John Canning: rededication of Allegheny Commons monuments, statues


Photo by Alyse Horn
“She looks great for over 150 years old,” Ruth McCartan from the Allegheny City Society said of Fame during the monuments re-dedication ceremony on October 14.

By John Canning

October 14,2016 was a glorious Autumn day in the Allegheny Commons when the restored Allegheny County Civil War monument was rededicated. It was a unique community experience for all who participated in the event. The setting was filled with the sounds of an earlier era: muffled drums and salutes to the colors as well as the sounds of 21st century North Side: a train heading west along the Ohio valley, a Life Flight helicopter headed toward AGH,  sirens of a police car traveling along West North Avenue, a family of mallard ducks waddling from Lake Elizabeth to the grassy shoreline, a few dogs racing about the dog area and the  bells of St. Peter’s church ringing in the noon hour. A merging of the historical and the contemporary for all of us attending the event.

Kudos to a number of key individuals who significantly contributed to this event: Mayor Peduto and City parks staff, Councilwoman Harris, Councilman Lavelle, representatives of the McGinley family who helped support the restoration of three monuments in the Commons, John Augustine, Chair. Of the Allegheny Commons Initiative,   Susan Rodemacher of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy ,  Executive Director of the Northside Leadership Conference Mark Fatla, President of the NSLC LaShawn Burton who played a crucial role in coordinating the event, several Civil War reenactors who gave the event a aura of historical authenticity, and Ruth McCartan of the Allegheny City Society.

In his remarks, Mark Fatla described the creation of a group of key individuals and groups throughout the North Side who are focusing their attention toward  restoring and maintaining a number of veteran monuments located throughout our communities. Ruth McCartan, one of the key members of this group, spoke to the importance of preserving the heritage and memories of North Side residents who served in our nation’s forces from the founding of the nation. Yes, there are a few  Revolutionary  War veterans buried in local cemeteries.

Several years ago the Allegheny City Society was led to a small trove of letters from North Side men and women serving throughout the world during World War II. All of these letters have been carefully preserved. Yet we all know is that with each passing year the records of the names of veterans from the North Side have been lost.  Monuments, Honor Rolls, booklets, and programs have gradually disappeared from schools, churches, fraternal halls, and  family archives.

With the restoration of the Civil War monument came a call from  the Allegheny City Society seeking ways to preserve the names of the thousands of North Side veterans. The ACS is not asking for donations from organizations or families of their treasured records, but we are asking folks to consider allowing the ACS to make electronic copies of the names recorded in printed materials. Any and all documents — booklets, programs, images — will be copied and returned to whomever offers them.

The Allegheny City Society can be reached  at :  Allegheny City Society, PO Box 100255, Pgh. PA 15233 or electronically at:


Allegheny Elks Lodge

Allegheny City Society

Allegheny Commons Initiative

American Legion Post 681

Northside Leadership Conference

City of Pittsburgh Council Members: Darlene Harris and Daniel Lavelle

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

R.O.T.C. @ Perry High School

University of Pittsburgh Students Community Engagement Council


Northside Chronicle Donation