2016 Spring

The City-County Building

Ask people their favorite downtown Pittsburgh building, and many will tell you Henry Hobson Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail. Pittsburgh’s first really famous piece of architecture has been popular consistently since its 1888 completion. But the truly memorable public space is actually right next door, the City-County Building, completed in 1917. The soaring three-bay …

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Is Being Overweight the New Smoking?

Since hitting puberty four decades ago, Claudia Pianko has struggled with her weight. “When I was in 6th grade, I was 144 pounds,” she says. By last January, the 5’ 8’’ Greensburg woman weighed in at 385 pounds. Not surprisingly, Pianko, now 54, has a slew of weight-related health problems: high blood pressure, diabetes, knee …

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Arrival of More Immigrants Softens Population Decline

Total population fell by 4,597 people throughout the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area from 2013 to 2014. The five-year population trend, however, is one of stability. The region’s population grew slightly in three of those years. The one-year decline—two-tenths of 1 percent—occurred despite the fact that slightly more people moved into the region than left it …

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New strategies emerge for strengthening neighborhood arts culture

The arthouse in Homewood is hard to miss. It’s the house on Hamilton Avenue adorned with mosaics, from the stars against a field of blue covering one of its sides to the swirls of hearts and other images around words and phrases like “yes” and “you are beautiful” that greet visitors to its porch. Inside, …

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States collaborate to grow region’s petrochemical industry

The governors of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia signaled their interest in expanding the petrochemical industry’s footprint in the tri-state region last year to take advantage of abundant natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations underneath it. After competing against one another to lure the industry to their states for years, Pennsylvania Governor …

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Region Begins to imagine the transit network of the future

Civic leaders across southwestern Pennsylvania want people to start thinking big about the future of transportation in the region. Imagine commuter rail extending to the airport, expanded bus rapid transit, connected bike lanes throughout the area, smart traffic signals—that kind of big. A new leadership coalition, the Regional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RTA), emerged …

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Region’s housing market remains the picture of stability

The regional housing market stayed in character in 2015, with home prices appreciating but at a slower rate than in most other Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions. Homeownership is high across the Pittsburgh MSA. U.S. Census Bureau data show that 69.3 percent of homes in the seven-county MSA are occupied by their owners. Only Minneapolis among …

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Local initiative gains acclaim, plans May celebration

In the Monongahela River Valley, where now-silent steel mills once defined the region, a traditional classroom has been stripped of its chalkboards and remade as an entertainment technology academy. Game design theory now helps engage students in English, computer science and math lessons. In childcare centers, children share their day in pictures and voice compositions …

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City police attempt to mend relations in African American neighborhoods

Some of the photos posted on the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Facebook pages include: A smiling child wearing a policeman’s cap and holding a police radio alongside a city cop, an officer and child eating ice cream bars, and smiling police officers riding bikes with smiling kids. The image of citizen-friendly policing is one that …

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Air and water pollution still challenge region

Environmental stewardship is not a traditional strength of southwestern Pennsylvania, where the legacy of industrialization and growth includes periods of dense air pollution, and streams and rivers tainted with abandoned mine acid and effluent from inadequate municipal sewage systems. Gone are the days when soot from mills and home furnaces turned afternoon into night and …

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Pittsburgh Sees Future Unfolding Around Principles of Sustainability

High above the Monongahela River in Hazelwood sits Pittsburgh’s last great brownfield. Only the ghostly shell of Mill 19 stands as evidence of the steel and coke works that for a century had given the neighborhood bustle, prosperity and some of the unhealthiest air in the region. The rest of the 178 acres lies barren, …

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Risky Health Behaviors Run High Across the Region

When it comes to avoiding preventable diseases, southwestern Pennsylvanians are their own worst enemy. Rates of smoking, being overweight and physical inactivity across the seven counties that make up the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area are among the worst in the Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions and the nation. Such behaviors have been strongly linked to preventable …

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The Path to Growth

My 13-year-old son is growing taller by the day. I asked him jokingly when he would stop and he replied “If I had my way, never.” He said it felt good to be achieving “new heights” even if he knew it would come to an end some day. The same seems to be true of …

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