Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Yesterday, in Part I of this historical photo essay, we learned about the Pittsburgh Blockhouse that's now being used as a storage shed for Zambelli Fireworks; We learned how the Pittsburgh River Patrol eliminated the need for having a fort here at all; We learned about the origins of the Pittsburgh flag, the Black & Gold and the mysterious William Pitt letter; We learned about "smoky" Pittsburgh as well as intriguing statistics about our bridges. In short, this was priceless information that you should scroll down and read if you didn't do so yesterday!

But once again, we must advise you that, "This information is so important that you should print it out and save it with your other important papers. Some day you can impress the grand kids with your keen insight into all things Pittsburgh as they gather round you in your rocking chair. You'll be saying then, "I'm glad I'm a loyal "P.B.& G." reader, otherwise these kids would think I'm a complete idiot!!!

Today, we're going to examine some of the things that Pittsburgh has become famous for:

"The Mona Yinzer"

Above: Art has always been something that the City of Pittsburgh takes seriously. As proof, we have the Andy Warhol Museum to brag about. But the "Mona Yinzer" could one day supplant Warhol's inspirational Campbell's Soup can as the artwork of choice for the city. Left, Andy Warhol was one strange dude who shortened his name from Warhola to the much-shorter "Warhol". He looks ticked off at our photographer for some reason in this picture.

Pittsburghers have become known as "Yinzers" because of their propensity for butchering the English language. In the "New York Times" an article once appeared that described the speech of Pittsburghers as being, "The Galapagos Islands of American dialect". For those international readers enjoying this blog today, let me explain further. Instead of a true Pittsburgher saying "Are you folks going downtown with us today?", the true "yinzer" routinely would say, "Are yinz goin' dahntahn with us tuhday?

But in typical Pittsburgh fashion, rather than being ashamed of their strange speech, Pittsburghers seem to celebrate, yea, embrace it. In fact, the term, "yinzer" has now come to take on a life all its' own. For example...

Above: This is a classic example of a "yinzer". Notice the mullet, dirty Steeler jacket and jeans. Perfect for "jaggin' arahnd", another phrase for "goofing off".

Left: We probably all remember seeing a car with a decal that says "OBX" (Outer Banks) drive past us. Pittsburghers now have their own identification with the "YNZ" window decal. This won't get you on the turnpike or a even into the parking lot at Heinz Field for that matter. Fortunately, though, none of the city's 400+ bridges is of the toll variety anyway.

Right: "Chipped Ham Sam" the "Yappin' Yinzer". The mullet, Steeler shirt and jeans are a must. Stupid look is optional for the "real thing".

Left: Centuries ago, our earliest ancestors first decided to place their fries and cole slaw directly on the meat in their sandwiches. This helped them eat quicker as they were always defending the area against the British, French, Indians, you name it. Originally they cooked their victims and called these "Primate" sandwiches. However, with the passing of time and resolution of conflicts, they began to use more common ingredients such as beef and pork. To keep up the tradition of cannibalism, our ancestors jokingly renamed these "Pri "man" ti " sandwiches. You can still order them in the original British, French or Indian meat, depending however on availability (these battles have become more and more infrequent over the years so you should call in advance).

As part because of their heritage of having to constantly fight off invaders, this spirit lingers in Pittsburgh to this very day. It's funny how some things never change:

Above: To the "untrained eye" this may simply look like somebody forgot a chair out in the street, but Pittsburghers know what this chair means. This chair is saying, "Even though I don't own the street, this parking spot is in front of my owner's house, therefore he reserves the right to use it for himself ONLY. If you move me and park here, there will be serious repercussions such as a "throwdown" and I ain't talking about no cooking show either. "

Our final piece of some of our "modern-day history" that we're going to study today is the Pittsburgher's propensity to improvise and work with what little they may have, just like the founders of Pittsburgh always managed to do.

Above: The spirit of our pioneer forefathers lives on! The yinzer above used the tools at his disposal, the cardboard from two empty cases of Yuengling Lager and some duct tape to seal his covered wagon from the elements. You can almost imagine this very vehicle driving around the blockhouse at the point 300 years ago patrolling for Indians and having around a hundred arrows stuck in it!!!

TOMORROW: We're back to Pittsburgh sports coverage as we'll be getting ready for the Panthers heading into the NCAAs. Next week we'll have Part III of our history lessons plus a Pittsburgh Pirates season preview, coverage of our surging Penguins and (hopefully) coverage on Pitt's second round opponent.

Thanks for reading!