Seems like Tom Murphy's name has been surfacing quite a bit in recent days. Null Space's Chris Briem has launched a one-man campaign to enshrine some part of the former mayor's legacy. And as noted here yesterday, there are apparently still plenty of people who want to be his friend.
Is this just coincidence? Or are we seeing some sort of tribal nostalgia for the guy? Are we missing the days when our mayor was so boring that we didn't even have to ask whether he'd split town for Mardi Gras?
For those who can't get enough of living in the past, I'll be part of an effort to reassess Murphy's Waterloo tomorrow night.
"10 Years After -- The Lessons of Fifth/Forbes" will take a look at one of the most controversial urban redevelopment strategies in recent local history -- an effort to convert Fifth and Forbes avenues Downtown to an upscale outdoor shopping mall.
Fellows of the Coro Center, and other littluns who read this blog, might not be old enough to remember the great Fifth/Forbes debate. But as the P-G's Early Returns notes, it was an epochal struggle. The battle surrounding that project inspired at least one book, a resurgent preservationist movement, and probably a career or two. A handful of scrappy merchants were somehow able to fend off a giant out-of-town developer and the massed power of Pittsburgh's government. And things got so weird that, at times, City Paper columnists ended up sounding like they worked for the Tribune-Review.
"10 Years After" happens tomorrow night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Piatt Place, 301 Fifth Avenue, Room 3023, in the former Lazarus Building. (Congrats to the organizers for the site selection, by the way. Itn the urban redevelopment world, this is the equivalent of hosting a discussion of state's rights at Gettysburg.) I'll be moderating, and the panelists include the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Rob Stephany as well community activists Bernie Lynch and Pat Clark.
Notably, no one from the former Murphy Adminstration itself will be on hand. (Stephany, God love him, had nothing to do with Fifth/Forbes.) So we'll be deprived of the jocular antics and avuncular personality of Tom Cox. Nostalgia only goes so far, I guess.