The Oliver Building

As the Henry W. Oliver building was completed in terra cotta and granite in 1910, columnist M.E. Gable described the scene: “As you make the turn dipping into the throbbing heart of Pittsburgh, the upper reaches of the building burst upon your vision in all their beauty of architectural triumph. As you get nearer to it …

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monkey bars

monkey bars it’s lifting your feet as trains pass,holding your breath near graves—it’s hidingshivers as you angel in the snow. it’s filling your rain boots with puddles,water-logged Velcrotoo soggy to stick––it’s gum, decades-old,decayingunder desks.  it’s crunching leavesonce they orange;their sound bites like brown-bagged lunch—it’s cartons of milk curdlingin heatwaves. it’s stuffing inch wormsin pocketsand forgettingby laundry day—it’s hanginghand-me-downsyou’re sureare shrinking.  it was sitting on daddy’s suitcase,your …

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Odd but Essential Booze Truths

I had so much fun reading The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails (TOCSC) that I could continue writing about it for months. But don’t worry, I won’t. Previously in this series: Tennessee Whiskey and the Whiskey RebellionThe book isn’t a work of fiction or nonfiction, of course, but a work of reference. In fact, in 2022 it won …

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Longing for Limelight

Hollywood has been alternately described over the years as “a tissue thin façade full of self-important narcissists” and “a place where dreams come alive.” This year’s winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Kelly Sather, paints her protagonists as dreamy, never-will-bes who dwell in the shadows of fame. The California native and former entertainment lawyer …

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Bringing Spice to Pittsburgh

In the heart of pittsburgh, amidst its rivers and bridges, a culinary revolution is taking place. It is a revolution of flavors and aromas, carried on the shoulders of immigrants who have brought their cherished recipes from distant lands. What do burritos, General Tso’s chicken and pizza have in common? They are all delectable creations …

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I Could Live There

I Could Live There A colonial perchedon a leafy hillside—its yarda backslope of rhododendronand weed, a bit of grasshere and there— I could live there, I thinkas the train rolls by. But then I see a perfect woodof evenly spaced pinesand long to lie on the warmed fallen needles, their scent a relieffrom housekeeping tedium.I …

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Bentley Run Wetlands

A beautiful place to hike and explore in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania is the Bentley Run Wetlands, two miles northeast of Union City in Erie County. This 350-acre property is protected by a permanent conservation easement held by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which protects the property from development and allows public access and recreation. …

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Tennessee Whiskey and the Whiskey Rebellion

Back in 1981 two songwriters, Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove, were sitting in the Bluebird Café in Nashville drinking a lot of Tennessee whiskey. Dillon told Hargrove he had an idea for a song about the whiskey and so, at four a.m., they headed off to Hargrove’s place and wrote “Tennessee Whiskey,” a terrific song. …

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The Winter 2024 issue:

Charitable Giving: Why Does it Matter?

Editor’s note: In this season of giving, we asked some of the region’s nonprofit leaders to answer a simple question: Why is charitable giving so important in our society?  Tim Parks, Life’sWork of Western Pa.I begin with another question: How can I, as an individual, make a positive difference in society? On reflection, I recall …

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Mid-Century MODERNIZED

The house was unremarkable, a single-story, three-bedroom structure built in 1952 and designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, though who and exactly where the architect studied is unknown. What was remarkable, even extraordinary, was the setting. It abuts the Schenley Golf Course, with a sweeping view of the greens and beyond, to the …

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Pittsburgh Tomorrow

When I came to Pittsburgh in 1985, it was a great city — the late David McCullough called it “the essential American city.” But it was a great city in shock. The massive industrial economy had collapsed and 150,000 to 200,000 mainly young people were leaving for greener pastures. I expected to stay for my …

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Warm the Cockles of Your Heart with Chestnut Soup

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” — it’s an image that instantly evokes crackling logs and the warmth and cheer of the holidays. But how often are chestnuts actually on the menu? In Italy, where many of the chestnuts sold in the U.S. are grown, they’re popular in the fall and early winter, roasted by …

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What Would Rachel Carson Say?

On a Tuesday morning late last August, I turned out of my driveway onto Route 711 to drive into Ligonier. Route 711 is a two-lane state road, a main north-south corridor, designated as the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway. I passed, heading in the other direction, two large white trucks, one of which had a long …

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Conway, Buford, Oshry, Morby, Moriarity, O’Reilly, Nutting, Ochester, Eberle, Courtney

Tom Conway, 71 International president of United Steelworkers since 2019, Conway was committed to making things in America and remained unwilling to accept that globalization was better. He tried to make changes in manufacturing that would lead to a cleaner environment and worker health and safety. A legendary negotiator who believed in the union ideal of “stronger …

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Speaking of Drinks…

Tiki two As I mentioned, I came of legal drinking age at a time when you could only get tiki drinks at Chinese restaurants. The pioneering Don The Beachcomber was no more, and as far as I knew all the Trader Vic’s had closed, except for a few locations abroad. Previously in this series: The …

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Spring Blooming Plants Blooming in Fall

It’s the holiday season and my rural Pennsylvania town is bursting with the signs of Christmas: wreaths hung on doors, trees strung with colorful lights, a creche erected in the town square — and spring-flowering plants in bloom.  My forsythia is blooming a bright yellow. White lilac flowers are just dying back. Pink magnolia buds …

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Charitable Giving: Why Does it Matter?

Editor’s note: In this season of giving, we asked some of the region’s nonprofit leaders to answer a simple question: Why is charitable giving so important in our society?  Part II Laura Kelly. Brothers BrotherCharitable giving builds a foundation for a better future by promoting understanding, kindness, and collective efforts towards positive change. When members …

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The Tiki Phenomenon

I had the great misfortune to reach legal drinking age just as the tiki drink phenomenon was turning into a parody of itself. Formerly terrific drinks such as the Zombie, the Scorpion and the Rum Runner were now available only in Chinese restaurants and they all tasted exactly alike, being made by then out of …

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