Director’s Cut: 7 Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

Think you’re an expert on all things 'Burgh? Take PittGirl’s final exam.



 

If you haven't read my column 7 Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh, get on it, son! Seriously, take a look at it before reading this blog. My goal was to find facts that most ’Burghers weren't aware of, and I have yet to hear from any reader who knew all seven. Five is the highest score so far, which is still pretty respectable.

Now, I don't want you to just take my word for it that all of those facts are ... well ... facts. I mean, this is the Internet, and it was on this very Internet that Jose "Chico" Lind's Wikipedia page once stated that he won a 2009 Latin Grammy for a bachata song about cod and onions.

I swear I didn't just make that up.

So here's my proof of the 7 Facts. Below you'll find pictures, articles and links. This is everything I found under the virtual stones I turned over in search of seven new things you probably didn't know about Pittsburgh.

Point Roller Coaster
Let's start with the roller coaster at the Point. No need for me to rehash all of that proof when you can just click here and see pictures of it.

 

 

On a scale of one to Potato Patch fries, how awesome would it be to have a roller coaster at the Point today?

Mmmm. Potato Patch fries. Smothered in cheese and bacon. With ketchup on the side.

*blink*

And we're back!

Chico Marx
Moving on to the first listed fact: Chico Marx of the famous Marx Brothers lived in Pittsburgh for a year. He also met his wife here and had his first song published here, "Mandy in the Pale Moonlight."

This is another historical fact I wrote about extensively on my blog, so you can just click here to go see pictures, maps and lots more.

 

 

So if you read my blog, you would have at least gotten a score of one. Good for you!
 


The Clock
The Kaufmann's clock is not the original one that served as our centrally located meeting spot. Here's the first clock working its corner in 1912, not too long before it was torn down:

 

 

Not only that, but our current clock was taken away for repairs in 1987, and ’Burghers were lost, roaming the streets like free-range zombies. This is my favorite snippet from the newspaper articles at the time — a quote from a Kaufmann's employee as told to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Chinatown
In the early 20th century, Pittsburgh had a Chinatown full of bustling shops and restaurants. There are so many news stories about it that I simply can't list them all, but here are a few notable ones worth a read:

The earliest mention I could find was in 1908, when it appeared the local Chinese immigrants had plans to build a huge skyscraper for housing that would be much improved over their "squalid" quarters.

In 1927, tensions were rising as the city looked to prevent a war between rival sects in Chinatown.

In 1933, Pittsburgh's Chinatown was in the news for beating the Great Depression by taking care of its own needy.

The Chinese Room in the Cathedral of Learning
was made possible by pennies Chinatown residents donated and a gift from the Chinese government way back in 1937.

In 1970, Pittsburgh’s Chinatown had dwindled to just three families.

Rosmarie von Trapp
I feel pretty confident that no one knew this one, and if you claim you did, I'm likely to inform you that your pantaloons are en fuego. One of Captain and Maria von Trapp's children lived in Pittsburgh for eight years. Here's the interview with Rosmarie von Trapp (who was not portrayed in The Sound of Music), where she reveals that she came to Pittsburgh to join a religious community.

I honestly can't remember how I stumbled on that one. Let's just say I'M SUPER AMAZING.

The Fourth River
I first learned about the Fourth River — aka "Wisconsin Glacial Flow," which is like the worst rapper name ever — on a Just Ducky tour (quack quack!). You can learn more about the Fourth River at River Quest or the Carnegie Library.

Maybe we can get the Monday Night Football announcers to stop obsessing about our "confluence" and start commenting on our "aquifer."

Of course, that could really mess with our drinking game.

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Nightmare
This one sounds too hellacious to be true. However, in the 1950s, the Squirrel Hill Tunnels were indeed closed to all traffic thousands of times per month to allow tankers carrying hazardous material through.

I can't even imagine how many new swear words were invented on the Parkway East in the '50s.

The Lost Island
And finally, in 1753, good ole' George Washington accidentally took an icy late-night dip in the Allegheny River off the shore of modern day Lawrenceville. Washington would have died if he and his companion hadn't crawled up onto the banks of an island. But the island was not Washington's Landing, as you might think.

This Civil War map
from 1863 clearly shows a second island not far from Washington's Landing, and it's on this little island, which is sometimes referred to as Wainwright's or McCullogh's Island, that young George spent a frigid, dreadful night.

Here's the area of concern:

 

 

Where's that island today? Some believe it eroded away, but reader Derrick Brashear found this article from 1904 that proves once and for all that the channel was gradually filled in. Wainwright's Island is now part of Lawrenceville. Wild!

 

 

So there's my proof. And you thought I was just pulling cod and onion stories out of my pantaloons.

There are so many other things I want to tell you and teach you. About our first movie theaters. About how our rivers got their names. About the beautiful stories I've found of people meeting "under the clock."

But I think I've given you enough homework.

Class dismissed. 

For now.

The 412

The Thunderbolt is Now a Certified Landmark

The Thunderbolt is Now a Certified Landmark

Kennywood’s classic all-wood roller coaster is recognized by the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
Oi, Who’s Ready for Manchester City vs. AC Milan at Heinz Field?

Oi, Who’s Ready for Manchester City vs. AC Milan at Heinz Field?

The English Premier League champions will face off against the Italian giants this Sunday.
Underrated Stuff We Love: Pittsburgh’s Porch Culture

Underrated Stuff We Love: Pittsburgh’s Porch Culture

You never know who you’ll meet right outside your door.
Travel + Leisure Says PNC Park Has One of the Best Views in America

Travel + Leisure Says PNC Park Has One of the Best Views in America

No, not just one of the best views at a ballpark — best views period.

More from PittGirl:

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Those who eye 8-year-old children with suspicion have more than a self-awareness problem.
'If You Kill Dad, We're Going to Be Very Upset With You'

'If You Kill Dad, We're Going to Be Very Upset With You'

​20 miles. 24 neighborhoods. PittGirl takes her father on a hike to remember.
Google Street View Shows Pittsburgh’s Incredible Transformation

Google Street View Shows Pittsburgh’s Incredible Transformation

Let’s hop into the DeLorean and take a trip back to 2007.

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
The Thunderbolt is Now a Certified Landmark

The Thunderbolt is Now a Certified Landmark

Kennywood’s classic all-wood roller coaster is recognized by the American Coaster Enthusiasts.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 8 Best (Not) Restaurants in Pittsburgh

The 8 Best (Not) Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Food trucks. Pizza boats. Bagel Clubs. The best on-the-run food in town.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Pittsburgh’s Refugee Children Could Use a Good Neighbor

Those who eye 8-year-old children with suspicion have more than a self-awareness problem.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments


Beans and Greens Like You’ve Never Had Before

Beans and Greens Like You’ve Never Had Before

This Brazen Kitchen twist on a favorite combines mung beans, coconut milk and cilantro for a nutrient-packed one-bowl meal.

Comments


Bar Exam: Gus’s Cafe

Bar Exam: Gus’s Cafe

Like roomy outdoor booths, acceptable (and reasonably priced) brews and some mean, polished bar grub? Then this spot’s for you.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Calling All Sunbathers

Calling All Sunbathers

The perfect complement to your favorite swimsuit.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Goodbye, Franktuary Downtown

Goodbye, Franktuary Downtown

Staff at the flagship hot-dog spot say "franks for the memories."

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
Hit the City for Fashion, Dancing and More

Hit the City for Fashion, Dancing and More

“Project Pop-Up: Fashion” brings a one-time-only bazaar of clothing and accessories

Comments