Shaun Slifer

Penn Avenue near 39th Street, Lawrenceville

Howling Mob Society
series of ten historical markers, website w/interactive map

"The sixth and seventh days of the revolution, July 21 and 22, were the darkest and bloodiest of all. The city of Pittsburgh was completely controlled by a howling mob, whose deeds of violence were written in fire and blood."
- Harper's Weekly, August 11, 1877

I spent the majority of 2008 working with a collaborative team from variant backgrounds, which eventually identified itself as the Howling Mob Society, on a series of ten historical markers detailing the story of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 as it unfolded in Pittsburgh, PA. We applied our research towards a public, pedestrian-level documentation which details the economic and social experiences that led to the national uprising. Our goal was to teach both the specific events of the summer of 1877 and the larger implications of a popular, working class rebellion combined with a general, cross-industrial strike. After a year of research and collaborative writing, I fabricated the ten historical markers and we installed them on the streets of Pittsburgh.

We created a website to document the project, where visitors can read the text on each sign, use an interactive map of our marker locations with additional pins to event locations, and review our research bibliography.

In 2008 the Howling Mob received an Acknowledgment Award from the Pittsburgh Creativity Project (Studio for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University). I've presented this project to audiences at the Allied Media Conference (2008), the Visible Memories Conference (2008) the Working Class Studies Association Conference (2009), and the National Preservation Conference (2013), among other engagements. In 2012, documentation of this project was part of the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, Italy.

As of November, 2018, five of the ten historical markers remain in place.