Missing Downtown Marker Mystery Solved

By Reilly, Richard Byrne | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 17, 2007 | Go to article overview

Missing Downtown Marker Mystery Solved


Reilly, Richard Byrne, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The mystery is solved.

A missing state historical marker showing where prominent 19th century Pittsburgh abolitionist Martin Delany published his anti- slavery newspaper, The Mystery, has been found, just weeks before Delany is to be honored in Washington, D.C.

The marker stood at 5 PPG Place, between Third Avenue and Market Street, Downtown, but PPG work crews removed the damaged pole on which it was mounted during the winter. They took the marker to a utility room for storage, where it was discovered, Anita Falce, PPG's marketing manager, said Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which placed the marker in 1991, said a new pole will be sent so that PPG can remount the sign.

"We expect the marker to be back in a few weeks. PHMC likes to know anytime a historical marker is removed or damaged, so we can keep track of these important signs," commission spokeswoman Jane Crawford said.

On May 6 -- the 195th anniversary of his birthday -- the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum in Washington plans to honor Delany, whom President Abraham Lincoln commissioned as the first black Army officer in 1865. The theme of the program is ""Exploring the Mysterious Mind of Delany."

A wreath will be laid at the museum's wall of honor, said Hari Jones, the museum's assistant director.

Delany was born in what is now Charles Town, W.Va., in 1812, and his family later moved to Chambersburg. Delany moved to Pittsburgh in 1831 and lived in the city for 25 years. A physician, he became active in the Underground Railroad and worked closely with abolitionist Frederick Douglass, engaging in epic debates about slavery and free society.

He started his newspaper from a storefront near Market Square in 1843.

"Delany came to Pittsburgh because it was a comparatively progressive city" for the time, said Laurence Glasco, a University of Pittsburgh history professor. "Blacks in Allegheny County ran their own schools out of churches, and he married a Pittsburgh girl.

"He became a leading citizen. He had lots of respect from the white population," Glasco said.

The museum wants to honor Delany for his accomplishments, which stirred debate in the United States on the horrors of slavery, and for giving a voice to blacks, Jones said. …

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