Spring 2020

Gauging K–12 Education Quality

Allegheny County residents are tough graders when assessing the performance of the public schools that educate 115,000 county children in grades kindergarten through 12, a far-ranging survey of their views on education suggests. Fewer than half give schools a better-than-fair rating for their class size, funding, student preparedness, parental involvement and diversity of the student …

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Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow 2020

To view a PDF version of Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow 2020, click here.

Jim Roddey, Business Executive and Community Leader

I was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1933, when the city was still pretty small, and lived with my parents in a little house at the foot of a mountain. My father was the comptroller for the city but, more importantly, he was a passionate ham radio operator, and a lover of electronics—and flying. …

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Pittsburgh’s Economy 2020

Pittsburgh’s economy has a difficult row to hoe as we look ahead to 2020. Economic potential through the new year will be supported by stable consumer conditions and business sentiment, but the resources necessary to keep up with demand are running thin. It may be time for Pittsburgh to deliver on the promise of affordability …

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Cleveland 11,000 – Pittsburgh 1

The housing bubble had burst and the nation was reeling from recession. The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County were feeling the pain more than most places in 2009. Foreclosures were mounting by the thousands, and Fannie Mae and other lenders were desperate for a way to off-load the abandoned properties filling their books. They …

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Dancing on Pittsburgh Streets: Bring Gene Kelly Alive Again

A shirtless Tupac Shakur stalked the stage at California’s Coachella music festival in 2012. He raised his arms to the roar of the stunned crowd and launched into his posthumous hit single, “Hail Mary.” The performance took place more than 15 years after Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting. But on that night at …

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Nathanson, Cannon, Jansons, Hartford, Wolf, Armstrong, Siewers, Goodfriend

Harvey C. Nathanson, 83: Nathanson was chief scientist for Westinghouse Research Labs, pioneering numerous technologies including micro-electro mechanical (MEMS) devices. An electrical engineer, he had more than 50 patents and was honored with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Millennium Medal. Glenn Cannon, 72: Cannon was a dedicated and successful public servant, leading emergency …

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Ramps

At Greene County’s 29th Annual Ramp Festival on a sunny Saturday last April, a party atmosphere was in full swing with crafters, wood carvers, metal workers and a band. But the main draw were about 15 vendors selling ramp chili, ramp sausage, ramp cookies, ramp mints, ramp butter, ramp wine, ramp hardtack, ramp pancakes, ramp …

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A Bauhaus Masterpiece

Is a house private or public? Like any compelling opposites, each really only exists with measured dollops of the other. Choices of how to eat, sleep, bathe and relax are very private. Yet the artistic movements or common practices inflecting those selections are very public—from publications and exhibitions to the sprawling possibilities of the design …

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What’s That Song?

Spring brings warblers! It’s that simple. Spring, longed for after the buffeting chill of winter, gives way to warmth and light… and birds. Birds by the millions feel the instinctual pull north every spring, and we who await their passage are rewarded with color and song. One of my favorite species is the black-throated green …

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A New Church Grows in Troubled Towns

It’s Sunday morning at Rust City Church and Pastor Sam Yacoub is on stage talking about his mom’s pension problems. “She retired from Delphi, with the promise of a pension and she retired thinking, ‘I’m going to spend time with my grandbabies and enjoy it,’” says Yacoub, dressed in a black baseball cap, denim jacket …

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Just Askin’… Sabrina Saunders Mosby

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about your job? A: My work involves a personal commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the region’s workforce. It means working with companies beyond just checking boxes and making statements about diversity. One of the most interesting aspects of my job is being able to move from …

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A Template for a Life of Learning and Art

I am a sucker for process. my favorite part of the Andy Warhol Museum has always been the top floor, where Warhol’s wispy childhood sketches hint at his expert ability to replicate reality and also his interest in amplifying his favorite parts of it. When I look at those early pieces, I am reminded that …

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Family First

Drive up into the heights above Edgeworth and the topography creates all sorts of geographic nooks and crannies. This house sits on the crest of a hill, with sweeping views both directly below and far into the distance. A vintage 1950s mansion, as they were called back then and meant to be, it boasts classic …

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Knapp, Kelly, Lamar, Golenor, Cornetti, Flisram, Martorella

Steven Knapp is the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh‘s 11th president. Knapp is president emeritus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where most recently he was a professor of English. Prior to joining GW, he served for 11 years as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. During …

