Pittsburgh seeks to list monuments
For 90 years, a World War I Doughboy has proudly stood guard atop a 7-foot pedestal at Penn Avenue and Butler Street in Lawrenceville, gazing toward Downtown Pittsburgh.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s administration on Wednesday said it needs the public’s help to determine exactly how many other military and nonmilitary monuments are in the city, a year after City Council mandated it.
“This is the least the city can do — the very least — to keep up with those monuments that have fallen by the wayside,” Council President Darlene Harris said.
Mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said city officials located more than 90 monuments, ranging from war memorials to displays honoring fallen police officers and firefighters. They accounted for those erected with city involvement, Doven said, but aren’t certain about those erected without city help, likely on private property.
The Public Works and Planning departments are coordinating the work of cataloging the monuments, with the help of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland, the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District, the Northside Leadership Conference and other community and veterans’ groups.
The work began in June 2010, when a motorist damaged a Troy Hill World War I memorial with a minivan. Harris pushed for legislation to help pay for maintenance of memorials and to take inventory of them. Her ordinance set a September 2010 deadline.
Harris said she regularly meets with veterans and other community groups about the issue. North Side groups, she said, did a good job tracking down monuments there, but she wants a citywide effort.
“I’ve been waiting for this to come up,” Harris said.
Mike Kraus, curator at Soldiers & Sailors, said compiling a list “was a much more complicated task than it set out to be.”
Kraus said volunteers had to verify and merge lists and are trying to determine who owns the monuments and the land they sit on, and who is responsible for their upkeep. “We probably have 97 percent of them (accounted for),” he said.
The city is reaching out to people, especially those living in neighborhoods with monuments, for help documenting the rest, Doven said. When the list is finalized, she said, city officials can pursue grant money to help refurbish and maintain the monuments.
The city budgeted $30,000 for memorial repairs this year and $5,000 for a Planning Department intern to catalog them.
To submit a monument or memorial display to the city’s database, visit www.pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/warmonuments . Photos are accepted. The deadline is Sept. 1. For more information, call Morton Brown, the city’s public art manager, at 412-255-8996, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monuments can be on public or private property.