25 Charming Facts About Pittsburgh
... that have nothing to do with the election or the pandemic.
1. A century ago, Pittsburgh was the ninth most populous city in the United States, with more residents than Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.
2. The first Pittsburgh Marathon, in 1985, was won by a married couple. Lisa Martin, an Olympian originally from Australia, won the women’s race; her husband, Ken, won the men’s.
3. In the Beatles’ only Pittsburgh concert, on Sept. 14, 1964, the band performed 12 songs. The set list included hits such as “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” as well as four covers, including their closing number, Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.”
4. The oldest living African-American Olympic medalist, Herb Douglas, is a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School. He earned bronze in the long jump during the 1948 Summer Games in London.
5. The full list of names used by the amphitheatre in Burgettstown is as follows: Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre (1990-99); Post-Gazette Pavilion (2000-09); First Niagara Pavilion (2010-16); KeyBank Pavilion (2016-19); S&T Bank Music Park. (Yes, it changed again this year.)
6. The football game attacked by supervillain Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises,” which was filmed in Pittsburgh, pitted the Gotham Rogues against the Rapid City Monuments.
7. The University of Pittsburgh is one of the 30 oldest operating universities in the country, having been chartered in 1787.
8. Winston Churchill once visited Pittsburgh, addressing a crowd of more than 1,000 at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland on March 7, 1932.
9. On May 18, 1986, a pair of parachutists leapt from the roof of the U.S. Steel Building, landing safely on the Civic Arena. (This was not an authorized stunt; they were arrested.)
10. The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts opened in February 1928 as the Stanley Theater, a movie palace. The inaugural attraction was “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” but not the one you’re thinking of — the Marilyn Monroe film is a remake of this silent feature. (You can’t watch it today; no copies of the original “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” are known to exist.)
11. The Pittsburgh Pirates franchise, which dates to 1881, is the third oldest team in Major League Baseball. Only the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves, which can trace their lineage to 1871, are older.
12. The sloths at the National Aviary are named Valentino, Vivien and Wookiee.
13. The white, marble statue of Venus that kneels in the Palm Court of Phipps Conservatory is (nearly) original to the building. The statue was donated by Henry Phipps himself in 1893.
14. The longest modern-era NHL game occurred on May 4, 2000, at the Mellon Arena. In an Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup, the Philadelphia Flyers outlasted the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, after more than 92 minutes of overtime. The full scoreboard time was 152 minutes and one second; all told, the game took more than 7 hours.
15. Mr. McFeely’s full name is David Alex McFeely.
16. The colors of the three hypocycloids in the Steelers’ logo represent steel-making materials. Yellow represents coal, blue represents steel scrap, and orange — which, in the team logo, has gradually shifted to red over the years — represents ore.
17. The Three Stooges — Moe, Larry and latter-day Stooge Curly Joe — appeared in 1960 on stage at Kennywood Park.
18. Four years ago, we quietly passed the 200-year anniversary of the city’s first streetlights. Pittsburgh installed its first street lamps, powered by whale oil, in 1816.
19. For stretches of the 1920s, Motor Square Garden — the blue-roofed building in East Liberty that currently houses a AAA — was the home court of the Pitt Panthers basketball team.
20. Between 1910 and 2014, there were 119 reported U.F.O. sightings within the Pittsburgh city limits.
21. The “57 varieties” touted by Heinz in a 1934 cookbook included Heinz Cream of Oyster, Heinz Breakfast Wheat and Heinz Mock Turtle Soup.
22. Here’s the impressive tale of the tape on Dippy, the diplodocus carnegii statue outside the Carnegie Museums in Oakland: Height, 22 feet; Length, 84 feet; Weight, 3,000 pounds.
23. Home plate from Forbes Field sits under glass in Posvar Hall at the University of Pittsburgh. While it’s very close, it is not technically in the right location; the proper site would be in a nearby restroom.
24. For now, the U.S. Steel Tower is clinging to an unusual record: It is the tallest building in the world with a flat roof. (It’s only the 200th tallest building in the world overall.) This record could be lost, however, if Goldin Finance 117, an as-yet-incomplete skyscraper in Tianjin, China, is ever finished; Goldin Finance 117 would be 1,959 feet high, more than doubling U.S. Steel’s 841 feet.
25. In 2008, on the first occasion that the Pittsburgh Pirates’ racing pierogies squared off against the Washington Nationals’ racing presidents, Teddy Roosevelt brandished a giant knife and fork in an attempt to devour the competition. Potato Pete came out of retirement the following year to gain revenge, flattening Roosevelt with a surprisingly agile flying tackle.