In 2017, Pittsburgh celebrated the 100th Anniversary of our historic seat of government, the City-County Building! Explore this website to learn about its dynamic history and find out how to visit our historic home!
CELEBRATE CITY HALL
Whether you are visiting the Mayor, speaking to Council, getting your marriage license, or just love architecture, we want you to join our century of memories! Use the hashtag #PghCCB to share your photos!
In 1794, the newly formed Borough of Pittsburgh established a Public Market House in the current location of Market Square. Aside from creating the public market tradition that continues there today, this location was also home to the very first Pittsburgh Municipal Hall. As Pittsburgh continued to grow, so would the space required for government services. The Market House quickly became obsolete and the cornerstone of a new City Hall was laid at Smithfield Street and Oliver Avenue in May of 1869. The County, which first courthouse was also in this location moved to its current location on Grant Street in 1836. The Smithield Street City Hall would serve until the completion of the City-County Building in 1917. It would sit abandoned for 50 years before sold for a redevelopment in the 1950's.
The first City Hall at Market Square.
The second City Hall on Smithfield Street.
Mayor David Lawrence strikes the first blow for the demolition of the second City Hall.
In 1911, a City of Pittsburgh Commission was formed by unanimous resolution of Council for the construction of a new City Hall. The Commission, which by 1913 had been joined by the appropriate members representing Allegheny County, employed New York architect Cass Gilbert to arrange a competition for the design of a new municipal building. Of the 16 entries, the winning design was submitted by the firm Palmer, Hornbostel, & Jones of New York, who were represented locally by Edward B. Lee. The plans were officially adopted on January 19, 1914, and began the following year. The building acted as a gift to Pittsburgh to honor the 1916 Centennial of Pittsburgh's 1816 incorporation as a City. At the March 1916 dedication ceremony, Mayor Joseph Armstrong placed a time capsule into the still under construction building. Two and a half years later in December 1917, he would become the first Mayor to call the City-County Building a second home. The missing time capsule has yet to be discovered.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announces Pittsburgh's 1916 Centennial and the construction of a new City Hall.
Mayor Armstrong places a newspaper in the time capsule to be buried in the City-County Building.
The shovel used in the groundbreaking ceremony of the City-County Building.
The City-County Building under construction in 1916.
The Grand Lobby of the City-County Building, is one of the building's most beautiful spaces. The room extends the length of the building, connecting Grant Street to Ross Street. The 30-foot wide hall is topped off by a 47-foot high barrel-vaulted ceiling. On the first floor, the marble lined hall is flanked by a series of row offices that contain the public service offices most often visited - the County's marriage license and passports, and Pittsburgh's Controller, and Treasury offices. The offices form a base on which sit the bronze classical columns that support the vaulted ceiling. The columns are works of art themselves, manufactured by Louis Tiffany Studios. They feature, in a rotating series at their bases, the Seals of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, as well as iconic local frontiersman Guyasuta and Pittsburgh's oldest surviving building, the Fort Pitt Blockhouse. The rooms ornate elevator doors feature a series of reliefs detailing the previous homes of municipal government. The reliefs age with the building's they clutch, reaching adulthood with the present City-County Building and Allegheny County Courthouse.
The Grand Lobby of the City-County Building.
In 1972 the City of Pittsburgh moved Phipps Fall Flower show to the City-County Building. It would return to Phipps Conservatory in 1975.
The ornate elevator doors.
The offical statue of Sir William Pitt was a gift to Pittsburgh from Sir Charles Wakefield Baronet, the former Lord Mayor of London in 1922.
The place where much of Pittsburgh's future was shaped, the Office of the Mayor, has played the role of a second home to every Cheif Executive of Pittsburgh since 1917. The rooms have gone virtually unchanged in the last century. Most of the furniture, including the iconic Desk, are original to the building's opening and were custom designed by Hornbostel.
The central hall features the offical portraits of Pittsburgh's Mayors.
The Office of the Mayor at completion in 1917.
Mayor Kline with guests in the Mayor's Conference Room in 1929.
Mayor William Peduto chats with students in the Mayor's Conference Room in 2017.
The Chamber is one of Pittsburgh's most distinct spaces. Home to the legislative operations of the Council of Pittsburgh, the room also carries a historical record. The ornate plaster ceiling details the names of the municipalities which have been annexed in making up present day Pittsburgh. It also features the names of Pittsburgh's past Mayors. Having since outgrown the ceiling, many names now expand to the rooms hand-painted canvas walls. The room is completed with detailed walnut wainscoting which features the beautiful inlaid Pittsburgh Crest. Much like the Office of the Mayor, all of the furniture in the Chamber is original to the building's construction.
The Council Chamber.
The Council Chamber shortly after completion in 1917.
The inlaid walnut Pittsburgh Coat of Arms.
Future Mayor Richard Caliguiri being sworn in as a Council Member.
As home to both the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County offices, the upper floors of the City-County Building are home to a large part of the courts system. The most famous tenant being the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court splits its time between the state's three major areas, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the State Capitol, Harrisburg. The ornate plaster ceiling features murals of 3 major historical law givers: Justinian - representing Roman law, Moses - for Judaic law, & King Edward representing English law. In addition it includes the dates of the completion of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. Its hand painted canvas walls feature large murals of William Penn, the namesake of the Commonwealth, and William Pitt, the namesake of Pittsburgh, as well as the portraits of Supreme Court Justices from the Western District. The room is completed with mahogany wainscoting and furniture.
The Supreme Courtroom today.
The Supreme Courtroom shortly after completion in 1917.
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