Pittsburgh Firsts

19th CenturyWestinghouse

1845 – World’s first wire cable suspension aqueduct bridge was built in Pittsburgh over the Allegheny River at 11th Street.

1850s – On Seventh Avenue in Pittsburgh Samuel Kier established the Western Hemispheres first successful petroleum refinery.

1863 – William Bullock, of Pittsburgh, received a patent for the first printing press to use roll paper.

1869 – Pittsburgh’s George Westinghouse demonstrated the first practical air brake for railroads.

1881 – The first national convention of The American Federation of Labor (A.F. of L.) was held in Pittsburgh.AFL Sign

1885 – Long distance transmission of electricity became possible because Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse Electric developed alternating current.

1888 – The Pittsburgh Reduction Company was responsible for the world’s first production of commercial aluminum.

1889 – The first Carnegie Library in the USA was dedicated on March 30, 1889. This library is known as the Braddock Carnegie Library. Andrew Carnegie went on to finance the building of almost 3,000 public libraries throughout the English speaking world.

1893 – The first Ferris Wheel was the star of World’s Fair held in Chicago.  George Ferris, a bridge builder from Pittsburgh, designed and built the world’s first Ferris Wheel, which could hold 2,160 passengers.

20th CenturyFirst World Series Sign

1903 – The Pittsburgh Pirates played in the First World Series in Major League Baseball, between the Boston Americans of the American League and the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League.

1905 – The Nickelodeon, the world’s first theater devoted to motion pictures, opened on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh.

1909 – Forbes Field, the country’s first baseball stadium, opened in Pittsburgh on June 30, 1909, to a standing-room only crowd of 30,338.  The Chicago Cubs won the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, by a score of 3-2.

1913 – The nation’s first gas station opened in Pittsburgh.  It was built by Gulf Refining Company.Forbes Field

1918 – Daylight Savings Time came to Pittsburgh.  This was the nation’s first daylight savings time.

In the 1920s Bingo was born in Pittsburgh.  It was originally called Beano and dried beans were used as the markers.

1920 – Pittsburgh’s KDKA was the first commercial radio station in the United States.

1920 – KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh became the first commercially licensed radio station to broadcast presidential election returns on November 2, 1920.  The election was between Ohio’s Governor James M. Cox and Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio.

1921 – KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh becomes first radio station to broaKDKA Radio Station Signdcast a church service on January 2, 1921.  Calvary Episcopal Church was the site of the first remote broadcast.

1926 – Construction began in Pittsburgh on the world’s first university skyscraper, The Cathedral of Learning, at the University of Pittsburgh’s campus in Oakland.  It is 42-stories high and styled in the Late Gothic Revival style.

1952 – First Polio Vaccine trial – Dr. Jonas Salk, a researcher/professor at the University of Pittsburgh, developed the polio vaccine.

1953 – Pittsburgh’s Alcoa Building – The first all-aluminum skyscraper was built, 30 stories high, with aluminum walls only 1/8-inch thick.

1954 – Public Television – The first community-sponsored educational television station in the USA (WQED). WQED is known for producing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

1957 – The world’s first full-scale atomic-powered plant for production of electricity was opened a few miles away from Pittsburgh in Shippingport, PA.Civic Arena

1961 – Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena, with its world-famous retractable stainless steel dome, first opened to the public.  It was built as the home of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera (CLO) but the Ice Capades were the first event at the arena on September 19, 1961.

1962 – World’s first pull tabs on cans – Pittsburgh’s Alcoa developed pull tabs for cans which were called zip tops.  These pull tabs were first used by Pittsburgh’s Iron City Brewery.World's First Pull Tabs on Cans

1967 – The First Big Mac was created in Uniontown, PA, by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchise owner, and it was test marketed in 3 Pittsburgh area McDonald’s Restaurants.  It didn’t take long for the Big Mac to become a hit at McDonald’s everywhere.

1971 – Dr. Richard Moriarty of the Children’s Hospital Poison Center created the Mr. Yuk sticker to replace the skull and crossbones previously used.

1971 – First World Series Night Game – Before the 4th game of the 1971 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles, the games were always a daytime event.  The Pirates won the series.Carnegie Mellon University

1979 – Carnegie Mellon University, in cooperation with CMU Professors Raj Reddy and Angel Jordan and Westinghouse Electric’s President Tom Murrin,  started the first Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh with the goal of making it the best place to do robotics research in the world.

1982 – Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist, Scott Fahlman, created the Smiley emoticon 🙂 to mark humorous or sarcastic posts on the University’s online bulletin boards as such so that they would not be taken out of context or taken more seriously than they were intended.  In the original post the sideways smiley face was called a UPCM“joke marker.”  It didn’t take long for the smiley face and the frowning face to catch on world wide with the growth of the internet.

1989 – Presbyterian-University Hospital was the site of the world’s first simultaneous heart, liver and kidney transplant, which was performed on a 26-year-old woman.

21st Century

2009 – Steelers are first team to win 6 Super Bowls. The years they won are 1975 against the Minnesota Vikings, 1976 against the steelers-football
Dallas Cowboys, 1979 against the Dallas Cowboys, 1980 against the Los Angeles Rams, 2006 against the Seattle Seahawks, and 2009 against the Arizona Cardinals.

 

 

 

 

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