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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (U.S.)

Last modified: 2005-03-12 by rick wyatt
Keywords: pittsburgh | pennsylvania |
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[Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] by Joe McMillan, 2 June 2000

See also:

For those who do not know, Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state of Pennsylvania behind Philadelphia, and is located in the western half of the state where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers meet to become the Ohio River.
Walter F. Kawalec III, 9 September 1998


"When Pittsburgh became a city in 1816, officials set out posthaste to obtain an official seal. This duty was handed to the city recorder, Charles Wilkes Jr., who passed it along to a few friends, most notably a theater personality named John R. Jones.

"Jones and contributors chose the coat of arms of the Chatham family (William Pitt, for whom Pittsburgh is named, was the First Earl of Chatham) as a basis for the seal. They removed, as inappropriate for the seal of an up-and-coming city, a stork perched atop an anchor and a stag and lion used as supporters on either side of the Chatham shield. The Chatham motto, "benigno numine," or "Divine Providence," was omitted until 1950, when a council vote added it to the large seals used on mayoral proclamations.

"A castle wall was placed above the shield, which had a blue and white checkerboard design and three gold coins, called "bezants," touting an ancestral Chatham's activity during the Crusades. As local history tells it, an engraver mistook "bezants" for "pheasants," and placed birds inside the gold circles on the city seal."

No mention of the castle having been based on Ft. Pitt, although I guess it's possible. My guess would be that an amateur heraldist would recall having seen mural crowns on the arms of other cities and assumed they were castles. But who knows?


Joe McMillan, 5 June 2000

Coat of Arms

Section 103.01 of the city Code of Ordinances blazons the arms (somewhat idiosyncratically) "on a field Sable, a fess chequay Argent et Azure, between three bezants bearing eagles rising with wings displayed and inverted Or. For crest, Sable a triple-towered castle masoned Argent." The city ensign should have the ring of stars all with a point facing away from the center.
Joe McMillan, 2 June 2000

The coat of arms is that of William Pitt, Earl of Catham and the city walls (not castle walls) are the traditional heraldic signification of a city. Since the city was named after him, the coat of arms is his topped by the city walls.
Matt Trepal, 27 January 1999

Pittsburgh City Ensign

[Pittsburgh City Ensign] by Joe McMillan, 2 June 2000

Pittsburgh has a flag so-designated, which is actually used as the river-going flag. I know I've seen it on various vessels on the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela when visiting Pittsburgh, such as police boats.
Joe McMillan, 4 June 2000

Pittsburgh City Pennant

[Pittsburgh City Pennant] by Walter F. Kawalec III, 9 September 1998