“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Empty Pocket Pays

Great Railroad Strike of 1877

The Empty Pocket Pays Marker image. Click for full size.
circa 2007
1. The Empty Pocket Pays Marker
Inscription. In 1877, The Pennsylvania Railroad Company (PRR) was the largest corporation in the world. In that year the PRR, like railroads across the country, instituted massive lay-offs and wage cuts—reportedly due to declining profits. When workers on the B&O Railroad struck in July of 1877, the sentiment quickly spread to the PRR. In cities, like Pittsburgh, trains barreled through the middle of densely populated neighborhoods, creating pollution and posing a major safety hazard. The seething frustration of workers and citizens alike created a powder keg, which exploded in Pittsburgh as a strike blossomed into a three-day riot.

Venting their anger at the exploitation of workers and the deterioration of public life caused by the PRR, rioters burned railroad buildings and looted freight cars. The destruction included 125 locomotives, 3,500 rail cars, two roundhouses, the Union Depot and a Grain Elevator. The corporation’s president, Thomas Scott claimed no responsibility for the damage the PRR wreaked in the lives of his employees, nor the community. Yet, Scott insisted that the county be held responsible for damage the public dealt on private property. Allegheny County absorbed $4 million in property damages, while the Pennsylvania Railroad Company did not a spend penny.
Erected 2007
The Empty Pocket Pays Marker image. Click for full size.
By the Howling Mob Society, used with permission, circa 2007
2. The Empty Pocket Pays Marker
Union Station is seen in the background - this is the newer station built after the original was burned to the ground during the 1877 riots. Part of a series of ten markers in Pittsburgh describing the 1877 uprising.
by the Howling Mob Society.
Location. 40° 26.641′ N, 79° 59.63′ W. Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. Marker is at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Grant Street on Liberty Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pittsburgh PA 15222, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pennsylvania Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Gulf Building (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Refining Crude Oil (about 800 feet away); "The Bell Speaks" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kier Refinery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lewis and Clark Expedition (approx. 0.2 miles away); Great Strike Ignites the Nation! (was approx. ¼ mile away but has been reported missing. ); Fort Lafayette (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pittsburgh.
More about this marker. Marker is mounted on a municipal street light pole.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Other Great Railroad Strike of 1877 Markers erected by the Howling Mob Society in 2007.
Also see . . .  The Howling Mob Society Website. (Submitted on January 4, 2010.)
Additional keywords. Social Justice Struggles
Categories. Labor UnionsNotable EventsRailroads & Streetcars
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 1, 2010. This page has been viewed 1,024 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on January 5, 2010.   2. submitted on January 1, 2010. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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