When Khrushchev Came to Town

Find out what the Soviet leader had to say about Pittsburgh when he visited in autumn 1959.




 

In autumn 1959, with the Cold War raging, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev took a whirlwind tour of the United States. He visited the White House, New York City, Hollywood, San Francisco, a farm in Iowa — and then he came to Pittsburgh to meet some real American workers.

When he landed at Greater Pittsburgh Airport around 11 p.m. on Sept. 23, Mayor Thomas Gallagher presented him with the only key to a city that he received in America. “Khrush” (as the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph nicknamed him) didn’t experience the Fort Pitt Tunnel-entrance effect because the tunnels weren’t yet finished — but Khrushchev was taken to Mount Washington so that he could see the city lit up to welcome him. At the Carlton House Hotel downtown, thousands of people greeted him.  While some protested Soviet policies, most Pittsburghers seemed honored by the high-profile visit.

The next day, Khrushchev made a mid-morning visit to Mesta Machine’s West Homestead plant, where he talked with steelworkers and women in the cafeteria. Around 11:30 a.m., he hopped in a convertible for a quick tour of the city. Pittsburghers of all ages lined the streets of his route, which was printed in newspapers — information that would never be shared today. His motorcade eventually headed up Bigelow Boulevard from downtown to the Pitt Student Union, where he gave a speech to hundreds of luncheon guests.

One newspaper reported Khrushchev was “in the jauntiest mood of his entire American tour.” He later called Pittsburgh “the friendliest of all cities.” In U.S.S.R magazine, Khrushchev wrote, “The impression that Pittsburgh and its people made on me is wonderful.”
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

5 Don't-Miss Events in Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Week Celebration

5 Don't-Miss Events in Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Week Celebration

Everything you need to know, plus a survival guide for the parade.
5 Classic Pittsburghers Still Popular on YouTube

5 Classic Pittsburghers Still Popular on YouTube

From Fred Rogers to Pittsburgh traffic cop Vic Cianca to weatherman Joe DeNardo, these 'Burghers are fun to watch and remember.
Comic Aaron Kleiber to Headline at the Pittsburgh Improv

Comic Aaron Kleiber to Headline at the Pittsburgh Improv

Grab tickets now for next weekend's four-day run.
See the Resume Tape That Landed Sally Wiggin in Pittsburgh

See the Resume Tape That Landed Sally Wiggin in Pittsburgh

Wiggin is celebrating 35 years on Pittsburgh television.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Todd Kreidler, who helped to conceive the Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright’s final written work, returns to Pittsburgh to direct that play, continuing his mission to keep the master’s words alive.
Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Lawrenceville hot spot Tender, once favored primarily for its libations, now is known as well for its culinary offerings.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module