Namedroppers: Twenty People Who Shaped Pittsburgh

Article excerpt

In most any discussion involving Pittsburgh, there are certain people one needs to know.

Their accomplishments range from songwriting to sports to putting coleslaw and french fries on a sandwich.

Don't knock it until you try it.

Given the city's 251-year history, any list of 20 essential Pittsburgh names is bound to have glaring omissions. But here's one man's take on who belongs on it.

Christina Aguilera

(1980 - )

Aguilera used to sing the national anthem before Steelers, Pirates and Penguins games.

Her big break came in 1993, when she was named to the cast of the Disney Channel's "The New Mickey Mouse Club," performing alongside such future superstars as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

Since the release of her first CD in 1999, Aguilera has sold more than 42 million records worldwide. She has won four Grammy Awards and one Latin Grammy Award.

Richard Caliguiri


Serving as mayor for a decade, Caliguiri helped spearhead the city's second renaissance during the early 1980s.

The city's modern-day Downtown skyline was shaped under Caliguiri's watch. Among the buildings erected were Oxford Centre, Mellon Bank Center, PPG Place and Fifth Avenue Place.

Caliguiri died May 1988 battling the rare disease amyloidosis. His statue can be found outside the City-County Building on Grant Street.

Roberto Clemente


Clemente was a Hall-of-Fame outfielder for the Pirates committed to charity work in his native Puerto Rico and Latin America.

He died when a plane he rented to transport relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed off the Puerto Rican coast. His body was never recovered.

A statue of Clemente stands near PNC Park's left-field entrance, just off the Roberto Clemente (Sixth Street) Bridge.

Annie Dillard

(1945 - )

Raised in the city's Point Breeze neighborhood, Dillard is an author best known for her narrative nonfiction works.

Dillard won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Literature for "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," a collection of essays written while she lived in a cabin in the Virginia woods.

Dillard's memoir, "An American Childhood," details her youth in Pittsburgh.

Stephen Foster


A native of the city's Lawrenceville section, Foster was one the preeminent songwriters of the 19th Century.

Among his most famous compositions are "Oh Susanna," "Camptown Races," "Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)" and "Beautiful Dreamer."

The Stephen Foster Memorial, located on the University of Pittsburgh campus, houses a Foster museum, the Center for American Music and two theaters serving Pitt's Department of Theater Arts.

Henry Clay Frick


Frick was a coke and steel magnate once termed "the most hated man in America" because of his strike-breaking activities. An infamous 1892 clash between striking workers and Pinkerton detectives at the Homestead steel mill owned by Frick and Carnegie left 10 men dead.

Frick bequeathed 150 acres of undeveloped land to the city for use as a public park. Located in the city's East End, Frick Park first opened in 1927.

Clayton, Frick's 5-acre estate in Point Breeze, opened to the public in 1990 as the Frick Art & Historical Center.

Martha Graham


Pittsburgh native Graham was named "Dancer of the Century" by Time magazine in 1998 and was ranked among People magazine's "Icons of the Century."

After establishing her own dance company in New York in 1926, Graham created 181 ballets. Many great modern ballet choreographers were either been members of Graham's company or studied her techniques.

Graham was the first dancer to perform at the White House, and in 1985 was among the first recipients to receive the United States National Medal of Arts. …