On the Town

Full Circle for the Square

At noontime on a summer’s friday, Mellon Square—the green public space that lashes together so many of Downtown Pittsburgh’s office buildings, hotels, and businesses—is bustling. Ties loosen, heels are exchanged for sneakers and brown bags and sidewalk-stand hot dogs come out as office workers begin the brisk business of a respite from the cubicle by …

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Song of Shadyside

The word “trendy” has been surgically attached to the word  “Shadyside” since days of yore—far more yore than you think. That most elegant and affluent neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s East End is home to what Andy Warhol dubbed the Beautiful People, and the upscale shops that cater to their needs. In search of a certain high-end luxury item? You can find …

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Eins, Zwei, G’suffa!

Turning leaves are a sure harbinger of Oktoberfest! If you can’t make it to Germany, several local options may do. Grab your designated driver and hit the road for a tour of western Pennsylvania’s microbreweries, each of which offers a twist on the annual tradition. East End Brewing Company is the only true microbrewery in …

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To Do List … Pittsburgh

From Rafael Viñoly’s green Convention Center, head to Grant Street, the traditional seat of Pittsburgh government and corporate power. You’ll see the enormous U.S. Steel building, now with UPMC on top. U.S. Steel remains the largest tenant, but the University of Pittsburgh Medical  Center is the region’s biggest employer. On the right is the Gulf Tower, former …

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A Dance to Remember

A series of events this fall observe the Holocaust by Reid Frazier // Fall 2009 On September 12, 2001, Steven Mills, the artistic director of Ballet Austin, staggered into work with a cup of coffee in hand, and, like most of America, began talking about the national calamity he’d watched on television the previous day. Mills …

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Nied’s

The orange neon fish sign at the corner of Butler & 55th in Lawrenceville is the gastronomic version of the beacon atop the Grant Building. Nied’s Hotel Bar has held this corner since 1941 and, like all great joints, it’s a neighborhood within a neighborhood. The starting point at Nied’s is the “world famous fish …

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Song of Mount Washington

The first Native Americans to spot the first white men approaching their halcyon Green Triangle did so from the same basic observation deck—give or take a few hundred yards—where native ’Burghers admire their Golden Triangle today. By moonlight, those Indian sentries had a perfect view of all telltale torches and flickering campfires at the confluence …

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Close Getaway: Sharon, Pa.

Sharon, Pa is a “winner” of a place. Instead of being devastated by the demise of its primary industry (in this case, steel), Sharon thrives, largely due to Jim and Donna Winner. Winner invented the auto anti-theft device, The Club, and the couple has made major investments in their native Mercer County. Among them are …

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Nemacolin Woodlands

The bear market might have you reconsidering a spring-break trip to Vail or Aruba, and you might forgo that trip just to avoid the painful wait at the airport. In less time than you have to wait for a plane, you could drive to the perfect getaway—Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa in Fayette County. The …

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Nap’s Cucina Mia

This Napoleon and Josephine story has a happy ending. It began in 1952, just two blocks from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, when Napoleon and Josephine Patti opened Nap’s, a shot-and-beer joint along the main drag of the small town. For years, Nap’s was a regular stop for the guys who made their bones …

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Dot’s

Dot’s in McKeesport is just that—a dot on the side of the road that is easily missed if it is not your intended destination. There was a time when this stretch of Fifth Avenue on the fringe of the city was more neighborhood street than highway. The mills were booming back then, and McKeesport was called …

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Global City: The Vietnamese are Here

Father Dam Nguyen presides over the flock at St. Gabriel’s Church of the Sorrowful Virgin in the South Hills town of Whitehall. Several in the congregation share his Vietnamese heritage, and more often these days he finds himself given the joyful task of presiding at the marriage or baptism of one of their children or …

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Jazzy notes

On a painted mural behind the small stage of Pittsburgh’s newest jazz club, a singer in a dark red, strapless gown with a black bob hairdo sings to a sketched cityscape resembling Pittsburgh’s skyline at dusk. The real thing—Etta Cox—was there too, crooning standards “Teach Me Tonight” and “Misty” with the Harold Betters quartet, all …

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Reconsidering the ‘40s

Especially nowadays, you get a different kind of art in times of war, variously patriotic, indignant and escapist. When these elements exist together, they are best nurtured by the democratic postulate, which, in times of war, itself hangs only by the skin of its teeth. Painting in the United States 2008, the superb show at …

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Klavon’s

Nothing says summer like a classic banana split. For some of us, it recalls going to the neighborhood drug store/soda fountain with no thought of caloric intake or cholesterol levels. For a step back in time to that more innocent — and way better — era, visit Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor in the Strip District. …

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Song of Washington, Pa.

The mother of all Washingtons occupies the federal District of Columbia, yet smaller ones abound. The Father of His Country sired no children but, by way of surrogate progeny, he begat towns bearing his surname in no fewer than 27 states. Only one of those little Washingtons was seriously naughty enough to provoke George himself …

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Wine ‘Em Up

Plan ahead with a guide for comprehensive tasting. I used to say I hated tasting wine with the milling hordes. I am recanting. Decanting. Pouring myself right in and trying to tip you in with me. Why? The Pittsburgh Wine Festival, May 3-8, sprawling over acres in Heinz Field House lounges, offers opportunities few ordinary mortals would otherwise …

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Being green is easy at this boutique

As Kermit the Frog says, “It isn’t easy being green.” Obviously, he’s never been to Equita, a Lawrenceville boutique specializing in “green, sweatshop-free and Fair Trade” items. If this conjures thoughts of brown rice, scratchy, unbleached cotton and a sea of beige, rest assured: Equita is everything but. After traveling (and working) around the world, …

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Song of Sewickley

Would you be shocked to learn that Sewickley — the patriotic, upper-crust town just downriver of Pittsburgh — holds an annual American flag-burning in broad daylight on public property? No need for outrage or a constitutional amendment. Turns out, it’s the perfectly respectful flag retirement ceremony, in which tattered Old Glories are given a solemn …

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Moundsville, W. Va.

As the holidays approach, frantic parents stand in endless lines or buy online, getting the hottest high-tech “made in China” toys. If that seems overwhelming, try visiting the Official Marx Toy Museum of Glen Dale, W.Va. Located in Moundsville, just south of Wheeling, the museum takes visitors down memory lane as they enjoy Louis Marx …

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Song of Greensburg

A thousand feet up the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the beautiful Laurel Highlands lies the city of Greensburg, an hour southeast of downtown Pittsburgh. A major business and cultural center, its 16,000 population doubles during work hours, giving it one of highest daytime-growth rates in the country.   You, like Ed McMahon, did …

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A Frame to Conjure With

A few years ago, if you had the good fortune to work as a porter at one of the major auction houses in New York or London, you might have had the greater good fortune to be handed a picture frame, discarded by one of the purchasers of the painting. It was one of the …

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