Secret Pittsburgh

Bookshelf of Sources

Welcome to Secret Pittsburgh's bookshelf! This contains books, films, photos, and even audio clips relating to the Secret Pittsburgh course. While some entries are about Pittsburgh, not all of them are. Instead, this list compiles anything that has been taught in the class over the years.

  • Ahmed, Tanzila, "Punk-Drunk Love."  Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.  Eds. Ayesha Mattu & Nura Maznavi. Berkeley CA, Soft Skull Press, 2012.

    One of many personal perspectives in this anthology, this story narrates the interesting intersection between Islam, love, and the punk-rock scene. This may not seem to be a common combination, but in this story Tanzila tries to balance all of her identities while deciding what to do with her feelings for the leader of a punk band. Above all of this, “Punk-Drunk Love” is a story about human experience and the need that we all feel for affection and how we come to understand ourselves.

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  • Allen, Hervey. "Soldier-Poet." The Poetry Foundationhttps://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57343/soldier-poet.

    This poem is dedicated to Francis Fowler Hogan, a Pittsburgh native and poet like Hervey Allen. Hogan died at age 21 in the front lines, and was later reburied in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

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  • Batykefer, Erinn. Allegheny, Monongahela. Red Hen Press, 2009.

    This poetry collection contains a series of self-portraits imagined through the Pittsburgh landscape. Batykefer is a librarian, writer, and Pittsburgh native. Guided by the lyric tradition, Batykefer offers poetic styles and voicings as fluid, wide, and powerful as the rivers of the collection's title.

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  • Bell, Thomas. Out of this Furnace. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976.

    First published in 1941, this novel follows three generations of an immigrant Slovak family working in the steel mills and blast furnaces of Braddock and Homestead, Pennsylvania. Bell tells the story of American industrialization between the 1890s and 1930s through the eyes of the humblest workers, a welcome contrast to accounts from the viewpoint of the steel magnates. He exposes the grim realities of life for impoverished Slovaks struggling in the face of entrenched racial discrimination, hazardous working conditions and the company’s anti-union agenda. Readers will be held captive by this piercing account of the immigrants who lived, worked and died in the shadow of the mills. 

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  • Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. 1972.

    John Berger was a critic and an artist who enthusiastically invited us to reconsider the ways, and importance, in which we "see" the world around us, what we actually mean when we reference "authenticity," and how visuals, replications of visuals, and visualizing can alter our world.

    In Episode 1, Berger examines the impact of photography on our appreciation of art from the past.

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  • Borges, Jorge Luis. "The Library of Babel." In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians. Michael Cart, ed.  Woodstock NY: The Overlook Press, 2002.

    This short story was originally published in 1941, but translated into English in 1962. The speaker describes an alternate universe, one that is entirely comprised of texts. The key imagery is made up of hexagonal rooms that are stacked to the brim with books that outline the major necessities to life. The text is very theoretical and does not represent the true form of a library today, however it is an interesting read for someone who would like to potentially reconsider the purpose of the library in today’s society or engage in a thought experiment.

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  • Brown, Mark M. Cathedral of Learning: Concept, Design, Construction. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1987.

    In this booklet, the University Art Gallery does a short historical piece honoring the Cathedral of Learning. The piece delves into the history of the Cathedral. It touches on the concept it was striving for, how it was designed and the construction. Bowman’s financial plans to not take up more debt than necessary to build the Cathedral are illustrated and it goes into the Cathedral as a staple or emblem of the University. It is described how the Cathedral has upheld it’s original goals to symbolize higher learning by reaching higher heights and how it has therefore become an architecturally dominant landmark in Oakland.

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  • Calvino, Italo, and William Weaver. Invisible Cities. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974.

