Tag Archives: history

#TBT: How Pittsburgh Got It’s “H” Back

DHREA 19/07/2018

PittsburghHistoricalMarker

 

Thanks to the United States Board on Geographic Names, big cities and little towns alike lost a lot of character in the late 1800s. In 1891, with President Benjamin Harrison’s stamp of approval, the board decided to change a few things about how towns and cities should be named. One of the newly adopted rules impacted Pittsburgh, and in typical Pittsburgher fashion, we demanded we get “our” Pittsburgh back. Let’s all be honest with ourselves…Pittsburg, PA, just doesn’t seem right, does it?

One of the newly adopted rules read as such: “IN NAMES ENDING IN ‘BURGH,’ THE FINAL ‘H’ SHOULD BE DROPPED.”

The city was happily using that “h” for more than a century! We had  newspapers, baseball teams, and buildings already bearing the consonant. “Too bad”, said the committe. Thus, Pittsburgh became “Pittsburg”.

Never going quietly into the night, the city said, “Not so fast, my friend.” While most cities weren’t bothered enough to fight for their heritage, Pittsburgh wouldn’t make the change to “Pittsburg” quietly. The city was originally named to honor William Pitt the Elder, but it was General John Forbes who did the naming. His Scottish background is the reason for that extra “h” (think Edinburgh). To edit the spelling to the German “burg” was akin to editing the city’s founding.

After 20 years of complaints, the Board finally overturned their previous decision on Pittsburg(h)’s controversial consonant on July 19, 1911. Town representatives even got a little sassy when they announced victory, claiming they were from “Pittsburgh, a city in Pennsylvania (not Pittsburg)”.

Never change, Pittsburg. We mean…PITTSBURGH!!!

 

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Today in Pittsburgh History: 3 Rivers Stadium Opens!

DHREA 16/07/2018

ThreeRivers

The landscape of Pittsburgh’s North Shore has definitely changed over the past 15-20 years. Before PNC Park and Heinz Field book-ended a modernized North Shore, Pittsburgh’s sports fanatics flocked to the most infamous of what was called “cookie cutter” stadiums…Three Rivers Stadium. Make no mistake, PNC Park and Heinz Field were a pleasant addition to the Steel City’s recent modernization process, and have really helped to revitalize the North Shore. However, a conversation could be made that when Three Rivers Stadium was torn down, so was one of the most iconic sports venues in North American history. As beautiful as the new stadiums are, the vibe at Three Rivers Stadium was untouchable.

After a 29 month build process, which included several setbacks, Three Rivers Stadium finally opened on July 16th, 1970. The visiting Cincinnati Reds defeated the Pirates 2-1. The new facility, which cost $50 Million (roughly $355 Million today), was designed to hold both the Pirates and Steelers more efficiently than the legendary Forbes Field could. Forbes was still an incredible and breathtaking atmosphere for baseball, however many felt the “baseball first” design was holding Pittsburgh’s football team back from achieving success in the NFL. In the first 10 years of the stadium’s opening, the Pirates and Steelers delivered a combined 6 world championships. Maybe there was something to that sentiment after all!

Three Rivers Stadium was also the home of the short-lived Pittsburgh Maulers USFL franchise, as well as special event games for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team. The Panthers also called Three Rivers Stadium their home for the entire 2000 season.

Three Rivers was notorious for holding huge concerts as well. The biggest names in music played Three Rivers Stadium. Performers like U2, Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Stevie Wonder, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band, and many, many more. The final concert at Three Rivers Stadium was held on the 40th anniversary of the stadium’s opening, when then pop sensation N’Sync performed on July 16th, 2000. We can look back and laugh at the act in question now, but the reality is even in Three Rivers’ final days, the stadium was drawing the largest acts in the world!

Three Rivers Stadium was also the first stadium in MLB and NFL to use “tartan turf”, or, artificial turf. A few years later, the turf was replaced with the then-branded “AstroTurf”.

