Measure proposed to archive Pittsburgh's scattered documents
By Bob Bauder
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Paperwork detailing Pittsburgh's 250-year history is scattered unprotected among dozens of city offices, but that would change under legislation a city councilman intends to introduce on Tuesday.
Councilman Patrick Dowd of Highland Park said his bill would establish a commission to set policy for how the city should archive its historic documents.
“Right now, there is no consistent policy across city government for how we deal with city records,” Dowd said. “These are public records, and they're public property.”
The commission would be chaired by City Clerk Linda Johnson-Wasler and staffed by city department heads and experts in historic preservation and archiving.
“It's tremendously important (to preserve city records), not only for documenting how things come about in the government, but for generations to come,” said Michael Kraus, curator of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland.
But the task can be expensive. Dowd said he wouldn't know how much it might cost the city until the commission determines what should be done.
“The price could be really expensive,” Kraus said, “depending on if you're doing scanning or digital, or hiring people to manage it.”
Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said the legislation seems to be in line with Ravenstahl's commitment to historic preservation.
Dowd, a former history teacher, said staff members recently discovered hundreds of boxes and files in the basement of a city office building on Ross Street.
“These documents are scattered all over city government,” he said. “They're not only important for historic purposes, but they're important for day-to-day operational purposes.”
In the Ross Street building, he found a 1930 drawing of flood-prone Washington Boulevard at Allegheny River Boulevard with a proposed roundabout that would have allowed traffic to flow in a circle through the intersection with entrance and exit lanes for the two streets. Traffic lights control the intersection today.
Dowd has advocated for changes to alleviate a backup of water at the intersection. A roundabout could be one way of doing that he said.
“That's a perfect example of historic value and practical every-day value,” he said. “Why were they proposing revisions to that intersection? Was there flooding that occurred there 82 years ago?”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across United States
- District attorney’s office takes paperwork from Wilkinsburg Middle School
- Crisis nursery in Larimer will fill a need, founders believe
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- Ex-detective picked for Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board
- Would-be drillers quizzed by Allegheny County Council committee
- Foundations team to make offer for August Wilson Center
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- Newsmaker: Jerry Weber
- Leader guided changes at Robert Morris