“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 Desperate and the Decadent

Great Railroad Strike of 1877

The Desperate and the Decadent Marker image. Click for full size.
circa 2007
1. The Desperate and the Decadent Marker
Inscription. The Great Strike of 1877 was instigated by a ten percent cut in workmen’s wages on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad—one cut of many since the panic of 1873. The industry at large had experienced significant wage cuts and lay offs. By 1877, three million people, or 27% of eligible workers, were unemployed. Two fifths of the employed were on the job only 6 to 7 months of the year. As railroad companies downsized, the demands placed on the remaining workforce intensified. On July 19, 1877, the average distance traveled during a workman’s shift on the Pennsylvania Railroad more than doubled, with an unpaid layover. Train workers were expected to go further, faster, for less money and to foot the bill for their own accommodations or a ticket home.

Thomas Scott, owner of the Pennsylvania Railroad, earned $175,000 in 1877. Railroad monopolist Jay Gould left $77,000,000 to his heirs when he died. Still these men claimed that declining profits necessitated wage cuts. While railroad barons filled their greenhouses with orchids and sailed on 230 ft. yachts, the working families of Pittsburgh lived on less than $400 a year.
Erected 2007 by the Howling Mob Society.
Location. 40° 27.142′ N, 79° 59.029′ W.
The Desperate and the Decadent Marker image. Click for full size.
By the Howling Mob Society, used with permission, circa 2007
2. The Desperate and the Decadent Marker
Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. Marker is at the intersection of Smallman Street and 21st Street, on the left when traveling west on Smallman Street. 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. Saint Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church (a few steps from this marker); State Violence Incites Rioting (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Menace of the Iron Horse (about 700 feet away); Who Was the Howling Mob? (approx. 0.2 miles away); Westinghouse Railroad Air Brake (approx. ¼ mile away); Seige at the 26th Street Roundhouse (approx. 0.3 miles away); St. Nicholas Church and Mala Jaska (approx. 0.3 miles away); Sixteenth Street Bridge (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pittsburgh.
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 1,008 times since then and 25 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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