Pittsburgh St. Patricks Parade
Written on February 10, 2016
Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Compiled by Michael R. Murphy
There has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Pittsburgh as early as 1869. On March 17th, 1869, the procession of St. Patrick was impeded by a number of wagons being unloaded at the emporium of Joseph Liebler. The newspaper states that the police would not hasten deliverymen so the parade could pass because the businessmen did such a voluminous business.In 1871 it was a rain-soaked parade. The lectures and addresses that were scheduled following the parade were canceled. The parade featured the “Confederated Irishmen of Lawrenceville”, one-hundred seventy five men strong. They marched with great pride wearing sashes bearing the inscription “God Save Ireland”.The parade on March 17th, 1874 was particularly grand and the newspapers carried glowing accounts.Pittsburgh’s parade route has changed considerably over the years. The early routes are exhausting even to read about. One hundred and twenty five years ago, the following route was transversed in honor of St. Patrick. This published route is taken from the “Pittsburgh Leader” of March 17, 1874 and some of these thoroughfares no longer exist.”Form on Grant Street; up Webster to Fulton; along Fulton to Fifth Avenue; along Fifth to Ross; along Ross to Second Avenue to Birmingham Bridge; across the bridge to Carson Street; along Carson Street to Monongahalia Bridge; across the bridge to Smithfield; along Smithfield to Sixth Avenue; down Sixth to Wood; along Wood to Fifth Avenue to St. Clair Steet Bridge; across the bridge to Federal Street; along Federal St. to Ohio Avenue; along Ohio Avenue to Chestnut; along Chestnut to Mechanic St. Bridge; over the bridge to Penn Street; out Penn to 33rd; along 33rd to Liberty; to 17th Street; to Penn; along Penn to Water Street; to Wood; to Fifth Avenue; to the Cathedral (St. Paul’s at Fifth and Grant) and dismiss.”On March 17, 1887, there were two parades. One sponsored by the Hibernians and the other by the “Board of Erin”. The Board of Erin’s parade comprised units from surrounding counties.The “Pittsburgh Post” ran an account of the parade in 1888 stating that”The streets were devoid of mud and the weather was invitingly fair.”There were never parades on Sunday. In the years that the 17th fell on Sunday, there was hardly a mention of St. Patrick’s Day.There was one parade that was scheduled which never stepped off. In 1903, a fierce storm blanketed the district and the parade was canceled. In 1904, for some reason, parade organizers decided to suspend the parade. Other exercises such as masses, lectures and dinners were undertaken and extended to honor Ireland’s Patron.
The next St. Patrick’s Day parade in Pittsburgh occured on Friday, March 17, 1950. Mayor David L. Lawrence was featured in the line of march.
The parade of 1956 was officially canceled on Friday, March 16th due to an impending snowstorm. However, on Saturday, an impromptu parade stepped off despite nine inches of snow. Police Chief Maloney decried the marchers for having the parade which had been disallowed. However, upon assessing the resolve of over 200 men he relented and joined the ranks down Fifth Avenue.
The parade has increased in size and viewership over the years and is the largest parade in the city’s crowded parade schedule. Pittsburgh’s parade is one of the largest in the country.
March 13, 1993, Pittsburgh experienced its worst snow storm in over 100 years. It will forever be known as the year of “The great St. Patrick’s Parade Blizzard” – and yes, the parade marched on.