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Art & Museums

Primanti's a part of history at Carnegie Science Center Miniature Railroad & Village

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, 11:42 a.m.

The fixings have been placed above the meat and between the two slices of homemade bread at this Primanti Bros. location.

But you might have to take a closer look to see the finished product.

That's because the food is a miniature replica of some choices on the menu of this famous Pittsburgh restaurant known for its towering coleslaw-and-french-fry-topped sandwiches.

A replica of Primanti Bros. original Strip District location, is the latest addition to the Carnegie Science Center's Miniature Railroad & Village exhibit on Pittsburgh's North Shore.

"To see us next to all of these other historical Pittsburgh staples is such an honor," says Mike Mitcham, operations director for Primanti Bros. "I remember visiting this railroad as a kid. It's an amazing exhibit for kids and for everyone who loves this city. I am amazed at the detail they put into it. "

That detail includes the sandwiches as well as the table and chairs and likeness of Toni Haggerty, who has worked at Primanti for 43 years.

"Look at this sandwich?" she says as she holds a miniature sandwich. "This is beautiful, it's fantastic to have Primanti Bros. a part of the railroad. This will be nice for people to see."

Toni Haggerty has worked at Primanti Bros. for 43 years. She is holding a miniature sandwich and a real sandwich. Her likeness is inside the Primanti Bros. shop at the Carnegie Science Center's Miniature Railroad & Village in Pittsburgh's North Side.

Photo by JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

 

The science center unveiled Primanti Bros., based on the likeness of the Strip District location, which has welcomed patrons along 18th and Smallman St. since 1933, at a news conference on Nov. 15.

The exhibit opens Nov. 20.

"Primanti Bros. is a quintessential Pittsburgh story; proud, gritty and beloved," says Patty Everly, curator of historic exhibits at the science center. "It's a prominent part of Pittsburgh's culture, and with its deep roots in the rich story of the Strip District, is a fitting addition to the miniature railroad."

Joe Primanti started serving hungry industry workers coming through the Strip District from a sandwich cart in the 1920s. His humble operation has grown to more than 40 restaurants throughout the country, with its flagship location in the Strip District still drawing in generations of blue collar workers, business people, families and folks looking for a late-night-bite after last call.

The miniature railroad & village has been a staple at the Science Center since 1992. It was first created by Charles Bowdish of Brookville, Pa., a disable veteran of World War I, in 1919 and displayed at his home. In 1954, the display moved to Buhl Planetarium on the North Side, and to the science center in 1992. Each fall, a new model is added to the display.

Among the favorite eye-catching replicas in the exhibit are Fallingwater, the Monongahela Incline, Ebenezer Baptist Church and Forbes Field. The platform is 83 feet long by 30 feet wide.

Primanti's follows the Westinghouse Atom Smasher from Forest Hills which debuted last year.

Every year, Everly and her staff discuss ideas and look at those choices based on several criteria — history, architecture, significance to the region — and if the piece will fit into the size constraint where ¼ inch equals one foot.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or jharrop@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

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