Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Series of Bomb Threats at the University of Pittsburgh Prompt Officials to Take Action

A series of bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh has forced some students out of their dormitories and prompted faculty to hold classes outside as investigators search for leads.

Recently the FBI stated that the threats against the university began on February 13, 2012 with the first appearing on the walls of some of the school's buildings and then through the mail. Since then, dozens of bomb threats have been received. The threats have been escalated with four being received by mid-afternoon on Monday, April 9, 2012.

The administration at the university has been posting regular updates for students, faculty and parents on its Web site. They are also offering a $50,000 reward for information relating to the threats.

Investigations are being conducted jointly by Federal, state, local law enforcement along with the University police, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service. Although a person of interest has been identified and some threats have been traced to or through computers in Austria, at this time no on has been charged.

In an effort to protect students and faculty, the university's administration has begun limiting access to some buildings until the facilities are swept by law enforcement. Non-Pittsburgh students are no longer permitted inside residence halls and all faculty and students are now required to present a valid university identification card to enter buildings.

All buildings with a single entrances will now have two check points set up at each entrance, one designated for those carrying backpacks, book bags and packages and one designated for those without. Because the stricter security measures may result in long wait times to enter buildings, students are being encouraged to carry only items which are necessary for studying.

According to David Hickton, a U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, “The safety and welfare of the University of Pittsburgh community is a top priority” with the bomb threats being “vigorously, aggressively, and thoroughly investigated through all possible means.”

Although Mr. Hickton wouldn't comment on the specifics of the investigation, he added that “the Joint Terrorism Task Force is actively pursuing the source or sources of the threats”

"While the disruption and fear engendered by such threats in unconscionable, we commend the resilience of the University community. The University of Pittsburgh is exercising appropriate regard for safety, through its notification system and through evacuations when threats are received and evaluated, while refusing to allow such threats to paralyze the entire University community in its pursuit of learning and teaching.” said Hickton.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pittsburgh Was the First City to Do Alot of Awesome Things!

Pittsburgh is famous for its sports teams and fans, world-class businesses, schools, and museums, but did you know it is also home to several unique, interesting, and even delicious inventions. Here are a few you may not have known:

First Ferris Wheel – 1892
The world's first Ferris wheel.
The original Ferris Wheel opened to the public on June 21, 1893 at the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago, IL. It was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr, a graduate of the Renselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Pittsburgh bridge-builder. Intended to rival the Eiffel Tower, the Ferris wheel was the largest attraction at the exposition with a height of 264 feet and the ability to carry more than 2,000 passengers at a time.

Banana Split – 1904
Dr. William Strickler, the inventor of the banana split, got the idea from watching soda jerks while vacationing in Atlantic City. His goal was to improve sales at the pharmacy where he apprenticed, and it didn’t take long for his ice cream treat to catch on with local college students. Once St. Vincent College’s coeds starting spreading the word about Strickler’s delicious dessert, sales took off and the banana split was here to stay. 
When it first began selling, the banana split cost 10 cents, which was twice the amount of a regular sundae. Some people who remember when the banana split was first introduced recall that when two young people were on a date, the man would buy his “best girl” a banana split while “other girls”just got an ice cream cone.

First Baseball Stadium – 1909
In 1909 the first baseball stadium, Forbes Field, was built in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It was soon followed by similar stadiums in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston and New York.

Forbes Field was used from 1909 until 1971. It was the third home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the first home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The stadium also served as the home football field for the Pitt Panthers from 1909 to 1924 and was named after British general John Forbes, who fought in the French and Indian war and is credited with naming the city of Pittsburgh in 1758.

Clark Bar – 1917
In the early 20th century the North Side based D. L. Clark Company was already well on its way to producing a lot of distinctive candy that Pittsburghers loved. And like many other U. S. companies of the time, the D. L. Clark Company wanted to do their part for the war effort. The Clark Bar was created with U. S. soldiers in mind. The five cent bar was individually wrapped to make shipping overseas easier and more convenient for soldiers. Even though the candy bar was created in Pittsburgh, it didn’t enjoy local popularity until after the war, when the grateful soldiers spread the word about the Clark Bar at home.

Bingo – early 1920s
Hugh J. Ward first came up with the concept of bingo in Pittsburgh and began running the game at carnivals in the early 1920s, taking it nationwide in 1924. He secured a copyright on the game and wrote a book of Bingo rules in 1933. At that time, the dealer would select numbered discs from a cigar box and players would mark their cards with beans. Bingo was first referred to as “Beano” with players yelling “Beano!” instead of “Bingo!” when they won.

