small text medium text large text

Pittsburgh Firsts: By Event

Accident, Automobile -- 17 April 1901
Ralph Gibson, 11 years old, was killed almost instantly on Grant Boulevard by an automobile driven by W. S. Arbuthnot.
Source: Pittsburgh Post 17 April 1901.

Acupuncture -- 1973
Dr. Richard Depp and Dr. Ezzat Aboul-Eish performed one of the first acupuncture-assisted childbirths on 9 October 1973 on an East Liberty mother at Magee-Women's Hospital.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 11 October 1973, 13.

Airmail -- 21 April 1927
Airmail service on the Pittsburgh-Youngstown-Cleveland route was begun.

Airport -- 1919
Mayer Field--Pittsburgh's first airport--established in Bridgeville by Casper P. Mayer, realtor and aviation pioneer.

Art Exhibition -- 5 November 1896
The first International Art Exhibition held at Carnegie Institute with 312 paintings on display.
Source: Carnegie Magazine May 1952

Automobile -- 1898
Arthur L. Banker owned the first auto in Pittsburgh, a De-Dion, imported from France.

Automobile (Model T Ford) -- February 1910
First Model T Ford bought by Dr. John Lehner, South Side, for $983.
Source: Brentwood Historical Society publication; April 1996.

Automobile Show -- 1914
First auto show was held in Motor Square Garden.
Source: Brentwood Historical Society publication; April 1996.

Bank -- 1 January 1804
The Pittsburgh Branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania, the first banking institution west of the Allegheny Mountains, opened in the Turnbull "Stone House" at Market and Ferry Streets (east side of Second Avenue, between Ferry Street and Chancery Lane). The Bank of Pittsburgh was chartered in 1814.
Sources: PA Department files; Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.

Bank Robbery -- 6 April 1818
In Pittsburgh's first bank robbery, $104,000 was stolen from Farmers and Mechanics Bank.

Battle -- 1758
On Grant's Hill, where court house now stands, Maj. Grant lost 300 men in fight with French and Indians.
Source: PA Department files.

Birth -- 18 September 1755
The first birth in Pittsburgh was at old Fort Duquesne, according to the "register" of the Fort. was a boy named Daniel Norment or Vorment. He died 6 days later, on 24 September 1755.
Sources: PA Department files; Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.

Blast Furnace -- 1793
George Anshutz built first iron furnace in Shadyside.

Book Publishing -- 1793
The first book published west of the Alleghenies was the 3rd volume of Judge Hugh Brackenridge's Modern Chivalry.

Bridge -- 20 November 1818
The first bridge was built at Smithfield Street to span the Monongahela River.

Bridge, Toll-Free -- 25 March 1896
The 22nd Street Bridge was opened to public use.

Carpenter's Square --
The first square ever used by a carpenter in Allegheny County is said to have figured in the planning of Fort Duquesne. It was a property of a carpenter named Robert Carson, who was born on 1 August 1732.
Source: Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.

Census -- 1764
Showing population of 1,395.
Source: PA Department files.

Church -- 1783
The German Evangelical Protestant Church was established in a log church at Diamond Alley and Wood Street.

Church, Roman Catholic -- August 1808
St. Patrick's, the city's first Roman Catholic Church, was built at Liberty & Washington Streets.

College -- 28 February 1787
Incorporation date of the Pittsburgh Academy--later the University of Pittsburgh.

Courthouse -- 1799
The first courthouse was erected on the Western half of the Diamond on Market Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

Daylight Saving Time -- 31 March 1918
Daylight Saving Time, promoted by Robert Garland, of Pittsburgh, went into effect.
Source: Greater Pittsburgh, April 1935.

Death -- 20 June 1754
The first death in Pittsburgh was at Fort Duquesne. Toussaint Boyer, styled Bientourne, aged about 21 years.
Source: Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.
Doctor -- 1784 or before
Dr. Nathaniel Bedford lived at the Northwest Corner of 7th and Liberty Streets.

Escape, Underwater --23 July 1976
Paul Kosak, Squirrel Hill magician, chained inside a padlocked box, escapes from beneath the Allegheny River at Three Rivers Regatta.
Source: Pittsburgh Press, 24 July 1976, A-2.

Execution, Public -- 26 January 1793
Thomas Dunning was hanged on Boyd's Hill for the murder of Catherine Worthington.

Explosion -- November 1758
The first explosion in Pittsburgh was when the French blew up Fort Duquesne to prevent the English from occupying it. To General Washington's eyes the abandoned Fort was a scene of desolation. One of the magazines was blown to atoms, but the other was intact. The charred walls of 30 or 40 cabins added to the wretchedness of the situation.
Source: Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.

Fire Company -- 1794
The Eagle, the first fire company in the city, was organized.

Foundry -- 1804
Built by Joseph McClurg.
Source: Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.

Gas Lights -- 5 April 1837
The city was first lighted by gas.

Heart Transplant -- 31 August 1968
Pennsylvania's first heart transplant performed at Presbyterian-University Hospital on Ben Anolik.

Hospital -- January 1847
First general public hospital, "The Mercy," opened on Stevenson Street.