    Published in 1974 and envisioned to be a collection of fictional loose dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, this text helps readers not only to visualize and build imaginary and fragmentary urban landscapes but also enables them think about theories of space surrounding scopes such as sociality and historicity. Full of rich lyrical prose, the book is divided into parables of about fifty-five made up cities that are grouped by themes such as memory, history, and trading. If you’re interested in the intersections between dreams and reality or just love beautiful imagery, you’ll find this book an alluring and immersive experience.

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  • Calvino, Italo. "A General in the Library." In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians. Michael Cart, ed.  Woodstock NY: The Overlook Press, 2002.

    This short story speaks to the history of libraries in times of war. Calvino critiques the effects of military control over what should be public knowledge. He points out the flaws of the government and their fear of a knowledgable, educated people. If you’re interested in a pointed critique about such a government or the role of libraries (especially during fictional wartime), "A General in the Library" will be a good, quick read for you.

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  • Carson, Rachel. “Silent Spring.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 16 June 1962.

    An iconic investigative journalism piece published in three installments throughout 1962 in the pages of The New Yorker, Carson comments on and reveals the potentially harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. In addition to accusing the chemical industry of spreading misinformation regarding DDT, she also calls for society to rise up so that we can preserve nature while increasing the amount of sustainable and healthy farming practices throughout the nation.

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  • Cather, Willa. The Pittsburgh Stories of Willa Cather. Peter Oresick, ed. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016.

    This newly republished collection of short stories by Willa Cather vividly captures the early 1900s in Pittsburgh. The transient theme of the search for beauty and meaning in a chaotic world resonates as powerfully today as when the works were first published from 1902 to 1929. Cather deftly highlights the sorrows and struggles of Pittsburghers enduring the seasons of life. The following quote exhibits the lyricism of Cather’s words, “The high school commanded the heart of the city, which was like that of any other manufacturing town--- a scene of bleakness and naked ugliness and of that remorseless desolation which follows upon the fiercest lust of man. The beautiful valley, where long ago two limpid rivers met at the foot of wooded heights, had become a scorched and blackened waste” (22-23).  Readers, appreciative of delightful wording and moving stories centered around Pittsburgh will greatly enjoy this collection. 

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  • Chabon, Michael. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. New York, HarperCollins, 1988.

    This novel is a coming-of-age story from a University of Pittsburgh alumnus. It follows recent college graduate Art Bechstein as he enters the "real world" and tries to find his place within it. Art struggles with love, family, friendships, sexual identity, and the criminal underworld during the eventful summer of 1982. Chabon's novel is filled with equal parts humor and exploration, and takes place within the city of Pittsburgh. 

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  • Chamoiseau, Patrick. Texaco: A Novel. Translated by Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov. New York: Vintage International, 1998.

    In this 1992 novel (first translated into English in 1997), we find an urban planner encountering the inhabitants of a shantytown called Texaco on the island of Martinique. He’s met with some resistance, as the community knows he comes to decide whether the City will incorporate or raze their homes. To convince him their homes are worth saving, they turn to the storytelling powers of the shantytown’s creator, Marie-Sophie. Will the story of Texaco’s founding, and of Marie-Sophie’s lifelong journey towards this home, be convincing enough to prevent the destruction of the illegal neighborhood? Although the multilayered quality of this narrative can be difficult, readers interested in the morals of urban planning, subverting social injustice, spunky female narrators, interesting textual forms, and Caribbean literature will find it worthwhile.

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  • Coles, William E. Another Kind of Monday. Avon Tempest, 1999.

    Written by a former Pitt English Department faculty member, this explorative novel takes readers on a scavenger hunt through both the familiar and secret spaces of the city of Pittsburgh. The journey begins when high school senior, Mark, checks out a book at the Hillman library for a class project and discovers a hidden note tucked within its pages. This book focuses on themes such as friendship, self-discovery, coming-of-age, race, and gaining familiarity with the city around you. Although the tie-ins with the novel “Great Expectations” and with the city of Pittsburgh are fun and witty, readers are left with tons of questions and fallen expectations as the story dissolves toward the end of the “quest.”

