RICHARD E. CALIGUIRI

was an American politician who served as the mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1978 until his death in 1988.

Caliguiri first ran for mayor in 1973 but lost the Democratic primary to incumbent mayor Peter F. Flaherty. Caliguiri again ran in 1977, this time losing the primary to Tom Foerster. Caliguiri decided to break with the Democratic Party establishment and ran in the general election as an independent candidate. Despite long odds, Caliguiri won the race and became Pittsburgh’s mayor. After the campaign, Caliguiri realigned himself with the Democratic Party. He would be reelected twice.

Under Caliguiri’s leadership, Pittsburgh began its “Renaissance II” plan, an urban renewal and revitalization plan based on the “Renaissance” plan of former mayor David L. Lawrence. The plan was generally considered a success but was hampered by a sharp and permanent downturn in the city’s economy. Pittsburgh’s economy began a marked downturn in the late 1970s with the decline of the large steel producers such as US Steel and Jones & Laughlin. By the end of Caliguiri’s time in office, not a single major steel mill operated in a city once known as the “Steel City”.

In the mid 1980s, Caliguiri was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare and serious protein disorder. Curiously, within a few years in the mid to late 1980s, three of Pennsylvania’s most prominent political leaders were afflicted with the disorder. Caliguiri as well as longtime Erie Mayor Louis Tullio and Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey were all diagnosed with the incurable and usually fatal disease.

Caliguiri refused to allow his declining heath to affect his leadership and declined to step down as mayor. He finally succumbed to the illness in 1988 at the age of 56, and was interred in Pittsburgh’s Calvary Cemetery.

In October 1990, a commemorative statue of Caliguiri sculpted by Robert Berks was dedicated on the steps of the Downtown Pittsburgh City-County Building on Grant Street. According to Caliguiri’s son David, previous ideas had included a renaming of Grant Street and the Pittsburgh Civic (later Mellon) Arena.

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