Community Issues

Facts About Pittsburgh's Role in WWII that Might Surprise You

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, how the city helped win the war beyond the human sacrifice

On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, we were fascinated to discover the role that Southwestern Pennsylvania played in helping the Allies win WWII beyond the human sacrifice made by the thousands of men and women who served.

We're not surprised, because the region is so patriotic and has always been the first to step up when the nation's safety and security is concerned. Still you might do a double take when you learn some of the facts that Andy Masich, President and CEO of the Heinz History Center told Larry Richert and John Shumway on the KDKA radio morning show.

  • George C. Marshall of Uniontown was the architect of Operation Overlord invasion of Europe that got the ball rolling
  • Pittsburgh produced more steel than all the Axis powers combined to support the war effort
  • The former J&L South Side Works and the Hot Metal Bridge across the Monongahela River were among the most protected sites in the country during the war
  • LSTs, the landing ships that carried troops and tanks across the English Channel on D-Day, were made by Pittsburgh's Dravo Corporation. Before the war it took months to build one. By the end, they could build one in a day
  • 50,000 women in Pennsylvania took the place men in factories during the war
  • Artist J. Howard Miller, who worked for Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse, created the famous "Rosie the Riveter" poster (pictured below)

The first Jeep was made in 1940 in Western PA to replace horses on the battlefield, changing the face of modern warfare. You can see the oldest jeep in the world right now at the History Center. It's on loan from the Smithsonian as part of the Vietnam War exhibit , on display through September.

Image: Library of Congress

On their Facebook page today, the History Center has an appropriate #throwbackthursday: Following America's entry into World War II combat, Pittsburgh public schools began campaigns to sell war savings stamps and bonds. The photo below is from the city's Brookline neighborhood.

(Featured image & school bond image: Detre Library & Archives at the History Center)

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