Summer 2011

The Tao of Emily

Readers, rejoice! Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, not everything in the world is getting worse. Novelist Stewart O’Nan, for instance, just keeps getting better and better. The Point Breeze native has long been noted for his use of beautiful, unpretentious prose to document the lives of ordinary people dealing with losses such as deaths, …

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To Educate or Not

When David Wang graduated at the top of his 2008 Mt. Lebanon High School class, he had his pick of prestigious universities. The University of Pittsburgh offered him a full undergraduate scholarship and guaranteed his admission into Pitt’s School of Medicine after his undergraduate degree. So Wang turned down Princeton, Duke, Cal Tech and the …

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The Black Diamond

Before the civil war, what black community existed in Pittsburgh largely included Northern-born free blacks and runaway slaves, many of whom had traveled the Underground Railroad. This small black population would preside over a new generation of African-Americans arriving from the South. In that first Southern, black migration, the city’s African American population grew from …

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Arnold Palmer, Golfing Legend and Entrepreneur

I was born in 1929 and raised during the Great Depression in Latrobe, Pa. Life was pretty tough in those days, but thankfully, my mother, father, little sister and I were together a whole lot of the time. We played golf, skied and went to movies—things like that—but we were basically homebodies. I have many …

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Opportunity Knocks

In Pittsburgh’s industrial heyday, the region dove into recession as the mighty engines of manufacturing throttled way back. And when a recession ended, Pittsburgh roared back, as rising demand jump-started factories. In the past 20 years though, the region has followed a different pattern. Without as much manufacturing and with more healthcare and education jobs, …

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Beachy Keen

Waiting at the drawbridge for the fishing boats to pass, a bag of fresh crabs in the back seat and a lazy Gulf breeze ruffling the palms, it’s easy to see why a family from Pittsburgh would want to linger in Boca Grande. Located on tiny Gasparilla Island on the west coast of Florida, it …

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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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Bring Back the Paddlefish

A century ago, as work neared completion on the region’s locks and dams and Pittsburgh was producing half of the nation’s steel, paddlefish disappeared from the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. A cousin to sturgeon and equally coveted for its roe, this curious-looking creature with the spatula-like snout used to thrive here—ranging great distances and …

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Facing Extinction

Wildlife biologists Greg Turner and DeeAnn Reeder slip into the sort of coveralls you would expect to see on an infectious disease ward and enter the cold, musty confines of an old Fayette County mine. With headlamps lighting their rubble-strewn path, they venture deep into a labyrinth of rooms long abandoned except by bats. Here, …

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High-Tech Sylvania

On a cool morning late in 2006, the phone rang in Esther Barazzone’s office, a suite overlooking Chatham University’s cozy Shadyside campus. Preoccupied by the re-accreditation of the undergraduate women’s program and preparations for new graduate degrees, the president was unprepared for the question she heard on the line from Dan Onorato’s office: Would Chatham possibly …

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The Common Nighthawk

It’s the seventh inning stretch on a warm night at PNC Park. The sun has gone down, and the bright lights of baseball illuminate the summer sky. Downtown buildings glow across the river: Federated, Highmark, UPMC, the arched alcove of the Renaissance Hotel. Your eyes drift up above the cityscape, and then you spot it—a …

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Raccoon Creek

In 1960, newspaper columnist max henrici recounted his first visit, 20 years prior, to Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve: “It was a revelation. My eyes were opened to a multitude of interesting things… It is not too much to say that my life was revolutionized by this experience….” Henrici became a great amateur botanist and author …

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A Toxic Topic

There is no doubt about it. The Marcellus Shale is radioactive, in every sense of the word. In the literal sense of the word, geologists and drillers have long known that each shale deposit has its own radioactive signature. In fact, they have often measured that radiation—from uranium, thorium, radium 226 and radium 228—and used …

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The Advisor: Jack Barbour

He has a super bowl ring, a friend in the Governor’s mansion, and he’s in charge of one of the country’s biggest law firms. To boot, he’s got a dinosaur exhibit to his credit. But for all his achievements, you won’t find Jack Barbour too close to the limelight. Which is just how he likes …

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Citizens of Aspinwall & State Spending Priorities

Last summer, Susan Crookston looked at the 8-acre Aspinwall Marina site on the Allegheny River, which was about to become a 650-car parking lot. When she saw it, the Aspinwall mother of three said, “If this plan falls through for some reason, we should try to buy this ourselves.” Laughter met her idea, but when …

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Wheeling v. Pittsburgh

Now he belongs to the ages.” Those famous words were uttered by U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton as the last breath of life fell from the lips of Abraham Lincoln. With the murder of Lincoln, the task of reconstruction would take a very different face and raise political retaliation in the U.S. to …

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A Model of Respect

At a time when organized labor is under attack and manufacturing is crawling to its feet after a dramatic recession, two major players, John Surma, CEO of U.S. Steel, and Leo W. Gerard, international president of United Steelworkers, met on the North Side campus of Community College of Allegheny County to discuss the future. It …

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Posner, Buchanan, Mullaney, Berliner, Archie, Kane, Friday

Henry Posner Jr., 92 Posner was a very successful businessman and generous philanthropist. Valedictorian at Shady Side Academy and honors graduate of Princeton, he was a research scientist during World War II. He taught chemistry at Pitt before joining Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising, a billboard business he took over from his father. Posner became a brilliant …

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Cool It This Summer

Some guys will always go for the blockbuster red wine: the high-alcohol zinfandel or inky shiraz. I can appreciate those big reds, too, if conditions are right (snow, cigars, a two-inch-thick porterhouse). But when summer mercifully comes to Pittsburgh, those monster reds are as out of place as a woolen overcoat worn poolside. It’s time …

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Buon Giorno Café

When austrian native Gustav Lindenthal designed and built the current Smithfield Street Bridge, he placed it on the stone piers originally laid by Prussian-born John A. Roebling for the previous bridge at this site. Roebling, the renowned designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, had built a foundation over the Mon that was too perfect for Lindenthal …

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Wall of Water

On May 31, 1889, 20 million tons of water broke through the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club’s earthen dam on Lake Conemaugh and destroyed almost everything in its path. Hardest hit was the city of Johnstown, 14 miles downstream. When the waters (and ensuing fires) abated, the toll included 2,209 dead with countless homes …

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Arrivals – Summer 2011

Winthrop Watson is president and chief executive officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., he comes to Pittsburgh from Hong Kong, where he was a managing director with J.P. Morgan.A graduate of the University of Virginia and Stanford University’s M.B.A. program, Watson and his wife, Signe Warner Watson, …

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