1900 - 1949

Learn about the events in the early 1900s that led to the formation of the VisitPittsburgh Convention and Tourist Bureau.

While the Convention and Tourist Bureau officially opened its doors in 1935 at 411 Seventh Avenue, the ninth floor of the Chamber of Commerce Building, Suite 905, several events had happened before then that played a role in Pittsburgh Tourism and Convention business.


Forbes Field was built in Oakland.


The William Penn Hotel was built in downtown Pittsburgh.


A handy folder was issued by the Chamber of Commerce and bearing the title, "Pittsburgh, a Mecca for Auto Tourists" saying, "The impression has gotten about among motorists that Pittsburgh is a good city to avoid en tour. It is true that traffic conditions are somewhat congested and difficult in downtown Golden Triangle, due to the peculiar topography of the City. But to drive through, guided by efficient traffic officers, gives the tourist a conception not to be otherwise gained of the greatness of Pittsburgh as a manufacturing metropolis." After the creation of the Convention and Tourist Bureau, "Pittsburgh: The Convenient Convention City" project began.


On February 13, 1936, a letter was sent out to attend "the greatest gathering of important business, civic, and educational leaders ever staged in Pittsburgh." The event was "a sensational dinner show to be held at the William Penn on February 17th." This was the first event of the "Sell Pittsburgh to America" campaign, and probably the first event of the Pittsburgh Convention and Tourist Bureau. The program itself was called "Let''s Go Pittsburgh." The original board consisted of 84 members, 7 of which served on an executive committee.

The Organized Effort Pamphlet: 


The first Tourist''s Information Center opened. The center was manned by police patrolman Ira Bing, who answered 400 questions, mostly from out of town visitors, at the new center on the Forbes Street Plaza entrance to Schenley Park.


In 1945 the Pittsburgh Convention and Tourist Bureau changed its name to Pittsburgh Convention Bureau, Inc. At this time, the Bureau''s chief executive was Adolph "Tony" Frey. Charles Shaffer was Manager of the Bureau.


A brochure titled "Pa Pitt Welcomes You: Here''s Your Key to the City of Pittsburgh" was published in 1946. It appeared to be a very early, if not the first, Official Visitors Guide to Pittsburgh. A caricature of Pa Pitt could have been the official mascot of Pittsburgh. Although pictured on the brochure, he is not identified as such. Topics included in the brochure were: Maps of downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland Civic Center showing hotels; principal buildings and points of interest; Welcomes from Mayor David L. Lawrence and the Pittsburgh Convention Bureau, Inc; "Pittsburgh Home of..." (a two page list of some of the things only Pittsburgh is home to); 3 pages of Points of Interest; 2 pages of General Facts about Pittsburgh; and Allegheny County Ways to reach nearby boroughs and outlaying districts —visitors would find the name of the borough then select the desired route number for the proper bus or trolley.

Pa Pitt:

Other Important Pittsburgh Events

The late 1930s and the 1940s were a time of growth for the newly founded Allegheny County Tourist Promotion Agency. There were several other things happening throughout the region at that time.

  • 1936: The ride "Noah's Ark" opened at Kennywood Park.
  • 1936: The Great Flood of '36 caused great damage, especially to downtown Pittsburgh.
  • 1938: World-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater.
  • 1945: August Wilson was born in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.
  • 1946: Pittsburgh hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Forbes Field.
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