We can all agree that in it’s final days, Three Rivers was ready to be replaced. While bittersweet, it was time. On February 11th, 2001, in front of an estimated 50,000 fans (some would say more) who braved a chilly Pittsburgh morning, the stadium was imploded at 8 o’clock in the morning. Cheers and tears flowed through the surroundings of the North Shore, as fans of all ages reminisced with generations of family and friends. In it’s short 30 year window in Pittsburgh history, Three Rivers Stadium unquestionably left an “immaculate” mark.

If you’re suddenly feeling nostalgic, you can amazingly still visit the (recently expired) Three Rivers Stadium website…HERE!

 

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#TBT: The Glory Days of The Green Weenie!

DHREA 05/07/2018

GreenWeenie

 

One thing about Pittsburgh will forever be true…we love superstitions. Especially when it comes to our sports teams. The Pirates have never strayed from embracing superstitions, and might lay claim to some of the most fun and interactive superstitions in Pittsburgh sports history. “We Are Family”, anyone? Most recently, fans have grabbed onto the “Power of the Zoltan” and used wrestler Daniel Bryan’s “Yes” chants to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The Buccos and their fans have always latched onto unique ideas, but let’s take a look at one of the most bizarre superstitious talisman the city has ever seen. Today, let’s celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Green Weenie.

Back in 1966, legendary Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince and trainer Danny Whelan indirectly co-created the gimmick after Prince observed Whelan doing something very peculiar…yelling at Houston Astros pitcher Dave Giusti while pointing and waiving a green, rubber hot dog at the right handed pitcher. During the next broadcast, Prince asked Whelan what he was doing, and the gimmick was born. Within weeks, Tri-State Plastics started manufacturing the idea, and “Green Weenies” were seen all over Forbes Field.

If you’ve never seen an original Green Weenie, imagine a hot dog shaped maraca you would waive at an opposing team to place a “hex” on them. Conversely, if you waived said hot dog shaped maraca towards a Pirates player, he would be graced with great success. You can’t make these things up.

Sounds totally insane, right? Here’s some “food” for thought. Even though the Pirates failed to win the pennant in 1966, Roberto Clemente won the National League MVP Award, Matty Alou won the National League batting title, Bill Mazeroski led the league in double plays, and Willie Stargell had his personal best year in batting. Well, hot dog! Maybe there was something to it after all!

In later years, attempts were made to bring back the Pirates’ bizarre good luck charm. However, the gimmick never showed lasting power, which might be for the better. We’re the greatest city in the United States. We’re Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Give us Pittsburghers a Pierogi Race over a Green Weenie any day! 😉

 

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DHRE Pittsburgh History Blog: Frick Park’s 89th Birthday!

DHREA 26/06/2018

FrickPark

The park began when Henry Clay Frick, upon his death in 1919, bequeathed 151 acres south of Clayton, his Point Breeze mansion (which is now part of the Frick Art & Historical Center). He also arranged for a $2 million trust fund for long-term maintenance for the park, which opened on June 25, 1927.

Henry Clay Frick’s son, Childs Frick, developed his lifelong love of animals in the woods and ravines of the park. Childs Frick went on to be a renowned American vertebrate paleontologist, major benefactor and trustee of the American Museum of Natural History.

Over the years, the park grew from the original land in Point Breeze, and now includes Squirrel Hill to the border of Edgewood. It is one of the few areas of a city that Frick helped industrialize, where steep ravines and mature woods remain relatively undisturbed, forming a nature reserve of native plants and abundant wildlife. Owls, amphibians, wild turkey, fox, and many mammal species are found in the park.

Known as Pittsburgh’s woodland park for its extensive trails throughout steep valleys and wooded slopes, Frick Park is an ideal escape from the noise of the city. Birding enthusiasts love to visit Clayton Hill, where well over 100 species of birds have been recorded. Children flock to the famous Blue Slide Playground and learn about nature at the Frick Environmental Center. The park also features red clay tennis courts, baseball fields, and the only public lawn bowling green in Pennsylvania.

Find out more about Frick Park at their official website…HERE!

