Oakland to Hold 175th Anniversary Celebration

Issue Date: 
October 6, 2014

Oakland holds a special place in the music of Pittsburgh rocker Joe Grushecky.

Grushecky and his band, The Houserockers, got their start in the 1970s at The Decade on the corner of Atwood and Sennott streets. Since then, the group has frequented Oakland and the Pittsburgh region, including a two-night run earlier this year—with guest star Bruce Springsteen—at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.

“OaklandOakland was the epicenter of Pittsburgh music and art back in the day. … There has never been a music scene that came close to the excitement Oakland generated; I even took Bruce Springsteen to the Dirty O for a hot dog! I am excited to be playing there again,” said Grushecky.

And play again he will as Oakland marks its 175th anniversary Oct. 10-11 during “Oakland Forever,” a two-day celebration that will feature free museum admissions, art and photography exhibits, family fun, and live music from exclusively Pittsburgh artists, including Grushecky, Squonk Opera, and Lovebettie.

The University of Pittsburgh is the lead sponsor for the free community event based in and around Schenley Plaza. Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will speak at 3 p.m. Oct. 10 during the celebration’s opening ceremonies in Schenley Plaza.

“We want to celebrate all facets of the community: all of its history as well as the really bright future of Oakland,” says Meg Campbell, a project coordinator within Pitt’s Office of Community and Governmental Relations and organizer of the Oakland Forever event.

The University of Pittsburgh has been integral to Oakland—beginning with the 1908 setting of the cornerstone for Pitt’s Oakland campus. The busy and eclectic neighborhood that exists today sprang to life around the Cathedral of Learning, which was dedicated in 1937. While many students have come and gone over the intervening 80 some years, the history of Oakland is deep, and its influence continues to grow. Oakland is the third-largest economic center in Pennsylvania, according to figures from the City of Pittsburgh, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Pitt works closely with community partners such as the Oakland Task Force and others to contribute to Oakland’s economic growth and social well-being.

“Over the years the University and its community partners have developed a collaborative way of discussing and resolving challenges to make our community better for all,” says John Wilds, Pitt’s assistant vice chancellor for community relations.

The anniversary festivities will kick off at 3 p.m. Oct. 10 under the tent in Schenley Plaza, which will host a lineup of live bands through the evening: electro-brass band Beauty Slap, The Bastard Bearded Irishmen, and Lovebettie’s ‘swagger-rock.’ The night will end with the hip-hop stylings of Formula 412. Food and fashion trucks will be parked on Bigelow Boulevard during the performances. There will be free tours of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms from 2-5 p.m. and a free tour of the Frick Fine Arts Cloister from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

The celebration continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 11, including a 4:30 p.m. performance by Grushecky and The Houserockers on the main stage in Schenley Plaza. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History will offer free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pitt’s Mobile Science lab will offer hands-on activities for kids from noon-4 p.m. on Schenley Drive Extension. Animal Friends, a rescue shelter in Ohio Township, will also be there to launch ‘Pitt’s People for Pets’ animal-food drive.

The full schedule of events is available online at www.oaklandforever.org

As for Grushecky, he’s excited about his gig in Oakland. “It will be like going home,” he said.