Friends of the Zeiss†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††

P.O. Box 1041††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

Telephone: 412-561-7876

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2004 September 20


Bill Peduto, Chairman

Committee on General Services, Technology and the Arts

Council of the City of Pittsburgh

City-County Building, Suite 510

414 Grant Street

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-2457


Re: Possible Flood Damage to Historic Buhl Planetarium Equipment and Artifacts


Dear Mr. Peduto:


In 2002, the City of Pittsburgh permitted the dismantling of three historic pieces of equipment and artifacts from the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science: Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and large Mercatorís Projection Map of the World. The City permitted The Carnegie Science Center to store these dismantled artifacts in a warehouse (former Miller Printing Company building) across the street from the Science Center building. As I pointed out in a statement before City Council on May 19, 2003, this warehouse is located in a flood plain which was flooded in June of 1972 due to the remnants of Hurricane Agnes.


In addition to the three pieces of equipment and artifacts mentioned in the first paragraph, several other pieces of historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts may be in this warehouse. Attached is an inventory of these additional City-owned assets. I am aware that three of the artifacts on this inventory

( 4-inch Zeiss Terrestrial Refractor Telescope, 746-Pound Iron-Nickel Meteorite, and the Fairbanks-Morse Planetary Weight Scale) are actually being used in The Carnegie Science Center. However, I am not aware of the specific location of the other artifacts listed; these may also be in storage in the Science Center warehouse.


The flooding this past weekend, from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan, was not as bad on Pittsburghís North Shore as had been the 1972 flood. Flood waters from the Ohio River did not reach the Science Center warehouse this time.


However, it is quite possible that rain runoff, from the very heavy rains on Friday, did enter the warehouse and may have affected the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts. Early Saturday evening, just after the Ohio River crested at 31 feet, I noticed a small pond of water had collected in a low section of Reedsdale Street which runs along the north wall of the Science Center warehouse. The City of Pittsburgh had placed barriers to prevent traffic from using this one block of Reedsdale Street. I also noticed that three storm sewer catch-basins, around the perimeter of the warehouse, were clogged and overflowing.


I heard a rumor that water backed-up through the drains flooding the inside of the warehouse. The rumor also indicated that not all of the sump-pumps, which would pump water out of the building, were operating properly. Of course, I have no way of confirming this rumor.


From the rain runoff flooding I did observe outside of the warehouse, there is a definite possibility that some of this water may have entered the warehouse and affected the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts. Please note that although the Science Center may have insured these City-owned assets,

Bill Peduto†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2004 September 20†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Page 2 of 2



historic equipment such as the Zeiss II Projector, which prior to dismantling was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world, could not be replaced if damaged by flood waters.


With this letter, I am asking that you investigate this matter, regarding the current status of important City-owned equipment and artifacts. Please make an inquiry to The Carnegie Science Center management asking three questions:


1)†††††††††††† Was there any flooding in The Carnegie Science Center warehouse this past weekend, and did this flooding have any affect on the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts?


2)†††††††††††† What is the current condition of the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts stored in this warehouse?


3)†††††††††††† What steps are being taken, by The Carnegie Science Center, to prevent damage to the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts, by a future flood event?


I would ask that the results of your investigation be reported to City Council and the public at a City Council meeting within the next few weeks.


Sincerely yours,




Glenn A. Walsh\

Project Director






Copy:†††† Members of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh

††††††††††††††† Tom Murphy, Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

††††††††††††††† Tom Flaherty, City Controller, City of Pittsburgh

††††††††††††††† Dale A. Perrett, Director, City of Pittsburgh Department of General Services

††††††††††††††† Chester J. Malesky, Assistant Director, City of Pittsburgh Dept. of General Services

††††††††††††††† Members of the Board of Directors, Allegheny Regional Asset District

††††††††††††††† David Donahoe, Executive Director, Allegheny Regional Asset District

††††††††††††††† Members of the Allegheny County Delegation, Pennsylvania General Assembly

††††††††††††††† Members of Friends of the Zeiss

††††††††††††††† News Media Representatives

††††††††††††††† Interested Members of the General Public