CULTURE

Inventing the Modern World

World’s Fairs asks two questions of themselves: “Who are we?” and “Where are we going?” Sometimes they look backwards as well, perhaps a little wistfully. They also fall into the category of jamboree, a 19th-​century slang word of American origin indicating a noisy assembly of people and things for a…

Steel City Spectacle

In recent years, it has been difficult to imagine the Highland Building as a “great success as the modern office building,” as proclaimed in a 1910 newspaper ad. The property on South Highland Avenue facing East Liberty Presbyterian Church hasn’t been occupied for a generation. Twenty-​five years of neglect have…

Creepy creatures!

Given the prevalence of vampires and werewolves in contemporary culture, one wonders why it has taken so long for them to reach the Pittsburgh area. (We’re a world-​class city, dammit!) With typically gray skies and an abundance of abandoned steelworks and subterranean coal mines, our region possesses a strong Gothic…

Divorce in Morningside

Hallelujah! at last, there is a novel about contemporary divorce that eschews shallow revenge-​fantasy clichés of dream jobs, boytoys and boob jobs in favor of a thoughtful, balanced and gently humorous representation of the end of a marriage. Local author Jane McCafferty laudably transcends melodrama in “First You Try Everything”…

A different Jonas

Well, it’s official: the end is near. Whether or not the dire Mayan predictions for the future of mankind come to pass in 2012, it is clear that time is running out for books.The sad inevitability of this is demonstrated both by the ascendancy of electronic readers and the proliferation…

Gershwin in Pittsburgh

George Gershwin will be forever associated with New York City. This most American of composers derived his inspiration from Manhattan’s energy, skyscrapers, jazz, nightlife, and evolving Broadway-​musical art form.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Black Humor

“See you in the funny papers” is a phrase one seldom hears these days. Indeed, with the possible exception of “Daddy-​O” or “23 Skidoo,” few expressions seem more obscure.But once upon a time, when newspapers were the Internet of their day, conversational reference to the funnies was the equivalent of…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Changing the venerable

Almost no building remains fit for its purpose forever, except perhaps a mausoleum. However great a museum or a gallery may be, there is always the lure of a new wing or a re-​fit. Nothing remains the same, even in western Pennsylvania. Let’s look at how some of our institutions…

The Gospel of Brass

Pointing a handheld video camera at himself, James Gourlay made an eccentric sight on the streets of Pittsburgh, as the native of Scotland made tiny films literally “picturing” what it would be like to live in this city.

Bridges of Allegheny County

Whether they’re crossing chasms, spanning rivers or connecting communities, bridges have always been the metaphoric heart of Pittsburgh.

A New Pittsburgh Biennial

The pittsburgh biennial, which you will have encountered before in smaller incarnations going back to 1994, is back with a vengeance. It now lasts six months, putting it on a par with The Carnegie International; it engages more artists (some of whom might be more valuably presented in that International);…

Big Business Now and Then

Be careful what you wish for” is the adage that best applies to the McGraw family and their neighbors on the failed and failing dairy farms northwest of Scranton, Pa. After generations of scraping by, their dreams are finally poised to come true, now that corporate prospectors have come calling,…

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.

Keepers of the Flame

Standing in his new South Side studio, a patchwork of windows letting in the mid-​day light, glass artist Drew Hine reaches for a map to illustrate his connection to the early days of Pittsburgh glassmaking, an industry that emerged 210 years ago from a red-​hot amalgam of sand, ash, lime…

Literary Pittsburgh

Kathleen “kit” McCafferty, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, has never discussed her trauma with anyone, and its residual rage and pain have left her estranged from her shell-​shocked husband and grown children. Now approaching death, Kit is determined to complete and bequeath to her family a series of confessional…
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