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Pittsburgh passes 'Go': City to get its own new edition of Monopoly

The Monopoly Man joined, from left, Top Trumps' Dennis Gavaghen, filmmaker Rick Sebak (center), Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at a press event.
Bill O'Driscoll
90.5 WESA
The Monopoly Man joined, from left, Top Trumps' Dennis Gavaghen, filmmaker Rick Sebak (center), Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at a press event.

No one has a monopoly on Pittsburgh. But now Pittsburgh is getting its own edition of Monopoly. And the game’s makers are taking suggestions about which local landmarks to include.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald both spoke at Wednesday’s press conference announcing the game, held at one such potential landmark: Grandview Overlook, on Mount Washington.

“I just want to thank you for making Pittsburgh part of Monopoly, a game that my daughter beats me in quite frequently,” quipped Gainey.

The event – which also featured a tophatted “Monopoly man” mascot — was organized by Top Trumps, the British-owned firm that licenses Monopoly from toymaker Hasbro. Top Trumps marketing manager Dennis Gavaghen said Pittsburgh will be just the 10th U.S. city to get its own contemporary edition of Monopoly. He said Pittsburgh was chosen because of its abundance of landmarks.

“We think we’ve got some really, really special, iconic places that could be used in the game,” said Fitzgerald, noting the city’s panorama behind him, and mentioning the Cathedral of Learning, Heinz Field, and the August Wilson Center, as well as local rail lines.

Also speaking was filmmaker Rick Sebak, known for documenting local history, places and quirks. Sebak advocated for following the example of the classic Monopoly and honoring Pittsburgh’s street names.

Monopoly in its current form dates to 1935, when it was adapted from “The Landlord’s Game,” patented in 1903 by Lizzie Magie, a political activist who meant it as a progressive critique of monopolistic industrialists.

Parker Brothers changed the game's name and numerous rules; the point was now to bankrupt one’s competitors.

Its predatory premise notwithstanding, Monopoly remains popular in the post-Occupy era, with dozens of official special editions, including Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics’ Avengers, and countless knockoffs.

In 1996, there was even an earlier, official Pittsburgh edition which honored the Pittsburgh Zoo, Giant Eagle, and the city’s sports franchises alongside such now-vanished landmarks as Three Rivers Stadium and the Civic Arena, and allowed players, perhaps somewhat worryingly, to collect rent on public infrastructure like the Monongahela Incline. (Top Trumps has been putting out U.S. editions of Monopoly only since 2016, said Gavaghen, though it operated overseas for two decades prior.)

Other U.S. cities with their own contemporary Monopoly editions include Brooklyn, and Cambridge, Mass., said Gavaghen.

The firm is collecting suggestions for the new Pittsburgh edition at through March 30.

Suggestions apply only to the squares that line the border of the board, not to corner squares like “Parking” or “Go To Jail.” The classic tokens – race car, shoe, thimble, Scottish terrier – will likewise remain, said Gavaghen,

The game is scheduled for release in October, he said.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: