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.”
 

Hot Reads

Made in Pittsburgh

Made in Pittsburgh

The city of steel always has been known for its industry – what we make. Today, that defining characteristic expands beyond manufacturing into every aspect of modern life.
Ed Piskor is Pittsburgh's Hip-Hop Historian

Ed Piskor is Pittsburgh's Hip-Hop Historian

Comic-book artist Ed Piskor continues to win critical acclaim and international fame with his “Hip Hop Family Tree” series of graphic novels.
Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.

The 412

Love Cheetahs? Get to the Zoo

Love Cheetahs? Get to the Zoo

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is home to four cheetahs who particularly like to move around in the morning.
All That You Need to Know about the Pirates’ Wild Card Game

All That You Need to Know about the Pirates’ Wild Card Game

Think you’re ready for Wednesday? You will be after reading our rundown on the matchup.
Does Pittsburgh Have the Nation’s Best Riverfront?

Does Pittsburgh Have the Nation’s Best Riverfront?

Then help the Steel City to earn that title by voting in an online poll.
Watch: The Cooking Channel Goes Inside Pittsburgh Kitchens

Watch: The Cooking Channel Goes Inside Pittsburgh Kitchens

Several restaurants along Penn Avenue will be featured in tonight’s episode of “Chuck’s Eat the Street.”

Hot Reads

Made in Pittsburgh

Made in Pittsburgh

The city of steel always has been known for its industry – what we make. Today, that defining characteristic expands beyond manufacturing into every aspect of modern life.
Ed Piskor is Pittsburgh's Hip-Hop Historian

Ed Piskor is Pittsburgh's Hip-Hop Historian

Comic-book artist Ed Piskor continues to win critical acclaim and international fame with his “Hip Hop Family Tree” series of graphic novels.
Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.