Though we’ve still got some spring in our step, we can’t lie: the Post-Gazette is a bit long in the tooth. Luckily we don’t have to worry too much about going gray — that’s the nice thing about newsprint.
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Post and Gazette Times merger, which created the city’s first unified, weekday morning newspaper.
At the time, Pittsburgh was crowded with seven daily newspapers. The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Daily Post and Dispatch published in the morning, while the Pittsburgh Press, Chronicle Telegraph, Sun and Leader all published each evening and on Sundays.
To consolidate the saturated market, publishers began purchasing and closing smaller competition. As some of these papers died or were absorbed by media mogul William Randolph Hearst, Paul Block bought and merged the Post and Gazette Times. The first edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette debuted on Aug. 2, 1927, and readers could purchase it for 3 cents per copy.
That morning, this announcement ran along the bottom of the front page:
Leaders from across the country sent congratulatory notes to mark to occasion, which were then scattered throughout the new edition. They included Pennsylvania Governor John S. Fisher and the New York City Mayor James J. Walker.
“Welcome to the field of Pennsylvania journalism,” Fisher wrote. “Congratulations on acquiring such fine publications as the Pittsburgh Post and Gazette-Times. All good wishes for your success.”
Of course, printing the Post-Gazette wouldn’t have been possible at all without the support of advertisers. The paper’s debut edition carried advertising from familiar names such as Heinz, and some of the listed prices seem laughable today. In fact, so do some of the products themselves.
Who needs a trash can when you can buy your very own gas incinerator? Equitable Gas Company had you covered. In need of an entire three-piece living room set? Head to Kaufmann’s and pick one up for just $170.
The real star of these ads was the art. Hand-drawn ads popped off the page, some incorporating games into their pitches. Here are a few of our favorites:
Illustrations were used with news and feature stories as well.
The Post-Gazette’s first front page featured a dramatic story about the capture of an arson ring that had burned down several buildings to collect insurance payoffs. Members of the group sought help from a trio of women, who organized a trap with support from city police. Post-Gazette artists included a sketched rendition of the scene.
Just a few columns to the left, readers found a much shorter and lighthearted story. It describes Caorlyn Wisner, who was in an unenviable position atop a love triangle. Engaged but in love with another man, Wisner was unable to make a choice, so she left it to chance: She flipped a coin.
Today the Post-Gazette is the only daily print paper in town. Here’s to another 90 years. We hope you stick around for the ride.
— Matt Moret