Many historic, tragic, triumphant, and innovative events have occurred in Pittsburgh. It’s no surprise as our history goes back nearly 300 years. Pittsburgh began as a French fort but progressed over the years to be the first leader in coal and today as a front runner in technology and the health care industry.
To give you a broader overview of how the city has grown and changed, we are please present this Timeline of Pittsburgh that highlights some of our city’s major events.
1753 – The French begin to build a chain of forts in the area to enforce their boundaries.
1754 – George Washington lands on Wainwright’s Island in the Allegheny River. He recommends that the British build a fort at the forks of the Ohio River. William Trent begins to construct a small fort. Ensign Ward is watching over the fort when he is surprised by the French and surrenders. The French construct Fort Duquesne.
1758 – British capture Fort Duquesne and General Forbes names Pittsburgh after William Pitt. Construction of Fort Pitt Block House begins the following year.
1761 – First record of coal mining in Pennsylvania on Coal Hill, across the Monongahela River from Fort Pitt.
1764 – After Fort Pitt is besieged by the Native Americans in 1763, Bouquet builds the Redoubt, now known as the Fort Pitt Blockhouse or Bouquet’s Redoubt.
1772 – Fort Pitt is abandoned by the British.
1787 – University of Pittsburgh is founded.
1794 – Johnny Appleseed makes his home in Pittsburgh, where he lives for 12 years.
1803 – Large keelboat, like the ones in Mike Fink’s legends or the ones used for the Lewis & Clark Expedition, is constructed in Pittsburgh.
1816 – Pittsburgh incorporates as a city.
1845 – The fire of 1845 destroys most of the buildings in Pittsburgh.
1847 – Stephen Foster’s song “Oh, Susanna” premiers at the Eagle Saloon.
1883 – The present-day Smithfield Street Bridge opens to the public. It’s the third bridge built on that location.
1887 – The Pittsburgh Pirates begin their career in Major League Baseball as the Pittsburgh Alleghenies, winning their first game against Chicago at Recreation Park on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.
1889 – Schenley Park, located in Oakland, opens to the public.
1891 – U.S. Bureau of Geographic Names removes the “h” from Pittsburgh.
1894 – Mary Schenley presents Col. Bouquet’s Redoubt to the Daughters of the American Revolution.
1900 – Carnegie Technical School, now known as Carnegie Mellon University, is founded.
1902 – Construction of the Frick Building is completed at a cost of $2 million. It is 330 feet high with 20 floors. It is the tallest existing building constructed in the city during the first decade of the 1900’s. (Henry Clay Frick & his Mark on Pittsburgh)
1903 – The first World Series is played at Exposition Park on the North Side. (The History of Baseball in Pittsburgh)
1905 – The first motion picture house in the U.S. opens in Pittsburgh – the Nickelodeon. (Other Pittsburgh Movie History)
1906 – The Commonwealth Building and the Carlyle are both completed. They are both 300 feet high with 21 floors and tied with Washington Plaza for the 26th tallest building in the city.
1910 – The Henry W. Oliver Building construction is completed at a cost of $3.5 million (which translates into $90.5 million today). The building is 347 feet high with 25 floors. It is the tallest existing building constructed in Pittsburgh during the 1910’s.
1911 – The “H” is returned to Pittsburgh.
1920 – The first commercial radio station in the country, KDKA, broadcasts from Pittsburgh. (Other Pittsburgh Firsts)
1923 – Construction of The Bell Telephone Building. It is 339 feet high with 20 floors.
1929 – Construction of Koppers Tower is completed at a cost of $5.5 million (which is $74.4 million today). It is 475 feet high with 34 floors. It is the tallest building constructed in Pittsburgh during the 1920’s.
1930 – The Grant Building construction is completed. The building is 485 feet tall with 40 floors. Five floors are below ground. The building has 12 elevators and construction cost was $5.5 million at the time.
1932 – The Gulf Tower is completed at a cost of $10.5 million ($139.8 million today). The building is 582 feet high with 44 floors and 15 elevators. It is the tallest building constructed in the city during the 1930’s.
1936 – The Great Flood causes significant damage, especially to downtown Pittsburgh. (The Wearin’ of the Boots)
1937 – The Cathedral of Learning is dedicated. It is 535 feet high with 42 floors. Construction cost was estimated at $10 million before construction, which equates to over $100 million today. The building has over 2,000 rooms and is the second tallest university building in the world. It is the tallest building in Pittsburgh outside of downtown.
