Mayor Richard Caliguiri reshaped Pittsburgh

by Aaron Warnick

Richard Caliguiri, heralded as one of the most beloved mayors of Pittsburgh, spent his crucial character-building years in the hallways of Taylor Allderdice High School. A member of the class of 1950, Caliguiri won his first mayoral election 22 years after his graduation. He was inducted into the Taylor Allderdice alumni hall of fame in 2010.

Dick, as he preferred to be called, led the Steel City at the time steel left the city. The likable mayor took the devastated Pittsburgh economy and kickstarted what would be called “Renaissance Two.”

Photo credit: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Photo credit: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Caliguiri literally reshaped Pittsburgh. During his tenure, he oversaw the construction of One Oxford Center, PPG Place, and the BNY Mellon building. He took defunct steel mills and transformed them into office parks. He established long-standing traditions like the Pittsburgh Great Race, a marathon that is still run today. Caliguiri’s impact on the city was so great, his successor, former mayor Sophie Masloff, attempted to rename Grant Street “Richard S. Caliguiri Boulevard.” This honor was only denied because of complications with the established business addresses on the busy street.



“Still another of Dick’s gifts was to listen to, and then try to address, the problems and needs of common people in the city’s varied neighborhoods,” says Evan Stoddard, associate dean of the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts at Duquesne and an official during Caliguiri’s tenure. “He was attentive, kind, upbeat, and genuinely concerned.”

Caliguiri’s popularity allowed him to win three terms in the mayor’s office. Sometime after his first term, Caliguiri was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a usually fatal protein disorder. He continued to serve the city despite his condition. He succumbed to the disease in 1988, and died at age 56.

“Pittsburghers, those of us who served in his administration and people throughout the city who loved him because of his leadership, mourned his passing,” Stoddard says.

During Caliguiri’s final months, he was unable to climb the stairs at the Grant Street entrance to City Hall, an entrance he had made every day for a decade. Overlooking those same stairs, a statue of Caliguiri stands in memoriam.