These Are the Most Googled Questions (And Answers) About Pittsburgh, PA

Perhaps the most interesting one? Why Pittsburgh has an "h."

By Christopher Pilny on April 15, 2016 at 1:46 pm EST
Pittsburgh PA

PHOTO CREDIT:

Courtesy of Matthew Paulson under a CC 4.0 license.


Pittsburgh is a testament to what happens to your city when you have the most Super Bowl-winning team in the world in your backyard.

Search for just about anything on Pittsburgh, and you’re bound to see the Steelers pop up in some form or fashion.

Pittsburgh PA

Pittsburgh PA

Pittsburgh PA

Thankfully, as you see with that last one, people are Googling for more things about Pittsburgh than just its football team. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And that’s why we’re here: To ask and answer the most non-NFL-related Googled questions people have about Steel City.

So here we go.

1. Is Pittsburgh a state?

No. Try again.

2. Is Pittsburgh Midwest?

No, but you’re getting closer.

3. Is Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania?

Yes! There we go! Pittsburgh is, indeed, in Pennsylvania. Which is a state. In the U.S.

Let’s keep going.

4. Does Pittsburgh have Uber?

Yes, they do.

5. Does Pittsburgh have an NBA team?

No. But they do have a pretty good college team in the Pitt Panthers.

6. Does Pittsburgh have a subway system?

This one I was ready to laugh at. “Pittsburgh?! A subway system?!” But, as it turns out, they do have one: The Pittsburgh Light Rail, commonly referred to as “The T.”

7. Does Pittsburgh have snow?

Yes. On average, Pittsburgh receives 41.9 inches of snow per year. Or if you want to think of this in how many days you might see it falling: It snows on average 39.6 days out of the year in Pittsburgh.

8. What does Pittsburgh steak mean?

It’s the kind the New England Patriots eat after beating the Steelers in the AFC Championship.

Sorry. I had to. Big Patriots fan, here. (And there goes every Steelers fan reading this.)

But I digress. The “Pittsburgh rare” steak is actually something unique to the area. According to Wikipedia, it’s also known as the “Pittsburgh black,” and it’s simply a steak that has been heated at a very high temperature, very quickly, until it assumes a charred texture on the outside. The magic of it, though? It’s still rare and juicy on the inside.   

9. Why does Pittsburgh end in “h”?

This is actually a really interesting question, and if you don’t like history, you’re probably going to want to exit now.

Pittsburgh was named in 1758 by General John Forbes, for British nobleman and all-around bad boy William Pitt (who was frequently referred to as “The Great Commoner” for his 58-year refusal to take a title). What most people don’t know is that Forbes was a Scotsman, and as so gave the settlement the suffix -burgh, which is, in fact, the Scots spelling and not the German one, as this author has believed for years. The German spelling is the one we see more frequently, -burg.

Anyways, it’s widely believed that Forbes meant for the original pronunciation of Pittsburgh to be Pittsborough, which is how -burgh is pronounced in Scots. (Think “Edinburgh.”) And that’s where the trouble begins.

While early papers referencing the settlement include the “h,” a printing error following the city’s charter in 1816 found it spelled “Pittsburg” on many official copies of the document. This, in turn, led to an 75-year debate over how to spell the city, with many falling on either side of the argument. For example, here’s an 1857 etching from Ballou’s Pictorial, in which the city is referenced as “Pittsburg.”

Pittsburgh PA

This all came to a head in 1891, when it was decided by the United States Board of Geographic Names that all -burgh cities in the U.S. would lose the “h,” mainly for congruity’s sake. (To read the full story, check it out, here. The USBGN essentially blamed the Postal Service for the “erroneous” addition of the “h” in Pittsburgh--which, to me, is momentous, as it may be the first time in history the Postal Service hasn’t lost something.)

Pittsburghers didn’t take kindly to the change, and many protested it. The Pittsburgh Gazette newspaper, the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange, and the University of Pittsburgh all refused to comply. Yet, the “Pittsburg” spelling stood for 20 years, until it was finally reversed in 1911, much to the public's relief.

It has remained "Pittsburgh” ever since.

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