Friends of the Zeiss                                   Statement of Glenn A. Walsh

P.O. Box 1041                                                            Before Pittsburgh City Council -

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                               Public Hearing:

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                           Historic Designation of

Electronic Mail: < >              Buhl Planetarium 

Internet Web Site: < >                    2005 July 13


Good afternoon, I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon; Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.


Presented to the City of Pittsburgh on October 24, 1939 by the Buhl Foundation, The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science had several historic firsts:

Ø       First planetarium projector placed on an elevator, to increase flexibility in the Theater of the Stars;

Ø       First planetarium theater which included a permanent theatrical stage;

Ø       First planetarium theater (and, perhaps, first theater) to install a special sound system specifically for the hearing impaired—remember, this was in 1939 !;

Ø       First publicly-owned building in the City (and, possibly, the State) constructed with air-conditioning;

Ø       First permanent Siderostat Telescope specifically designed for public use;

Ø       First regional Science Fair for school students (from 26 counties in Pennsylvania and West Virginia) in the country started at Buhl Planetarium in the Spring of 1940. Only two state-wide science fairs are older than the annual Pittsburgh Regional School Science and Engineering Fair.


Additionally, for more than 53 years, Buhl Planetarium housed an exhibit that was considered the largest Mercator’s Projection Map in the world! And, the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, which operated for nearly 55 years, was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world before being dismantled in October of 2002.


The historic nomination application is available for public inspection, in its entirety, on the web sites of Friends of the Zeiss

< > and the History of Buhl Planetarium < >.


Attached to this statement are twenty letters of support, from people who could not personally attend today’s hearing. Here is a sampling of who these letters are written by:


Ø       Jordan Marche, who just published a book on the history of American planetaria, called Theaters of Time and Space, American Planetaria 1930-1970 [support letter];

Ø       Nan Cattell, whose grandfather supervised construction of the Buhl Planetarium outer dome [support letter] ;

Ø       Clark McClelland, who first taught students (including future astronaut Jay Apt) at Buhl Planetarium, then worked with several other astronauts for NASA at Cape Canaveral [support letter];

Ø       Truman Kohman, Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University [support letter];

Ø       Gregg Podnar, Program Manager of the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University [support letter];

Ø       Francis Graham, Professor of Astronomy, Kent State University [support letter];

Ø       Barry Mitnick, Professor, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh [support letter];

Ø       David Topper, Professor of History of Science, University of Winnipeg [support letter];

Ø       Wayne Gondella, President, AFA Telescope and Machine Engineering Services, Inc. [support letter];

Ø       Yuri Saito-Loftus, a 1980s teen-age volunteer at Buhl Planetarium, who now is a physician and professor conducting medical research at the prestigious Mayo Clinic [support letter];

Ø       Katherine Roolf, a 1980s youth volunteer at Buhl Planetarium, who now participates in research with the California and Carnegie Planet Search Project, the planet-hunting team responsible for discovering over 100 planets outside of our solar system [support letter];

Ø       And, Architectural Historian Walter Kidney, on behalf of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation [support letter].


These prominent individuals, along with several others, and I urge you to enthusiastically vote to declare that Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science is a City-Designated Historic Structure.


Thank you.                                                                                                                                                                                            gaw