Pittsburghers have lots of ideas about a new spot for Wholey's smiling fish sign

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The Heinz History Center is Pittsburghers' top choice as the new home of Wholey's beloved smiling fish sign.

The Strip District fish company plans to move the iconic sign from the side of a neighborhood building it no longer owns and asked customers and other Pittsburghers to vote on a new location.

The top five contenders were unveiled this morning at a news conference with owner Jim Wholey, Mayor Bill Peduto and county Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The history center, with 301 votes, was the top choice, followed by Mount Washington (260 votes); McKees Rocks, which was the company's first home (188 votes); on or near one of the rivers (131 votes); finding a way to keep the sign where it is (59 votes); and the Bigelow Boulevard retaining wall (40 votes).

A few dozen people attended the unveiling at a "fish party" at Wholey's 17th Street store. Cake and coffee were available; many opted for Wholey's fish sandwiches.

Mr. Peduto said finding a new home for the sign is a way to celebrate the city's heritage as it eyes new development in the Strip and other neighborhoods.

"Wholey's is already in communication with the Heinz History Center" about moving the sign there, Mr. Peduto said.

If that doesn't work out, Mr. Wholey said, the other locations will be considered. That might have to be the case: Contacted after the gathering, Andrew Masich, history center president and CEO, said he's flattered that people think of the center as the place to showcase neighborhood treasures.

But in this case, he said, he doesn't believe the history center would be the best location. He said he believes it would confuse the public to have the fish sign at the center just a few blocks from where Wholey operates.

He said his own preference is to leave the sign in its current location at 15th and Smallman streets, a former cold-storage building being turned into lofts.

Joe Smydo: jsmydo@poset-gazette.com or 412-263-1548. First Published February 1, 2014 12:00 PM

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