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In his song “Smalltown,” Lou Reed laments the limits he feels Pittsburgh places on creativity and the ability to grow and evolve. The lyrics go on to say: “My father worked in construction; it’s not something for which I’m suited. Oh, what is something for which you are suited? Getting out of here.”Before deciding to agree or disagree with the words of this song, maybe we should think about an old saying. My grandmother used to say, “It’s all in how you look at it.” Indeed, there was a time when Andrew Carnegie’s wife said Pittsburgh was a miserable place filled with smoke. One hundred years of industrial prominence (1870-1970) in the iron, steel, glass, and coal industries took its toll on Pittsburgh environmentally. Known throughout America as the city with the world’s largest blast furnaces, Pittsburgh was nicknamed “The Hearth of the Nation.” Tongues of flame rose from the city at night that were visible for miles along the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela rivers. And years of fire produced skies rolling in smoke. The rivers were polluted and soot filled the air. Then, in the 1950’s, a mayor named David L. Lawrence issued the slogan “Smoke Must Go.”From the 50’s to the 70’s, Pittsburgh pushed for clean air, unpolluted rivers, and environmentally controlled industry. The future looked promising. But it didn’t stay that way for long. The United
States turned to foreign markets for much of its steel because it was cheaper to ship it in than pay union wages. As the steel industry declined, so did Pittsburgh. But, the technical, financial, and political forces of Pittsburgh banded together to face the challenge of creating a new image for Pittsburgh. A redevelopment program was begun.
Today, Pittsburgh places importance on smoke-pollution control, flood prevention, ecologically clean rivers, and sewage control as it embraces the manufacturing of products such as petroleum, electrical equipment, machinery, coke, and chemical products, as well as the coal and steel for which it has long been famous.
Fifty years since Mayor Lawrence declared “The Smoke Must Go,” Pittsburgh boasts a spectacular city landscape. Riverfront attractions such as the Sandcastle Waterpark, The Carnegie Science Center, and the floating boardwalk in the Strip District bear testimony to the new appeal of Pittsburgh’s rivers. Indeed, Pittsburgh is ranked today as one of the nation’s largest and most active inland river ports.
True, there’s “no Michelangelo …from Pittsburgh,” and perhaps there was a time when Pittsburgh couldn’t keep her artists. But that day vanished with the smoke and Pittsburgh has birthed new talent such as Gene Kelly, Henry Mancini, Billy Eckstine, Lena Horne, Perry Como, Gertrude Stein, Mary Roberts Reinhart, Fred Rogers, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author August Wilson.
Maybe my grandmother was right. It’s all in how you look at it.
Assemble any of the following ingredients (your choice):
Spread mayonnaise on bread. Layer your choice of the above ingredients. Serve on wax paper for authenticity.
Assemble the following ingredients:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Fry bacon and remove from pan. Drain. Set aside.
Melt ¾ stick butter in deep pan and add flour, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth. Stir. Add hot milk. Stir. Add cheese and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cook slowly for 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Whip cheese sauce with wire beater until smooth.
Place 1 slice toast in a casserole dish and top with 3 slices bacon. Add 5 slices turkey. Cover with the whipped cheese sauce. Sprinkle with a little melted butter, Parmesan cheese, and paprika. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Birth of the Klondike Bar – Have you heard of a Klondike ice cream bar? Well, we can thank William Eugene Isaly (1862-1923), who went from selling milk from a wagon to founder of the Isaly Dairy chain of companies. But it was one of his seven children, Chester Clarence (1886-1931) who invented the Klondike bar and Chester’s wife Nelle (Nelle Edith Armstrong) who gave it its name. In 1967, the Boulevard of the Allies plant in Pittsburgh was making 11 million Klondike bars a year! “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”
Leader in technology and medicine – The Wall Street Journal ranked Pittsburgh among the 13 leading technology centers in the United States in 1999, the same year that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was chosen #12 Best Hospital in the nation.
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