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A Pittsburgh Century (cont.)

1946
Jan. 7 -- David L. Lawrence is sworn in as mayor of Pittsburgh and lends his support to the work already under way by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development -- smoke and flood control. In his 12 years as mayor, Lawrence, a Democrat, works with Republican Richard King Mellon to clean up, rebuild and improve the city.

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In 1946, just after the end of World War II, the sprawling J&L steel mill complex on the South Side is still going strong, making the transition from military production to peacetime output. The mill and its related shops keep going until the late 1980s, when the company closes them. The site has now been cleared and awaits redevelopment.
                 -- Post-Gazette Archives


Jan. 20 -- In the largest single walkout in the nation’s history, 800,000 CIO United Steel Workers -- 227,000 of them in the Pittsburgh area -- close down the steel industry after President Truman’s 11th hour fact-finding effort fails. With the war over, the battle between labor and industry becomes intense and the year is plagued by strikes across the nation.

March 22 -- The Wabash Terminal, a sizable obstacle to the Point’s rebuilding, is destroyed by fire, giving developers a green light for building Gateway Center and developing Point State Park.

1947
Thanks largely to the end of World War II and the G.I. bill, enrollment at the University of Pittsburgh soars to 25,700. By 1950, Duquesne University is making plans for an eight-building expansion.

April 18 -- A year after a partnership comprising John Galbreath, Tom Johnson, Bing Crosby and Frank McKinley buys the Pirates, a record opening day crowd at Forbes Field watches the Pirates defeat Cincinnati. The biggest news in baseball is that Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier in the Major Leagues when he joins the Brooklyn Dodgers.

June 4 -- The Allegheny Conference, in its first "mass transit report," says Pittsburgh’s transportation system is outmoded and recommends, among other things, an Oakland- to-Downtown subway.

1948
Ed Ryan, a Pittsburgh carpenter, founds Ryan Homes, one of Pittsburgh's primary homebuilding companies, and it helps fuel the growth of the suburbs around Pittsburgh. In St. Clair Heights in Scott, the first Ryan Homes planned community, a new three-bedroom, brick split-level could be bought for $15,000 in the mid-50s (equal to about $89,000 today). Census figures show the suburbs of Allegheny County grew by nearly 25 percent in the 1950s, from 838,431 to1,024,255.

Jan. 15 -- Secretary of State George C. Marshall speaks in Pittsburgh, warning against any cuts in U.S. aid to war-torn Europe. The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, efforts to help rebuild nations devastated by the war, go into effect.

May 14 -- Israel is proclaimed a nation. The Arabs reject the U.N.-approved partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, but fail to defeat Israel in a war that lasts until July 1949.

Oct. 6 -- Ushering in the era of atomic energy, Westinghouse Electric Corp. establishes the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin, where scientists take on an assignment from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to create the world’s first "atomic engine."

Nov. 2 -- Harry Truman beats Thomas Dewey and the world is left with the infamous Nov. 3, 1948, headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune proclaiming Dewey’s victory. Truman carries Allegheny County, 325,411 votes to Dewey’s 252,638 votes.

Dec. 2 -- In the opening days of the Communist scare, Whittaker Chambers, a senior Time editor, leads investigators to some mysterious microfilm in a hollowed-out pumpkin that implicates Alger Hiss, a dashing former State Department official, as a Communist spy. The investigation leads to Hiss’s conviction for perjury. Hiss serves 44 months of a five-year sentence for perjury and fights to clear his name until his death in 1996. The investigation helps launch the political career of Richard Nixon, the California congressman who led the probe.

1949
Jan. 4 -- Continuing a post-war economic boom, Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. prepares to launch a $210 million expansion program, including a new six-furnace open-hearth shop at the South Side Works. A few months later, Crucible Steel Co. opens a new $18 million sheet and strip mill at its Midland Works.

Jan. 11 -- Pittsburgh’s first television station -- DuMont’s WDTV Channel 2 -- goes on the air. Within two years, television replaces radio as the most popular entertainment. The station doesn’t become KDKA until 1955, when the Westinghouse Electric Corp. buys the station and changes the call letters.

March 7 -- The first Levittown is born when William J. Levitt opens a modest sales office in Long Island’s Nassau County. More than 1,000 couples wait in line to buy a basic four-room house for $6,990 (equal to $46,000 in today’s dollars).

Sept. 20 -- The Equitable Life Assurance Society approves plans to convert 23 acres in the lower Triangle into a modern landscaped business area, the first project consisting of three 20-story office buildings. Earlier in the year, the Mellon family gives $4 million to the city to acquire a site for a midtown park and underground parking garage and the Aluminum Company of America announces plans for the nation’s first all-aluminum office skyscraper.

Oct. 1 -- The People’s Republic of China is proclaimed, after Communist forces, strengthened by the Soviet takeover of industrial Manchuria, drive the Kuomintang from the mainland. Around the world, Western fears of further Soviet advances fuel the Cold War.

