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A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance. History, at its core, is a story. Each of these objects is a part of a bigger story — of a confluence of three rivers flowing down through the ages, and of the people who came to live by those rivers, and what they made and said and did.



(page 1 of 10)

Heinz pickle sizer  (ca. 1900)
Salesmen for the H.J. Heinz Co. would bring this case with sample models of various pickle sizes when they went on sales calls. The company regulated the size of pickles in their barrels, allowing salesmen to tell grocers how many each barrel held and helping them to calculate profits more accurately.  (MH)
~ Sen. John Heinz History Center
 


 

First Gateway Clipper propeller (1958)
As the city’s first major pollution-control efforts began to improve the rivers, local marketing maven John Connelly bought the Bridget Ann, a Lake Erie fishing-excursion boat, and brought it to Pittsburgh via the Great Lakes and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The first vessel in the Gateway Clipper fleet berthed at the Mon Wharf and sometimes at Point State Park, which  then was under construction.  (MH)
~ Office of Gateway Clipper Fleet President Terry Wirginis​​



 

Roberto Clemente’s bat & Three Rivers Stadium home plate  (1971)
The legendary Puerto Rican outfielder capped his 17th season with the Pittsburgh Pirates with an MVP performance in the World Series against the defending champion Baltimore Orioles. Clemente batted .414 in the series, with 12 hits and two home runs, and he hit safely in all seven games to duplicate his feat from his first World Series in 1960. Slightly more than a year later, Clemente died in a plane crash while trying to deliver earthquake-relief supplies to Nicaragua.  (MH)
~ Roberto Clemente Museum



 

Miller Point  (ca. 10,000 B.C.E.)
Unearthed by Pitt archaeologists in the 1970s at a creekside cliff now known as Meadowcroft Rockshelter, this lance point upended theories about when and how people first came to the Americas. It and other artifacts found at the site were the first evidence that humans inhabited North America several millennia before the Bering land bridge was passable. The Miller point is named for Albert Miller, the farmer, conservationist and amateur historian who was first to discover ancient stone tools at the cliff on his land in Washington County.  (MH)
~ Sen. John Heinz History Center

 



 

White House water decanters  (1818-1819)
The Pittsburgh glass house Bakewell, Page and Bakewell crafted these elaborately engraved vessels for U.S. President James Monroe; they are the only known remaining objects from a set that once contained 340 pieces. Considered to be among the finest service-set glassware of the era, they are notable for their remarkable clarity.  (HBK)
~ Carnegie Museum of Art

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