Joseph M. Barr

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Joseph M. Barr
Joseph M. Barr of Pittsburgh greet Mayo at the U.S. Conference of Mayor's Congressional Reception January 21 in the Mayflower Hotel, Washington (12775125494).jpg
Barr in 1961
53rd Mayor of Pittsburgh
In office
December 2, 1959[1] – January 5, 1970[2]
Preceded byThomas Gallagher
Succeeded byPete Flaherty
25th President of the United States Conference of Mayors
In office
Preceded byJerome Cavanagh
Succeeded byTerry Schrunk
Member of the
Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania
In office
December 16, 1966[3]  – May 25, 1972[4]
Preceded byDavid Lawrence
Succeeded byRobert Jones
Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party
In office
June 9, 1954[5] – July 23, 1959[6]
Preceded byMaurice Splain, Jr.
Succeeded byJohn Rice
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 43rd district
In office
January 7, 1941 – November 29, 1959
Preceded byThomas Kilgallen
Succeeded byJohn Devlin
Personal details
Born(1906-05-28)May 28, 1906
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 26, 1982(1982-08-26) (aged 76)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Joseph M. Barr (May 28, 1906 – August 26, 1982) was an American politician who held a variety of positions, including an eleven-year tenure as mayor of Pittsburgh from 1959 to 1970.


Barr was born in Pittsburgh to James P. and Blanche E. Moran Barr.[7] He married Alice White, when she was 29 and he was 43. White had been active with women's Republican groups in Chicago[8] but left the Republican party in support of her Democrat husband.[9] Together they had two children, Alice ("Candy") and Joseph ("Skipp).[8]

Pittsburgh politics[edit]

In 1959 Barr the consummate Harrisburg insider and Lawrence the seasoned Pittsburgh chief swapped roles, with Barr coming "home" and running for Mayor and Lawrence becoming Governor of Pennsylvania.[10] He was instrumental as mayor in completing many of the Lawrence programs, while at the same time having the city's infrastructure catch up to all the progress that Lawrence instituted. Expanded and modernized street lights, water services and the stadiums were all hallmarks of Barr's leadership. He oversaw the completion of both Three Rivers Stadium and the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, both having bogged down in heated political disputes during Lawrence's tenure.[11]

State Democratic politics[edit]

In 1940, Barr became the state's youngest state senator, serving the Pittsburgh-area in Harrisburg. Barr was elected chair of the State Democratic Party in 1954, and was elected Pennsylvania's male representative on the Democratic National Committee following Lawrence's death in 1966. He retired from public life in 1972.

Other work[edit]

In in 1967 and 1968, Barr served as president of the United States Conference of Mayors.[12]

Later life[edit]

Barr died on August 26, 1982. He is buried in Pittsburgh's St. Mary Cemetery.[7]


  1. ^ Christopher, Frank (December 2, 1959). "Barr In, Paints Bright Future". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Council Balks Appointments By Pete". The Pittsburgh Press. January 5, 1970. p. 2.
  3. ^ "Francis Smith Withdraws As Candidate". The Gettysburg Times. December 13, 1966. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  4. ^ "Shapp Man Heads Party". The Beaver County Times. May 26, 1972. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  5. ^ "Democrats Elect Sen. Barr State Chairman". The Reading Eagle. June 10, 1954. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  6. ^ "Mention Rice For Barr Post". The Gettysburg Times. July 9, 1959. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Joseph M Barr". The official website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Rittmeyer, Brian C. "Mayor's wife supported husband, charities". Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  9. ^ Archives Service Center (March 2011). "Mayor Joseph M. Barr Photograph Collection". Guides to Archives and Manuscript Collections at the University of Pittsburgh Library System. ULS Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh Library System. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "Joseph Barr, 76, Dies; Was Pittsburgh Mayor". The New York Times. August 28, 1982. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "ArchiveGrid : Mayor Joseph M. Barr photograph collection, 1956-1969". Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  12. ^ "Leadership". The United States Conference of Mayors. November 23, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the
43rd District

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Member of the Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party
Succeeded by