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The Obesity Puzzle

Temptation lurks in gooey fudge icing layered in a slice of moist chocolate cake and the hot salty crunch of a french fry. The sight and smell can incite the body to ramp up blood pressure, heart rate, skin conductance and salivary response—characteristics of arousal and excitement. It’s a response that Lisa Germeroth hopes to …

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Mister Rogers’ Real Neighborhood

With the recently released film and documentary about Fred Rogers, the national spotlight is shining on the man who changed the face of children’s television. He was known internationally, but since he resided in Pittsburgh and created “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” here at WQED, he is often associated with the city. However, his roots are less …

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Pittsburgh Tomorrow: Facing Facts and Seizing Opportunity

Editor’s note: The following column was published in the Spring issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly, just before the coronavirus changed the landscape across the world. It was part of an overall package entitled “Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow” dedicated to considering changes that we in the Pittsburgh region might undertake in order to overcome consistently tepid economic …

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Gone Before Their Time

In Pittsburgh’s early 20th century industrial economy, danger lurked in rail yards, on the exposed I-beams of tall buildings under construction and in steel mills where gases and fire coexisted. “Ten minutes before, we stood there laughing, and not one of us had an idea there was anything wrong with that furnace,” lawyer and journalist …

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Crime Is Dropping, but So Are Relations With Police

Editor’s note: This story was first published in the Spring 2020 issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly. Southwestern Pennsylvania continues to be one of the safest metropolitan regions in the nation, and the latest data suggest it’s only getting safer. The overall crime rate in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area stood at 1,687.7 per 100,000 residents …

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Bold Action Needed: Patrick Gallagher, Sunil Wadhwani, Dennis Unkovic

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: David Finegold, Vincent J. Delie, Jr., Karen Hanlon

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: James McQuade, Laura Karet, Stefani Pashman

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: Timothy Parks, David Malone, Jane Werner

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: Esther L. Bush, Ken Gormley, Mary Frances Cooper

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: Helen Casey, Bill Schenck, Farnam Jahanian

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: Lisa Schroeder, Grant Oliphant, Gregg Behr

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Bold Action Needed: Jim Roddey, Diane Holder, Bill Strickland

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Floating on the Shenango River

One wonderful way to see portions of our western Pennsylvania landscape is to paddle a river or stream by canoe or kayak. One place to paddle is the upper Shenango River in western Mercer County, 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. A 23-mile stretch flows unimpeded between the Pymatuning and Shenango reservoirs. The Iroquois name Shenango, …

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Bold Action Needed: Richard V. Piacentini, Melia Tourangeau, J. Kevin McMahon, Bill Hunt

At a time when the Pittsburgh region is continuing to lose population and has been seeing regional job losses the past few months, we asked a group of regional leaders to respond, in 200 words or less, to this question: What action do we need to take to create the kind of growth, vitality and dynamism that will stem …

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Adding Amenities to Bike Trails: What Riders Experience Matters

The City of Pittsburgh is poised to gain dozens of miles of new bike lanes in the next decade. While avid cyclist Tom Vesch welcomes the expansion, he suggests thinking beyond the trails themselves to consider the broader experience of riders. “Our burgeoning trail system in the city could be enhanced to include amenities along …

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Turning Waste Into Energy

John Stolz believes Pittsburgh is flushing a critical source of renewable energy down the toilet. Literally. He proposes the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County join the growing ranks of urban areas upgrading their wastewater treatment plants to renewable power plants that use the process of biodigestion to create energy. Stolz, who is the director …

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Light the Bridges for a Gleaming Downtown

Dressing the Rachel Carson Bridge with 27,000 color-changing LED lights got the public’s attention in 2016. And the popularity of the temporary installation, done as part of the City of Pittsburgh’s bicentennial celebration, bought it an extended 18-month run. If that’s the case, says former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, why not artistically illuminate …

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How Do We Attract People to Pittsburgh?

David Feehan, president of Civitas Consultants in Maryland, is a recognized expert in downtown revitalization. For more than 50 years, his work has helped improve dozens of cities and neighborhoods in the United States and elsewhere, including Minneapolis, Detroit, Austin, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Today spoke with him about ideas that might help …

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Venting off Steam… and Turning It Into a Musical Downtown Clock

Lynn Dunbar is well acquainted with the vertical steam pipe that juts from the pavement at Penn Avenue and Seventh Street in Downtown Pittsburgh for patrons of the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts and the rest of the Cultural District to see. Her husband is in the Pittsburgh Symphony, she once worked for the …

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