Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clairton and Pittsburgh

Clairton and the little neighbor down the street;
Today’s rambling

Clairton 26 Springdale 7. Total so far this year; Clairton 598, Opponents 26

They’re everywhere: I got a call this weekend from Bill Bennett, transplanted Clairtonian who lives in Phoenix. He told me that Jack and Clair Pierosh and George and Francine Zdrale were in Vegas to celebrate Jack’s son’s 40th birthday. Last time they’d been to Vegas was to celebrate Jack’s 40th

They left the “kids” and we Clairton grads got together to watch the Steelers beat the pants off Oakland whilst getting homered by their own refs. The event got me thinking about the historical significance of Pittsburgh. I’ve written about Clairton’s history. Here is a little about the little village down the river.

Some facts about the ‘Burgh: In 1758 George Washington and General Forbes rode up to the smoldering remains of Fort Duquesne at the Point and decided to name the small village “Pitts-Borough” which soon became localized to “Pittsburgh.” In 1803 Lewis and Clark began their expedition at the Point. McGuffy’s Reader became the school reading standard and in 184o the Duff’s became first business college to open. In 1908 the City celebrated its 150th anniversary in grand style with parades on land and on the water, and the cornerstone was laid for Soldiers and Sailors Hall. Fifty years later, the Bicentennial was celebrated with celebrations that resembled a World’s Fair atmosphere, and the cornerstone of the Civic Arena was laid. It was the first building with a retractable roof.

Other historical facts about that little village down the river from Clairton include the invention of wire cable that made suspension bridges possible. The oil industry was started by a Pittsburgh resident. Foundries built cannons for the Civil War and the first armor plated warship. The first ground coffee was packaged by John Arbuckle and the invention of Westinghouse air brakes made train travel much safer. In 1881 Pittsburgh became the birthplace of labor unions. Alcoa aluminum was made in the Strip District and Andrew Carnegie opened his first library in Braddock.

Pro football began in Pittsburgh and local George Ferris invented the Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Columbia Exposition of the Chicago World’s Fair. The wheel was higher than the Eifel Tower! H. J. Heinz, of course became the world leader in packaged foods and the Pirates hosted the first World Series in 1903. The banana split, movie theater, bingo, gas station, and road maps, were all firsts in the ‘Burgh. And Pitt was the first college to attach numbers to their football jerseys. Local Nellie Bly became the first female war correspondent and of course, KDKA became the first radio station to broadcast.

In 1924 the Liberty Tubes became the longest artificially ventilated automobile tunnels. The following year a Pittsburgher made the first cross-country flight. In 1929 Isaly’s introduced the Klondike. Other inventions by locals included the Zippo lighter, Ice Capades, and the Jeep.

In the medical field Jonas Salk invented polio vaccine, Alcoa built the first aluminum skyscraper, and WQED became the first educational TV channel. The first atomic-powered submarine and electric plants made their debut at the 1958 bicentennial and of course, one of man’s happiest inventions, the pop top beer can and later aluminum bottles were invented by Iron City Breweries and the Big Mac was a local invention. And the world-famous St. Louis Arch? Prefabricated and erected by Pitt locals. Clean air legislation started downtown. The Steelers were the first NFL team to win four Super Bowls. Local doctors did the first heart-liver-kidney transplant.

I’m from the government and I’m here to help you: In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison created a U. S. Board on Geographic Names in an effort to bring some order to the naming of cities, towns, lakes, mountains, and other things that needed to be named. At the time some states had as many as five towns with the same name. One of the first orders of business of the board was to have the “H” dropped from any city whose name ended in “burgh.” Pittsburgh area people have always been a proud, independent lot and they decided to keep their “H” since the town was obviously a historical exception. In short, they told the Board to stick the rules where the sun don’t shine, and they didn’t mean the smoggy skies of their city. For the next 20 years they waged a torrid campaign to keep their beloved “H” even in the face of threatened federal troop intervention. In 1911 the Board finally relented and let Pittsburgh be Pittsburgh.

Three cheers for North Dakota: Oh, did I mention a couple of other US cities named Pittsburg sans “H?” The list of almost name-alikes included:
Pittsburg, California - Contra Costa County
Pittsburg, Colorado - Gunnison County
Pittsburg, Florida - Polk County
Pittsburg, Georgia - DeKalb County
Pittsburg, Illinois - Fayette County
Pittsburg, Illinois - Williamson County
Pittsburg, Indiana - Carroll County
Pittsburg, Iowa - Van Buren County
Pittsburg, Kansas - Crawford County
Pittsburg, Kentucky - Laurel County
Pittsburg, Michigan - Shiawassee County
Pittsburg, Missouri - Hickory County
Pittsburg, New Hampshire - Coos County
Pittsburg, Oklahoma - Pittsburg County
Pittsburg, Oregon - Columbia County
Pittsburg, South Carolina - Greenwood County
Pittsburg, Texas - Camp County
Pittsburg, Utah - Piute County
Pittsburgh, North Dakota - Pembina County They might not have Iron City Beer or an incline, but they have the fortitude to keep their “H.”

A little blogging music Maestro… (all together now) “There’s a pawn shop on the corner, in Pittsburgh Pennsyl-van-i-a…”

Dr. Forgot

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