The Why Here: 1877 Railroad Strike is an audio walk that explores the historical events of 1877 in Pittsburgh as much as it is a reflection on the human consequences of swift technological and economic shifts. The walk examines the physical and intellectual connections between the largely forgotten uprising of 1877 and the technology advancements currently taking place just blocks away involving Big Tech corporations such as Uber. When a society greatly alters its technology and economic models, it must also address the human consequences of such changes. As history has shown, not doing so can prove disastrous.
This audio walk is divided into three chapters. Chapter One recounts the violent events that occurred during Pittsburgh’s 1877 Railroad Strike from July 19th through the 30th of that year. Chapter Two explores the paradigm shifts in workers' understanding of labor and corporate ownership through the lens of the 1937 Little Steel Strike. Finally, Chapter 3 ponders the lessons that these prior historic events may impart today. The listener ends the audio walk at Uber Advanced Technologies Group.
The walk is approximately 50 minutes long. You will start at the northwest corner of 28th Street and Liberty Ave in the Strip District neighborhood of Pittsburgh and finish at the end of 32nd Street, next to the Allegheny River. Traffic can be heavy in these areas, so please exercise caution and stay aware of your surroundings as you enjoy the walk. If you are driving to the location, there is free on-street parking on Smallman Street between 28th and 32nd.
For the best possible experience, please wear headphones and print out a copy of the map below.


Download and print out the MAP (PDF).



The audio can be played below. For offline listening, you can also download files individully below.
In addition, a compressed file with all the mp3 files can be downloaded HERE. The tracks are also available in Soundcloud.


Chapter 0: Introduction
download mp3 file here
The Why Here · Chapter 0: Introduction


Chapter 1: 1877
download mp3 file here
The Why Here · Chapter 1: 1877


Chapter 2: 1937
download mp3 file here
The Why Here · Chapter 2: 1937


Chapter 3: 2020
download mp3 file here
The Why Here · Chapter 3: 2020


For more information on the 1877 Railroad Strike or the 1937 Little Steel Strike, here are some recommended books:
Eric Lief Davin, The Great Strike of 1877
Robert Bruce, 1877: Year of Violence
Philip Foner, The Great Labor Uprising of 1877
Alice and Staughton Lynd, Rank and File
Ahmed White, The Last Great Strike Little Steel
For more information about the historical markers by the Howling Mob Society:
Howling Mob Society


The Why Here: 1877 Railroad Strike is a project by Dana Sperry. Contact the project at thewhyhere@gmail.com
Voice of the Newspapers: Nica Ross
Music: Danny Bracken
Interviewees: Richard Oestreicher, Eric Leif Davin, Staughton Lynd, Mary Tremonte and Shaun Slifer
Special thanks: Natalya Pinchuk, Rich Randall, Rich Pell, Lauren Allen, Sofia Caetano, Elliot Sheedy, Alex Young, Lindsay French, Willy Smart, Jennifer Hayes, John Faranelli, Paolo Pedercini and Tenley Schmida.
Middle image: A Steeple-View of the Pittsburgh Conflagration, from Harper's Weekly, Journal of Civilization Vol XXL, No. 1076 (August 11, 1877): 624-25; M.B. Leiser, engraver
Footer images: The photos of the ruins of the railyard and the Union Depot are courtesy of the following collections (left to right): University of Pittsburgh archives, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Carnegie Museum of Art Collection of Photographs