Born in Pittsburgh in 1906 to a large family, Joseph M. Barr started his career as a salesman in Pittsburgh. In 1940 he became the state's youngest state senator. His career in Harrisburg roughly coincided with David L. Lawrence's reign as Pittsburgh mayor. Barr was instrumental in being Pittsburgh's advocate and used his tenure to push through many of the local reforms needing state help. In 1959 Barr, the consummate Harrisburg insider, and Lawrence, the seasoned Pittsburgh mayor, essentially swapped roles, with Barr coming "home" and running for Mayor and Lawrence becoming Governor of Pennsylvania. As mayor, Barr was instrumental in completing many of the Lawrence programs, while at the same time having the city's infrastructure catch up to all the progress that Lawrence instituted. Expanded and modernized street lights, water services and sports stadiums were all hallmarks of Barr's leadership. He oversaw the completion of both Three Rivers Stadium and the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, both having bogged down in heated political disputes during Lawrence's tenure. As a well-connected leader of the Commonwealth, Barr was among the founders of the Finnegan Foundation memorializing Pennsylvania Secretary of State James A. Finnegan. Mayor Barr left public life after 1970 and died on August 26, 1982. He is buried in Pittsburgh's St. Mary Cemetery.
From the description of Mayor Joseph M. Barr photograph collection, 1956-1969. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 30938258