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There is a giant anchor in the middle of the sidewalk in Pittsburgh. It's story starts with the USS Pittsburgh

Story behind the USS Pittsburgh
Story behind the USS Pittsburgh 02:45

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — This story started with a question. And that question is, what's the deal with the giant anchor that sits in the middle of the sidewalk near the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh?

Turns out, this anchor has quite the story to tell.

It belonged to the USS Pittsburgh (CA-72), which was launched during World War II by the US Navy in February 1944.

Michael Kraus, a curator and historian at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh, says that this ship was categorized as a heavy cruiser that had some big firepower.

"It had large guns," said Kraus. "It had nine 8-inch guns on it, plus a number of smaller ones. And it supported the landings and invasions from a distance. And it also had a catapult with several planes on the back that it could launch."

The USS Pittsburgh found itself in the Pacific theatre not long after its launch, fighting the Japanese at places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The ship heroically came to the aid of the carrier, USS Franklin, when that vessel was under attack and helped save many of her crew that were in the water. 

But while the Pittsburgh was known for being in many different engagements, it was the battle it had with Mother Nature that made it famous.

"In June of 1945, it was in the theatre of operations in a typhoon," said Kraus. "During that typhoon, the bow broke off, 103 feet of the bow broke off and sank. So, that piece is over there in the Pacific. The Pittsburgh was then towed back for repairs. And they said it was the longest ship in the world because the bow was in the Pacific and the stern ended up in Washington State."

Kraus also said that the bow was eventually recovered, but since it was now separated from the ship, the sailors joked that it was a suburb and they named it "The McKeesport."

The Pittsburgh was fixed, refitted and went back into action during the Korean War. And though the ship was officially decommissioned in the 1970s, Kraus says her memory and her name still live on.

"I think Pittsburghers have always been really proud to know that there's a USS Pittsburgh out there somewhere," Kraus said. "That doesn't mean that the citizens are manning the ship, but our name is being carried over symbolically to be part of the military and protecting the world."

So, that's the story of the USS Pittsburgh, and by the way, there have been four Navy ships named after the city, with a fifth on the way. But those are other stories for other times.

But at least now you know a little bit more about that giant anchor near the museum on the North Side.

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