2008 Fall

50 Years Ago…

To understand the culture of a region, one must consider how its residents view themselves, especially during a milestone event such as a major anniversary celebration. So, as Pittsburgh commemorates its 250th birthday, I decided to look in my library for several brochures from the city’s 1958 bicentennial. On the surface, looking back 50 years …

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Autumn Knights

When these nobles gather, they’re known as a parliament. They hold proceedings under cover of darkness and their debates typically end with sudden death for the commoners around them. Whoo are they? Owls, of course. The Great Horned Owl is the tiger of the night skies. The last one I saw was perched on a …

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A Grand Idea: Pittsburgh 250

It really was George Washington’s “grand idea”—the Potomac River was the true Gateway to the West. Joel Achenbach writes about it in The Grand Idea—connecting the tidewater of the Potomac to the headwaters of the Ohio would secure Virginia’s leadership among the new American states. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that almost 250 years later, …

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The Pied Piper of Pittsburgh

I’d like to punch Richard Florida in the nose. Not only for the deliberate misuse of pronouns in his latest title (although that’s reason enough in my mind), but also for his brazen urban infidelity. After nearly two decades of professing to love and respect his “adopted hometown,” the self-proclaimed public intellectual unceremoniously dumped Pittsburgh …

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Safety in Numbers?

Pittsburgh is a safe city. Pittsburgh is a safe region. This has long been the case, and the latest data on crime indicate that the shoe still fits. These four statements need to be tempered, however. This is because with public safety what matters is not regional or municipal crime rates as much as whatis …

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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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We Have the Power

A likeable 12-year-old is shot and killed. Children settle disputes with guns. Other children fear they may be caught in the cross fire. How can this be? All of us wonder and wish for something better. More than one-third of all Allegheny County fifth-graders cannot read adequately. Without this ability, they fall behind and become …

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The face of Brazil in Pittsburgh

Five years ago, Brazilian conductor and composer Flavio Chamis set out to create an album with musicians from five nations at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. Chamis and producer Jay Ashby decided to take things slowly, something unusual in the commercial music world. Three years later, in 2006, Especiaria was released. The album was picked up …

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Money for merit

Armen Arevian hunched over his laptop in the Shadyside Starbucks. A joint Ph.D./M.D. neuroscience student at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, he studies the sense of smell and nerve pathways by which the brain processes information. “We’re trying to understand how we know it’s a rose,” Armen said. “In my work we listen in on neurons’ conversation. …

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Riverlife CEO: Lisa Schroeder

For people who know about such things, Martin Millspaugh is legend. A former Washington, D.C., journalist who specialized in covering housing and urban development issues, Millspaugh was one of the early movers behind the renewal of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For some 20 years, he chaired a public-private corporation in his hometown that managed the $7 …

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The Pitt Century

On October 2, 1908, toward the close of Pittsburgh’s 150th anniversary celebration, a crowd of dignitaries, distinguished guests and assorted politicos congregated in Oakland, an island of pastoral villas and classical architecture in the middle of the growing, smoky metropolis. The crowd came to see the groundbreaking for Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hall, a cavernous …

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From the Publisher, Fall 2008

As sorry as I am to see another summer wane, how wonderful it is to look forward to fall in Pittsburgh. And what a fall it will be. When you look at what’s in store this autumn, can you really doubt the charms of Pittsburgh? I had some doubts 23 years ago when I moved …

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Wasting our tax dollars

At one end of a long, rectangular table in an Aliquippa restaurant, a grandmother of 12 sporting a big, blond hairdo was talking about how everyone in Beaver County calls her when their dog is lost. Someone even called at 2:30 a.m. the other day. She wasn’t complaining—she loves dogs and has five of her …

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Family is Everything

As part of our city’s 250 celebration, organizers encouraged Pittsburghers to hold family reunions and bring people to Pittsburgh to showcase “America’s Most Livable City.” And so,I followed suit, inviting my family to come to the Heinz History Center in June for a family reunion. Admittedly, there’s nothing as boring as someone else’s family. Yet …

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Manfred Honeck, Music Director

I came to Pittsburgh in 2006 originally just to be a guest conductor for the symphony orchestra. I didn’t know at the time that they were looking for a music director. I really had no idea about it. When I arrived at the Pittsburgh airport, I noticed something that stayed with me. Two nuns were …

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Donovan, Morris, Hattler, Schloss, Pausch, Pidgeon, Diven, Witter, Handy, Harmeier, Jones, White

Bishop Edward V. Donovan, 76 After working as a metallurgist with U.S. Steel for 20 years, Edward Donovan turned to religion, forming a prayer group that ultimately broke away from the Catholic Church and became the Community of the Crucified One.Under Bishop Donovan’s leadership, the Community grew to include its own priests and nuns and …

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An Early Tasting

I had been at the wine tasing two hours when I called my wife to move back our 3 p.m. meeting. It was shaping up to be a long afternoon —300 wines were lined up in a Napa Valley hotel, each begging to be sipped, considered and critiqued. How could I walk out? Plus, it …

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Song of Slippery Rock

This “Song” even has lyrics—of a sort—in the form of Jack M. MacDonald’s How Slippery Rock Got Its Name, written for the town’s 1975 sesquicentennial: Settler: Gosh all hemlock!What do I see? A redskin pointin’ his gun at me? Indian: That’s right, Pale Face… since I’m discovered, don’t move a step. I’ve got you covered. Settler: …

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Smicksburg, Pa.

Soaring gas prices might have you reconsidering autumn travel, but much of it can be duplicated within an hour’s drive of Pittsburgh. If you are yearning for New England’s fall colors, Lancaster’s Amish countryside, a vineyard’s fall glory or a small town’s welcome, try a visit to Smicksburg, in northern Indiana County. The drive to …

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A Very Short History of Pittsburgh

Geography comes first. Close upon the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, one gets a sense of westward flowing waters, but a map of Western Pennsylvania shows the Allegheny flowing south and the Monongahela north, almost at right angles to the Ohio. A fourth river, the Potomac, comes into play by bringing the coast …

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Great Allegheny Passage

On May 21, 1975, a small train rolled out of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Pittsburgh. At the head was a yellow, red and blue Chessie System locomotive, #6600 with asleeping kitten on the side. It was followed by a gleaming stainless steel Amtrak Silver Dome, #9401, and a vintage blue, white, red …

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Reeves, Spence, Johnson, Halevy, Gellman, Griffin, Chamberlain, Fouts

Todd S. Reeves is executive director and superintendent of the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. He comes to Pittsburgh from the Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver, where he was superintendent.A native of Eugene, OR, Reeves began as a speech and language pathologist and teacher, and later served as director of special education …

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