Mayors of Pittsburgh: 1878-1903

Robert Liddell

1878–1881

Democrat

1837 to Dec. 2, 1893

Robert Liddell | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
The election of 1878 was a powerful one. Previous politicians backed by the Flinn-Magee political ring had managed to drive the city into debt. The people were tired of this and rallied behind underdog candidate, Robert Liddell. He won by over a thousand votes, securing his mayoralty. While many of the councils were still controlled by the Flinn-Magee ring, Liddell had a good administration and was a popular mayor.<br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>
Robert Liddell | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
This document bears the signatures of two Pittsburgh mayors - John Herron and Robert Liddell. It is a bond required of officials by state legislature of the time stating that they would provide financial recompense should they be unable to fulfill the obligations for their position. This document is from after both Herron and Liddell’s mayoralties, showing that when a mayor’s term ends, his time helping the city has not.<br><br><em>Allegheny County Officials' bonds 1853-1902, MFF #56, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>
Robert Liddell | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
This is the bond issued in 1887 holding Daniel McWilliams to the position of County Commissioner. Robert Liddell served as one of the signers of this bond. The County Commissioner usually issued these bonds for his county, hence the extra steps taken for his bond.<br><br><em>Allegheny County Officials' bonds 1853-1902, MFF #56, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

Robert W. Lyon

1881–1884

Democrat

May 22, 1842 to  Oct. 9, 1904

Robert Lyon | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
Robert Lyon was successfully elected as mayor for the 1881-1884 term after being backed by outgoing mayor Robert Liddell. Lyon was a veteran of the Civil War who had entered as a blacksmith and risen to the position of major. His time as mayor was fairly quiet; he was a friend to the workingman and a well-liked mayor. <br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>
Robert Lyon | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
This is a copy of the letter Andrew Carnegie sent to mayor Robert Lyon concerning the creation of a great public library in Pittsburgh. This serves as the first communication between Carnegie and Pittsburgh government concerning the library, and it would still be years before the Carnegie Library could be built, but the seed was first sown in this letter. The first library did not open until over a decade later in 1895.<br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33. Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

Andrew “Andy” Fulton

1884–1887

Republican

Dec. 21, 1850 to Feb. 7, 1925

Andrew Fulton | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
Andrew Fulton was born in 1850. A native Pittsburgher, he hailed from three generations of Pittsburgh brass founders. In a political upset, Andrew Fulton was elected mayor in 1884 against the incumbent mayor Liddell. Little happened during his mayoralty, but he did his best to grant work contracts to both heads of the Magee-Flinn political ring, which had supported him and helped him to win the election.<br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

William McCallin

1887–1890

Republican

Aug. 8, 1842 to Sept. 4, 1904

William McCallin | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
William McCallin stands as one of the first mayors brought in by the combined power of the Flinn-Magee ring. He ran against Bernard McKenna, who McCallin made police magistrate after winning the mayoralty. The city saw extensive construction during his time as mayor, including projects that improved the city but also put money into the pockets of the Flinn-Magee ring. After his mayoralty, McCallin would go on to hold several positions in the service of the city, including police magistrate and city assessor. <br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>
William McCallin | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
These bonds were required by Pennsylvania laws at that time for all county officials, promising that they would uphold the duties of their post or provide the county financial restitution. These bonds were issued in 1885 by J. O. Brown, who would become the second Recorder of Pittsburgh in 1901. Of note is the bond of William McCallin, who would become mayor within two years of signing this.<br><br><em>Allegheny County Officials' bonds 1853-1902, MFF #56, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

Henry I. Gourley

1890-1893

Republican

Oct. 3, 1838 to May 27, 1899

Henry Gourley | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
Henry Gourley was a longtime president of the Select council, and it was no surprise when he was elected mayor in 1890, backed by the Magee-Flinn political ring. Let it be known that he did not succumb to the will of that political machine though. Instead Gourley pushed to improve the state of things in Pittsburgh, tightening up the administration and straightening up the police force. His time as mayor was successful, and he went on to hold the office of city controller and exposed corruption in the city attorney’s office.<br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

Bernard J. McKenna

1893-1896

Democrat

Feb. 16, 1842 to June 18, 1903

Bernard McKenna | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
Bernard McKenna was the first Democratic mayor to hold office in over twenty years when he was sworn in in 1893. This was partially because, while a Democrat, McKenna held close ties with the Republican party and had even been named Police Magistrate by Mayor McCallin. McKenna was also well known, having been elected a city alderman four times, amounting in over twenty years of service in the position. He was also a member of the still politically important volunteer fire company. Even with all this on his side, McKenna only won by 247 votes, which represented less than one percent of the voters that had turned out.<br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

Henry P. Ford

1896–1899

Republican

Oct. 15, 1837 to April 21, 1905

Henry Ford | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
Henry Parker Ford was voted mayor in 1896 after a tight race against George Guthrie, who would go on to hold the position in 1906. While Ford is generally considered to have been simply a figurehead during his time in office, the city saw much modernization during his mayoralty. After years of typhoid epidemics, Pittsburgh began to improve its water filtration system. Furthermore, several toll bridges were acquired and use made free to the public and more telephone and electrical wiring began to be moved underground. <br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

William J. Diehl

1899–1901

Republican

Jan. 22, 1845 to Sept. 22, 1929

William J. Diehl | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
William J. Diehl was born January 22, 1845 in the First Ward of Pittsburgh. He was elected as Mayor in 1899 and was a Republican candidate. During his time as mayor, Mr. Carnegie approached Diehl about staring a technical school, the very one which eventually became Carnegie Mellon University. Diehl’s time in the mayor’s office was cut short when a ripper bill that was meant to annex Allegheny was modified to exclude the annexation and remove the position of ,ayor from Pittsburgh. Diehl’s term ended in 1901 as he was replaced by Recorder Brown. <br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>

Adam M. Brown

1901

Republican

1826 to Aug. 17, 1910

PSS_033_B01_F008_Brown

Joseph O. Brown

1901–1903

Republican

Jan. 8, 1846 to March 15, 1903

Joseph O. Brown | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
Joseph Owen Brown served as the city’s second recorder, appointed in 1901. Brown was a hard worker and a well-liked Sunday School teacher, but he was more lax than the previous recorder and allowed several centers of vice in Pittsburgh to continue operating. Late in his term he began to have health problems and so issued a resignation. Brown passed away on March 15, a mere day before his resignation became final. <br><br><em>The Mayors of the City of Pittsburgh Photograph Collection, PSS #33, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>
Joseph O. Brown | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
In this paper, J. O. Brown reports the results of the 1884 election for County Commissioner. Brown would later go on to become recorder of Pittsburgh in 1901. <br><br><em>Allegheny County Officials' bonds 1853-1902, MFF #56, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>
Joseph O. Brown | Mayors of Pittsburgh | Heinz History Center Digital Collection
These bonds were required by Pennsylvania laws at that time for all county officials, promising that they would uphold the duties of their post or provide the county financial restitution. These bonds were issued in 1885 by J. O. Brown, who would become the second Recorder of Pittsburgh in 1901. Of note is the bond of William McCallin, who would become mayor within two years of signing this.<br><br><em>Allegheny County Officials' bonds 1853-1902, MFF #56, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.</em>