The Twin Towers were still up. Bill Clinton was still president. "Who Let the Dogs Out" was on heavy rotation on Sony Discmans. And a proposal from a former divinity student to drastically remake Downtown Pittsburgh almost tore the city apart.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Mayor Tom Murphy's Fifth-Forbes redevelopment plan, which he launched in October 1999 and killed, after a whole lot of fighting, in November 2000. It also launched Pat Clark onto the world.
Pat -- a former worker at GNC who later became an indefatigable community activist -- is holding a look back at the $522 million plan Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. on behalf of the Guyastua Fellowship. He'll be there with URA head Rob Stephany, fellow activist Bernie Lynch and moderator Chris Potter of the City Paper. (Details here.)
We don't have the room here to go over this fascinating period in city history completely, but just a bit of its flavor:
-- Murphy wanting to save retail Downtown with not one, but three department stores (Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor -- which tore the guts out of the beautiful Mellon Bank building on Smithfield -- and Lazarus, where Thursday's panel discussion is taking place).
-- Tom Flaherty, now a judge, erroneously claiming Lazarus used public money to buy perfume and underwear
-- Murphy's spokesman Doug Root calling critics Bob O'Connor, Jim Ferlo and Alan Hertzberg an "unholy trio" (they would respectively become a mayor, state senator and county judge).
Finally, there's the fact that Fifth Avenue's retail renaissance finally did happen, with scads of residential, office and commercial development . . . ten years later.
Thursday, April 15, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Location: Piatt Place, 301 Fifth Avenue, Room 3023, in the former Lazarus Building, Downtown, PGH, PA