PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There will soon be a third statue joining Franco Harris and George Washington at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Famed journalist and traveler Nellie Bly will have her likeness depicted next to the Steelers former running back and the first president of the United States.
“Pittsburgher Nellie Bly was the world’s greatest traveler who made history as a groundbreaking journalist and staunch advocate for women’s rights,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center. “It’s fitting that we’ll honor her legacy on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage with a new lifelike figure where millions of travelers can learn her story.”
The announcement was made during the Allegheny County Airport Authority’s State of the Airport event last week.
Bly’s birth name was Elizabeth Cochran. She began writing as a teenager for the Pittsburgh Dispatch (now known as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) but due to being a woman, she had to write under a pen name so she settled with Nellie Bly.
After she moved to New York City to write for the New York World, she wrote one of her first big exposes.
Bly went undercover as a patient at an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. The result brought to light poor conditions, mistreated patients, and began widespread change in how public health systems treated mental health patients.
Her life wasn’t only defined by journalism. She also began a trip around the world in 1889, a trip that was finished in 72 days.
The inspiration came from the famed Jules Verne novel, “Around the World in 80 Days.”
“That was quite a feat for anyone then,” said Rachel Saul Rearick, Arts and Culture Manager at Pittsburgh International Airport. “It was especially tenacious for a woman in the late 1800s.”
Several news stories and a book were written about Bly’s trip around the world.
Her life and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage were the inspiration to put the statue at the airport.
“The history of Western Pennsylvania cannot be told without noting the accomplishments of so many great women,” Cassotis said. “It is important to us that those stories be told, and we’re honored to recognize Nellie Bly’s groundbreaking achievements here at the airport.”
It is expected the statue will be installed later this month.