10 Things You Didn't Know About Pittsburgh

Miniature millionaires, stolen Eagles, magic roller coasters and an unlikely love story.




Illustration by Wayno
 

There’s a tricky thing about becoming obsessed with learning about Pittsburgh. Twenty years ago, I would’ve headed to the local library for an hour or two of thumbing through old tomes — but in this modern age, I can open up my laptop and hop down the Internet rabbit hole … only to find that the rabbit hole is really a series of time-sucking wormholes. Dip one toe into a wormhole, and you’ll spend five hours of your life learning things you’ll never need to know — unless you decide to write a column called “Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh.”

*blink*

Hey, guess what? Here are some things you probably don’t know about Pittsburgh. Even if you’ve studied Pittsburgh for years, I bet you don’t know all of these facts. And that’s worth bragging about.

» Andrew Carnegie was only 5 feet tall. He was the richest man in America (and one of the most powerful), yet barely taller than Snooki. Even infamously pint-sized Tom Cruise would stand a whole head over Carnegie.

» Fred Rogers’ mother’s maiden name (and Fred’s middle name) was McFeely. So when it came time to name the deliveryman character on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Mr. McFeely was chosen.

» When Roberto Clemente was an infant in Puerto Rico, his younger sister died after an accident in the kitchen. A messenger named Flor Zabala was sent to give Clemente’s father the sad news. Thirty years later, Roberto would meet and marry that messenger’s daughter, Vera.

» The National Aviary is built on the site of the razed Western State Penitentiary, a Civil War prison where 118 Confederate prisoners of war were held from 1863 to 1864. There are rumors that the souls of the roughly half-dozen soldiers who died in the prison currently haunt the Aviary. Having learned this, I would not work at the Aviary, even if they offered to pay me in baby penguins.

» The Art Institute of Pittsburgh counts among its alumni the designer of the famed Elvis stamp, the creator of the comic strip “Ziggy,” the creator of Rosie the Riveter and the former madam premier of Bermuda.

» In 1940, Art Rooney Sr. sold the Steelers to Alexis Thompson and then purchased Thompson’s half-ownership of the Philadelphia Eagles. One year later, Rooney and Thompson traded back their teams, and the Steelers have been in the Rooney’s hands ever since. Yes, you read that right — the Rooneys sold the Steelers for the Eagles. Put some fries on top and chew on that, Pittsburgh.

» You know those EZ Moves Furniture Slides you’ve seen on QVC? Invented right here in the Pittsburgh area by a father-son team. The co-inventors took the idea further by creating FunSlides Carpet Skates; they even opened FunSlides Carpet Skateparks in Irwin and Greensburg, which are filled with carpet-covered ramps.

» Both the Duquesne and Monongahela inclines travel at a whopping 6 miles per hour. Hold on tight!

» Kennywood is named after the Charles Kenny family, who originally owned some of the land on which the park now sits. Unfortunately, history doesn’t tell us if the Kenny clan owned a kangaroo.

» Speaking of Kennywood, the Racer is not actually two different tracks, but one track looped over on itself. I spent an additional 30 minutes researching this, trying to understand how that’s possible, but my brain refuses to grasp how the cars manage to end up on opposite sides of the starting track without ever running into each other. I’m sticking to the only explanation that makes any sense: magic. At least that’s what I’ll tell my kids when they ask. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

The Heinz History Center’s World War II traveling exhibit focuses on western Pennsylvania’s ties to history.
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Meg Cheever To Step Down

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Meg Cheever To Step Down

The nonprofit's founding President and CEO will leave her position early next year.
Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.
What to Do with Unused Churches in Pittsburgh

What to Do with Unused Churches in Pittsburgh

A Pittsburgh preservation group says there are approximately 30 unused churches in Allegheny County.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

City Guide '12

What Our Neighborhoods Do Best

What Our Neighborhoods Do Best

The perfect neighborhood for every Pittsburgher.
SubBurghs

SubBurghs

Head a bit farther down the rivers for great places to live, work and play.
10 Things You Didn't Know About Pittsburgh

10 Things You Didn't Know About Pittsburgh

Miniature millionaires, stolen Eagles, magic roller coasters and an unlikely love story.
25 Fun Things Under $25

25 Fun Things Under $25

We’re always on the lookout for great activities that won’t break the bank. Here are 25 affordable outings to fill your calendar.
Edges of Pittsburgh

Edges of Pittsburgh

This community is a geography, a culture, a state of mind. Where does our area end, and what does that tell us?
Best of the 'Burgh 2012

Best of the 'Burgh 2012

Our editors pick the best of the best in Pittsburgh.
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module