 

 

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#TBT: The Coldest Day In Pittsburgh History

DHREA 18/01/2018

 

When it comes to winter weather, the Steel City has been pretty fortunate in recent memory. We’ll never be known for having temperate winters (or remotely moderate), but the winters haven’t been terrible by Pittsburgh standards. But this year…

Let’s not kid ourselves.  It’s. Been Cold.

How cold has it been? Since Christmas, we’ve had 15 nights where the low has been in single digits. You can toss on an extra two days where the low was an exact 10 degrees, and 3 days where the low was BELOW ZERO.

It’s. Been. Cold.

Alas, when we think it’s bad, there’s always a time when conditions were much worse. On January 19th, 1994, it was much worse. Unless you consider -22°F comfortable or normal, 24 years ago today you were much colder than you are right now.

The “Blizzard of ’93” garners so much attention as one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic winter weather moments (even though it was in March), most overlook the bitter cold we experienced the year after. One day of cold temperatures can be rough, but the 1994 temperatures happened during a major cold snap. Four days in a row, the minimum temperature dropped below zero. And at the peak of 1994’s cold snap, temperatures stayed below zero for 52 straight hours. That is the longest time period on record with temperatures below zero.

Now that a heatwave of 40 degree weather is headed our way, Pittsburghers can rejoice and break out the shorts again. But don’t forget how cold it can, and probably will, get in the Steel City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#TBT: Steelers Beat Raiders In “Ice Bowl” To Win 2nd AFC Championship

DHREA 04/01/2018

To some, the Steelers vs. Raiders rivalry during the 1970s is still the hardest hitting and most ruthless rivalry in all of sports history. Don’t believe me? Let’s dig a little deeper. Besides facing off in three straight AFC Championship games and meeting in five straight playoffs, these two teams caused rule changes, saw multiple last second finishes including The Immaculate Reception (also the Steelers’ first playoff win), lawsuits, bodyslams, clotheslines, potential criminal activity, and nearly everything else you’d expect to find in a defunct XFL football game. The Steelers and Ravens may be today’s “Clash of the Titans”, but back in the 1970s, time stood still when these two franchises came together for a gentleman’s duel.

On this date in 1976, our hometown Steelers bested the Pirates from the Bay Area 16-10 to win their second AFC Championship. While not as thrilling of an ending as the Immaculate Reception game, this game still ended with a dash of controversy, and a lot of cold weather. Known as one of the coldest games in Steeler history, and named “Greatest Game in Three Rivers Stadium History” on Steelers.com, the “Ice Bowl” brought snow, ice, wind, and sub zero temperatures players are still having nightmares about. The low scoring affair was riddled with turnovers from both teams, but the Steelers held strong when it mattered most. Steeler legend Mel Blount made a game saving stop on Raiders’ receiver Cliff Branch at the 15 yard line on the the final play of the game, ending Oakland’s drive and securing the Steelers’ second consecutive Super Bowl birth. Problem is…we haven’t gotten controversial yet.

In one of the most memorable games in the history of the Black and Gold, the most memorable moment of the game was marred with typical 1970s Raiders behavior. Steelers Hall of Fame wideout and Steel City favorite Lynn Swann left the game on a stretcher after a vicious hit to the back of the head by Raiders’ defensive back George Atkinson. Although the hit was legal at the time, Swann suffered a concussion and remained hospitalized for two days. Although Swann returned in time for the Super Bowl, and became the first wide receiver to win Super Bowl MVP, this was the catalyst to a lot of bad blood, name calling, and lawsuits. A circus of lawsuits.

After the Raiders seemingly targeted Swann in the opening game of the following season, Steelers head coach Chuck Noll called the Raiders and George Atkinson the “criminal element” of the league. This led to Atkinson suing coach Noll and the Steelers for defamation of character, and by now I think I’ve proven the aforementioned point of this rivalry being one of the most insane and intense in all of sports history.

Times have changed, and the rivalry between these two franchises has dwindled to nothing more than a memory of the past. But 42 years ago today, Pittsburghers far and wide were crying out for a safer NFL with rules in place to protect players, and the future of the player’s body and mind. How times have changed, indeed.

 

 

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