Courtesy Senator John Heinz History Center.

Heinz History Center
July 8
7 — 11 p.m.

There are countless ways (check out our top July events) to celebrate the historic incorporation of the City of Pittsburgh but one festive occasion you don’t want to miss is the Senator John Heinz History Center‘s special “Happy Birthday, Pittsburgh! Bicentennial Bash” on Friday night.

Courtesy Heinz History Center.
Courtesy Heinz History Center.

You’ve invited to the unique Burgh bash by none other than Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and History Center president and CEO Andy Masich—who is also chair of the Pittsburgh Bicentennial Commission.

Dubbed “the city’s biggest party in 200 years,” the 412 festivities will feature live music and dancing, local food and libations, and exclusive access to the cultural destination. Experience a party 200 years in the making, say happy birthday to the Burgh, and savor a sweet slice of a one-of-a-kind birthday cake decorated with Pittsburgh’s iconic skyline and three rivers.

A lineup of local musical luminaries will perform throughout the night, including the Move Makers Band, Etta Cox Jazz Trio, Billy Price Band, and Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers.

Merrymakers will be treated to delicious fare crafted by Common Plea Catering, and mingle with descendants of Pittsburgh mayors from the past 200 years, as they explore six floors of award-winning History Center exhibitions after-hours. Don’t miss the chance to sing your best version of “Happy Birthday” to Pittsburgh at about 7:45 p.m.

Courtesy Heinz History Center.
Courtesy Heinz History Center.

Attendees will be the first to see the brand new exhibition, Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation, which showcases the remarkable role that western PA innovators have played in altering the course of history. The immersive, two-story exhibit features hundreds of artifacts, hands-on activities, interactive touch screens, and audio-visual displays that tell the definite story of Pittsburgh innovation. Highlights include the city’s original charter, as well as eight lifelike museum figures depicting explorer Meriwether Lewis, jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Queen Aliquippa, Rosie the Riveter, and more.

Party-goers can “meet” with inventor George Westinghouse and ask him questions about his achievements (think: air brake and alternating current), and see a model of the casting process that built the world’s largest cannon.

Courtesy Heinz History Center.
Courtesy Heinz History Center.

Inside a recreation of Pittsburgh’s premier jazz club, the Crawford Grill, visitors can hear music from world-renowned musicians such as George Benson, Billy Strayhorn and Stanley Turrentine, and enjoy a special live performance by The Etta Cox Jazz Trio.

Event attendees can also hear the first commercial radio broadcast made by KDKA in 1920, see a large-scale model of Westinghouse’s first voice animated robot, Elektro (and his dog Sparko!), and discover how doctors Jonas Salk and George Magovern saved lives and changed the course of medicine.

Throughout 2016, more than 400 organizations are teaming up to celebrate the city’s official incorporation in 1816. Don’t miss the Bicentennial Parade on Saturday, July 9, followed by a culminating celebration in Point State Park. For more details, visit

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Looking for more events? Read our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in JulyEverything you need to know about Pittsburgh concerts in Julyand our Top 10 things for families to do in July in Pittsburgh feature articles.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.