Tom Foerster (1928-2000) was a political force in the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County for more than 40 years. First elected as a state representative in 1958, he would go on to serve as an Allegheny County commissioner for 28 years. An outspoken Democrat, he was instrumental in the creation of the Community College of Allegheny County, the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport, the Kane Regional Centers, and the Senator John Heinz History Center. Due to his involvement in many construction projects throughout his political career, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called him “perhaps the greatest builder in the history of Allegheny County government.”
The Library and Archives recently processed a collection of Foerster’s records that relate to the development of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The construction of the airport created 14,000 construction jobs and brought several new businesses to the area.
One of the main concerns after the construction of the airport was the financial distress that USAir, a major investor in the project, was experiencing in the 1990s. With Pittsburgh serving as its main hub, USAir’s continued operation was vital to the airport’s success. British Airways proposed to invest 300 million dollars in the company, and USAir in return planned on sharing ticket codes. The alliance would also provide a non-stop flight from Pittsburgh to London. The sharing of codes, however, is a transaction that must be authorized by the US Department of Transportation. In 1993, under the Clinton administration, the alliance was approved.
Click here to view the finding aid for the Tom Foerster Papers.