1950
Jan. 31 -- President Truman authorizes production of the hydrogen bomb. The first hydrogen bomb explodes Nov. 1, 1952, at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.

Feb. 22 -- In testimony before the House Un-American Activities Investigating Committee in Washington, Matt Cvetic, an FBI undercover agent, places the number of Communist party members in Western Pennsylvania at 550 and lists several Pittsburgh organizations as Communist "fronts." The nation’s Cold War obsession about Communism leads to blackballing of actors, writers and political figures with real or imagined ties to the Communist party.

June 25 -- More than 60,000 North Korean troops invade South Korea. The United States, backed by the U.N. Security Force, sends troops in the first major United Nations military action. More than 50,000 Americans lose their lives during the conflict, which finally ends when an armistice is signed July 27, 1953.

1951
Feb. 28 -- Sen. Estes Kefauver, who is leading a Senate investigation into organized crime, releases a preliminary report showing that the gambling take across the nation is more than $20 billion a year.

March 26 -- In a message to city council, Mayor Lawrence outlines plans for Pittsburgh’s third major redevelopment program -- the clearance of 100 acres of slums in the Hill District and construction of a public arena, 30 acres of housing and other improvements.

March 29 -- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell are found guilty of conspiring to commit wartime espionage by providing atomic weapons secrets to the Soviets. The Rosenbergs are executed on July 19, 1953. Sobell, who is sentenced to 30 years in prison, is released in 1969.

1952
March 1 -- The Carlton House, the city’s first new hotel in 25 years, receives its first guests on the same day that demolition crews begin dismantling the Carnegie Building, longtime headquarters for U.S. Steel Corp., to clear a site for a Kaufmann’s department store annex.

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These steelworkers at the J&L plant’s Bates Street entrance are set to strike on April 8, 1952, along with thousands of compatriots nationwide, which is why they are blocking an afternoon shift worker from pulling into the lot with his 1951 Buick Special. But President Harry Truman delayed the walkout by seizing the industry that day, an action the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional.
                  --Post-Gazette Archives

April 8 -- President Truman orders the steel mills seized and the United Steelworkers call off a scheduled strike. By April 29, a federal court has declared the seizure illegal and regional steelworkers join 650,000 throughout the nation in a 53-day walkout that paralyzes the industry.

May 31 -- The new Greater Pittsburgh Airport, completed at a cost of $33 million, is dedicated in Moon, and more than 100,000 people turn out to inspect the 1,600-acre terminal.

Oct. 8 -- Sen. Richard M. Nixon, Republican candidate for vice president, charges in a speech to 3,900 at the Syria Mosque in Oakland that the Communist Party is aiding the Democrats. A month later, Nixon and General Dwight D. Eisenhower win the election, but not in Allegheny County, where Democrat Adlai Stevenson wins by 13,820 votes.

1953
Feb. 8 -- After obtaining Edgar J. Kaufmann’s approval for use of a $1 million grant originally pledged to the Civic Light Opera, Mayor Lawrence announces plans to proceed with construction of the $7 million Civic Arena, with a retractable roof, as the key project in the Lower Hill District redevelopment area.

June 5 -- The Squirrel Hill Tunnel, the single most expensive project ever undertaken by the state Highways Department, opens at a cost of $18 million, enhancing the growth of businesses and office space from there east to Monroeville. In the fall, the Penn-Lincoln Parkway West is dedicated, opening a faster route between the Downtown and the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.

Sept 15-18 -- Alcoa opens its new 30-story skyscraper, the nation’s first all-aluminum exterior building. Three days later, 2,000 Pittsburghers and state officials attend the dedication of the $46 million Conemaugh Dam on the Conemaugh River at the Westmoreland/Indiana County line, the largest and most important dam in a $125 million flood-control system.

1954
Jan. 21 -- Powered by the world’s first atomic engine, built by Westinghouse Electric Corp., the submarine U.S.S. Nautilus is launched at Groton, Conn., after a christening by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.

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Dr. Jonas Salk becomes in instant national hero with the announcement in 1954 that his polio vaccine had been approved for full-scale national trials. Although his vaccine shots are supplanted later by the oral Sabin vaccine, a federal panel recommends in 1999 that the Salk vaccine once again be used for early immunizations because it is safer than the oral version.
                         --Associated Press

Feb. 24 -- The attention of parents around the world focuses on Arsenal Elementary School in Lawrenceville, where Dr. Jonas E. Salk begins large-scale polio vaccine tests. In the school gymnasium, 137 youngsters, the first of 5,000 Pittsburgh school volunteers, are given injections of the new serum. In October, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis contracts to buy the Salk polio vaccine for 9 million persons in 1955.

April 1 -- WQED, the world’s first community-sponsored educational noncommercial television station, goes on the air. It introduces to young Pittsburghers a puppeteer named Fred Rogers, who becomes the host of "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood," taped here for more than 30 years.

