2010 Winter

Portrait of Penn Avenue

Whether the cultural district or the Strip District, Garfield, Point Breeze or Wilkinsburg, Pittsburghers know Penn Avenue as the heart of every neighborhood that grew up along it. Photographer John Beale, also a professor of photojournalism at Penn State University, has spent a year capturing images of life along Penn, and a portion of that …

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Behold the Crow

On winter afternoons, thin inky streaks flow across Pittsburgh skies. They follow invisible channels leading over leafless hillsides, empty schoolyards and ice-strewn rivers. They drift, break apart and reconstitute, often in the city’s East End in great airborne swirls. They are the crows of Pittsburgh. Crows are common in myths, children’s stories and cartoons. Eating …

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The City Revisited

After a year-long anniversary celebration in 2008 and two national championships and a global summit in 2009, one might think that the city’s appetite for tributes would be pretty well sated. But there is always room for a little something more, particularly when the fare is as lovingly prepared and tastefully presented as Franklin Toker’s …

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Coming Home

My mother would busily get the house ready. One of my jobs was to check the colored Christmas lights on the white pine that towered over our white frame house. We left the lights in all year. The tree kept growing, so every December I would add extra strands as far up as I could …

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Cure Alzheimer’s Fund & Our State Leaders

Long involved in charitable giving, East End residents Jacqui and Jeff Morby wanted to do more. They wanted to affect the lives of others for the better. So five years ago, they created the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. It’s estimated that Alzheimer’s care currently costs about $120 billion a year, or some 15 percent of the …

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Risking Women’s Health

If I told you that breast cancer kills Pittsburgh women at a higher rate than women in other cities, and that Pittsburgh women die of heart attacks at a higher rate than women in other cities, what would you say? And what if I compounded the negativity by telling you that African American women are …

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I, Teacher

Early in Isaac Asimov’s speculative fiction classic “I, Robot,” a little girl named Gloria becomes more attached to a robot named Robbie than to her own parents. Originally wary of Robbie, Gloria’s parents grow to love and respect the tin man after it saves their little munchkin’s life by sweeping her away from the path …

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The Short, Happy Life of the WASP ascendancy

Once upon a time in America, when the going was good, there emerged what looked like a ruling class. We’ll call it the WASP Ascendancy. Standing for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, WASP was coined by University of Pennsylvania sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (1916–1996). This WASP Ascendancy traces a soft 20th century parabola reaching its apogee in …

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Oxymoron or Opportunity?

From Pittsburgh to the hills of West Virginia, a small army of scientists is racing to tame the billions of tons of carbon vented from coal-burning power plants, working with data sets, computer models, cost analyses and other such tools that belie the drama of their high-stakes investigation. Burning coal casts off nasty pollutants, including …

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Choose Wisely

For Dee Strunk, it came down to the screened-in porch. She was touring retirement communities when she saw a charming porch in a carriage house at The Woodlands at St. Barnabus, and she knew this was it. The porch reminded her of the one she loved at her old house in McCandless. “It’s my own …

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Word Brains

No two games of Scrabble are ever the same. But when the Pittsburgh Scrabble Club convenes on Wednesday nights, there’s a scene that replays itself over and over again. “Someone will show up for the first time and say ‘I’m here because nobody in my family wants to play me. They’re all tired of me …

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Enrico’s Café

Chuck DiNardo, legendary food and drink impresario, operated the Hollywood Social Club in Shadyside into the 1970s. The haunt of politicians, every old mustache in the region and visiting celebrities, the “Sosh” was accessed through an unmarked narrow walkway, easily missed, between what is now The Pottery Barn and Kards Unlimited on Walnut Street. That …

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Pen to Paper

In this age of emailing, texting, and tweeting, the art of letter writing could be lost. Fortunately, many people still enjoy holding a real book or magazine in their hands—and putting pen to paper for correspondence. Anyone who has ever packed up the belongings of an elderly relative or friend has likely found a pile …

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Collected Treasures

When Ailsa Mellon Bruce died in 1969, she left behind a collection of fine and decorative arts that was as extraordinary as it was extensive. The daughter of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon and sister of the equally noted collector Paul Mellon, she had spent much of her life and considerable fortune amassing …

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The Man Behind the Players

Kevin Colbert grew up the youngest of five boys living in a house on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The house had one bedroom and one shower. The five boys lived in the attic, and they were orphaned by the time Colbert was 15. Recipes for success, however, can be tricky things to gauge. Despite the odds, …

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Pittsburgh’s Stealth Renaissance

When it was announced 12 years ago that Jared Cohon would become president of Carnegie Mellon, he returned to his Yale office to find a bouquet of flowers. The name on the card read Mark Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. It was the beginning of a relationship between Cohon, Nordenberg and UPMC President …

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The Story of the Marcellus Shale

For days, they had been rumbling up the rutted dirt track that led to the top of the rocky dome above the rolling fields of Washington County; a ’round-the-clock procession of big rigs carting up thousands of gallons of water. They’d drop their loads, turn around as best they could in the axle-deep mud that …

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Ron Freeman: Bringing Light to a Dark Science

Somewhere between Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, sometime between assertions that America does not torture and insistence that the end justified the means, I remembered what a Pittsburgh police officer once told me about the head of the city’s Major Crimes Division: “Everybody confesses to Ron Freeman.” I first met Freeman almost a decade ago. The …

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Minimalist Majesty

“We’ve actually had guests who couldn’t find the front door,” laughs the owner of this magnificent residence hidden on seven secluded acres in Fox Chapel. Indeed, the curved walls that soar from 18 to 28 feet in height present a series of undulating planes that gently disguise the entrance. The effect is one of total …

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Connolly, Maazel, Gordon, Marnatti, Zona, Staley, Hare

J. Wray Connolly, 75 Connolly played a pivotal role in the transition that brought Chancellor Mark Nordenberg to the helm of the University of Pittsburgh. Connolly spent his career at the H.J. Heinz Co., where, among other things, he was credited for the pioneering transition of putting Heinz Ketchup in a plastic bottle. It was …

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Kurtz, Irwin, Cangiano, Duncan, Casey, Hudson, Bonte

Dr. Sanford Kurtz is executive vice president, chief medical officer and president of the Physician Organization at West Penn Allegheny Health System. He comes to Pittsburgh from the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., where he was chief operating officer and executive vice president. At WPAHS, Dr. Kurtz will be responsible for designing, building and leading …

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Bringing the Good Cheer

While it’s my great pleasure in life to talk about wine, enjoy it with friends, pour it in my restaurant and assess it at tastings, I very rarely give wine as gifts at holiday time. People expect it from me now. I’m the wine guy, so wine’s too obvious. And that’s too bad, because this …

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