Pittsburgh Celebrates 250 Years
ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
From Oshkosh, now, to a city that native son Mr. Rogers called one of the biggest small towns in America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is starting a two-month-long birthday party today. It was founded 250 years ago by a general named John Forbes and his sidekick, a young colonel named George Washington.
(Soundbite of music)
Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) Pittsburgh town is a smoky old town, Pittsburgh.
SEABROOK: By the 1900s, industrialists made this the nation's capital of iron, steel, and glass production. In 1952, long before she was mothering the Partridge family, actress Shirley Jones got her start there by winning the Ms. Pittsburgh pageant.
Ms. SHIRLEY JONES (Actress): It was a very smoky, dirty city at that time, you know. When you'd go to Pittsburgh to shop, and I'd come back and, you know, you'd have all this smut all over your clothes and breathing it in.
SEABROOK: Then the steel mills shut down, and for a time, Pittsburgh was a poster child for the rust belt. Then, in the 1970s, that poster child was reborn as a post-industrial medical technology and education center. This is the city that produced artist Andy Warhol, novelist Michael Chabon, and playwright August Wilson. Heinz ketchup got its start in Pittsburgh, so did the Ice Capades, the Ferris wheel, baseball's World Series, even emoticons, those sideways smiley faces in your email, they've been tracked back to Pittsburgh. Something else started in Pittsburgh that's especially important to anyone hearing my voice right now...
Unidentified Man #2: This is KDKA of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We shall now broadcast the election returns.
SEABROOK: KDKA, the first licensed radio station. This was from its debut broadcast in 1920. Those election results, Republican Warren Harding blew out Democrat James Cox. Speaking of blowouts, how about them Steelers. In 2006, the local NFL heroes thumped the Seattle Seahawks for their fifth Super Bowl title. So in its semi-quincentennial year, happy birthday, Pittsburgh.
(Soundbite of Roger Wood, "Here We Go, Steelers")
Mr. ROGER WOOD: (Singing) Here we go, Steelers, here we go.
SEABROOK: It's NPR News.
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