By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (February 23, 2024) – Today’s edition of Fun with Maps celebrates medical history with a Cincinnati connection.


Today is the 70th anniversary of a major medical milestone. 

The first field trial for the polio vaccine took place on February 23, 1954 when 137 students at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh rolled their sleeves up to try the new vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Around 5000 children in the area were immunized in the first test, which consisted of 3 doses total.

At Arsenal, Dr. Salk performed every injection himself.  The first through third graders were surrounded by reporters and photographers eager to proclaim the boys and girls as “polio pioneers.”

A placebo leg wasn’t employed in the clinical trial.  The trial was used to determine how many boosters to give and what the length of immunity would be.

By 1962, injections were replaced by the oral vaccine, usually in the form of a treated sugar cube, developed by Albert Sabin.

At the time of the vaccine trials, the country was reporting 58,000 new polio cases per year and around 3000 deaths.  By 1979, polio had been eliminated in the United States.

This county map of Pennsylvania was issued by Wall in 1910.

Pennsylvania -Circa 1910 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.

Listen to Steve’s story on Loveland Beacon Talks Podcast right here: