The University of Newcastle, Australia

Visionary US mayor to visit Newcastle

Friday, 14 November 2014

Tom Murphy, reforming mayor of Pittsburgh, USA from 1994-2006 and now one of the world's leading advocates for 'liveable cities', will visit Australia next week to present his vision for great cities in the 21st Century.

Building 21st Century CitiesMr Murphy is a University of Newcastle (UON) President's Visiting Fellow and will deliver major public talks in Sydney and Newcastle on the topic of 'Building 21st Century Cities'.

Tom Murphy is the senior resident fellow for urban development at the Urban Land Institute in Washington DC. As Australia's cities deal with the impact of the changing global economy and the rise of creativity and knowledge as the new raw materials, Mr Murphy will be asking whether our cities are equipped to cope with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century, and what we can do to make our cities liveable and workable. 

Mr Murphy encouraged change in Pittsburgh through the growth of a knowledge economy while building a liveable, regenerated, contemporary city environment. The city experienced an explosion of new economic ventures focused on new technology and hi-tech start-ups supported by government-university research and innovation partnerships.

"Transforming an urban landscape is about imagining something that doesn't exist," Mr Murphy later said. "We had thousands of acres of steelmills and we imagined a riverfront park."

The son of a steel worker, Mr Murphy graduated with honours in Urban Studies from Hunter College in New York City. As Mayor of Pittsburgh he used his background in urban management and administration to both lead and manage the city.

After three terms in office, Mayor Murphy had delivered transformation, engaging across all levels of government and community. He reduced the city's wage bill by nearly 21 per cent, turned runaway budget deficits into surpluses and attracted more than US$4 billion of new investment to the city.

Mayor Murphy also led the national Rails-to-Trails movement, supervising the building of more than 40 kilometres of trails that run through the city centre and connect to the riverfronts in the form of river's edge parks and running/biking/in-line skating paths. The city regained what the Mayor described as its "buzz".

"That's what a Mayor needs to do — imagine what we could be," he said.

UON's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the University was delighted that Mr Murphy could accept its invitation to visit Australia.

"Tom is internationally recognised for his remarkable leadership of the city of Pittsburgh – a 'steel city' with a very similar story to Newcastle."

UON will host the first talk at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum on Monday 17 November at 6.15pm, and the second at Newcastle City Hall on Tuesday 18 November at 6.15pm. 

To register:

  • Media and Public Relations.
  • Phone: 02 4921 5577.

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