Bicentennial Banner PhotoWhat is Incorporation Day?

All of Pittsburgh is abuzz over Incorporation Day, March 18, 2016. Okay maybe not abuzz, but it is an important day in our city's history. So what exactly is Incorporation Day and why does it matter?

What it isn't: some ancient ritual for Pittsburghers of Irish descent that falls on the heels of St. Patrick's Day. Although that's an infamous date in Pittsburgh history too...on March 17, just 80 years ago, we were hit by the Big Flood of '36 that put our 'burgh under 46 feet of water.

Incorporation Day actually marks the birthday of the City of Pittsburgh. Two hundred years ago, on March 18, 1816, the Pennsylvania House and Senate passed a law to take the Borough of Pittsburg and incorporate it as the City of Pittsburg. (Yes, Pittsburgh without the "h" because we lost that between 1890 and 1911...a story for another day).

Okay, so we became a city. Ho hum, you say?

We beg to differ...

Back in 1816, the Borough of Pittsburgh had a population of about 5,000 residents. Becoming incorporated stoked the fires of innovation. Within four years we were one the country's hottest places for glass-making. Then came iron, steel and aluminum.

As we grew, we got our hands dirty (along with just about everything else) but never stopped dreaming of what could be. When the bottom fell out of the steel industry, we re-made ourselves into what we are today: A thriving metropolis, a center for education, medicine, technology and culture.

Pittsburgh is celebrating its Bicentennial all year long and Incorporation Day marks the kickoff of the festivities. It's an opportunity for the city, region and world to take notice of all that makes Pittsburgh extraordinary and visionary, while bridging the past and the future. More info about the Bicentennial can be found online.

Celebrate PGH200!Incorporation Day comes along only once every 100 years - it's a big birthday party. Here are some ways you can live it up and celebrate:

View Pittsburgh's Birth Certificate

On Friday morning, Mar 18, the City of Pittsburgh and Heinz History Center unveil the piece of paper that made it all happen...the Pittsburg Charter. See the charter, aka our birth certificate, for the first time ever. Unveiling at the City-County Building begins at 10am and it is on display until mid-afternoon.

Let them eat cupcakes!

After the charter unveiling, around 10:45am, iconic Eat n Park is serving up about 500 Bicentennial cupcakes for revelers at the City-County building. Bottled water (or PGH20) is provided by Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (no, we won't be serving sewer water!). A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday is being led by the CAPA Jazz Vocal Ensemble and the Pittsburgh 200 Celebration Choir, under the direction of Reverend Deryck Tines.

View historic artifacts

Roam around the City-County Building main floor and see historic artifacts, photos, Bicentennial merchandise and much more. Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation plans to be on hand to talk about the building's historic lobby. Again, it all begins at 10am and the display and talks run well into the afternoon.

Take a Tour

The first 325 people who sign up at the City-County Building are eligible to tour the executive chambers of city government (Mayor William Peduto's office, City Council Chambers and the Hall of Mayors). Sign up begins at 9:45am, Friday, March 18, in the City-County building lobby, Grant Street entrance. Remember, space is very limited; tours begin at 11:30am and run every 15 minutes into the afternoon.

Crawl the Galleries

Stay in town for an evening of free art, entertainment, and more. From 5-10:30pm, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosts a Bicentennial Gallery Crawl incorporating the vibrant Cultural District and, for the first time ever, extending to new locations. For a complete list of Gallery Crawl events, visit the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Gallery Crawl website.


Check out a brand new piece of public art in Market Square. Called Mix-n-Match by artist Allard van Hoorn, it's an interactive "jukebox" reminiscent of a phonograph player with music created by the artist in collaboration with local community groups. Mix-n-Match is free and open to the public in Market Square and opens Friday night, March 18 at 5:30pm. The art will remain there until April 30.

Night Moves

Don't miss the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's Night Market, 623 Smithfield Street, where some of Pittsburgh's most creative independent vendors show their wares. Featuring food, adult drinks, music, games, treats, jewelry and crafts, it all starts at 5:30 and runs until 10pm.

One Bad--- Bicentennial Bash

Dubbed an interactive, immersive bicentennial birthday bash for Pittsburgh, this tongue-in-cheeky evening of festivities begins at 7pm and promises to "celebrate the past and predict the future." For $5 enter Spirit Hall at 242 51st Street in Lawrenceville, transformed to feature neighborhoods such as Mt. Washington and Downtown.

Happy Birthday to you, Pittsburgh!