. Klein talks to the celebrated chef, restauranteur, television host and author about grandparents, foraging and the plight of refugees seeking a better life in the United States.

They Prayed to Our Lady of the Roller Coaster

Two local priests –– riding the Phantom's Revenge to promote Catholic Day at Kennywood –– create a viral video. Along the way they deliver a most unusual sermon.

The Homestead Artist with a Worldwide Reputation

Jesse Best maintains a presence in New York and Tokyo. But, he says, Pittsburgh has been 10 times better to him than any other place.

The 400-Word Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The fifth "Jurassic Park" film is fun. Empty, somewhat disappointing fun.

Local Brewery Resolves Trademark Dispute With Sass

After Pitt ordered Voodoo Brewery to stop production of its "H2P American IPA," the company relaunched the beer under a new name.

Sprout Fund Passes the Torch

50 Pittsburghers to receive $1,000 Legacy Award to carry on the nonprofit’s vision.

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault has Pretty Good Pipes Too

The Pirates reliever sang the national anthem Tuesday night before the Bucs hosted the Brewers at PNC Park. It's worth watching, especially for his teammates' reaction at the end.

Crime in the South Side Has Fallen Dramatically

Illegal activity plunged along East Carson Street following several new security measures.

Fired by City Paper — Charlie Deitch Won’t Be Silenced

The former editor of the Pittsburgh alt-weekly is creating his own "more inclusive" publication.

Czechoslovakia was Forged in Pittsburgh

Rick Sebak details how the establishment of the European nation began with a meeting Downtown.

Brick by Brick: Legos Go High Art

Made entirely out of Legos, the sculptures on the display at the Carnegie Science Center’s new Scaife Exhibit Gallery range from the whimsical to the otherworldly.

Mike Chen, Dean of the Chinese Kitchen

The owner of Everyday Noodles looks to encourage more regionally specific Chinese food in Pittsburgh restaurants.

MultiStories: Real Estate – The Machesney Building

Visitors can still ogle the lavish marble and bronze interior crafted to appeal to the original owner's banker and stockbroker tenants.