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

The Latest

Three Rivers Champion: Sloane Davidson

Davidson started an organization that gives refugee and immigrant families aid based on real, person-to-person relationships, not transactions.

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Associate Editor Lauren Davidson appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the fall Weddings issue.

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

New TV Series Shot in Pittsburgh Area Premiering This Month

See if you recognize any of the locations in the thriller “One Dollar.”

Bocce, Pasta, Music and More Highlight Little Italy Days

Experience Italian culture and cuisine during Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days.

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Heinz Red Ketchup Packets Set to Get a Green Makeover

The Kraft Heinz Co. has announced plans to recreate 100 percent of its packaging to make it more environmentally sustainable by 2025.