Pittsburgh sets plans to commemorate 200 years as a city
January 6, 2016 11:57 PM
The bust of Pittsburgh's namesake, William Pitt the Elder, looms over Pittsburgh's 60th mayor Bill Peduto as he announces the events planned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pittsburgh's incorporation as a city in 1816.
The bust of Pittsburgh's namesake, William Pitt the Elder, looms over Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh's 60th mayor, as he announces the events planned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pittsburgh's incorporation as a city in 1816.
By Robert Zullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mayor Joe “The Builder” Armstrong’s plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pittsburgh’s incorporation in 1916 resulted in the City-County Building on Grant Street, a formidable and enduring marble-swathed tribute to the city that sprouted from a British fort at the forks of the Ohio River.
For the 200th anniversary, the city will have to settle for something more modest, Mayor Bill Peduto said Wednesday.
“We’re doing this on a shoestring,” Mr. Peduto said. “The reality is we live in different times.”
Standing in the long lobby of the City-County Building, draped with black and gold bunting for the occasion, Mr. Peduto and Heinz History Center president Andy Masich rolled out plans Wednesday for a yearlong celebration that bridges neighborhood divides and attaches a unifying theme to the city’s existing events and festivals.
“It will be a year celebrating the greatness that is this city through its people,” Mr. Peduto said. “We’ll open up new neighborhoods and new experiences for the residents of the city of Pittsburgh and our suburban neighbors.”
Though the community traces its origins to the founding of the British Fort Pitt in 1758, the city’s official birthday is March 18, 1816, when a notice of incorporation was received from the state Legislature, a designation that “allowed Pittsburgh’s citizenry to vote locally, elect a mayor and provided a mechanism for self-governance,” a news release says.
To mark the anniversary, Mr. Peduto appointed a volunteer bicentennial commission led by Mr. Masich that has planned five “signature events,” beginning on March 18 with a kickoff celebration for “Incorporation Day” and a “Bicentennial Bash” and parade on July 8-9 to commemorate the selection of Revolutionary War hero Ebenezer Denny as the city’s first mayor. Mr. Peduto’s office has managed to track down descendants of all of the city’s former mayors, and they will join the festivities.
The other two major events will be the National League of Cities City Summit, Nov. 16-19, the largest conference of mayors and city officials in the nation, and First Night on Dec. 31.
In between, the commission will endeavor to put a bicentennial “spin,” on the regular celebrations and events, big and small, that take place throughout the year, from the Pittsburgh Marathon to Little Italy Days in Bloomfield, Mr. Peduto said.
“We have close to 300, I think now, small organizations and neighborhood groups that have decided that they want to participate in this,” he said. “If you think about it, it would almost be like having a calendar for the year and seeing all the different wonderful things that happen in Pittsburgh in one central place. It’s a good excuse to do this. We should be doing this anyway.”
A firm budget for the celebration has not been finalized, but Mr. Peduto and Mr. Masich expect it to cost about $1 million.
“We’re Pittsburghers, we just make things happen,” Mr. Masich said. “If you’ve got ideas, we want to hear them.”
They are also looking for donations. The city plans on contributing $50,000 to $100,000 and is looking for matching funds from county and state government as well as from businesses and foundations.
Go to www.pgh200.com for information.
Robert Zullo: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @rczullo.
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