Monday, August 31, 2009

Old man for a' that

Pittsburgh and Allegheny, 1854

The world was so recent that many things lacked names

Interesting article on aging immigrants and their isolation. I'm sure it's on a much smaller scale here in Pittsburgh, but I have observed it as I'm out and about the city with a gerontological eye.

Reminded me of an old post, "Where the Grandparents Cohabitate"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making Old Trains Run on Time

From the Unwritten History of Braddock's Field (1917):
Things were done in a much more simple manner in those days than at present. An incident which happened on one occasion shows the absence of red tape in the management at that time.

While Andrew Carnegie was Superintendent, Mr. J. B. Corey, a coal operator, who still lives in Braddock, went to Mr. Carnegie and asked for some coal cars. Carnegie said "All right, they will be out there before you will". Mr. Corey said that would be impossible, as he intended going out on the next trip of the one passenger train which ran between Pittsburgh and Braddock at that time, and which was lying in the station ready to start.

Then Mr. Carnegie ordered that the coal train be coupled on ahead of the passenger train, which was done, much to the displeasure of the conductor, John Routh, a famous character in the early days of railroading on the Pennsylvania, and the coal cars really reached Braddock before Mr. Corey did.
Also, J.B. Corey was not from Braddock originally. He was from Port Perry, which is just over the hill from Wilmerding.

More about J.B. Corey on the streets of Braddock as an old man:

Towns usually improve with age, but Port Perry as a town has been practically obliterated by the growth of great industries as the years have gone by. In J. B. Corey's Memoir we find that his father brought his family to Port Perry on the occasion of having secured, in company with his brother, the contract to erect the lock and dam known as No. 2, for the Monongahela Navigation Company, J. K. Moorehead being president of the Company. The work on the dam was started in the year 1840. J. B. Corey was then about eight years old. At the present time he is nearly eleven times that age and in comparatively good health. I saw him on the streets of Braddock as this was being written, greeting old and new acquaintances with a vim that was surprising in one of his great age.
It's amazing to think that old J.B. Corey may well have spoken to my grandfather, who at the time (circa 1917) was a little kid playing in the streets of Wilmerding.

Old Government Job

More from J.B. Corey's memoir. It was just put on last week, not sure how long it has been on Google books.

In the previous post, I said he was from Pittsburgh. He was from Braddock, his parents being among the earliest settlers there. Here is his house, which I presume is long since gone (no sign of it anywhere along Jones Ave on Google street view).

Here he is at 82, with this 31 yr old horse.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Old Memory ATM

I came across this remarkable memoir by Pittsburgh native J.B. Corey (published by the Pittsburgh Printing Company). He wrote it in 1914, at the age of 82. Here is what some newspaper editors said in their introduction:

Here is his second encounter with Abe Lincoln during his time as a government clerk in DC:

Old Center of Everything

In the run up to the 'Burgh being the center of the world for a few days, it's worth remembering from whence we came. This from the 1899 Historic Towns of the Middle States:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Old G-20 Commons

I hope Pittsburgh can be a model for all things good and lasting during the G-20. I know hope is not a plan.

I came across the above print in the catalogue accompanying A Panorama of Pittsburgh: Nineteenth-Century Printed Views, a Frick Art & Historical Center exhibition in 2008. The September 22-25, 1857 date caught my eye, but when I read the description it got me thinking about ways we build community around events.

"It is an attractive print produced locally for posting prominently around the city in the days leading up to the fair. The colorful image of the fairgrounds invites viewers to come see for themselves the attractions, while text provides more information on the event. This print had an ephemeral purpose and most copies would have been posted in public spots where they would be unlikely to survive much beyond the event itself, if even that long."

A ways from there to #myG20 -- will it be ephemeral too?

Anyone know where the "Allegheny County & Western PA Fair Grounds" was in 1857?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Paralysis

A preview of the G-20 downtown experience?

A city waits relief!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Old Netroots & New Sprouts

That's the title of the last page of the 1936 "Civic Pittsburgh" publication detailing reasons to rationalize local government (found on and originally contributed to the web for free download and perusing by - where they have archived a bunch of old Pittsburgh publications).

After attending
Netroots Nation today and pondering what Pittsburgh can learn from Netroots Nation, I thought of titling this post "The Alive Hand of Our Descendents Lies Lightly on Us" (and not just because I have been walking around the house holding my 2 month old son).

This was my first Netroots Nation, though I was an early member on Daily Kos back in 2003 (posting as
Chance the gardener) and involved in some of the e-mail discussions amongst the original volunteer organizers for what was first called Yearly Kos in 2006. Four years later, it's remarkable to see 2,000 bloggers of all ages convening in our fair city, and to meet in person some of those I admire greatly for their progressive voices (which are not so much in the wilderness anymore).

So, what can progressives in Pittsburgh learn from Netroots Nation? I think simply creating more opportunities to come together in person is a good place to start, both to create more of an actual community and to anchor ourselves in on-the-ground activities that reach folks who maybe aren't as plugged in (i.e., our elderly neighbors).

It's also worth remembering that at just 4 yrs old, the annual gathering known as Netroots Nation is still just a kid. You wouldn't know it though from the organization -- it has been very well run, and the Convention Center is a great setting. The city has gotten good reviews from those I have spoken with in the halls...