Big Mac - 1967
Frank Berardi is the man who claimed to have served the first Big Mac as a teenager, but the invention is credited to Jim Delligatti, a franchise owner in the Pittsburgh area. The Big Mac was test marketed in three other Pittsburgh-area McDonald's restaurants in 1967 and by 1968 it was a mainstay on McDonald's menus throughout the country. What made this sandwich so unique was not only the extra meat, but the additional bun in the middle, which was in place to stabilize the toppings and prevent them from spilling.

Mr. Yuck Sticker - 1971
Mr. Yuk was created at the Poion Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh after research indicated that the skull and crossbones which had previously been used to identify poisons had little meaning to children because the Jolly Roger was the mascot for the Pittsburgh Pirates. A memorably scary television commercial was also produced in the 1970s featuring the Mr. Yuk theme song (Mr. Yuk is mean! Mr. Yuk is green!) The song went on to become a popular culture icon for a number of generations.

First Internet Emoticon – 1982
Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman introduced the first sideways smiley in an online message board to distinguish serious pots from jokes. 

Since then, he has become known as the “father of the smiley.”

Do you know of any “Pittsburgh firsts” not included on this list? Friend me on Facebook or find me on Twitter.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Origin and History of the Pittsburgh Steelers Logo

Did you know the Pittsburgh Steelers haven't always been known as as the Steelers? Or have you ever wondered how they choose their name or logo? Read on to learn how the fifth oldest franchise (and six time Super Bowl champs!) choose their name, designed their logo and established their image in the NFL.

Credit:  Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
Founded on July 8, 1933 by Art Rooney, the Steelers were originally called the Pittsburgh Pirates, adopting the name of the city's baseball team. Although baseball was Mr. Rooney's first love, sharing a name with a professional baseball team was actually common practice in the 1930s. During that era, football was a new and unpopular sport while baseball was "America's favorite past time." The shared names were also used as a way to persuade baseball fans to support their local professional football team.

In 1940, Rooney decided his team needed its own original name and image. Working with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a contest was held encouraging fans to recommend a new team name. Some of entries were the Wahoos, Condors, Pioneers, Triangles, Bridgers, Buckarros and Yankees. Several steel-related names – such as the Millers, Vulcans, Tubers, Smokers, Rollers, Ingots and Puddlers – were also submitted. A panel led by former coach Joe Bach, was formed to select the winning entry. After reviewing the suggestions, they choose Steelers, explaining that that name was designated as a way to celebrate the city's steel industry and its principal source of employment.

While there are no records on exactly who deserves recognition for proposing the name, one of the first entrants to suggest “Steelers” was Arnold Goldberg, a sports editor for the Evening Standard of Uniontown, Pennylvania. A total of twenty-one contest winners were chosen and each received a pair of season tickets, a prize valued at about $5. Other winners included local restaurant owner Joe Santoni and Margaret Elizabeth O'Donnel, who was the girlfriend of the team's business manager, Joe Carr.

The Pittsburgh Steelers logo we know today was a bit longer in the making. Helmet logos didn't become popular until 1948 after the Los Angeles Rams player and artist Fred Gehrke hand painted Ram horns on 70 leather helmets. The following year Riddell (manufacturer of the plastic football helmets still used today) agreed to produce the helmets with Gehrke's logo. Inspired by the Rams' helmet design, other teams began to add their own individual logos. The Steelers' chose to ignore the new logo trend but did add the players' numbers and a black stripe to their distinctive gold helmets.

Pittsburgh Steelers Logo - Circa 1962
The Steelers remained without a logo until 1962 when they were approached by Republic Steel of Cleveland and asked to consider using the Steelmark as a helmet logo. Designed by the U.S. Steel Corporation, the Steelmark is an insignia made of a circle surrounded three hypocycloids (diamonds with inward-curving edges) with the word “Steel” underneath.

The design was originally intended as a way to remind consumers of the role steel played in their lives. The colors of the hypocycloids represented specific aspects of steel: yellow lightens your work; orange brightens your leisure; and blue widens your world.

The meaning of the colors was later modified to personify the materials used to manufacture steel: yellow for coal, orange for iron ore and blue for steel scrap.

Despite the fact that Republic Steel was located in Cleveland, Ohio – home of their rival the Cleveland Browns - the Pittsburgh Steelers were fond of the logo and proudly displayed it on their helmets during the 1962 season. Because they initially had reservations about how the Steelmark logo would match their gold helmets, they chose to only display it on the right side. But after qualifying for their first-ever postseason game, the Steelers changed the color of their helmets from gold to black to highlight to the new logo which they believed brought then luck and success.

In the past 40 years the Steelers have made only minor changes to their helmet design. The word 'Steel' was changed to Steelers, a gold stripe and player numbers were added and the color of the face masks was changed from gray to black. Overall, the helmet has remained relatively unchanged since 1963 – which is a fitting tribute for a football team whose reputation has been built on consistency and tradition.