Much More than Ketchup

The Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh PA


When you think of Heinz, do you think of hamburgers and french fries? Probably. The name is synonymous with American cuisine with its iconic red bottle of ketchup. In Pittsburgh, you can visit The Heinz History Center, part of the Smithsonian Institution collection of museums found nationwide. What you find inside just might surprise you.

  • The shiniest car around – see a 1936 Ford DeLuxe sedan – the first made entirely of stainless steel.
  • The Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood original set –  Relive a lovely day in the neighborhood with the childhood set and original mementos from the iconic PBS t.v. show.
  • Learn about the real Johnny Appleseed, who was inspired by the local cider trade to head out selling apple seeds and plant starts to farmers, earning a tiny profit if possible, but often just giving them away to those who were less fortunate than even he was.
heinz history center pittsburgh
The Mr. Rogers exhibit
george washington exhibit
George Washington exhibit

The history center is full of amazing objects, rotating often, and contains a wide array of entertaining and educational exhibits. Two floors are focused entirely on the many ways Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania have been leaders in invention, creating much of what we know as American culture along the way, including:

  • The Ferris Wheel – designed by Pittsburgh architect George Ferris for the 1892 Chicago World’s Fair with railroad car sized gondolas was designed to outdo the Eiffel Tower built just 3 years prior.
  • The Big Mac – first created and sold at his McDonald’s franchise in Union Town in 1967. It was so popular it became available nationwide within a year.
  • The Banana Split – the iconic American ice cream treat was first made in 1904 at a Pittsburgh soda fountain. History with a cherry on top.
  • The first U.S. oil well was dug just north of Pittsburgh back in 1859
banana split saturday evening post
The Saturday Evening Post cover featuring a banana split

Included in your visit is entrance to the Sports Museum. Pittsburgh has long been a sports-loving town, and their Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates are well represented, but the sports museum includes plenty for lovers of all types of sports – from boxing to marbles.

The Heinz Center is just one of several fascinating places to visit when you are in Pittsburgh.  You may think of Pittsburgh as an old steel town, but it is time to look at Pittsburgh in a whole new light. Visit the Andy Warhol museum for a completely different take on the city, celebrating one of its own and in vibrant pop color. If you love birds, visit the National Aviary with over 500 species of birds and mammals to see. History buffs will love the Bradford Museum telling the story of the Whiskey Rebellion. If you love architecture, a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous creation, Falling Water, is just 90 minutes away. Pittsburgh itself is surrounded by water.  Sitting at the confluence of two rivers, the city is a home to multiple photographic bridges making for a beautiful sight when arriving by ship.  Steep hills that border downtown can be enjoyed by riding the two incline railways that have been giving riders spectacular views for over a century.

pittsburgh bridges

Pittsburgh and the Heinz History Center are meant for each other. They have a lot in common – both with a long history centered around a certain iconic American image, but actually filled with such variety that appeals to all visitors.

Learn more about what you can do in Pittsburgh:

Visit Pittsburgh on one of these Ohio River cruises:

Grand Ohio River-American Heritage

St. Louis to Pittsburgh

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