Making Industrial Pittsburgh Modern by Edward K. Muller and Joel A. Tarr

Making Industrial Pittsburgh Modern Environment, Landscape, Transportation, Energy, and Planning by Edward K. Muller and Joel A. Tarr University of Pittsburgh Press, 504 pp., hardcover $40 Discussions of “modern” Pittsburgh often begin and end with the Renaissance, the rightfully lauded postwar effort to spruce up the city’s tarnished image and clear its smoky skies. But there is so much more to...
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WWII Target: Altoona

The tale of the bold but fizzled 1942 Nazi plot to sabotage the Horseshoe Curve railroad landmark near Altoona, Pennsylvania, has been told in books and articles almost since the day the spy-thriller story began to unfold. First came a juvenile-fiction account in 1944 titled The Long Trains Roll by Stephen W. Meader. It recounts the story of Operation Pastorius, a wry allusion to the theme of...
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Editor’s Letter

With the recent premiere of Country Music, director Ken Burns has launched another epic PBS TV docuseries that amplifies the significance of an enduring American institution. In this issue’s cover story, “High on a Mountain,” we follow up with a look at Pennsylvania’s key role in the evolution of country music and the state’s later contributions to the genre. Author Joe Baker takes us on a...
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The Frankford Avenue Bridge over Pennypack Creek

In 1830 a Philadelphia journal dedicated to literature and the arts included a lithograph by William Breton (c.1773–1855) featuring the Pennypack Creek Bridge, also known today as the Frankford Avenue Bridge. Breton was based in Philadelphia and focused his work on local landmarks and bucolic settings. The bridge satisfied both inclinations. As described in the journal, it was already recognized...
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Bubley by Greyhound: Photographing Wartime Rationing

Most photographs from World War II document industries or overseas military activities. Rarely do we get a look at daily life on the home front. One young woman who was documenting ordinary lives at that time was Esther Bubley (1921–98), who became known for taking intimate photos of people despite lugging around a large camera. There’s no better example of that than a story from her niece Jean...
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Editor’s Letter

“You can give humanistic value to almost anything by teaching it historically.” So wrote American philosopher William James in an address he delivered in 1907. Even such disciplines as “geology, economics and mechanics,” he continued, are “humanities when taught with reference to the successive achievements of the geniuses to which these sciences owe their being.” By extension, the features in...
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Pennsylvania Farming by Sally McMurry

Pennsylvania Farming A History in Landscapes by Sally McMurry University of Pittsburgh Press, 472 pp., cloth $49.95 For generations, most Pennsylvanians were farmers. Today, farmers are only a small percentage of the population, yet the enduring pastoral and historic character of the state’s rural landscape is a source of local pride and fosters tourism in many areas. With engaging prose and an...
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The Pennsylvania Turnpike, From Tollbooths to Tunnels: Rediscovering America’s First Superhighway at 75

Few Pennsylvania-born celebrities have made the kind of splash that the Pennsylvania Turnpike did when it first arrived on the scene in October 1940. Its 160 miles of limited-access, four-lane paved highway across the Alleghenies were hailed as America’s answer to the Autobahn, Germany’s highly regarded network of high-speed “super roads.” After the war, as the United States’ population expanded...
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Editor’s Letter

Throughout 2015 PHMC has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex in Harrisburg with initiatives to preserve the original Midcentury Modern features of the buildings, both outside and inside, from architectural elements to original furnishings (see Hands-On History). A concurrent effort to update and revitalize the museum’s galleries also has been underway,...
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From the Executive Director

Historical geography is the study of how geology, landforms and waterways have shaped the human experience. Is there a better place to demonstrate the power of geography in molding our history than in Pennsylvania? Our unique location linking the original 13 colonies in fact is how we came to be known as the Keystone State. But our history has been defined by more than location. It’s also been...
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