2018 Winter

Developing Young Minds

On May 1, 1969, a western Pennsylvania native with a relatively unknown children’s program testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Communication. Public broadcasting faced having its $20 million budget cut in half, and policymakers were skeptical about the educational benefit of children watching television—until Fred Rogers spoke of his year-old show and television’s potential to …

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Air Quality Regulation: A Primer

Air quality in the United States is governed by a complex regulatory structure that sets pollution limits and authorizes federal, state and local agencies to enforce them. The regulations which agencies enforce vary with the source of pollution, what they emit and the air quality in the region where they are located. Federal President Richard …

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Mobile Source Pollution

Creeping into the Fort Pitt Tunnel, angling for space at the Parkway East’s Grant Street exit, or elbowing into a gap in traffic on the Veterans Bridge, tens of thousands of people drive or ride into and out of Downtown nearly every day. Trailing behind them are the often-invisible exhausts of internal combustion engines. At …

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Air Rules

Bluer skies over southwestern Pennsylvania owe a debt to local, state and federal regulations that have evolved over decades to spur technological advancements and investment in controlling air pollutants from industrial plants to the cars we drive. It wasn’t until the City of Pittsburgh adopted its Smoke Control Ordinance in 1941 that the dense smoke …

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Up in the Air: The Final Chapter

Air polllution’s place in the history of southwestern Pennsylvania is as prominent as the region’s mighty rivers and the steel industry that once crowded their banks. For nearly a century, it was a defining characteristic in the eyes of visitors, who pulled no punches when describing the grim conditions they found. “In truth, Pittsburg [sic] …

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A Mountain in the Winter

People often hike through landscapes without having a real sense of the place. In the Laurel Highlands, there is an opportunity to get a “sense of place” before or after your trek, by taking advantage of a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the east flank of Laurel Hill and the Laurel Hill Creek valley, at the …

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Firing on All Cylinders

When Paul Hennigan became president of Point Park University in 2006, he inherited an institution that a little more than a decade earlier was in danger of going out of business. One of his first priorities was deciding the viability of the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland. Eleven years later, the new Playhouse is set to …

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The Keys to a Happy Retirement

Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce, or soon will leave it, in an unprecedented wave. Census data tell us that the number of retirees in the region soon could swell to six figures. In this final edition of our “Silver Tsunami” series, we ask, as Butch Cassidy might, “Who are those guys?” Though their circumstances …

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The Cedar Waxwing

Pittsburgh has produced some renowned birders and ornithologists. Our hills and rivers attract a wide variety of birds, and they, in turn, inspire generation after generation to look to the skies—from John James Audubon, who painted the long-extinct Passenger Pigeon while passing through the Gateway to the West (an old moniker for our fair city), …

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Saying Goodbye

As a child, my mother often reminded me that we all enter and leave this world the same way. It’s what we do between those two events that will define our lives. It’s likely that my mother, Edith Beale, wasn’t much different than other mothers raising families in and around towns lining the valleys of …

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New Long Stairway in Mill District, 1940

Perched atop a network of stairs, photographer Jack Delano captured this snow-dusted Hazelwood scene in 1940 for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). A Russian native who settled in the Philadelphia area around age 10, Delano studied art and music at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Known primarily for his dramatic images, Delano, who …

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Helen Hanna Casey, Real Estate Maven

I grew up in Shadyside, the daughter of Howard W. Hanna Jr., and Anne Freyvogel Hanna, with an older brother and younger sister. Eventually, all three of us went to small Catholic colleges. My brother, Howard W. “Hoddy” Hanna III, to which he has added Howard W. Hanna IV and V, attended John Carroll in …

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Blankenship, Rossi, Rizzo, Peddada, Finkel, Davitt, Reis

Chip Blankenship is CEO of Arconic, the former Alcoa division that makes aluminum and titanium parts for the aerospace and automotive industries. A metallurgist by training, Blankenship began his career with General Electric in 1992 after earning a B.S. in materials engineering from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the …

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Winter Patterns

“Where, twisted round the barren oak, The summer vine in beauty clung, And summer winds the stillness broke, The crystal icicle is hung.” —From “Woods in Winter,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Walking our woods in winter, I see the natural world differently than in the warmer months. Distracted by neither color nor blossom, I instead …

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The Perfect Winter Blend

I loved reading “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia” by Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with United Steelworkers of America in Pittsburgh, even though I disagreed with just about every page of it. We all benefit from hearing sustained arguments by serious people who challenge our beliefs and assumptions. In the end, Dan did not change my …

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The Trouble with Sugar

As a liver specialist for more than 25 years, Dr. Michael Babich has seen a seismic shift in his practice. No longer are viruses or chronic alcoholism destroying the livers of most of his patients at Allegheny Health Network. Now, it’s the overconsumption of fructose—an industrialized form of sugar that has crept into the American …

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Burger, Beaumont, Fincke, Lowry, Frankel, Papadakos, Dozzi, Troan

Herb Burger, 87: A leading Pittsburgh advertising executive, Burger led the PR effort that created the 1980s slogan, “Pittsburgh: The city with a smile on its face” while president of Creamer Inc. After the firm was sold, Burger started the St. George Group. He was the first chairman of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and was …

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Looking Inward, Way Inward

Until about six weeks ago I never fully appreciated that, just like all the strange characters in science fiction movies, I am a mutant. It all began in June when a friend mentioned his results from a genetic testing outfit. A few years ago, I’d considered paying one of the services to find out my …

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What Drives Red Whittaker?

In January, Carnegie Mellon University professor Red Whittaker set a goal that had nothing to do with robotics: to best a field of competitors in an indoor rowing race. The ergometer competition, a 2,000-meter battle on stationary machines, marked the first time the 69-year-old Whittaker had rowed since his college days at Princeton. Since then …

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An Artful Blend

At their best, cities cultivate relationships among buildings across time. Destroy too many historic structures, and you lose memory, craft, and persistent cultural value. Fail to build new buildings well, and you risk stasis and irrelevance. The balance of time periods should be art as well as commerce. Accordingly, a new building with sophisticated and …

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On a Sophisticated Note

When Jim Spencer decided to move the headquarters of his renewable energy business from New York to his native Pittsburgh, finding the right house became a priority. His partner, attorney Michael Lin, remained in Manhattan so their daughter could finish school there. On weekends the couple commuted between the Duquesne Club, where Spencer was staying, …

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Standing Tall

This fall’s NFL national anthem controversy was an opera whose bloated cast of characters would be hard to match—from President Donald Trump, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to team owners across the country to rich NFL players professing social concern. And as many problems as the world seems to have, for a solid week, the …

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