2014 Winter

Considering a Pittsburgh Tradition

It was two years ago that Bill Dietrich, our longtime Pittsburgh Quarterly history writer, died and left $500 million to community institutions. I mentioned Bill to out-of-towners recently while explaining Pittsburgh’s unusual social fabric. He’d studied Pittsburgh’s industrial titans and the legacies they left that still shape our city. If he’d grown up elsewhere, Bill …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2014

In the stocks: Fox Chapel Area High School When Fox Chapel High junior David Schaffner arrived at a Friday night home football game on Sept. 13, he realized he still had the hunting knife in his pocket that he’d been using in a wooded area near his home. As he approached the gate, he turned …

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Sklarsky, Hacker, Longhi, Bier, Stephan, Ivanko, Roman, Webster

Frank S. Sklarsky is executive vice president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries. A native of Buffalo, Sklarsky comes to Pittsburgh from Princeton, N.J., where he held the same position with Tyco International Ltd. Previously, he was executive vice president and chief financial officer at both Eastman Kodak Co. and ConAgra Foods, Inc. after …

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Mark A. Nordenberg, Professor of Law & University Administrator

Minnesota is the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes,’ and northern Minnesota, where I was born and raised, has more than its share. Because Duluth, my hometown, was built on a hill, we had a scenic view of Lake Superior from our home. To me, it was like an ocean. Duluth was a great place to be …

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Glory daze

In this season of Steelers discontent, Gary Pomerantz offers rattled fans some balm. “Their Life’s Work” is a thoroughly reported and clearly written account of the Steelers’ sensational ’70s, framed through the “brotherhood” of the players and their interplay with the owners. Based on more than 250 interviews over three years, Pomerantz retells the Steelers …

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Lay your money down

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never really caught on to the gambling culture of pro football. Not that I’m totally clueless. I understand the over-under and a pick not covering. But when it comes to teasers, props and such, they might as well be speaking calculus. This is not the case in Britain, …

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The height of city living

The sleek new Fairmont Pittsburgh is a glamorous addition to the Downtown scene. Movie stars including Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford have made it the go-to hotel for those seeking luxury, privacy and service. But even more exclusive are The Residences located on the top 10 floors of Three PNC Plaza, which adjoins the hotel. …

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Wintering in Pittsburgh

With winter’s chill approaching, most birds long ago migrated south. Migration actually begins in August and continues through the milder months of September and October. Birds wing their way to more abundant food sources, with some of Pittsburgh’s species heading deep into South America to tropical climes. A few hearty species winter in western Pennsylvania, …

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Hatfield and Home

At the corner of Hatfield and Home streets, lively currents in Lawrenceville’s past, present and future converge in vivid architecture. Historic rowhouses line the street in one direction, and in another are some of the remains of industrial infrastructure. The substantial remaining open space toward the river seems to ask almost vocally what to do …

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The Carnegie International: 2013

Let me say at the beginning that I adore the current Carnegie International, curated by Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski. It has made me change my mind about a number of things I have held dear in the past. And, to me at least, it is already old hat, because for nearly two …

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Pickling plenty

As the garden tips from late summer to fall and the plants become a little woody, then crispy, the only thing to do—if you’re a gardener like me—is turn to the things you’ve put up during the months of productivity. It’s nostalgic, opening up a jar of tomato sauce or jam. Garden memories may seem …

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Raising a Glass (and a Local Industry)

It is near mayhem inside the headquarters of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, a drafty warehouse next door to a glass factory along an industrial stretch of Shaler. A forklift topples over a pile of cardboard boxes waiting to be filled with vodka bottles. Giant fermentation tanks are hot with bubbling CO2. A leg of pantyhose—stuffed with …

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Shouf’s Café

Sometimes, when Rabih Fahed pauses during a hectic night at Shouf’s Cafe, the room filled with love and laughter, families and friends hugging hello and crowding in close, and exotic aromas teasing the air, he can close his eyes and be back in the Lebanon of his youth. As a boy, he roamed the souks …

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Vox Humana

I met the great oral historian and journalist Studs Terkel when I was 18 years old. I didn’t know much about Studs back then, only that he was a writer and a pretty famous one, and since I wanted to be a writer, too, it was probably a good idea to go see him. I …

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The Formidable Frick

One hundred and twenty five years ago, the eastern side of Pittsburgh’s East End—its grand villas powered by electricity and surrounded by gleaming motorcars—was arguably the richest and most tech-savvy neighborhood in the country. Within a half-mile stretch between Point Breeze and Wilkinsburg dwelt a dazzle of shrewd self-made millionaires: Henry Heinz, the Carnegie brothers, …

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Voyaging through the hollow

Pittsburgh’s Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway doesn’t exactly rank among the eight manmade Wonders of the World. It may not even rank among the eight wonders of Pittsburgh. But even busways have birthdays, and its 30th is a fine occasion to consider this distinctly local specimen of infrastructure and urban curiosity. It’s basically a …

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Public Interest Radio

Marco Cardamone offered a blunt assessment in recalling the transformation from Duquesne University’s radio station WDUQ to 90.5 FM WESA, an all-news National Public Radio format: “We got pretty clobbered,” he said with a chuckle. “The backlash was much greater than we anticipated. You always lose part of an audience in a radio ownership transition, …

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Louis vs. Lewis

Joe Louis was the man. Everyone in the country knew his name. He was heavyweight champion of the world when the title was the most prized crown in all of sports and carried more prestige than the biggest Hollywood star. The light-heavyweight championship, on the other hand, had all of the stature of the winner …

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Life Under Pressure

We’ve all experienced it: Our heart suddenly starts pounding, adrenaline courses through our legs and, unintentionally, we shout a profanity. Our body’s automatic response systems are helping us deal with a sudden stressful situation so we have the energy to act quickly, like when another driver cuts us off. “These systems are beautifully adapted for …

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A cookware quest

Forget about Black Friday. If you’re interested in top-quality cookware at great prices, you can sleep off that Thanksgiving meal and make the drive to Washington County on Dec. 6–7 for the All-Clad Factory Outlet Sale in Canonsburg. The semiannual sale held the first weekends of December and June started as an on-site “factory seconds” …

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The Royalty Rub

When Mary Jane Foelster and her husband, Richard, retired five years ago and left Philadelphia for a secluded 50-acre tract of land in Bradford County, they never figured they’d get rich. In fact, until they were about to close on the property, they didn’t even know that the previous owners had signed a lease with …

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Bridging the STEM Gap

If America is unable to meet our growing need for young people with STEM skills, it isn’t because we aren’t aware of the looming crisis. According to the online clearinghouse STEMconnector, more than 3,700 organizations across the country are working to bridge the STEM Gap. The problem is so Hydra-headed that it’s hard to know …

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