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  • Curtis, Edward. Muslims in America: A Short History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    A historical text that details the history of Muslims in the United States from colonial America to the post-9/11 world.  This is an incredibly rich history and is one that is often skipped in the textbooks. Muslims have been an important part of our community for generations and their stories should not be forgotten. For those who love to read about history, society, or religion this should be a good pickup.

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  • Daniels, Jim, Charlee Brodsky, and Jane McCafferty. From Milltown to Malltown. Grosse Point: Marick Press, 2010.

    This poetry and photography collection provides the reader with detail and images perfect for subtly describing the transformation of Homestead from the site of the infamous steel strike in 1892 to the thriving shopping center that exists today. Daniels and McCafferty’s use of figurative language tells the story of a town’s unlikely transition while photographer Charlee Brodsky captures the remains of the mill town, and the prominence of the rising mall town. Those with interest in this generations’ renovation of historically blue-collar, working class towns will enjoy the powerful poetry and images in this book. 

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  • Daniels, Jim, and Charlee Brodsky (Photographer). Street. Ohio: Bottom Dog Press, 2005

    Another collaboration of Daniels and Brodsky as they use words and pictures to evoke people and places. The small book of poems is appropriately named Street as it demonstrates all the paths you could take while walking down a street and the commonplace encounters the authors had on their own journey to discover the urban landscape. The clever poetry and the creatively cropped pictures are ingenious, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious. My favorite such poem is “Chaos Theory.” Very entertaining poems with some intriguing real life images of the streets in the concrete jungle.  

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  • Daniels, Jim, et al. From Milltown to Malltown: Poems. Marick Press, 2010.

    In FROM MILLTOWN TO MALLTOWN, poets Jim Daniels and Jane McCafferty team up with photographer Charlee Brodsky to create work of exponential force in much the same way their subjects: the steel mill era ghosts of Homestead, Pennsylvania, confront the gleaming demons of its mall-ified present. The result is a provocative and haunting portrait of working class America in decline and the scars we bear in the name of progress. Disturbing, elegiac, and at times, wickedly wry, the chemistry between Brodsky's bleak, beautifully spare photos and the poets' renegade imaginations jolts us in the way art must.

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  • Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood. Harper Perennial, 2013.

    In her autobiographical work, Dillard relives her experience growing up in 1950s Pittsburgh.  Dillard ties her own life to the rich history and culture of Pittsburgh, exploring her relationship with the city and how it shaped her.

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  • Drew, Walter and Rankin, Baji. "Promoting Creativity for Life Using Open-Ended Materials." Creative Arts. 2004.

    This article summarizes the importance of creative thinking emphasized at a young age. Within the article, the authors identify seven key principles for using open-ended (creative, non-restricting) materials in early childhood classrooms. These principles are supported by personal experiences and educators’ stories. This article is useful for any educators looking to incorporate new curriculum into their classrooms to induce creative thinking. Additionally, it would be useful for parents as a way to emphasize the importance of creativity within an academic setting.

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  • Eaton, Ruth. “The City As An Intellectual Exercise.” In Schaer et al., Utopia, pp. 119-131. 2000.

    While our class was examining maps of Pittsburgh at the ULS Archive Center, we utilized this text to help us think about how city layouts are connected to societal ideals and goals. In fact, Eaton claims that “the social arrangement [of a city] appears to be of primary concern and the urban of secondary” (Eaton 119). Furthermore, the text discusses the social, political, and economic changes that enable a city to provoke and undergo transformations.

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  • Eisler, Benita. “The Lowell Offering: Writings by New England Mill Women (1840-1845).” W.W. Norton & Company, 17 December 1997.

    Taking excerpts from The Lowell Offering, the first magazine created and published by women working in the New England Mills, this piece reveals what working class women thought, read, and wrote about important religious, philosophical, political, and social issues of their time. The magazine, which functioned as platform for women to communicate with one another while engaging in political activism, encompasses letters, stories, essay, sketches, and even firsthand presentations of factory working life.