Industries, Glass -- 1796?/1797?
The first glass factory was established by James O'Hara & Isaac Craig on the South Side.
Source: PA Department files.

Industries, Iron -- 1802
The first tin and sheet iron works was built at 4th and market Streets by Jeffery Scaife.

Labor Union -- January 1836
Printers organized as the "Journeymen Printers of Pittsburgh."

Law Firm -- 1786
First law firm in Pittsburgh, John Woods and Hugh Brackenridge.
Source: PA Department files.

Library -- 1788
John Boyd established a circulating library of 500 books to be loaned to subscribers for 20 shillings a year.

Market House -- 1787
The first market house was erected at the corner of Market and Second Avenue.

Mayor -- 9 July 1816
Ebenezer Denny was elected the first mayor of Pittsburgh by the members of Select and Common Councils.

Motion Pictures -- 16 July 1928
The first full-length talking picture, "Tenderloin," was shown.

Name (Pittsburgh) -- 27 November 1758
First use of the name appeared in a letter from General John Forbes the day following the taking of Fort Duquesne.

Newspaper -- 29 July 1786
The first newspaper, the Gazette was founded by John Scull.

Organist, City (Allegheny City) -- 11 February 1890
Allegheny, Pennsylvania, began free organ recitals. First official city organist was Leonard Wales. In 1891 Henry P. Ecker took the post. Dr. Caspar Koch's title was changed to "City Organist of Pittsburgh" when Allegheny and Pittsburgh merged.
Source: Pennsylvania Department files: Pgh. Allegheny, Pa.

Races -- 1786
The first races were advertised by the Jockey Club, 5 September 1786, to commence on Thursday, 19 October of that year and continue three days. A purse of $120 was offered the first day, $60 the next and a sweepstake composed of the entrance money.
Source: Greater Pittsburgh January 1944.

Railroad -- 10 December 1851
The Pennsylvania Railroad formally began business in the city of Pittsburgh with its rail line extended as far as Turtle Creek.

Railroad, Cross-State -- 10 December 1852
First all-rail trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

Religious Service -- 17 April 1754
Father Denis Baron, a Recollect, offered the first Mass and the first Christian service in Pittsburgh.

Royal Visit -- 1796
First royal visit to Pittsburgh, the visitors being the three princes of Orleans. Entertained here by Generals Neville and O'Hara. They rowed down the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans in a "skiff." One of them, Louis Phillipe, was subsequently king of France.
Source: Pa Department files.

School -- 1761
The first school began in the city with 20 pupils at Col. Burd's house on Grant's Hill.

School -- 1786
First act passed by the Legislature for establishment of a public school in Pittsburgh.
Source: PA Department files.

School, Boarding and Day -- 15 November 1786
Mrs. Pride opened a boarding and day school for young ladies.

School, Public Grade -- 5 September 1835
Opened with 5 boys and the teacher, James Gilmore, a young attorney.

School, Secondary -- 25 September 1855
Central High School opened on Smithfield Street with Rev. J. L. McKown as principal.

Ships -- 1797
First vessels for ocean voyages built here by order of Congress.
Source: PA Department files.

Skybus -- 1965
"In the Pittsburgh area, "SKYBUS," Pennsylvania's first futuristic mass transit facility began regular passenger service in September. Created by the Westinghouse Electric Company in cooperation with the State for the Allegheny County Port Authority, the 'Transit Expressway,' as it is formally named, is a fully automated aluminum-car railway system that can be instantaneously adapted to the passenger volume."
Source: News and Previews: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Commerce Comments March/April 1966, p.1.

Skyscraper -- 1893
Construction began on the 15-story Carnegie Building, the city's first skyscraper. Located at 434 Fifth Avenue, the building was torn down in 1952.

Steamboats -- 20 October 1811
The "New Orleans," the first steamboat to navigate the Western waters, sailed for New Orleans.

Steamboats -- 1817
The steamboat "Enterprise" completed the first upstream journey from the Gulf to Pittsburgh.

Street Railways -- 22 March 1859
The tracks of the Citizens Passenger Railway Co. ran from Fifth Avenue and Market Street to Lawrenceville.

Strike -- December 1804
In the first recorded strike in Pittsburgh, traveling journeymen shoemakers "made a turnout for higher wages."

Survey -- 1765
First lots surveyed by John Campbell, agent of the Penns.
Source: PA Department files.

Telegram -- 29 December 1846
First telegram message from Pittsburgh was sent by G. Bowman, Adjutant General, to James K. Polk, the President.

Television -- 11 January 1949
Station WDTV telecast the firs live show at 8:30 p.m. from the Syria Mosque featuring national and local talent.

Theater -- 7 May 1812
William Turner & Co. organized the Pittsburgh Theater, which opened in 1813.

University of Pittsburgh, Women -- September 1895
Women were admitted to the University for the first time.

Washington Visits -- 1753
George Washington's first visit to what was to become Pittsburgh.
Source: PA Department files

Water Works -- December 1828
The first general Pittsburgh water works were put into operation.

Women's Club of Pittsburgh -- 1875
This was the first women's club in Pennsylvania and the second in the nation.