Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ghosts in an Old Terrestrial Room

Speaking of haunted houses in Pittsburgh: Can we get copies of Martin Aurand's The Spectator and the Topographical City into the hands and minds of every G-20 visitor?

From Charles Rosenblum's review in the City Paper three years ago:
And the spectacle is both historic and cosmic. The Point is not simply a convenient site to fulfill military or transportation needs; it is Pittsburgh's omphalos, a site of founding to be interpreted in the cosmic order and compared with Athens or Jerusalem or Rome. Likewise, Grant's Hill, the now-lowered location of Grant Street, was to the early, and perhaps the present, Pittsburgh as a variety of sacred mountain, which "served as a central stage for drama, ceremony and power." Aurand, as a result, chronicles the lowering of Grant Street wryly. Still, from these pivotal locations grow a series of buildings as temples and watchtowers: factories as primordial cauldrons and roads as armatures for epic journeys, all enhanced by the sense of spectacle for the informed viewer.
From Chapter 1:
Some ten miles east of the Golden Triangle, Turtle Creek empties into the Monongahela River at the mouth of the Turtle Creek Valley. The lower end of the valley is a room that is more like a passage, yet it holds a quintessential industrial landscape of waterways and railroads, factories and machines, and a great bridge. This landscape was largely realized in a discrete period of time (1877-1932), the product of powerful forces and a topographical response that was equal parts accommodation and exploitation. Here topography and technology forge a fantastic scene that evokes the technological sublime, brings a new scale and drama to the landscape, and plays as cinema for the spectator.
Is it correct to say that "Port Perry" no longer exists? Are there any traces remaining? Google says there is a Port Perry Rd, but Port Perry?

I'm starting to think J.B. Corey and his memoir has to be the work of some contemporary conceptual artist in Braddock. It's just too much of a story to not have much of a Google history; this blog appears on the first or second page when one searches J.B. Corey, and this blog gets only a handful of a hits a day (to change that, forward this to a friend who might know something about Abe Lincoln -- see below).

From Corey's tales of being a Mississippi river pilot at age 18 (at the same time as Sam Clemens), from being Lincoln's quartermaster encountering Lincoln on multiple occasions, and getting his start in business with the help of Mr. Mortage Bond Tom Mellon. Not to mention an Andrew Carnegie story, a conversion testimonial involving Dixmont Hospital (not him, but someone he stood for to spring from the asylum there), and a letter to the New York Times society page in 1907 about his nephew's expensive wedding (his nephew being the President of U.S. Steel, William Ellis Corey).

A thousand correspondents? Oh to find some old J.B. Corey letters. He could really write.

And then in 1917, at age 85 wheeling around behind his 31 yr old horse, no doubt encountering a group of boys up over the hill playing in the streets of Wilmerding -- perhaps
even my grandfather.

Crowd curated question: Does anyone know what Lincoln book(s) share J.B. Corey's Lincoln story?

And because it's a full moon and we're telling ghost stories, does anyone know where he's buried?

I don't know when J.B. Corey died, but I'm guessing he's buried in Braddock...

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