Earlier this week, dear friend and blogger Cocktail wrote about the strangeness of people having such pride in their homes. Well, dear Cocktail, there's much to go home to. Granted, I only go home 2-3 times a year and for generally short periods of time (my current exile in PA notwithstanding).
True, this is no sunny vacation spot. It's freezing cold here and I traveled through snow-logged high ground to get here. And it's not a massive sprawling metropolis either. However, Pittsburgh has a certain charm that is hard to replicate. We're fiercely loyal Steelers fans (even those of us who otherwise hate football), we speak our own intricate language (see the link in my earlier post on Pittsburghese), and we have a rich history of American firsts.
Among other things, Pittsburgh was the first place to use Mr. Yuk stickers, pull-tabs on cans, and the emoticon. Imagine the internet without smileys! We also had the first bingo game, ferris wheel, and radio station. Continuing my series on the City of Bridges, here are some Pittsburgh firsts:
- The First Internet Emoticon - 1982
The Smiley :-) was the first Internet emoticon, created by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman.
- First Big Mac - 1967
Created by Jim Delligatti at his Uniontown McDonald's, the Big Mac debuted and was test marketed in three other Pittsburgh-area McDonald's restaurants in 1967. By 1968 it was a mainstay on McDonald's menus throughout the country.
- First Mr Yuk Sticker - 1971
Mr Yuk was created at the Poison Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh after research indicated that the skull and crossbones previously used to identify poisons had little meaning to children who equate the symbol with exciting things like pirates and adventure.
- First Heart, Liver, Kidney Transplant - December 3, 1989
The first simultaneous heart, liver and kidney transplant was done at Presbyterian-University Hospital.
- First Night World Series Game - 1971
Game 4 of the 1971 World Series was the first night game in World Series history, a series that Pittsburgh went on to win, 4 games to 3.
- First Pull-Tab on Cans - 1962
The pull-tab was developed by Alcoa and was first used by Iron City Brewery in 1962. For many years, pull-tabs were only used in this area.
- First Retractable Dome - September 1961
Pittsburgh's Civic Arena boasts the world's first auditorium with a retractable roof.
- First U.S. Public Television Station - April 1, 1954
WQED, operated by the Metropolitan Pittsburgh Educational Station, was the first community-sponsored educational television station in America.
- First Polio Vaccine - March 26, 1953
The polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas E. Salk, a 38-year-old University of Pittsburgh researcher and professor.
- First Zippo Lighter - 1932
George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932 in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The name Zippo was chosen by Blaisdell because he liked the sound of the word "zipper" - which was patented around the same time in nearby Meadville, PA.
- First Bingo Game - early 1920's
Hugh J. Ward first came up with the concept of bingo in Pittsburgh and began running the game at carnivals in the early 1920s, taking it nationwide in 1924. He secured a copyright on the game and wrote a book of Bingo rules in 1933.
- First U.S. Commercial Radio Station - November 2, 1920
Dr. Frank Conrad, assistant chief engineer of Westinghouse Electric, first constructed a transmitter and installed it in a garage near his home in Wilkinsburg in 1916. The station was licensed as 8XK. At 6 p.m. on Nov. 2, 1920, 8KX became KDKA Radio and began broadcasting at 100 watts from a make-shift shack atop one of the Westinghouse manufacturing buildings in East Pittsburgh.
- Daylight Savings Time - March 18, 1919
A Pittsburgh city councilman during the first World War, Robert Garland devised the nation's first daylight savings plan, instituted in 1918.
- The First Gas Station - December, 1913
In 1913 the first automobile service station, built by Gulf Refining Company, opened in Pittsburgh at Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in East Liberty. Designed by J. H. Giesey.
- The First Baseball Stadium in the U.S. - 1909
In 1909 the first baseball stadium, Forbes Field, was built in Pittsburgh, followed soon by similar stadiums in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and New York.
- First Motion Picture Theatre - 1905
The first theater in the world devoted to the exhibition of motion pictures was the "Nickelodeon," opened by Harry Davis on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh.
- First Banana Split - 1904
Invented by Dr. David Strickler, a pharmacist, at Strickler's Drug Store in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
- The First World Series - 1903
The Boston Pilgrims defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three in baseball's first modern World Series in 1903.
- First Ferris Wheel - 1892/1893
Invented by Pittsburgh native and civil engineer, George Washington Gale Ferris (1859-1896), the first Ferris Wheel was in operation at the World's Fair in Chicago. It was over 264 feet high and was capable of carrying more than 2,000 passengers at a time.
- Long-Distance Electricity - 1885
Westinghouse Electric developed alternating current, allowing long-distance transmission of electricity for the first time.
- First Air Brake - 1869
The first practical air brake for railroads was invented by George Westinghouse in the 1860s and patented in 1869.