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Thread: From Blight To Bright..

      
  1. #1
    Kipper's Avatar
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    Default From Blight To Bright..

    Blight to bright: Arena remade city's image

    By Andrew Conte, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Sunday, August 1, 2010


    When presidential candidates Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson barnstormed through Pittsburgh in 1952, city leaders had no good place for them to hold indoor rallies except Shadyside's Hunt Armory building.

    Officials desperately wanted to build an arena that would house major rallies, conventions, concerts and sporting events. At the same time, organizers of the city's new Civic Light Opera company wanted a building with a retractable dome that could be opened on starry nights and closed on rainy ones.

    The two ideas became one the following January, when Mayor David L. Lawrence proposed an all-purpose arena for a blighted area of the Lower Hill District. To make way for the arena, the city razed 1,000 buildings homes, shops, churches and synagogues and moved out 1,500 families, two-thirds of them black.

    When it opened Sept. 17, 1961, the Civic Arena generated rave reviews about its retractable dome, the world's largest at the time and the fact that such innovation could come out of Pittsburgh, a place better known for dirty industry.

    "If one of the drabbest and dirtiest of cities has been able to remake itself in shining pride, any city in the U.S. should be able to follow its example," Fortune magazine reported at the time.

    Over the next half-century, the arena hosted concerts for the Beatles, Elvis, Madonna, Frank Sinatra and other popular entertainers of the day; professional sporting championships for hockey, basketball and arena football; and conventions for national religious groups.

    The CLO put on its shows at the arena through 1968, but the building lacked the acoustics or staging area for major Broadway-style shows. The theater troupe eventually moved to Heinz Hall, Downtown.

    The arena hosted rallies for future and former presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama. When Eisenhower returned to Pittsburgh in 1962 to stump for Republican congressional candidates, he greeted 17,000 people in the new arena.

    Consol Center vs. Civic Arena

    Consol Energy Center Category Civic Arena

    18,087 Seats/hockey 16,940

    19,100 Seats/basketball 17,537

    20,000 Seats/center-stage concert 18,039

    14,500 Seats/end-stage concert 12,800

    Aug. 2010 Opening date Sept. 17, 1961

    Paul McCartney First concert Judy Garland

    Aug. 14, 2008 Groundbreaking April 26, 1958

    $321 million Cost $22 million

    Populous (formerly HOK Sport) Architect Mitchell & Ritchey (now DRS Architects)
    12 Escalators 2
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  2. #2
    Kipper's Avatar
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    Default Re: From Blight To Bright..

    I was chomping at the bit to post this and blabber about it when I read it.... I cracked up when I saw them use the word "blight" because I can remember when all of the arena/Isles Of Capri casino stuff was going and the Hill district bums...err people were sticking their heads in.. You were getting media articles about how thriving the area was that Mellon Arena was bnuilt on top of and how important it was to the Hill district.

    You listen to a Hill District resident alive from back then and they'll make you believe that those dilapidated houses, businesses, the crime were non-existent and that the area was a mecca for jazz music Hell they'd make you believe that the "rats" that roamed those streets where just "toy dogs"

    Can't wait to hear the *****ing from the Hill District leaders about this article using the word "bright"
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    Default Re: From Blight To Bright..

    Agreed. Great stuff, Kipper.

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    Default Re: From Blight To Bright..

    Some of my old co-workers at KDKA got a tour the other day and posted pictures to Facebook.

    The place looks very very impressive.

    Lady Gaga will rock that joint.

    On a side note, my all-time favorite event at Mellon Arena... the Bassmaster classic final weigh ins.

    Hey, I left town before the Penguins resurgence and that U2 show was good, but not as good as seeing some big ol' bass getting thrown on a scale.
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    Kipper's Avatar
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    Default Re: From Blight To Bright..

    Quote Originally Posted by Waiting for LaRoche View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Some of my old co-workers at KDKA got a tour the other day and posted pictures to Facebook.

    The place looks very very impressive.

    Lady Gaga will rock that joint.

    On a side note, my all-time favorite event at Mellon Arena... the Bassmaster classic final weigh ins.

    Hey, I left town before the Penguins resurgence and that U2 show was good, but not as good as seeing some big ol' bass getting thrown on a scale.
    Good thing you brought this up. My buddy at KDKA said I could use his photos but I knew we were changing servers and such and didn't want to put em and them get lost in the server move.

    I'll have to get up on that.
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