New to the 'Burgh
10:30 am
Thu July 25, 2013

City Newcomer? Here's How to Win at Pittsburgh Trivia

Maybe you are a connoisseur of fun facts, maybe you are trying to develop an understanding of your new city or maybe you are just trying to keep from embarrassing yourself in front of Alex Trebek during your Jeopardy debut.

If any of these sound like you, then never fear: as part of our web series, “New to the Burgh,” here’s a pop quiz on Pittsburgh firsts and landmarks to make you just a touch smarter and to help you win your first million.

Question: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland acted as a Memphis courthouse during a famous escape scene from which Academy Award-winning movie?
Credit Wikimedia Commons
Answer: The Silence of the Lambs

Although the film's plot is set in locations such as West Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee, much of the filming was actually completed in and around Pittsburgh. Another Oakland building — the Carnegie Museum of Natural History — acted as a backdrop for Clarice’s meeting with the entomologist, and several prison scenes were shot at the Allegheny County Jail on Second Avenue.

Question: Jonas Salk developed a vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh for which disease?
Credit Flickr user Sanofi Pasteur
Answer: Polio

Salk developed the first effective polio vaccine in 1952, and after years of trials, the vaccine became licensed in 1955. Six years later, the number of recorded cases in the United States dropped from 35,000 to 161. Thanks to Salk’s groundbreaking work, only 291 cases of the disease were recorded worldwide in 2012. More than 50 years after its production, Salk’s vaccine remains the primary vaccine used to combat polio around the globe.

Question: Carnivals in and around Pittsburgh played host to the first modern versions of what popular game of chance?
Credit FLickr user sarae
Answer: Bingo

Early versions of the game can be traced back to 16th century Italy, but the modern 5x5 version beloved by charity organizations and gambling scratch cards was first standardized by Hugh J. Ward in the Steel City in the early 1920s. Ward went on to secure the copyright and to write a presumably very short Bingo rule book in 1933.

Question: Before its name was appropriated for a cartoon television network, the first one of these opened on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh, becoming the first theater in the world devoted to motion pictures.
Credit Flickr user CharmaineZoe
Answer: Nickelodeon

On June 19, 1905, Pittsburgh jumped head first into the biggest fad of the time period: film. Unlike the various Myspaces of history, however, this fad stuck around with hundreds of copycat nickelodeons appearing across the country. On its second day opening, more than 1,500 people lined up to pay 5 cents for the 15-minute feature. While that format might have changed a tiny bit over the years, Pittsburghers will always get to say we did it first.

Question: Although New Zealand would disagree with our ruling, which Pittsburgh avenue is arguably the steepest street in the world?
Credit Flickr user spumerbike
Answer: Canton Avenue

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Baldwin Street in New Zealand as the steepest (due in part to its length), but Pittsburgh’s Canton Avenue measures in at a 37 percent grade. Loosely translated, that means that for every 10 feet of horizontal distance the road travels, the elevation drops by a shocking 3.7 feet. For comparison, Baldwin Street at its steepest is only able to manage an amateurish 3.5 feet. The winner here is obvious.

Question: Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University ended confusion over their online bulletin boards by inventing what?
Credit Flicker user peretzpup
Answer: The emoticon

To make sure sarcastic or funny posts were taken with a grain of salt and a smile, CMU computer scientist Scott Fahlman started tagging the university’s bulletin board posts with the now inescapable symbol. Fahlman invented the smiley to prevent lengthy, angry posts from those who missed their jokes due to the lack of verbal and vocal cues. In his blog, Fahlman noted that after running through some ideas with the community, he thought that perhaps :-) would be an “elegant solution.” While this might mark the only time in history that someone has referred to an emoticon as “elegant,” it is hard to ignore the stamp that Fahlman’s little idea has left on the Internet.

Are you new in town? Or are you a Pittsburgh lifer? Either way, share your best fun facts or share the things you’d like to know on Twitter and Facebook: #new2theburgh.