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A Pittsburgh Century (cont.)

Jan. 1 -- Spurred by war demands, the region’s steel mills are operating at 100 percent of capacity, all are planning major expansions and defense contracts placed with area industries total $75 million, equivalent to $852 million in today’s money.

Jan. 6 -- In an address to Congress, President Roosevelt says the four freedoms -- freedom of speech and religion, freedom from want and fear -- are essential.

January -- An influenza epidemic causes the absences of 6,000 students and 138 teachers from city schools.

Feb. 5 -- City health director Dr. I. Hope Alexander steps up efforts for a smoke-abatement campaign as black smoke blots out the sun. The Allegheny County Medical Society also endorses efforts to obtain an anti-smoke law.

April 14 -- A major steel strike is averted when "Big Steel" signs a pact with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee for a 10-cent hourly wage increase for 240,000 workers.

June 22 -- Paul Block, publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, dies at 63 in the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

July 5 -- The University of Pittsburgh Bureau of Business Research reports that business activity in Pittsburgh is at its highest level in the 57 years for which records have been kept.

October -- With mills and railroads running at peak capacity, Pittsburgh City Council passes a Smoke Control Ordinance, but postpones enacting it because of the outbreak of the war.

Dec. 6 -- President Roosevelt decides to undertake development of a nuclear bomb. Directors of what becomes known as the Manhattan Project establish research and development facilities at Oak Ridge, Tenn., Hanford, Wash. and Los Alamos, N.M.

Dec. 7 -- Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, killing 2,300 and sinking or damaging 19 ships.

Dec. 8 -- The United States declares war on Japan. More than 1,200 Pittsburgh area men volunteer for enlistment in the armed services.

Dec. 11 -- Germany and Italy declare war on the U.S. and the U.S. reciprocates. By the end of WWII, about 16.5 million Americans will have served in the Armed Forces and about 405,000 will have been killed.

Jan. 1 -- U.S. Steel Corp. prepares to move ahead with construction of a new $75 million steel mill in Homestead.

March 5 -- The Dravo Corp., which turns its operations on Neville Island into an assembly line for Navy vessels, including the Landing Ship Tank, or LST, receives a special award from the federal government in a ceremony in Pittsburgh, highlighted by the launching of a submarine chaser built by Dravo.

May 23 -- The United Steelworkers of America, successor to the Steelworkers Organizing Committee, elects Philip Murray as its first president at a convention in Cleveland.

Dec. 2 -- Scientists of the Manhattan Project achieve a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in a laboratory at the University of Chicago.

Dec. 25 -- For the first time in Pittsburgh’s history, the steel mills operate on Christmas Day. Through the entire war, U.S. Steel Corp.’s mills in Pittsburgh produce 77 destroyers, 90,500 tons of barbed wire, 2.9 million bombs, 9 million feet of rocket tubing and 16.4 million shells. More than 300,000 employees are on the payroll.

Selman Waksman, an American biochemist, isolates streptomycin, an antibiotic effective against tuberculosis. The discovery, which later earns Waksman the Nobel Prize, reduces U.S. mortality from the lung disease from 39.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 1945 to 9.1 per 100,000 in 1955.

May 24 -- Bus and taxi service is drastically scaled back after the federal Office of Defense Transportation orders a 40-percent cut in Pittsburgh’s gasoline allotment. A few days later, the nation’s first gasoline court is set up in the Fulton Building. On June 3, Pittsburgh Mayor Cornelius Scully’s gasoline privileges are suspended for making a 350-mile trip to West Virginia for pleasure.

June 10 -- President Roosevelt signs a pay-as-you-go income tax bill. Starting July 1, wage and salary earners are subject to a payroll withholding tax.

September -- The Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a non-profit organization, is incorporated as a means to develop and stimulate planning and growth. The conference is instrumental in helping foster public and private partnerships that lead to two Downtown renaissances in Pittsburgh.

Oct. 27 -- Navy Day is held in Pittsburgh to celebrate the region’s two great shipyards -- Dravo Corp.’s Neville Island yard and the American Bridge Co. shipyard at Ambridge. At the time, the two have a total of $1 billion in contracts, which would equal $9.8 billion in today’s dollars.

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the G.I. bill, helps about 2.25 million war veterans attend college. Millions of other G.I.’s received job training; home, business and farm loans; and unemployment benefits.

April 24 -- Technical Sgt. Charles E. "Commando" Kelly, Pittsburgh’s first Congressional Medal of Honor winner in World War II, receives a hero’s welcome when he returns home.

May 30 -- A Navy landing craft, LST-750, financed by the people of Allegheny County through the purchase of $5 million worth of extra war bonds, is launched at Dravo Corp.’s east shipyard in Neville Island before a crowd of 25,000.

June 6 -- The D-Day invasion begins, with 156,000 U.S., British and Canadian troops landing in Normandy.

Nov. 8 -- In winning his fourth term, President Roosevelt carries Allegheny County with a 75,582 majority over Thomas E. Dewey. Dewey and Harry S. Truman, Democratic nominee for vice-president, both made campaign appearances in Pittsburgh.

Dec. 16 -- The Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last-ditch effort to prevent defeat and the largest land battle of WWII, begins.

Feb. 4-11 -- A very ill Franklin Delano Roosevelt meets with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in Yalta to divide the spoils after World War II and to settle issues dealing with a defeated Germany.

April 12 -- The death of President Roosevelt profoundly affects Pittsburgh, where municipal offices are closed, churches schedule prayer services and Mayor Cornelius Scully orders all amusements to be curtailed. Harry S. Truman becomes president, leading the nation through the early years of atomic energy and the Cold War.

May 7 -- Germany surrenders. Eventually, the depths of the atrocities and cruelty of the German wartime regime become known. Nazi murder camps systematically killed 6 million Jews and others deemed undesirable. Jews who are safe in America, like Benjamin Krause, 82, above left, Jacob Gruzowick, 96, shown here in 1942 at Pittsburgh’s Jewish Home for the Aged, often have relatives who died in the concentration camps.

June 26 -- The United Nations charter is signed in San Francisco by 50 nations.

July 16 -- An implosion device is set off in the desert near Alamogordo, N.M., for a testable atomic bomb. By this time, the war with Germany is over. German scientists have not achieved a comparable breakthrough.

Aug. 6 & Aug. 9 -- The United States drops two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and then Nagasaki in Japan. Between 105,000 and 120,000 people are killed and an equal number are injured. (Worldwide, some 45 million people lose their lives in World War II).

Aug. 14 -- Pittsburgh residents hold a jubilant celebration marking the surrender of Japan and the end of the war. Fifth Avenue is filled with a dancing crowd, with soldiers and sailors kissing any girls within reach. Three days later, the economic impact is felt as Pittsburgh district industries lay off 7,000 workers after the first cancellation of a war contract.

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