University of Pittsburgh
September 21, 2008

Pitt's Edward Muller and His Book on Pittsburgh Planning to Be Celebrated at First Event of Department of History's Book Symposia Series

"The Scholar in the Community" symposium will focus on Muller's "Before Renaissance: Planning in Pittsburgh, 1889-1943"
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Edward K. Muller, University of Pittsburgh professor of history, and his book, "Before Renaissance: Planning in Pittsburgh, 1889-1943" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006), will be honored during the Department of History Book Symposia Series, the first of the academic year. "The Scholar in the Community" symposium will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

In addition to celebrating the work of Muller, the symposium will feature commentary by Morton Coleman, past director of Pitt's Institute of Politics; Howard Gillette, director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities and professor of history at Rutgers-Camden University; Joel Tarr, Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University; and August Carlino, president and chief executive office of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

The group will address the significance of this book within the history of planning in both Pittsburgh and the nation, as well as offer commentary on Muller's involvement as a public scholar in the city.

In "Before Renaissance: Planning in Pittsburgh, 1889-1943," Muller and coauthor John Bauman recount Pittsburgh's long and storied history of urban planning. The book traces the origins of urban planning to the Progressive movement of the late 1800s, when business leaders, Progressive reformers, architects, and others began a long, public "conversation" on how to improve urban space to enhance their city's prospects. During the next several decades, they brought nationally renowned planners to Pittsburgh, established the municipal institutions of planning, built the tradition of public-private partnerships, and advanced plans to modernize the industrial city. The authors reveal that Pittsburgh was one of the nation's forerunners in urban planning, long before it became a professionalized discipline in the early 20th century.

Trained in urban historical geography at the University of Wisconsin, Muller refocused his scholarly work to concentrate on Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. He helped establish the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, serving for nine years as chair of the board of trustees. One of the foremost historians of the city, Muller has worked with the Senator John Heinz History Center, serving on its board of directors; was a fellow with the University's Institute of Politics; and directed Pitt's Urban Studies Program.

The symposium is free and open to the public. In addition to the Department of History in the School of Arts and Sciences, other Pitt sponsors include the Institute of Politics, Urban Studies Program, and Public and Urban Affairs Program in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. For more information, call 412-648-7451.