Odd Pittsburgh: Carnegie Gives Away Billions

Plus other fascinating and mysterious things that happened this week in history


Getty: Keystone / Stringer

A Pitt student/athlete and Connellsville native wins one of the most dramatic gold medals in Olympics history, a mob boss is gunned down, the world’s first successful TV transmission and Andrew Carnegie passes away, It’s just some of the strange and fascinating things that happened this week in Pittsburgh’s rich history.

  • Connellsville native and Pitt student has one of the most dramatic Gold Medal wins in the 1936 Olympics

The Odd, Mysterious and Fascinating History of Pittsburgh’s John Schalcosky tells the KDKA Radio Morning News that during the 1936 Olympics in Nazi occupied Germany, on August 4, African-American John Woodruff was boxed in during the 800m so he stopped.

“Everybody kept running and he went on the outside and surpassed them all and he won the race and he won the gold medal,” said Schalcosky.

  • Pittsburgh Mob Boss gunned down in front of St. John’s

Schalcosky says the mob came to Pittsburgh around 1910 and Stefano Monastero was the city’s third mob boss. He adds the mob in Pittsburgh ran numbers, cooked books and other gambling activities but after prohibition started, that all changed.

“Monastero was in control of a lot of the different ingredients like sugar and some of the other things that you needed to make illegal booze and he would actually bomb some of the other farmers and other places that were competing with his ingredients to have all of the control.”

After visiting one of his “made men” Monastero was gunned down by 100s of bullets, “like Bonny and Clyde style.

  • The Worlds 1st Successful Transmission of Television happened at Westinghouse

KDKA Radio is known as the world’s first commercial radio station and that transmission happened right in East Pittsburgh thanks to Westinghouse employee Frank Conrad but Conrad was also partly responsible for the birth of television and that happened right here in Pittsburgh.

August 8, 1928 is considered the world’s first successful transmission of a television signal.

Russian scientist Vladimir Zworykin, with the help of Westinghouse and Conrad, “were able to develop a technology to where you could successfully transmit an actual signal and see it for the first time.”

It’s not really known what the first image was but Schalcosky suspects it’s in Westinghouse’s archives. He adds the first transmission was kind of a fuzzy image and “not that great to see” but still remarkable.

  • Andrew Carnegie dies at the age of 84.

On August 11, 1919 Andrew Carnegie passed away at the age of 84 and gave away his fortune.

Schalcosky said if adjusted for inflation, Carnegie gave away $372,000,000,000 (that’s billion).

Carnegie worked to improve the arts through foundations, opening libraries and also had a plan to implement world peace.

Surprisingly Carnegie is buried in the famed Sleepy Hollow, NY ,the home of the headless horseman and Ichabod Crane.  

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