1940 – The Pirates play their first night game at Forbes Field. (The History of Baseball in Pittsburgh)
1951 – 525 William Penn Place, known today as Citizens Bank Tower, is completed. The building is 520 feet high with 41 floors and 20 elevators. It was the second tallest building in Pittsburgh until 1970 and the third tallest until 1984. It is the tallest building constructed in Pittsburgh during the 1950’s.
1952 – Three Gateway Center is completed. It is 344 feet high with 24 floors.
1953 – Dr. Jonas Salk tests his polio vaccine on 90 volunteers.
1955 – Pennsylvania College for Women is renamed Chatham College.
1959 – The Hilton Pittsburgh hotel is completed. Originally developed by Conrad Hilton, the hotel is 333 feet high with 25 floors and 712 rooms. It is known today as The Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown.
1960 – Bill Mazeroski’s ninth inning homerun wins the 1960 World Series. (The History of Baseball in Pittsburgh)
1960 – Four Gateway Center is completed. It is 305 feet high with 22 floors.
1961 – The Civic Arena opens to the public with the Ice Capades on September 19.
1964 – The William S. Moorhead Federal Building is completed. The building is 340 feet high with 23 floors.
1967 – Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood airs on national television.
1968 – The K&L Gates Center building is completed. It is 511 feet tall with 39 floors, 16 passenger elevators, and one freight elevator. It was originally known as One Oliver Plaza and had other names like FreeMarkets Center and Ariba Center. It was the tallest building to be constructed in Pittsburgh during the 1960’s.
1969 – 11 Stanwix Street is completed under the original name Westinghouse Tower. The original cost of the building was $20 million, which is equal to over $125 million today. The building is 355 feet high with 23 floors.
1970 – The U.S. Steel Tower is completed at a cost of $50 million (equivalent to over $350 million today). It is 841 feet high with 64 floors. It is the tallest building in the city of Pittsburgh, the fourth tallest in the state of Pennsylvania, and the 37th tallest in the United States.
1972 – Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash on a mercy mission to Nicaragua.
1974 – Point State Park is completed after three decades of planning and construction.
1981 – The David L. Lawrence Convention Center opens on February 7.
1983 – BNY Mellon Center is completed at a cost of $100 million (over $320 million today). The building is 725 feet high with 55 floors. It is the 2nd tallest building in the city, the 7th tallest in Pennsylvania, and the 98th tallest in the United States.
1984 – One PPG Place is completed at a cost of $200 million (over $480 million today). It is 545 feet tall, but 635 feet tall including the antenna spire. The building has 40 floors and 23 elevators. It is the 3rd tallest building in Pittsburgh and the 8th tallest building in Pennsylvania.
1987 – Pittsburgh native August Wilson’s play, “Fences”, which is set in the Hill District, wins four Tony Awards for best play, best actor, featured actress, and best director.
1988 – Fifth Avenue Place, originally “Hillman Tower”, is completed at a cost of $100 million (over 220 million today). It is 616 feet high with 31 floors. The building features a 178 foot tall 12-sided mast that represents the intended height of the building during development. It is the 4th tallest building in Pittsburgh and the 10th tallest building in Pennsylvania.
1993 – U.S. Congress designated the Pittsburgh Aviary honorary national status and renamed it the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
1994 – The Andy Warhol museum opens on the North Side.
1997 – Fred Rogers receives a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Television Critics Association.
1999 – Plan B passes in the state senate, granting two new stadiums to be built in Pittsburgh. The Sixth Street Bridge is renamed the Roberto Clemente bridge during a groundbreaking ceremony for PNC Park. Pitt Stadium is demolished.
2001 – Three Rivers Stadium is imploded.
2004 – Pope John Paul II witnesses the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s performance at the Vatican. It was the first American orchestra to perform there.
2005 – The Seventh Street Bridge is renamed the Andy Warhol Bridge.
2006 – The Ninth Street Bridge is renamed the Rachel Carson Bridge.
2009 – Three PNC Plaza was completed at a cost of $170 million. It is 362 feet high with 23 floors. It is the tallest building constructed during the 2000’s. It is a LEED certified green building, and one of the nation’s largest green buildings.
2010 – Consol Energy Center opens its doors on August 18th with a performance by Paul McCartney.
2013 – The world’s largest rubber duck comes to Pittsburgh, drawing huge crowds.
2016 – Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer dies.
2016 – Magician Lee Terbosic replicates Harry Houdini’s upside-down straight jacket feat on the 100th anniversary of the event.
2017 – Filmmaker George Romero dies.
2018 – The deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States takes place at the Tree of Life Synagogue when a gunman kills 11 people and wounds six.
2019 – The Art Institute of Pittsburgh closes down.
2020 – Covid-19 mutates and is transmittable by humans. All non-essential businesses close in Pittsburgh and around the world.