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August 15, 2006 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Why is Pittsburgh yellow?

I just got back from a couple days in Pittsburgh. While I was wandering around, I noticed that the dominant color in Pittsburgh seems to be yellow - several of the bridges, Heinz Field, and a lot of other things sport a lot of yellow paint.

I know that the Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins all have yellow-black-and-white color schemes; is the yellowness of the city a result of the sports teams, or vice versa? If it's not sports-related, where did the yellow originate?
posted by pdb to Travel & Transportation around Pittsburgh, PA (8 answers total)
Well, yellow has often been associated with coal (I don't know for certain why—because of the canaries in the mines?). Coal is one of the key materials used to produce steel, which is of course what Pittsburgh is known for.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:41 AM on August 15, 2006

Technically, it's "gold".
posted by giantfist at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2006

Come to think of it, I believe the most popular yellow dye used to be derived from coal tar. Perhaps that's why yellow is associated with coal.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2006

Best answer: Incidentally, the Steelers' official website has a history of the logo which says that the yellow is for coal.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:45 AM on August 15, 2006

Best answer: I don't know that the color of the bridges is related to the black-and-gold color scheme, although it could be. The black and gold comes from Pittsburgh's flag, which is based on the colors and coat of arms of William Pitt.
posted by magodesky at 11:46 AM on August 15, 2006

Black and GOLD.

*grumble grumble*

We're rare in that all of our sports teams use the same colors, leading to the common slogan here (you'll hear my father repeat it many times every Sunday): "I bleed black & gold!"

So, call it "yellow" here, and you're liable to get punched. Like calling a Welshman English, if you follow.

But mag's right, it mostly has to do with the coat of arms of William Pitt. From that, the sports teams followed. Its use by the Steelers is a bit of serendipity, but notice we never made much of the orange or the blue.

"The three four-pointed starlike figures within the circle, called hypocycloids for their geometric origin, made it to the NFL in 1962, when Rooney adopted the Steelmark for his football team. The Steelers logo is based on the Steelmark logo belonging to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). The Steelmark was originally created for United States Steel Corporation to promote the attributes of steel: yellow lightens your work; orange brightens your leisure; and blue widens your world. The logo’s meaning was later amended to represent the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap." The Story Behind the Pittsburgh Steelers' Logo
posted by jefgodesky at 2:21 PM on August 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So, call it "yellow" here, and you're liable to get punched. Like calling a Welshman English, if you follow.

I stand corrected, good sir. Gold it shall be. For what it's worth, I really loved Pittsburgh, yellow, gold, or otherwise.
posted by pdb at 6:28 PM on August 15, 2006

We're like ships passing in the night, pdb. I'm just getting back to Pittsburgh from my vacation in Portland.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:28 AM on August 16, 2006

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