The first emoticon--the smiley face--invented in Pittsburgh. DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid, 

Rumor has it you are headed to Pittsburgh tomorrow for the regatta (good luck, kiddo!). Since I’m guessing you will be Quite Busy and are unlikely to have time for sightseeing, I thought I’d provide you with a guided tour of Pittsburgh—minus the guide and minus the tour.

Pittsburgh was named in 1758, chartered as a city in 1816, and is currently the 13 largest city in the nation. It lost the “h” in it’s name for a while but after a big kerfuffle the “h” was returned. Pittsburgh (note the “h”) is also known as Steel City, Iron City, and the City of Bridges.

Pittsburgh does not have a professional crew team. The city does however boast three rivers (extra points if you can name all three) so it would seem like an excellent place for professional crew-ing to begin.

There are about 6 zillion “firsts” for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh hosted the first NHL regular season hockey game played outdoors at night, January 1, 2011. You probably already knew that.

Pittsburgh boasts the first Ferris wheel, the first commercial radio station in the world, the first performance of the Ice Capades, and the first pull tab cans (for which many non-profit fundraising committees are grateful).

The city was home to the first bingo game (but I can find no substantiation that the song “There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o” was written there). The first gas station opened there—which raises the question: which came first the automobile or the gas station? Answer: the egg.

The Oakland section of Pittsburgh is the real “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The show was broadcast from WQED, the first public educational television station in America. Fred Rogers lived just around the corner. He did not travel to work by trolley, but he may have been one of the nicest people on the entire planet as far as I can tell.

The banana split and the Klondike bar (what would you doo-ooo-oo) were invented in Pittsburgh. Pittsburghians (Pittsburghites? Pitt People?) invented the Pittsburgh salad, and being that kind of mom, I am going to share the recipe with you: take any salad and put French fries on top. Pittsburgarians are very big on putting French fries onto and into everything.

The polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh. The first retractable dome was installed in Pittsburgh. (You probably knew that too.)

And here, my favorite college student, is my favorite Pittsburgh fact: the first internet emoticon, the smiley : – ) colon dash closed parenthesis, was invented in Pittsburgh. I kid you not.

There are lots of other facts and firsts about the Burgh, but we will have to save them for another time.

Have a great visit to Pennsylvania. Travel safely. Row strong. Have fun.


Love, Mom

Pittsburgh is located at the confluence of the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela rivers.