Christopher Lyman Magee Memorial; Oakland, Pittsburgh

Christopher Lyman Magee Memorial; Oakland, Pittsburgh

Christopher Lyman Magee Memorial; Oakland, Pittsburgh
Photo: Civic Arts Project
Basics:
Latitude: 40.442756386787465
Longitude: -79.95147138834
Area: Central Oakland
Neighborhood: Oakland
City: Pittsburgh
State: Pennsylvania
Country: USA
Subjects: Christopher Lyman Magee
William Shakespeare
Cornucopia
Artist: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Features: Bas-relief
Bronze Sculpture
Year Completed: 1908
Listing: National Register of Historic Places
Name: Schenley Farms Historic District
Alternative Name: Schenley Farms-Oakland Civic District
Register No.: 83002213

One of Pittsburgh’s most powerful political bosses, Christopher Lyman Magee was only elected to two political offices by effectively ran the city through the late 19th century.  His legacy is either one of extreme generosity and leadership or of corruption and greed; depending of course on who you ask.

Key Details:

Magee earned his fortune through the local streetcar industry.  He was president of the Transverse Railway Company and eventually used his political and business skill to merge all the local street railway companies into the Consolidated Traction Company.  He owned a significant amount of land in Pittsburgh and served on many notable boards and commissions.  He also helped to establish hockey as a mainstream sport in Pittsburgh and created a 5,000 seat arena which was the first home of the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League, the preeminent professional hockey league in the U.S. at the time.

The sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is one of the most widely know artists of the Beaux Arts movement.  This was one of his last public works and features the bas-relief technique which requires extraordinary skill.  One of his most famous works is his design for the ‘Double Eagle’ $20 gold coin.  This design, which features Liberty on the front and an eagle in flight on the back is considered the most beautiful work of art on any U.S. coin.

The inscription on the sculpture is taken from William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and reads:

The quality of mercy is not strain’d.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath it is twice bless’d:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Links:

http://www.pittsburghparks.org/schenleyplaza-features

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/uncategorized/little-known-magee-memorial-in-oakland-links-political-boss-famous-sculptor-401025/

Photo: Civic Arts Project
Photo: Civic Arts Project
Photo: Civic Arts Project
Photo: Civic Arts Project

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.