Pittsburgh – Fun Facts and a Little History

By Jeffrey R Klug


Located at the meeting of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers at the head of the Ohio River, Pittsburgh has been referred to as the “Gateway to the West,” with easily navigable waterways, and an abundance of natural resources of coal, timber, natural gas, iron and limestone. This helped Pittsburgh become the industrial center for a growing nation. Most people recognize Pittsburgh as an industrial hub for coal mining and steel production.


Pittsburgh has played an important part in U.S. history from the French and Indian War (1758), the Revolutionary War (1776), the infamous Whiskey Rebellion, and the American Civil War with its Underground Railroad.


The Civil war boosted the city’s economy with an increased iron and armament demand. With the introduction of the Bessemer steel making process, Andrew Carnegie completed his rise to become the richest man in the world. Carnegie began steel production in 1875. In 1901, Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, a grandson of a western Pennsylvania whiskey distillers, made his fortune building and operating beehive coking ovens, turning coal into coke, a necessary raw material in steel making. The two men came together to form the Carnegie Steel Co. and in 1901 merged several companies into United States Steel Corporation.


The riverfront steel mills of the Mon Valley are mostly gone now. The generosity of industrial giants like Carnegie and Frick, plus food manufacturer H.J. Heinz and banker Andrew Mellon, live on in a legacy of art, culture and education.


The strength of Pittsburgh lies in the friendliness of its people and the beauty of its landscape. Once a center for heavy industry, today Pittsburgh’s skyline has been transformed. Riverfronts are thoughtfully developed and used for recreation as well as business. Businesses look towards the environment as an asset, not a challenge, and best of all, “green” has replaced “smoky.” Pittsburgh is now a vibrant, mid-sized city that has the feel of a small town. The people are very approachable, hardworking and proud. It is a city in transformation. You can bike and walk miles of riverfront trails and soak in urban views. The trails follow the rivers and are packed with parks for close contact with the surrounding countryside. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens opened its Center for Sustainable Landscapes, one of the first certified living buildings, a model of sustainability for architects, planner and anyone interested in living greener. With its natural beauty and unique terrain, a visit to Pittsburgh offers a surprising and unexpected experience.. So take to the streets of Pittsburgh and explore this exciting city. There are free, self-guided and guided architectural and public art walking tours of the city’s many neighborhoods.


The Pittsburgh countryside is also worth visiting. There are eight counties located within 30 to 60 minutes of downtown, offering everything from white water rafting to sailing, hiking, covered bridges and beautiful landscapes.


Little known facts


  • Pittsburgh International Airport is ranked 8th out of the 10 best airports in the US by Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. It is also rated in the top 10 by Travel + Leisure.
  • Travel + Leisure readers voted Pittsburgh as one of their favorite US cities. They also rated it as #7 in the list of Friendliest Cities in America.
  • According to Forbes.com, Pittsburgh is among the cities that give the most bang for your buck.
  • Wallet Hub ranks Pittsburgh the 14th most fun city in America.
  • Zagat named Pittsburgh as the #1 food city for 2015.
  • The Pittsburgh Taco Truck comes in as one of the spots for great Mexican food according to the Business Insider.
  • Pittsburgh is named an up and coming foodie city by Kayak.
  • Allegheny West is the most hipster neighborhood in Pittsburgh according to the Pittsburgh Sun Times.
  • The Pittsburgh Gazette is the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies.
  • First Ferris Wheel – 1893.
  • First All-Aluminum Building –  Regional Enterprise Tower, formerly the Alcoa Building
  • First Polio Vaccine – 1954 by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh.



Famous Food


  • The Big Mac was invented near Pittsburgh by Jim Delligatti in 1967.
  • Heinz Ketchup, invented in Pittsburgh by H.J. Heinz.
  • Pierogis, found at restaurants throughout Pittsburgh.
  • The Klondike Bar invented in 1929 by Sam Isaly. It cost a nickel.



Famous Pittsburghers


  • Gene Kelly and Martha Graham – Dancers
  • Henry Mancini, Stephen Foster, Billy Strayhdorn, Billy Eckstine, George Benson, Lena Horne and Perry Como – Musicians and Vocalists
  • Michael Keaton, Bobby Vinton, Jeff Goldblum, Dennis Miller and Christina Guilera – Actors/Musicians.
  • Football Stars Tony Dorsett, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and Gus Frerotte.



Movies filmed in Pittsburgh


  • The Silence of the Lambs, Lorenzo’s Oil and Hoffa.



Conference Hotel Info


The Pittsburgh Marriott City Center (112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, PA) is in the heart of downtown, across from the PPG Paints Arena and within walking distance of all major sports venues, shopping and the Cultural District. If preferred, the “T” is located across the street for a quick commute. Some of the amenities of the hotel are:


  • Business center
  • Fitness Center
  • High-speed Internet
  • Pool
  • On site Restaurant
  • Room Service
  • Parking


The property has 11 floors and 400 rooms. In the lobby area there is a Starbucks to get you going with a delicious cup of Starbucks coffee and some pastries or snacks. The hotel has a buffet breakfast ($16.95) or a Continental breakfast ($13.95). There is also a lounge, Crafted North, where you can enjoy a glass of wine or a handcrafted cocktail, a perfect place to meet after all of our activities. It is open for lunch and dinner. There are also many options for dining nearby. The room rate is $129.00 per room (plus tax) and includes high-speed Internet and discounted self-parking. Rooms may be booked up to 3 days before or after the conference dates.


Hotel Registration and Conference Registration will open on April 17th, 2017. This later date will make it easier for the registration team to take your registration and have it run smoothly.


So let’s get ready for this great conference! Mark October 8th to the 14th, 2017 on your calendar to be in Pittsburgh for great speakers, super tours and a lot of education on all areas of photography. It will be the best conference that PSA has ever had! Watch the journal for more info on the speakers, tours and education in the coming months.