Watch CBS News

Hidden Doorways, Covert Escape Routes, Amazing Art: Pittsburgh's Mayor's Office Holds Both History And Secrets

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The person sitting behind the oversized mahogany desk will change come November, but the rich history found inside the Pittsburgh Mayor's office will remain.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller received a guided tour from current Mayor Bill Peduto and asked him what makes the place he's called home for eight years so special.

Nestled on the fifth floor of the City-County Building downtown, sits an office with a view.

Mayor's office
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"If you look down the view of Grant Street, you see the architecture that is just absolutely incredible," said Mayor Bill Peduto, City of Pittsburgh.

Mayor Peduto moved in eight years ago, ready for a fresh start.

"When I came in, this was all carpeted and this room was all brown," he said.

Peduto exposed the intricate hardwood floors.

"They look almost like leopard. That is a skill where you tilt the saw, so when it hits the wood, it hits it in a certain way," he said.

He also gave new life to his massive desk.

"This desk is the same desk that every Mayor, since 1917, sat at," Mayor Peduto said.

He's leaving it in better shape, revealing the seal of William Pitt's family crest.

"A friend of mine, Tom Giannelli, who is a professional at restoring furniture, took it, and for free, restored it for the next 100 years," the mayor said.

The entire room is blanketed in art and, if you look closely, you'll see price tags.

"And all of this art is for sale," said Mayor Peduto.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller asked: "Did you sell any?"

"We sold five pieces and one carpet," said Peduto.

Fun fact: The Mayor's Office is one of the largest downtown art galleries. The portraits are not for sale. Even if they're not entirely accurate.

"When I came in, this was the painting and it had a tear," said Peduto.

He asked the Carnegie Museum to repair and restore the portrait above his desk.

"They said, 1) it's not really worth all that much, and 2) You do know that's the wrong William Pitt, right?" he said.

The man pictured above the desk is William Pitt's son, and not the William Pitt that Pittsburgh is named after.

"So for 50 years we've had the wrong William Pitt here in the Mayor's office," Peduto said.

The conference room always had a hidden doorway, disguised by the intricate board and batten.

"The secret door that you didn't see," said Peduto. "It's like Scooby-Doo."

A direct route to City Council. And if the mayor wants to avoid those people, he can use the hidden stairs.

"This secret door has been utilized as an escape route," said Peduto.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller asked: "In terms of emergencies or when someone's here you don't like?"

"Well, both," said Peduto.

Peduto used a key to open the door to an elevator shaft, equipped with a spiral staircase. A quick escape to a lower floor, dodging whoever waited in the lobby or near the elevator.

"A little Batman green escape route!" he said.

The importance of this office isn't lost on him. He's reminded of the tough times, pointing out a memento sent to him from Officer Calvin Hall and his family, along with a remembrance marker for the 11 lives lost during the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. He also remembers the kindness extended to him by fellow Pittsburghers and the world.

"Everything from somebody mailed me this from my time on 'Undercover Boss,' to my gingerbread Mayor cookie, the syrup from when the Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators," he said.

All this time Peduto kept his favorite Pittsburgh mayor close by - Mayor David Lawrence.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller asked: "Why is he your favorite?"

"Because that was the city he inherited. That is the city he left. Right out my window," Peduto said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.