Pittsburgh’s First Automobile

Pittsburgh's first car
Pittsburgh’s first car

Joseph F. Haller was an inventor who held several patents. His inventions included a fruit washing machine, an automated bottle washer and other mass production machines for the bottling industry.  He had worked for Heinz for several years designing improvements to the manufacturing process.

He began inventing when he was just 14 years old when he built his own bicycle. In the early 1900’s he began tinkering with an idea for a “horseless carriage”. While his design was not the first, it was the first in Pittsburgh, and one of the earliest, predating Henry Ford’s first vehicle design by 3 years.

When Haller drove into downtown Pittsburgh he was met with howls of laughter. His own father thought it was a worthless contraption and would never replace horse and wagons.

In 1896 the car tipped over onto the newly laid out Beechwood Blvd, causing one of the first automobile accident in US History. Luckily no other cars were involved in the accident…because there weren’t any.

He passed away in 1944 and is buried in St. Martin’s Cemetery in Pittsburgh.


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