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New map charts 22 Pittsburgh inclines

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

pennincline
Chris Olsen, our map-making friend at Esri, has come up with a new map of Pittsburgh’s historic inclines.
 
“It’s a storymap that takes you to the different locations, and you can toggle back and forth with the modern aerial of the city,” he wrote. “Most of the information collected on the inclines came from online books about the neighborhoods and sites like Historic Pittsburgh and others.”
 
His map shows photos and short histories of 22 inclines that once trawled the hillsides of Mount Washington, the Hill District, the Hilltop neighborhoods and Fineview. Some of them were cargo haulers only, a few for the movement of coal off Mount Washington.
 
The photo above shows what was called the 17th Street Incline. It connected Ledlie Street in the Hill District with 17th Street in the Strip.
 
Esri is a company that provides GIS mapping software, services, map apps and data. It is based in Redlands, Calif.
 
Chris previously developed a map of historic Pittsburgh maps with a timeline you could drag across the map on top. What made that fascinating (I couldn’t stop playing with it all day one day at work) was how a slow drag of the timeline revealed great changes in the same places decades later.
 
Chris explains his connection to Pittsburgh:
 

I created the Pittsburgh Historic Mapping site as a side project for my job as a Server and Apps support analyst at Esri.  I had met my wife at Esri, who is from New Brighton and a Pitt grad.  There was a lot of positive response from the project and I was able to add more content including aerials from 1939 and 1957 as well as some areas outside the city.  This also lead into a sister project for Cleveland and this new Story Map about Pittsburgh’s inclines.

 

I think the inclines are something that sets Pittsburgh apart from other cities and the two still running are a must visit for anyone.  I found that there have been 23 known inclines of significance, but the information on them is scattered.  I thought it would be great to shed some light on them, including some that were only around a few years and have been long forgotten.     

 
I would link you to that map but something isn't working on this web site. (shock!) Try typing this http://peoplemaps.esri.com/pittviewer/ to get it. It's worth whatever you have to do. My apologies for making you do what I should be able to do. 
 
Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
 

 

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Pantry's friends make giving easier

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

pantry
Friends of the food pantry at the Northside Common Ministries have been busy stumping for contributions in recent weeks, and now the new website is up and ready for business.  
 
With more than 1,000 people needing to supplement their rations every month, the food pantry, at 1601 Brighton Road, is short on so much, from boxed staples such as dry potato flakes, Rice-a-Roni, Stove-top Stuffing and dried beans to canned fruit -- anything but applesauce.
 
The new web site allows people to donate money on-line so that volunteers can buy food, and there is an opportunity to volunteer. You can also find out how and when to deliver food directly to the pantry.
 
Thanksgiving is a particularly needful time. With cuts in food stamp funding, need will cut deeper and deeper into next year as well.
 
Food pantries see the real need among people who look more and more like the very people who scoff about need not being real, who resort to insults about people who are insecure about their next meal or meals in the days and weeks to come. cans
 
There are lazy people, people who take advantage and people who play the system but the great majority who seek help are really hungry in a country of souls who still know the kind of bounty that most in the world can’t imagine.
 
But in a recession that some say may become a stagnant fact of life, giving thanks will take on greater poignancy for many millions of Americans. 
 
Photos courtesy of the Northside Common Ministries
 
 
 

 

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Councilman Kraus opens Oakland satellite office

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

brucekraus
 
District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus opened a new satellite office today in Oakland and about 25 people turned out to inaugurate it at a two-hour meet-and-greet buffet.
 
Every second and fourth Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., his staff will be on hand in the first floor resource center at People’s Oakland, 3433 Bates St., to meet, listen to and try to help constituents. 
 
Some of the people who wandered into the gathering today clearly followed their noses to finger sandwiches, cold cuts and cookies, but most stopped to talk to the councilman. Among them, Ed and Stella Gentile live in Oakland Square.
 
“We wanted to just be here and listen and learn,” said Ed, in the photo above talking with the councilman.
 
What? No issues to complain about?
 
“Oh there are a lot of issues,” Ed said, smiling. 
 
“Our street needs paving,” said Stella.
 
“The litter is bad,” Ed said. “Everyone should get a big bag like we do and pick up trash. I’ve lived here 88 years and I’ve never seen it this bad.”
 
“But the good outweighs the bad,” said Stella, holding her hands about three feet apart to indicate a long list of positive reasons to live there. “It’s why we’re still here. The location is great.”
 
The councilman’s first satellite office opened in Arlington — 2320 Arlington Ave. — in 2009 and a third one will be opening on the South Side in January. The location will be somewhere, still to be worked out, at UPMC South Side, 2000 Mary St., with hours of 10 to 2 every first and third Thursday. The Arlington office is open on Monday and Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m.
 
Mr. Kraus’s constituent services coordinators, Donna Wielock and Arlene Trost, are the main contacts for these offices and they answer at 412.689.1130. They say they’re available 24/7.
 
