The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania.
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.