2017 Spring

Bridging the Digital Divide

On a Tuesday afternoon in October, a dozen teenagers gathered in a second-floor room at the Carnegie Library in East Liberty. They didn’t come to check out books. They were building a haunted house based on Disney fairy tales. Two 17-year-old sisters, Hope and Honesty LeGrande, cut giant feathered wings for the costume they designed …

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Working Women: Their Numbers Rise but Wages Lag

Deana Keenan’s career unfolds like an inspirational film. As a young woman, she left college to have children. She spent years working low-wage jobs as a single mother until she reached a breaking point when her oldest son was murdered. She picked herself up and sought out job training programs in Pittsburgh, where she found …

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Stepping Up

Leonardo Da Vinci called it a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art. He was referring to the human foot—a lever that propels us forward, provides balance, and bears all of our weight. Though small compared to other parts of the body, the average human foot supports a force equivalent to several hundered tons …

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Ankle Joint Replacements on the Rise

While arthritic hips and knees have long been regularly replaced, surgeons have been reluctant to replace ankle joints. But that’s changing. “In the past five years, we’ve gotten so much better at total ankle replacements,” says Dr. James Sferra, director of the Division of Foot and Ankle Surgery for Allegheny Health Network. “Today, I do …

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New Housing, 1951

Photographer Clyde “Red” Hare moved to Pittsburgh in 1950 to work on the Pittsburgh Photographic Library, covering the city’s Renaissance I, with noted editor Roy Stryker. Hare had his own car and camera and Stryker offered to pay him $50 a week to photograph the city. During that time, Hare made this photograph of new …

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Hard Hitter

They’re not really going to miss Ralph Cindrich, those suits with the NFL’s 32 teams. If they think of him at all, it’s in vulgar adjectives attached to the devilish contracts he extracted from them for his clients, such as Bill Fralic’s Rabbi Trust, Will Wolford’s Blind Side contract and Dermontti Dawson’s first-ever option-year double …

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China: The New Normal

“All is flux, nothing stays still.” –Heraclitus (540–480 BC). China in 2017 only vaguely resembles the China I described in a 2006 overview for Pittsburgh Quarterly. Few countries have ever changed so much in such a short period. Sit back, because it is time to rethink what you need to know about today’s China. A …

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Pittsburgh Dark and Light

Depending where you look, you can get two different views of Pittsburgh’s economy. On the gloomy side of the street, Pittsburgh dramatically underperformed its 15 benchmark regions last year. We had virtually zero job growth. We had the highest unemployment rate. And our average weekly wages rose just .8 percent—only a third of the benchmark …

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Aftermath of a Strike

When Melia Tourangeau joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as President and CEO in July 2015, she immediately faced a problem she hadn’t anticipated: massive debts from a nearly insolvent pension program. Last fall, the PSO endured a 55-day strike that ended when two donors made one-time gifts and musicians agreed to concessions. Tourangeau discusses the …

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A Waterway Renewed

A beautiful place to enjoy nature this spring is approximately two hours north of Pittsburgh along the banks of the Bennett Branch in Elk County. The Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area includes 24 acres of forested land, located off State Route 555 in Benezette Township, and provides direct access to this recovering stream. …

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Glendorn Aglow

On a pristine morning after the season’s first snowfall, determined anglers cast their flies into streams not yet frozen. Eight inches of snow blanketed the landscape, but inside the Big House a fire crackled as guests enjoyed a hearty breakfast and the view through giant windows. Or they could look the other way at the …

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The New Apartment Dweller

East Liberty-Shadyside is the epicenter of Pittsburgh’s new apartment wave, featuring both Bakery Living and the three-building Mosites Co. complex known as Eastside Bond. Together, these developments, only a stone’s throw apart, have introduced more than 700 rental units over the past few years. One of the attractions of the neighborhood is its proximity to …

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Going It Alone

Most of the women who trust their children to Jamie Tabb’s cottage childcare business in Turtle Creek are struggling to get by under circumstances she knows well. She’s a single woman raising children on her own, as they are. She’s been employed and poor at the same time. She’s had to allow limited public transit …

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Short Takes: “Leave Me” “Perpetual Carnival”

Pittsburghers could read “Leave Me” for the same reasons they’d see a movie filmed and set here. It’s a kick to see the city as a backdrop, collecting references to your favorite coffee shop (Commonplace in Squirrel Hill), local slogans (“I Bleed Black and Gold”) and outright praise (“she stared out the window at the …

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A Well-Woven Contemporary Tale

For his second act, Pittsburgh novelist Jacob Bacharach has turned in another work of enormously entertaining literary fiction set in Pittsburgh. It’s less cosmic than his debut, the 2014 sci-fi sendup “A Bend in the World,” but equally peppered with highbrow cultural references, trenchant social observations and turns of phrase that spin you right up …

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Looking at Lubetz

Stand at the top of the angles stairs in the entry to the Squirrel Hill Library, and you are cantilevered out and over Forbes Avenue, beyond the facades of surrounding buildings. The way the building creases and folds here, you can see outside and back in at the same time. Go past the free-standing elevator …

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Ode to an Ash

“When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder lions hunker down in tall grasses and even elephants lumber after safety…” —Maya Angelou Ash trees are falling all over our farm—in the woods, on the driveway, by our front door. We shudder, and we lumber after our safety. We walk under these trees, ride horses …

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Toxic Chemical Emissions: The Region’s Top 10 Air Polluters

Although the region’s air has improved dramatically from the height of Pittsburgh’s industrial past, southwestern Pennsylvania remains home to factories and power plants that release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data to track toxic chemicals released into the air, water and …

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Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive

I was born and raised in the Bloomfield-Garfield section of Pittsburgh, which is now called “Friendship.” I attended St. Lawrence O’Toole Grade School in Garfield, Central Catholic High and then Carnegie Mellon University in nearby Oakland, and have lived and raised my family in Squirrel Hill for the past 33 years. So, geographically speaking, I’ve …

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Serious Threads

First the Frick announced a new programming initiative in fashion and brought “Killer Heels” to Pittsburgh. The impossibly impractical yet stunningly gorgeous shoes might have made more sense at the Warhol where Andy’s advertising and shoe portrait drawings would have cheekily made the connection between costume, eroticism, design, and identity while contextualizing the to-die-for heels. …

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Journalism 101?

I’ve been a reporter or editor almost continuously since taking over my high school newspaper 39 years ago. So when President Trump called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” it did get my attention. But journalists get attacked so often that rather than take it personally, I considered whether any truth lurked …

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The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

One spring, I ventured south to Savannah, Georgia, for some sun and warmth. As a coastal locale and part of the Atlantic flyway, it was rich with avifauna heading back to nesting territories farther north in places like western Pennsylvania. It was March, and the streets of that wonderful city were alive with flowering trees, …

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