May 2, 1932: The date stamped on the back of this picture suggests it was made during the first day of former Mayor Charles Kline’s trial on charges of malfeasance. After his conviction, The Pittsburgh Press editorialized, “The little machine henchmen with their knowing smiles …. now know that no political machine is all powerful.”
Charles Kline (he’s the one smoking the cigarette) can be remembered for many things: He was a dapper dresser, and during his administration the skyline grew to include the Gulf Oil Tower, the Grant Building and the Koppers Building. He loved greeting famous people who visited the city. One day we’ll post a collection of pictures of Kline welcoming notable folks — among them President Calvin Coolidge, Charles Lindbergh, Mary Astor, Richard Byrd and Gene Tunney. Kline also was the last Republican elected mayor of the city.
But perhaps Kline is known best as the city’s most corrupt politician. His trouble began with the purchase of a $1,350 rug he said would “dignify the mayor’s office.” That purchase fueled a controversy that led to Kline’s indictment in a purchasing scandal. Kline was sentenced to jail, but never served because of ill health. He died a few months after his conviction.
The infamous Kline rug remained in the mayor’s office, becoming threadbare over the years, until Sophie Masloff ordered it removed in 1992.