“Donna and Arlene expressed a desire to have more presence in the neighborhoods,” said Mr. Kraus, who picked up central Oakland during last year’s redistricting. “Not everyone wants to go Downtown, not everyone wants to deal with parking Downtown, especially our senior population.”
 
Donna said the bulk of constituent complaints are about ill-kept properties, abandoned houses and cars, older kids “terrorizing the neighborhood” and people's need for help paying energy bills.
 
The offices attract a number of people who are not officially District 3 residents, “but we help them anyway,” Donna said.  
 
 

 

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Nu version of knish connects

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
Nupeople
The people who have brought the Pittsburgh area six iterations of Pamela’s have opened Squirrel Hill’s first Jewish bistro in recent memory — Nu, at 1711 Murray Ave.
 
It has been open for two weeks but yesterday was its official opening — an offering to media wretches.
 
I went looking for knishes. A late-September fire at Gabila’s, the oldest knish factory in the country, in Copiague, N.Y., has put the hurt on knish lovers throughout its distribution area, notably New York and New Jersey. According to the Associated Press, the fire damaged the machinery that makes the company’s biggest seller — “The Original Coney Island Square Knish.” 
 
I have spent a little time trying to find out how the shortage was affecting Pittsburgh eateries and grocers, if at all. In searching likely carriers of knishes, I found two small local retailers and did not hear back from either one.
 
knishwichOf friends on Facebook who read my message — where can a body get a good knish in this tahn? — Saul Markowitz of Markowitz Communications shot back an invitation to be at Nu’s press feeding Tuesday morning.
 
Pamela’s owners, Pam Cohen and Gail Klingensmith, who run a Pamela’s directly adjacent to Nu, consider this a sister venture, which will be operated by Pam’s sister Rise’ Cohen and chef Kelsey Sukel
 
Nu, A Modern Jewish Bistro, will be open every day but Monday from 11a to 9p. The word "nu" means several things in Yiddish, including so? huh? what's up? 
 
Kelsey said he was recruited while trying to get out of the restaurant business, but he succumbed: “I have always been a huge deli fan,” he said. “With such a large ethnic Jewish population in Squirrel Hill, this was a ‘duh’” proposition.
 
It is not a deli per se. And it is “more than Jewish,” he said. It goes back to tap the old universal methods of pickling and brining. The menu includes latke, kreplach (which I'm told is kind of liek a pierogi), Israeli salad, borscht, Jewish penicillin (chicken soup), babka and a sandwich called a Jewbano (a variation on a Cuban sandwich).
 
One of the specialties is Montreal smoked meat — beef brisket that is house cured [brined] for 10 days, smoked for 12 hours and steamed for three hours before it is hand sliced. A feature of the Nu BLT is crispy chicken skin instead of bacon, with a chicken liver pate schmear.
 
Oh, and they do have a version of knish  — a reuben knishwich.  I will probably fantasize about those at least a few times before I make it back montrealthere. They make them on-site, so no factory fire shortage at Nu.
 
Pam and Gail wanted everyone of us to have more, so while we were eating, they brought around plates of more.
 
“Anyone want a Nu BLT?” Pam asked, hovering near the table beside mine, where a photographer for Table, the local food, culture and lifestyle magazine, said, “Why not? Life is short,” and Pam shot back, “This will make it shorter.”
 
What’s that old saying?  “If you resolve to give up (fill in the blank), you don’t actually live longer; it just seems longer.”
 
Photos: Top, Rise' Cohen (crouching) and, from left to right, Gail Klingensmith, Pamela Cohen and Kelsey Sukel, partners of Nu, Modern Jewish Bistro... Middle: a plate with a knishwich (front right)... Bottom: a Montreal smoked meat sandwich
 

 

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A lost link, lost charm

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

pedbridge

Over the weekend, the pedestrian bridge in Allegheny Commons Park was demolished as expected. Everyone who uses the park was aware of its demise if not of the city's decision to hasten it. The bridge has been closed since the late 20th century due to instability.

It's always tempting to bemoan the decision to put things off, as things always get more expensive with passing time. If the bridge had been repaired in 2000 instead of left to become more unstable, it might have been an affordable fix.

Now, with finances even tighter and no plan for a new bridge, it's easy to believe it could be another 15 years looking like the photo above... or forever.

pedbridgebefore

The span was designed to tie the parts of the Commons together. It's not the biggest issue we have on the North Side and not even the biggest issue we have in the park, but it is one more reminder of what happens when the losses of  smaller amenities are explained away in terms of what we can afford.

We can afford so many things. We DO afford so many things. The design of a park -- one that provided for people to enter it and move through it without having to leave it to get to the other side -- is one of those subtle features of urban life that we forget how much we used to appreciate.

That link is now severed and all that's lost is a little piece of charm. That's all. Something historic and charming, a small delight.

Gone. That's all.

 

Photos by Paul Nawrocki

 

 

 

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