Since March 1929, the 33 story Grant building in downtown Pittsburgh has been home to a huge flashing beacon, using Morse code to spell the word “Pittsburgh”. The beacon was installed so aviators could avoid the 500 foot structure, even though commercial air travel was not well established upon completion of the tower.
When Tom Stepleton was waiting for the local Fourth of July fireworks show to begin, he started decoding the Morse code message, but to his amazement, he noticed the flashing blink of the letter “K”. Since there is no K in Pittsburgh, he decoded the rest of the message, and discovered that the landmark was actually spelling “Pitetsbkrrh”.
It isn’t clear how long the beacon had been relaying the incorrect message, but the building’s current owners are aware of the mistake.
Mr. Stepleton is a recreational pilot, and even though the FAA no longer requires pilots to master Morse code, it isn’t too hard to learn. The correct beacon flash pattern should be “.–. .. – - … -… ..- .-. –. …. “. If you want to learn more about Morse code, or if you’d just like to mess around with it, and see your own name in Morse, check out this fun online Morse code decoder/encoder.
UPDATE: Now the building is flashing “TPEBTSAURGH”