From the Editor

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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Big Things for Pittsburgh

This fall is an exciting time at Pittsburgh Quarterly and in Pittsburgh. In its Golden Quill Awards in May, the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania judged PQ to be the region’s best magazine for the seventh straight year. And I believe that this issue contains the strongest combination of stories we’ve ever produced—stories that reflect …

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Gettysburg: The 150th Anniversary

On a beautiful April Sunday, I got up early and drove to Gettysburg. July marks the battle’s 150th anniversary, and I had signed up for a two-hour horseback battlefield tour. I’m not a history buff, but I am an American, and Gettysburg has always held a unique gravity. We had a relative who disappeared during …

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Keep the Home Fires Burning?

In our yard, there’s no shortage of trees that old age or wind bring crashing back to earth. I cut and split this wood the old-fashioned way—with a wedge and a sledge. And as the old adage goes, “He who chops his own wood warms himself twice.” I work at home, and on winter mornings, …

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E Pluribus Unum

This fall, Pittsburgh Quarterly had a subscription campaign. Along with many of the returned cards, a nice note accompanied the check. Three people, however, returned notes sans check, saying they wouldn’t subscribe to a magazine that supports Marcellus Shale drilling. One ended his letter: “You should be ashamed of yourself!” First, I considered the building …

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The Sky Is Falling

In June I bowed to the demands of my three college-aged children and got the whole family smart phones. As I waited in line at the AT&T store, a guy behind me suggested I should get the “Siri” iPhone. “You can ask it anything, and it answers,” he said. Perhaps I should do that, I …

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Changing the Cottage

In April, my wife and I made the 600-mile drive to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula unusually early. We went to meet with contractors to begin fixing up the old cottage. What we call “The Big Cottage” was completed for the summer of 1908, the first built on LaSalle Island along the northern shore of Lake Huron. …

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A Remarkable Time for the Region

Twenty years ago, when newspapers were strong, the coin of the realm for ambitious reporters was winning awards. A slightly caricatured general rule was: The more intractable, insoluble and depressing the issue you wrote about, the more awards you’d win. Newspapers were in the business of problems, not solutions. In 1995, I marked 10 years …

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A Pittsburgh Original

At a civic event 11 years ago, I saw an unusually dapper fellow—navy pinstripe suit, rep tie and perfectly combed white hair. The fact is, I thought he was someone else. I went over and introduced myself, and he said, “Bill Dietrich.” The name meant nothing to me. But after chatting for a minute or …

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Into the Wild

What could be nicer than a family trip with all three kids just before they head off to college and my wife and I become empty nesters? This, at least, was my thinking when I signed up for a three-day, two-night pack trip into Yellowstone Park this summer. Ride in on horseback, do some fishing, …

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The New News

It’s said the stock market climbs a wall of worry. Equally so, society. And for the past several years, there’s been great concern about journalism. The common wisdom is that, with newspapers significantly weakened, citizens no longer get the information they need about their communities, and public officials who would be held accountable by the …

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Thoughts of Spring

It’s been another long winter in Pittsburgh. Snow, ice and cold, mixed with work, responsibility and deadlines. So what’s the best thing about a Pittsburgh winter and its low, gray skies? Perhaps that it makes the coming of spring a gift from God. In the spring, as Tennyson said, a young man turns his thoughts …

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Pittsburgh Quarterly—Five Years Old

On a frigid Saturday in Jan. 2006,  I packed my three children—ages 12, 14 and 15—into our family car, loaded to the axles with magazines. I’d mailed most of the 40,000 copies of our first issue, but to save money, I planned to distribute magazines door-to-door through Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. And so with the car …

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The Passing of the Editor

One day in the early 1990s, the Post-Gazette newsroom was in an uproar because my wife, the society editor, had run a picture of the publisher and his brother with Jerry Springer at the Kentucky Derby. Connecting our enterprise with “Jer-ry” was so alarming to the staff that a meeting was called at the city …

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My Summer “Reading” List

The first time I listened to a book was after a cocktail party. For a variety of reasons, I couldn’t get out of the party. The trouble was, I also had to be in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a noon meeting the next day. So, while it was not a great idea, I …

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Ancient Lessons

After turbulent flights, impenetrable storms and closed airports, I reached Tucson in the wee hours. I went to meet three college friends and our former professor for a weekend seminar in that city of cacti and mountains. Three things reminded me of college days: missing sleep, not finishing the reading and contemplating what it means …

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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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Your One and Only

2009 has been a trying year for media organizations across the country. Several local magazines have folded; Pittsburgh magazine has been sold to a Colorado company. Let me assure you, however, that Pittsburgh Quarterly remains strong and committed to bringing the very best in magazine journalism to this region. In that regard, Pittsburgh Quarterly has …

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From the Publisher, Summer 2009

When I recently toured our new Children’s Hospital, I’d been aware that great attention was paid  to the design for at least a couple of reasons. One was to facilitate the best patient care. Another was to create a place where children would feel secure and comfortable. That well-being, of course, reinforces the care, which is …

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From the Publisher, Spring 2009

My 17-year-old daughter wanted to go to the inauguration, and we went back and forth about it. There were plenty of reasons not to. The crowd was expected to be 2–4 million, and people had been asked to stay home. I’d been in a densely packed crowd once before, where you couldn’t move and were …

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From the Publisher, Winter 2009

I’m sorry to report the passing of the co-founder of Pittsburgh Quarterly, Smokey. He was almost seven when he was killed by a car this fall. The “Man’s Best Friend” label fit Smokey, whose picture appears for a third and final time on this page. Those who have dogs know the wonderful things they bring …

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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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