‘Round about Pittsburgh: W stands for Westinghouse


George Westinghouse

The name Westinghouse is known worldwide.  Founder of 60 different companies, George Westinghouse, was an entrepreneur who became a pioneer in the manufacturing and technology field starting in the 1800s.

The name Westinghouse is still around, but most of the companies he founded no longer exist.  The Westinghouse companies are known for its many achievements; achievements such as the air brake for trains, lighting the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, building of first generators for the power plants at Niagara Falls in 1895, establishing pension plans for employees, establishing the first commercial radio broadcast station (KDKA), nuclear energy, and for the numerous products the companies and divisions manufactured.

George Westinghouse originally came to Pittsburgh to manufacture some early inventions including the revolutionary air brake for trains.  Once in Pittsburgh, Westinghouse caught the eye of investors and shortly afterwards, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company was established in what is now the North Side of Pittsburgh.  For a number of years, the company was headquartered and manufactured air brakes in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.  Today, the building is home to the Pittsburgh Opera.

As the years progressed, George Westinghouse found his way into the electrical field and quickly established the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company.  Years later, the company would become Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

Westinghouse encouraged his employees to create and innovate with technology.  He also treated his employees with compassion unseen at the time in most companies.  For a man who was called ‘Uncle George’ due to character, employees at his many companies continued to work under the values and ethics of George Westinghouse years after his death.

Around the time the steel industry in Pittsburgh began to decline, so did the Westinghouse Electric Corporation.  After selling almost every division and purchasing CBS in 1995, Westinghouse Electric Corporation ceased to exist in 1997.

In 1998 CBS created the Westinghouse Electric Corporation to manage the Westinghouse name and logo.  This subsidiary licenses the name and logo for the use on all types of products.  Westinghouse Electric Company located and headquartered outside Pittsburgh in Cranberry Township, is the lone descendent of the original Westinghouse Electric Corporation to use the name and logo.

Although the original Westinghouse Electric is gone, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies (Wabtec), the successor of Westinghouse Air Brake Company, located in Wilmerding is still a prosperous company in the rail industry.

Although no library or music hall bares the name Westinghouse, the man who opened the door to numerous individuals in the Pittsburgh region will never be forgotten.  Due to the opportunity given to them, numerous employees and Westinghouse related companies donated funds to built and construct the George Westinghouse Bridge (East Pittsburgh) and memorial (Schenley Park).

It is difficult to name everything George Westinghouse worked on, but without a doubt you use something he or his companies revolutionized every day of your life.  And to top it off, most of the innovation occurred in and around Pittsburgh.