Joseph M. Barr
Barr in 1961
Member of the
Democratic National Committee
from Pennsylvania
In office
December 16, 1966[1]  – May 25, 1972[2]
Preceded byDavid Lawrence
Succeeded byRobert Jones
53rd Mayor of Pittsburgh
In office
December 2, 1959[3] – January 5, 1970[4]
Preceded byThomas Gallagher
Succeeded byPete Flaherty
Chairman 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
DiedAugust 26, 1982(1982-08-26) (aged 76)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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

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

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.

Later life

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


  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.
  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. ^ Times, Special To The New York (August 28, 1982). "Joseph Barr, 76, Dies; Was Pittsburgh Mayor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "ArchiveGrid : Mayor Joseph M. Barr photograph collection, 1956-1969". Retrieved March 10, 2016.
Political offices Preceded byThomas Gallagher Mayor of Pittsburgh 1959–1970 Succeeded byPete Flaherty Pennsylvania State Senate Preceded byThomas Kilgallen Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the43rd District 1941–1960 Succeeded byJohn Devlin Party political offices Preceded byDavid Lawrence Member of the Democratic National Committeefrom Pennsylvania 1966–1972 Succeeded byRobert Jones Preceded byMaurice Splain, Jr. Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party 1954–1959 Succeeded byJohn Rice