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"If you have family or friends of German descent around the country or across the sea, we hope you will share the Popular Pittsburgh website with them.  We believe our website is a great way for them to learn about our town and what makes Pittsburgh popular."  - Tom Pollard

Germans Find Pittsburgh to be Wunderbar!

German and American Flags

If cities have heartbeats, then Pittsburgh's must thump like an oom pah pah band.  Many immigrants have flocked to the Pittsburgh area over the centuries, but no nationality has come to the region in greater numbers than the Germans.  According to the U.S. Census of 2000, more people in the Pittsburgh area claim German heritage than any other.  The first Germans came to the New World in the 1600s, settling in Germantown, which would later become known as Philadelphia.  They fought for freedom alongside their fellow British colonialists in the Revolutionary War. 

During the early part of the 19th Century, most German immigrants came to the Pittsburgh area for economic opportunities and religious freedom.  These new arrivals were mostly farmers and craftsmen.  One group that came to the area seeking religious freedom was a Christian communal utopian group known as the Harmony Society. Founded by George Rapp, in 1804, the Harmonists, a group of nearly 800 farmers and craftsmen, settled in Butler County and founded the town of Harmony.   

Old Economy Village    

Old Economy Village

After moving for a brief time to Indiana, the community returned to Western Pennsylvania, settling along the Ohio River in Beaver County.  They named this community Economy, and they patterned their society after the early Christian community.  They believed that Christ's second coming was imminent; therefore, to prepare themselves for His arrival, in 1807, they adopted the rule of celibacy.  They were an industrious group, but with no one to carry on their traditions, the ranks of the Harmonists dwindled.  In 1905, the few remaining Harmonists divested of their assets and disbanded. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired six acres of their property in 1916 and this historic site, now known as Old Economy Village, is a National Historic Landmark.  A visit to Old Economy is like stepping back in time and gives insight into the beliefs and characteristics of this group of German immigrants. 

The 48ers

Everyone remembers from High School History that San Francisco had a wave of immigrants known as the 49ers.  A year prior, in 1848, America saw a wave of German immigrants known as the "48ers."  While the previous immigrants from Germany were farmers and tradesmen, the 48ers were intellectuals escaping political persecution According to the German Information Center, by "1860 more than 1.3 million German-born immigrants resided in the United States."

In the Pittsburgh area, many of these immigrants settled in the town of Allegheny on the North shore of the Allegheny River across from Pittsburgh in what became known as Deutschtown-the area along East Ohio Street and extending to Troy Hill.  In 1907, Pittsburgh annexed Allegheny, and while many different nationalities now inhabit this part of the city, remnants of its German heritage still abound.  Max's Allegheny Tavern on Suismon Street serves delicious, authentic German food in an old tavern that hasn't changed much over the decades.

German Food, Beer, and Song    

German Food, Beer and Song

Teutonia MaennerchorWhat's German food without German beer? The Eberhardt and Ober Brewery began brewing in 1848 at the foot of Troy Hill on Vinial Street.  It eventually went out of business, but in 1986, Tom Pastorius founded the Pennsylvania Brewing Company at the old Eberhardt and Ober site.  In 2001, their signature brew Penn Pilsner won the Gold Medal from the National Beverage Institute. 

With all that great German food and beer, you'll be so happy you will want to sing.  Then stroll over a few blocks to the Teutonia Maennerchor on nearby Phineas Street.  It is the largest German Singing Society and Social Club in the area. The Teutonia Maennerchor was founded 150 years ago, and, in addition to the singing, it hosts many activities that reflect on the German culture.

Also located nearby is the H.J. Heinz Company, which has been located on Progress Street since the company's founding in 1896 by noted German, Henry Heinz.  At the tender age of eight, Henry began selling vegetables from his family's garden.  H. J. Heinz is now one the world's largest and must successful corporations. 

Heinz-Pickle Pin 

Germany is the Largest Foreign Investor in the Pittsburgh Region

Bayer Sign

Germans and those of German heritage have found Pittsburgh to be a great place to do business. According to Global Pittsburgh, Germany is the largest foreign investor in the region, citing "Seventy German-owned companies operate approximately 140 establishments in Southwestern Pennsylvania and employ approximately 11,000 individuals."  Bayer, Draeger Safety, and Siemens are only a few of the corporate giants with a presence Hofbrauhaus Pittsburghin Pittsburgh.  Even the Hofbrauhaus, the famous biergarten, acknowledged Pittsburgh's strong ties with its German heritage by selecting Pittsburgh as one of the few cities in America to host a Hofbrauhaus.  Located on Pittsburgh's South Side, crowds flock to the iconic Bier Hall to indulge in their famed brews and food offerings. 

 The German Room at the University of Pittsburgh

The German Room at the University of PittsburghThe University of Pittsburgh is famous for its Nationality Rooms located in the Cathedral of Learning.  The German Room was one of the first rooms dedicated in the Cathedral.  It opened in 1938, and among its many features are stained glass windows that depict characters from Grimm's Fairy Tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Cinderella.     

With so many claiming German heritage in the area, it may seem odd that there is no German Nationality Day at nearby Kennywood Amusement Park.  Perhaps that's because with so many counting a German ancestor, every day is a German Day at the park.  Also unusual is that there is no German Day parade, or designated saint's day, where Germans can take to the streets and march to celebrate their culture.  Many believe this is because the Germans have assimilated and seamlessly into the American culture, that they forgot to set aside a special day to seek notoriety.  Others suppose it's because Germans are too busy being successful, they don't have the time for such an indulgence.  Or maybe the reason Germans don't toot their own flugelhorn is that they get enough recognition during the month-long celebration of Oktoberfest. 

No matter the reason, Pittsburgh has enjoyed a German-American relationship that can only be described as wunderbar!  


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