Oct. 12, 1962: The front-page headline in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read: “Kennedy Rips GOP Foes.” President John F. Kennedy had arrived in town the previous day to help garner Democratic votes for the upcoming midterm elections. While in town, he championed progressive reforms and made appearances and speeches in McKeesport, Monessen, Washington, Downtown and Oakland, at the University of Pittsburgh field house. This photograph spanned the width of page 2 of the Pittsburgh Press.
The president’s upbeat demeanor belies a looming international crisis that threatened to trigger nuclear war. On Oct. 15, the CIA identified missiles in Cuba; national security advisor McGeorge Bundy briefed the president on these findings the following morning. During a televised speech on Oct. 22, President Kennedy told the country, and the world, that the U.S. and Soviet Union could be on the verge of nuclear war. The following day, the Pittsburgh Press ran a stark headline: “Blockade Faces Two Tests.”
We have come to know this as the Cuban Missile Crisis, one of the most dangerous moments in history. Who among those watching the president speak in Pittsburgh just 10 days before could have known how much their world would soon change?
(Pittsburgh Press photo)
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Watch: PG executive editor David Shribman discusses the significance of John F. Kennedy’s visit to Pittsburgh in 1962.