On the eighteenth of March Pittsburgh celebrated the bicentennial of its incorporation as a city. It is the seat of the Croatian Fraternal Union of America and of many other organisations and Croatian Catholic parishes that gather American Croatians of the first, second, third and now fourth generation.
The City of Pittsburgh is special to American Croatians. They first settled here back in the eighteenth century in search of work and a better standard of living. The first big wave of immigrants from Croatia, however, took place in the late nineteenth century. Historian Dr Ivan Čizmić notes that the “period of mass emigration from Croatia began in the late nineteenth century, between 1890 and the beginning of World War I. The scale of this wave of emigrants moving from Croatia to America, up to the present day, is best revealed in the statistical data. An analysis of this data shows an estimated half a million people emigrating from Croatia from 1890 to the beginning of the First World War.” Pittsburgh, with its steel industry and nearby coalmines, was one of the destinations. Pittsburgh and the US state of Pennsylvania offered quick employment and good earnings and that was what Croatian immigrants were after. They did not shy away from the hardest jobs or the challenges that faced them.
Pittsburgh was the destination not only of Croatians, but also of many other Europeans, from Slavic nations in particular. It can now be said with certainty that it was these peoples that did the hardest physical labour and contributed, and continue to contribute, to the development of this now beautiful and modern city, home to many Croatians and their descendants. It is the seat of the largest and most influential Croatian organisation abroad, the Croatian Fraternal Union of America and of many other organisations and Croatian Catholic parishes that gather American Croatians of the first, second, third and now fourth generation.
On the eighteenth of March Pittsburgh celebrated two hundred years since its incorporation as a city. On that date in 1816 the city was awarded a charter allowing it to govern itself. The city is proud of its developed steel industry, advanced technologies and gas and oil industries. The areas around the city are now packed with wells seeking out natural gas that, experts say, Pennsylvania has an abundance of. It was here that the famed Heinz company was created, renowned in the world as a producer of tomato ketchup, now an essential food condiment, especially when serving French fries. It was from this city that the very popular, fun and educational children’s television show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood (Fred Rogers 1928 – 2013) was broadcast.
With its over two million inhabitants, the city has a highly developed healthcare and education system and is considered one of the leading financial and film centres in America. This metropolis boasts two airports, Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny Country Airport and several small airports for private aircraft. Prominent among its museums are the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, the Fort Pittsburgh Museum and the Museum of Natural History, with a prominent role in cultural life also played by the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Pittsburgh Opera. There are also the prestigious Pittsburgh University and Duquesne University.
The heart of the city features three major stadiums, baseball’s PNC Park, Heinz Field and the Consol Energy Center. Baseball, American football and ice hockey are the soul of the city and their fans always faithful and loyal. The colours of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins are to be found on every corner. The city is accessible by numerous bridges and three tunnels. When two of the three cited teams play home games traffic is almost totally paralysed in spite of the excellent access roads and parking lots. Soccer plays a less prominent role, but has grown in popularity in America since the World Cup in Brazil. The situation is the same in Pittsburgh. The very nice Highmark soccer stadium rests on the banks of the Monongahela River and stands at the fourth corner of the city core. Night-time games are held in a setting of the city lights and the stunning hills that surround and rise above the city. We hope to see the Croatia Soccer Cup 2016 played here, hosted by organiser and sponsor the Croatian Fraternal Union.
Another point of interest is the former train station at Station Square, revamped as an attractive tourist oasis. It is located close to the soccer stadium and the funicular (Monongahela Incline) to the Mount Washington viewpoint, and offers visitors an entertainment zone on the banks of the river, shopping, and a culinary offer at a number of restaurants.
Text by: Franjo Bertović