Joseph M. Barr

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For other people of the same name, see Joseph Barr (disambiguation).
Joseph M. Barr
Member of the
Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania

In office
December 16, 1966[1]

 – May 25, 1972[2]
Preceded by David Lawrence
Succeeded by Robert Jones
53rd Mayor of Pittsburgh
In office
December 2, 1959[3] – January 5, 1970[4]
Preceded by Thomas Gallagher
Succeeded by Pete Flaherty
Chairman of the
Pennsylvania Democratic Party
In office
June 9, 1954[5] – July 23, 1959[6]
Preceded by Maurice Splain, Jr.
Succeeded by John Rice
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 43rd district
In office
January 7, 1941 – November 29, 1959
Preceded by Thomas Kilgallen
Succeeded by John Devlin
Personal details
Born (1906-05-28)May 28, 1906
Died August 26, 1982(1982-08-26) (aged 76)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Profession Salesman
Religion Roman Catholic

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.

Early life[edit]

Barr was born in Pittsburgh to a large family, and started his career as a salesman in the city. In 1940, he became the state's youngest state senator, serving the Pittsburgh-area in Harrisburg. His career in Harrisburg roughly coincided with David Lawrence's reign as Pittsburgh mayor.

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. 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.

State Democratic politics[edit]

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.

Later life[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Francis Smith Withdraws As Candidate". The Gettysburg Times. December 13, 1966. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Shapp Man Heads Party". The Beaver County Times. May 26, 1972. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Christopher, Frank (December 2, 1959). "Barr In, Paints Bright Future". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 1. 
  4. ^ "Council Balks Appointments By Pete". The Pittsburgh Press. January 5, 1970. p. 2. 
  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. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Gallagher
Mayor of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
Pete Flaherty
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Thomas Kilgallen
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the
43rd District

Succeeded by
John Devlin
Party political offices
Preceded by
David Lawrence
Member of the Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania

Succeeded by
Robert Jones
Preceded by
Maurice Splain, Jr.
Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party
Succeeded by
John Rice