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The Quest is an undertaking catalog the welcome signs and other noteworthy landmarks of all of the boroughs, townships, municipalities and cities in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
The municipality project was launched on July 1st, 2007. By August 14 we had visited all 130 municipalities. The project remains open to accommodate any new or better signs, or new municipalities.
On September 3, 2007, this project was expanded to include Pittsburgh's neighborhoods. This project is still ongoing.
We are currently looking into publishing options with several different companies for a photo-journal of this undertaking. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to contact us at moc.liamtoh|nafxnalahp#moc.liamtoh|nafxnalahp.
Sept 9, 2007
Added former Carrick Borough information.
An Academic Approach
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania is one of the most, if not the most fractured county in the United States. The county features 130 separate municipal entities. This large collection of municipal governments has positive and negative sides. On the positive side, many places can maintain their unique character. Instead of being governed by a large entity like the county, small municipalities have the ability to develop laws and codes that protect their specific local character. Many residents enjoy the convenience of addressing community problems in the local borough or township building rather than having to deal with a larger entity. While this system celebrates and promotes a great diversity of community atmospheres, this municipal structure brings several problems. It prevents a large government body such as the county from developing uniform development strategies and the sheer number of municipalities guarantees an unnecessarily large duplication in municipal services, such as police and fire protection. Additionally, many municipalities, due to their small sizes or dependence upon one industry, are in dire financial straits due to the mediocre (at best) economic health of the region. The redundancy of services and inability of a large governmental body to develop an enforceable, comprehensive development plan are particularly acute in an area like Allegheny County, which is struggling to attract new jobs and people to the area.
What Kinds of Signs?
In each municipality, we will search for the official welcome sign erected by the government in question. In general, we seek to avoid taking pictures with the plain white signs which say "Borough of _" as can most notably be seen on highways. That is an impersonal introduction to a municipality. If a welcome sign cannot be located, we take a picture in front of the municipal building. If this cannot be located, we strive to take a photo of something representative of the area in question.
An inviting sign is an excellent indicator of civic pride. Well placed, practical, and appealing signs form positive first impressions in visitors and residents alike. In addition, such signs point to the unique character of the municipalities they introduce. We hope that by highlighting the welcome signs in each municipality, local governments will be encouraged to upgrade or install signs which represent the true diversity and civic pride that is present in each of Allegheny County's municipalities.