PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — “It’s the city of Pittsburgh’s 200th birthday!”

Heinz History Center president Andy Masich kicked off Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial celebration at the City-County Building Friday morning. More than a dozen city and cultural institutions offered exhibits, linking the past and the present.

“We have a great future as well, so we’re lucky to have that,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald added.

Under a bust of William Pitt, the city’s 60th mayor, Bill Peduto, described a city that has weathered many storms.

“We are a city that has survived a fire that has decimated us. We have survived floods that have held us back. We have survived environmental degradation. We have survived economic collapse, only to return today as one of the top cities in this country, and one of the top cities in this world.”

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The highlight was the unveiling of the city charter, signed during the brief interlude when Pittsburgh lost its “H.”

Some people have confused this celebration, the Bicentennial, with Pittsburgh’s 250th celebration just a few years ago. But they actually commemorate two very different events.

“That was the 250th anniversary of the founding of Fort Pitt in 1758,” Andy Masich explained. “But it was 1816 that Pittsburgh actually became a city. Before that, we were a borough.”

He says the celebration will continue all year long.

“On July eighth, there’s going to be a birthday bash at the History Center. Three thousand people are going to come together, and we’ll have a giant birthday cake.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto set the tone for the city’s Bicentennial kickoff at the City-Council Building. It focused  on leaders of the past, and the future.

Pittsburgh Urban League president Esther Bush invited city shool kids to parade their artwork.

“Many of our schools are significant architectural landmarks,” she added, as students walked past the podium, displaying large “birthday cards” with images of their schools.

Louise Sturgess of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks says more than 45 schools participated.

“They showed the character of their school from an architectual point of view, and also some distinguishing features.  But most importantly, the students signed their initials or their names, the idea being that the names of future mayors are hear on the birthday cards.”

“The City-County Building itself was constructed a hundred years ago, to celebrate the city’s Centennial.  They also hid a time capsule somewhere. But nobody’s old enough to know where it is.`

“It’s somewhere here, we think,” Mayor Peduto says.  “We have another big celebration coming up July ninth, when the city got its first mayor, and hopefully between now and then we’ll find it.”