History

Blending Image and Word

Ekphrasis first began as a rhetorical form used by the ancient Greeks. Defined by Webster’s as “a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art,” it remains one of the oldest forms of artistic analysis, dating back to Homer’s description of Achilles’ blacksmith god-​created shield in The…

A Delicious Quandary

by Cody McDevitt
In 1968, Pittsburgh Chef Ferdinand Metz cabled from Frankfurt, Germany, to tell his friends that the U.S. Team won the Grand Gold Award in the International Culinary Competition. He was at the top of the culinary world, with 16 gold medals and the grand award given to him and his…

Christmas in Utopia

by Tom Imerito
It’s early morning on Christmas Eve in the town of Economy, Pennsylvania. The year is 1828. Twenty-​seven-​year-​old Catharina Langenbacher awakens to the five o’clock gong of the grandfather clock in the sitting room downstairs. By the time she clambers down the crude staircase, her widowed mother is preparing breakfast. Catharina’s…

Contemporary Colonialism

“The fundamental decisions affecting the lives of … colonized people are made and implemented by the … rulers in pursuit of interests that are often defined in a distant metropolis. Rejecting cultural compromises with the colonized population, the colonizers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to…

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History, Part V

“The UK is a divided society where the richest receive the lion’s share, leaving crumbs for the rest.” — The Equality Trust

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History, Part IV

“Brexit changed everything.” – Paul Singer, Elliott Management Corp.

Hidden from History

The life of Esther Phillips (190283) would have languished in obscurity, at most a footnote in history, were it not for the dedication of a few friends and supporters. Her story, which intersects with ideas about women, class and mental health in the 20th century, is all too familiar.…

Once Upon A Tunnel

The calamity began at the stroke of midnight on May 10, 1924, when Pittsburgh Street Railway Company employees walked off the job. The streetcar strike threw commuters into a tizzy, and the following morning South Hills commuters jumped into their cars and headed for the recently opened Liberty Tunnels. Between…

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History, Part II

The European political elite [has developed] a habit of profound disrespect for public opinion and democratic process – John Plender in the Financial Times

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History

On Friday morning, June 24, 2016, the entire Euro-​American establishment woke up to find that, contrary to their strict instructions, the British had voted to leave the EU.

What Happened at Thompson’s Island?

Were you to launch a canoe at the U.S. Forest Service Buckaloons boat ramp, where Brokenstraw Creek enters the Allegheny River, then float down toward the borough of Tidioute, the setting would appear much as it must have to a party of Seneca Indians paddling the same route in the…

The Holmes Precedent

by Marino Parascenzo
Time was when yogi Berra had to work off– season as a restaurant greeter. Richie Hebner dug graves. Nolan Ryan pumped gas. When Pirate slugger Ralph Kiner asked for a raise, scripture-​quoting general manager Branch Rickey told him: “We finished last with you and we can finish last without you.”

The Little Block House That Could

The first question a visitor usually asks is: “So… what was this place?” As curator of the 250-​year-​old Fort Pitt Block House, sometimes I feel that I have the most interesting job in the world. I get to take care of the only structure left of Fort Pitt and the…

The formidable Frick

One hundred and twenty five years ago, the eastern side of Pittsburgh’s East End — its grand villas powered by electricity and surrounded by gleaming motorcars — was arguably the richest and most tech-​savvy neighborhood in the country. Within a half-​mile stretch between Point Breeze and Wilkinsburg dwelt a dazzle of shrewd self-​made millionaires:…
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