April 22-June 17 -- Sen. Joseph McCarthy leads televised hearings into alleged Communist influence in the Army. By December, the Senate votes to condemn McCarthy for contempt, abuse of its members and insults to the Senate during the hearings.

May 17 -- In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., the U.S. Supreme Court declares that racial separation in public education is unconstitutional. The ruling initiates the beginning of mandatory integration of public schools and sets the stage for years of racial conflict and court decisions advancing the rights of minorities.

Nov. 2 -- Allegheny County gives state Sen. George M. Leader, a 37-year-old chicken farmer, a plurality of more than 87,000 votes for governorship in a Democratic victory that ends 16 years of Republican rule in Harrisburg.

1955
Jan. 4 -- Five employees at Westinghouse Electric Corp.’s East Pittsburgh plant are fired as "undesirable" following hearings in Washington by Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist investigations subcommittee.

Aug. 30 -- H.J. Heinz Co. announces plans for immediate construction of one of the world’s most advanced food research centers in Pittsburgh, at a cost of $3 million.

Dec. 5 -- America’s two largest labor unions merge to become the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The merged AFL-CIO has an estimated membership of 15 million.

1956
June 11 -- Hilton Hotels Corp. announces that it will build a $15 million hotel at the Point. Later in the year, Equitable Life Assurance Society announced plans for a 15- to 22-story office building in Gateway Center and the H.L. Porter Co. announces plans for a 17-story, $7 million office building at Sixth Avenue and Grant Street.

June 29 -- The interstate highway system is born as President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an act establishing the national System of Interstate and Defense Highways, a network that bears his name.

Nov. 6 -- President Eisenhower is re-elected for a second term., although Adlai E. Stevenson, running against him a second time, carries Allegheny County.

1957
April 17 -- Ground is broken for construction of the $17 million Fort Pitt Tunnels under Duquesne Heights, the final link between the eastern and western sections of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway.

Sept 24 -- President Eisenhower sends federal troops to enforce a court order allowing nine black students to enter previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

Oct. 4 -- Russia launches the first Sputnik satellite, spurring increases in U.S. science education funding and inaugurating the "race to space."

Nov. 5 -- Mayor Lawrence wins a fourth four-year term in office.

Dec. 18 -- Pittsburgh starts receiving electricity generated by atomic power from the first full-scale nuclear power plant, at Shippingport, Beaver County, built by Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Duquesne Light under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission. On the same day, Westinghouse’s Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, having successfully harnessed nuclear power to propel the submarine, is awarded a $46 million Navy contract for the world’s first atomic powered aircraft carrier.

1958
Jan. 31 -- Four months after the Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth, the United States successfully launches its first unmanned satellite, Explorer 1. The satellite detects Van Allen radiation belts. On March 17, a second U.S. satellite, Vanguard, is successfully launched and demonstrates that the earth is pear shaped with a slight bulge in the southern hemisphere. By Oct. 1, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is established.

Nov. 3 -- Pittsburgh Mayor David L. Lawrence is elected governor of Pennsylvania. Joseph M. Barr, a Democrat, is elected mayor of Pittsburgh.

Nov. 28 -- The sale of Forbes Field to the University of Pittsburgh is approved. The Pirates are supposed to stay five years, but they end up remaining for 12 years, until a new stadium is opened.

1959
July 15 -- The United Steelworkers launch their longest post-war industry strike, which lasts 116 days -- nearly four months -- and opens the domestic market to imported steel. On Oct. 20, the Eisenhower administration invokes the Taft-Hartley law, which empowers the government to obtain an 80-day injunction against strikes deemed a threat to national health or safety. The strike finally ends Nov. 8.

Sept. 29 -- Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, visiting the United States, arrives in Pittsburgh and speaks for peace. Thousands of Pittsburghers turn out to hear him.

1960

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He couldn’t be any happier. On Oct. 13, 1960, Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski slams a home run for an improbable seventh-game victory in the 1960 World Series over the powerful New York Yankees. The lead had gone back and forth until the game was tied 9-9 in the ninth inning. Mazeroski’s solo blast ended the game and the series, and left Yankee star outfielder Mickey Mantle in tears.
James Klingensmith/Post-Gazette

Feb.1 -- Sit-ins begin when four black college students in Greensboro, N.C. refuse to move from a Woolworth lunch counter when denied service. By September 1961, more than 70,000 students, whites and blacks, participate in sit-ins.

Oct. 10 -- Sen. John F. Kennedy, the Democratic presidential candidate, speaks in the city. Twelve days later, Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate, visits Pittsburgh. The following Nov. 8, Allegheny County joins in Pennsylvania’s support of Kennedy, who defeats Nixon in one of the narrowest national election victories ever.

Oct. 13 -- With the World Series even, three games each, the Pirates defeat the New York Yankees in the seventh game, 10-9, with a home run by Bill Mazeroski in the ninth inning. It is the Pirates’ first world series championship in 35 years.

 

 

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