Who Should Be on a Pittsburgh Version of Mount Rushmore?

It's not an easy choice, but we came up with four Pittsburgh-area icons to get the conversation started.

photo and illustration by richard cook


Now that the color of the sister bridges has been settled, there is more focus on the decaying Bayer sign on Mount Washington. But this is not about that.

The debate about what to do with the sign got us thinking in a different direction –– what if Pittsburgh had its own version of Mt. Rushmore? If it could be sculpted tastefully and somehow fit naturally into the landscape, and those are big ifs, who should be on it? 

Which Pittsburgher deserves such an honor? Who has made that much of an impact with their lives that their visage, etched in granite, should overlook the city's skyline?

It's not an easy choice. Nevertheless, we came up with four names to get the conversation started.

Andrew Carnegie

Yes, his name already is everywhere and for good reason. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company, which, when sold to J.P. Morgan, became the U.S. Steel Corporation. Rather than spend his millions (billions in today's dollars), he gave most of it away with emphasis on local libraries, education, world peace and scientific research. In 1889, he wrote "The Gospel of Wealth," an article calling on the rich to use their money to improve society. His words are credited with stimulating a wave of philanthropy throughout the country.

photo courtesy of Roberto's Kids.org


Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente is arguably the most beloved player to wear a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. In his prime during the 1960s, Roberto Clemente won the National League batting title four times and 12 Golden Gloves. He played in two World Series and was named Series MVP in 1971. But Clemente was much more than an outstanding baseball player. He spent much of his time during the off-season involved in charity work in Puerto Rico and Latin American and Caribbean countries. He died in 1972 when a plane he chartered to carry earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua crashed. Clemente was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973 in a special election that waived the mandatory five-year waiting period. “Baseball survives,” wrote columnist Jimmy Cannon of the New York Journal-American, “because guys like Clemente still play it.”

photo courtesy of rachel carson.org

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, studied and wrote about the environment. Her 1962 book, "Silent Spring," focused on the dangers of the unchecked use of synthetic pesticides. Chemical companies decried the book, but it won widespread critical acclaim. A CBS News TV special about the book prompted a congressional review of pesticide dangers that eventually led to the banning of DDT and other pesticides. Carson's work is credited with inspiring a grassroots environmental movement that eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

photo courtesy of the Fred Rogers co.


Fred Rogers

In more than 30 years on television, Mr. Rogers was a fierce advocate for responsible children's programming with the gentlest of ways. In 1969, Rogers needed just six minutes to convince a United States Senate subcommittee to reject proposed cuts and instead increase funding for public television. He passionately argued that alternative television programming such as "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" helped to encourage children to become happy and productive citizens by sometimes rejecting less positive messages in popular culture. His legacy lives on in the Fred Rogers Company, which continues to produce programs for Public Broadcasting. 

So those are four of our suggestions. Who are yours? Share them on the form below, and we will let you know the results of everyone's opinions in a few days.


Categories: The 412