Icons at the Airport: Pittsburgh’s Immaculate Reception Statue

Franco Harris Steelers Pittsburgh's Immaculate Reception statue at airport closeup of football (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Close-up of the well-loved Franco Harris statue catching the Immaculate Reception football for the Steelers, as you arrive at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania airport (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

What gives an airport personality? What sorts of items there can immediately connect an arriving traveler with the town or city?

I’m going to start a series of occasional blog posts on the topic, and the first icon I want to feature is the statue of Pittsburgh’s Immaculate Reception football moment, as you arrive at PIT – the Pittsburgh International Airport – and head down the escalators to catch the train for baggage claim and the pickup area.

Not a fan of American pro football? Here’s a quick explainer….

During a playoff game in December 1972, when the Pittsburgh Steelers team was playing (and losing to) the Oakland Raiders, a pass thrown by Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw missed its mark, bounced off of a player, and was scooped up by Steelers running back Franco Harris before it hit the ground.

Harris then tucked the ball under his arm and ran in for a game-winning Steelers touchdown, kicking off years of Steelers domination of pro football; Harris played for the team almost his entire career.

The statue is away from the airport right now, being refurbished at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. It is scheduled to be reinstalled in summer 2019 (Update – Harris and Washington are now refurbished and back at the airport) along with a nearby George Washington statue that depicts the future President when he served in this part of western Pennsylvania during the French & Indian War.

Here is what the Harris statue looked like….

Full size of Franco Harris Pittsburgh Immaculate Reception statue at airport (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Full size of the Franco Harris airport statue making the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

There is a fun photo of the real Franco Harris next to his airport statue in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about the statue removal/refurbishment.

Here is a great NFL (National Football League) video that explains why Pittsburgh’s Immaculate Reception was such a big deal for both the Steelers and the city….

I’m spoiled by all of the unique things at my local Austin airport, but this series gives me a reason to start really paying attention to finding standout items as I change planes or explore during business travel.

Did I miss anything else interesting at the Pittsburgh airport? Let us know down in the comments!

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