Panthers of Pittsburgh

Panthers of Pittsburgh

The Panther ("Puma concolor") was adopted as the University of Pittsburgh's mascot at a meeting of students and alumni in the autumn of 1909. According to George M. P. Baird, '09, who made the suggestion, it was chosen for the following reasons:
1. The Panther was the most formidable creature once indigenous to the Pittsburgh region.
2. It had ancient, heraldic standing as a noble animal.
3. The happy accident of alliteration.
4. The close approximation of its hue to the old gold of the University's colors (old gold and blue), hence its easy adaptability in decoration.
5. The fact that no other college or university then employed it as a symbol.

There are ten representation of Panthers in and about Pitt's campus, and ten more painted fiberglass panthers due to be placed over the next year by the Pitt Student Government. The oldest representations are four panthers that guard each corner of the Panther Hollow bridge. Other Oakland locations include both inside and in front of the William Pitt Union, outside the Petersen Events Center, "Pitt the Panther" on the carousel in Schenley Plaza, the Panther head fountain on the front of the Cathedral of Learning, and the Pitt Panther statue outside Heinz Field on Pittsburgh's North Side.

Panther Hollow Panthers

Giuseppe Moretti's (1859-1935) four cast bronze Panthers created in 1897 guard each corner of Panther Hollow Bridge in Schenley Park adjacent to the Pitt campus. Panthers were once found abundantly throughout the region and became to symbolize it. []

William Pitt Union Moretti Panther

A 1897 panther sculpture by Giuseppe Moretti, the same artist who sculpted the Panther Hollow Panthers, sits inside a paneled wood case in the Grand Lounge on the first floor of the William Pitt Union.

Panther Fountain

A panther head spews water in this fountain located at the base of the Cathedral of Learning.

Millennium Panther

This Panther outside the William Pitt Union is ten-and-a-half-feet long and was cast with a sleek and muscular tone in pure bronze by sculptor Miriani Guido was cast in Parma, Italy. With one paw poised in the air, the panther appears ready to pounce on an unsuspecting enemy. The statue arrived on campus in May 2001 and was stored over the summer in a University warehouse until placed outside the William Pitt Union at the end of August 2001. A time capsule to be opened in the year 2051 was buried beneath the statue. The project, a gift to the university from the Student Government Board, began with deliberations in April 1999, cost $72,000 ($62,000 plus a $10,000 base), the most student government has ever spent at one time. [] []

The plaque on the statue reads

The Pitt Panther
Dedicated August 31, 2001 with the belief that scholarship,
integrity and the unyielding spirit of our past will carry us
into the new millennium and beyond.
A gift from the 1999 Student Body
George J. Mongell
President, Student Government
Mark A. Nordenberg

Panther outside Heinz Field

This Panther sits outside Gate A of Heinz Field across the Monongahela's River from downtown Pittsburgh. It is based on the design by Thomas N. Mitrakos for the award for the Pitt Varsity Letter Club Awardees of Distinction. [] Dedicated on September 6, 2002. The statue, convert|12|ft|m long is set on a granite base. Paved in the stone around the base is an image of the Cathedral of Learning. The statue was made possible by a donation from Charles “Corky” (ENGR ’58) and Frances M. (CAS ‘58) Cost. []

Panther outside the Pete

This Panther sits at the main entrance of the Petersen Events Center. Similar to the Panther outside Heinz Field, it is based on the design by Thomas N. Mitrakos for the award for the Pitt Varsity Letter Club Awardees of Distinction. [] Paving stones surrounding the nine-foot-long panther are etched with images of the former Pitt Stadium. The retired jerseys of Panther football greats, including Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Hugh Green, and Bill Fralic, are carved into the panther's base. The statue was made possible by a donation from Charles “Corky” (ENGR ’58) and Frances M. (CAS ‘58) Cost, who also donated the panther statue at Heinz Field. []

Pitt the Panther

“Pitt the Panther”, adopted by Henry and Linda Haller, is one of the animals on a Victorian-style carousel, opened in 2006 and built by Chance Rides Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas, and funded by the PNC Financial Services Group. It holds 20 people, on 15 1950s-style animals or in a handicapped-accessible chariot and a spinning tub suitable for small children and their parents. The carousel is Schenley Plaza’s feature family attraction and the menagerie of animals, including "Pitt the Panther", symbolizes the fellowship and diversity of Pittsburgh. However, it is not the first carousel in Schenley Park. In 1913 the original Schenley Park Carousel was opened to the public at the corner of Panther Hollow and Greenfield roads. The original carousel also had a menagerie of animals. The PNC Carousel in Schenley Plaza operates April through October and is open seven days a week. [] []

Homecoming Panthers

In order to create a new homecoming tradition, the Pitt Student Government board purchased ten fiberglass panther statues in 2007 for $60,000 from Heavy Industries of Calgary, Canada. [] Proposed to be an annual homecoming event, the approximately convert|6|ft|m tall by convert|6|ft|m wide panthers are to repainted and redecorated by student organizations that will be selected from applications on an annual basis. Originally planned for a 2007 homecoming introduction, manufacturing delays prevented initial decoration and first unveiling until a ceremony on January 10th, 2008. Following the ceremony, the panthers were placed in and around Pitt's campus. []


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