Allegheny County 'walk of fame' proposed for Downtown Pittsburgh

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People who have "attracted national or regional recognition" to Allegheny County soon could be honored with a walkway of fame in the courtyard of the county courthouse.

County Councilman James Ellenbogen, D-Banksville, proposed engraved courtyard bricks as the main element in a "Hall of Fame" to honor distinguished, but deceased, county natives and residents.

Mr. Ellenbogen's idea has some resemblance to the "Hollywood Walk of Fame" in California, which honors the accomplishments of more than 2,400 people, living and dead, who have links to the motion picture industry.

Mr. Ellenbogen introduced his bill at Tuesday's council meeting. His proposed ordinance was referred to the county legislature's public works committee for study and recommendation.

Members of council have been considering other ways to honor individuals with strong connections to the county for their accomplishments, including the renaming of county-owned bridges. Mr. Ellenbogen said his ordinance would set up a uniform mechanism for evaluating candidates for a new type of "honorary naming rights."

Candidates proposed for inclusion in the Hall of Fame will have brought honor to the community through their outstanding "achievements and contributions to Allegheny County."

Under the proposed legislation, the county manager would set up an independent committee to evaluate nominees. Committee members, who could not be local, county or state employees, would meet twice a year and recommend no more than 10 individuals annually.

"Individual nominees must have some personal connection to Allegheny County, either as a birthplace or as home or workplace," the ordinance says.

Inclusion in the Hall of Fame would be a posthumous honor. Nominees would have to be dead for at least five years before their names would be considered. Under that requirement, people like steel maker Andrew Carnegie, actor Gene Kelly, educator Fred Rogers and athlete Roberto Clemente all would qualify for inclusion in the inaugural class.

While the proposed new committee would recommend candidates, county council would have the final say on nominees. In addition to having their names engraved on bricks to be placed in the courtyard, the Hall of Fame members would be recognized on the Internet. The county's Division of Computer Services would "create and maintain a Web page upon which the Hall of Fame Inductees shall be posted," according to the proposed legislation.

In addition to considering the Hall of Fame proposal, council members soon may decide whether to name county bridges for two famous native sons.

A proposal to name a major span after Pittsburgh-born author David McCullough has been sent to county manager William McKain for recommendation. Mr. Ellenbogen has suggested that longtime Pittsburgh Steelers owner, the late Art Rooney Sr., be honored in a similar way.

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Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159.


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