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  • Frazier, LaToya Ruby, and Dennis C. Dickerson. The Notion of Family. Aperture Foundation, 2016.

    Centering on Frazier’s hometown of Braddock, PA, this one of a kind collection of images and personal stories reflect on themes such as civil belonging, racism, politics, family, community building, and urban change. According to Frazier, this text functions as “a transformative act as a means to reset traditional power dynamics and narratives.” In fact, the story is told through several generations of Frazier’s family ranging from her Grandmother, Ruby, to her mother, and finally, to herself. If you’re looking for a text that focuses on the intersections between narratives and images or you’re focusing on project regarding the economic and political effects on a community, we’d recommend a read!

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  • Fullilove, Mindy Thompson. Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It. Ballantine Book, 2004. 

    Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove explains the deep affects of "root shock" on an individual when they are traumatically displaced from their home because of urban renewal. The book focuses on three different communities of color in the United States that have been demolished because of these projects, including the Hill District in Pittsburgh. The author uses stories from individuals who have experienced, and are still experiencing, root shock first hand to inform readers of its detrimental affects, as well as hopefully call them to action against it.

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  • George, Kathleen, ed.  Pittsburgh Noir. New York: Akashic Books. 2011.

    This collection holds 14 different works of fiction spanning across characters and regions of Pittsburgh. Each story comes from a different local author and voice, but they are all written in the style of noir, as the title suggests. The city of Pittsburgh ties all the stories together, referencing the city's parks, rivers, sites, and neighborhoods within the suspense, thrill, and mystery. Pittsburgh is practically its own character within the collection, which can be read as a whole or separately.

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  • Glasco, Laurence A. and Christopher Rawson. August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His life and His Plays. Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, 2011

    If you’re looking for a good history read then check out this short but informative book edited by Laurence A. Glasco and Christopher Rawson. Although the main portion of the book is dedicated to a descriptive walking tour of the sites (imagined and real) from Wilson’s life and plays, the beginning section includes short testimonials from Wilson’s contemporaries and a biographic essay. This essay details the life of August Wilson, his childhood, growing up in the Hill District, his influences leading up to his untimely death. Anyone interested in great literature would enjoy this quick biography, and anyone interested in walking through Wilson’s neighborhood would find the second portion essential for a self-guided walking tour.

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  • Gray, Thomas. "Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard." Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44299/elegy-written-in-a-country-churchyard.

    This poem, written by author Thomas Gray, one of the most important English poets of the 18th century, discusses various symbols including death and isolation surrounding a country courtyard.  He explores the remembrance of common men who have passed and details the rather beautiful landscape upon his reflection.

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  • Greenfield, Rebecca. "Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries." The Atlantic, The Atlantic Monthly Group, 16 Mar. 2011, https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/our-first-public-parks-the-forgotten-history-of-cemeteries/71818/.

    In this significant article, author Rebecca Greenfield offers a reflective, personal narrative that proposes much historical context on the "place" of cemeteries.  She provides a personal point of view towards these more "welcoming" memorial grounds to worship those who have passed, and giving a newer sense of purpose through our individual experiences.

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  • “Teenie Harris Archive.” Carnegie Museum of Art, 18 Mar. 2021, https://cmoa.org/art/teenie-harris-archive/.

    This collection encompasses more than 60,000 images taken by Charles “Teenie” Harris, a renowned photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier, between 1935 and 1975. Harris was known for capturing the Black urban experience and keeping a detailed record of it through his photos. Carnegie Museum of Art created this archive by digitizing his work for generations to see.

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  • Hirsch, Sarah. "Inhabiting the Icon: Shipping Containers and the New Imagination of Western Space." Western American Literature, vol. 48, no. 1, 2013, pp. 17-40.

    In this article published in the Western American Literature Journal, Hirsch explores “how the shipping container and containerization has redefined notions of the West as a transnational space through spectacle” (Hirsch 17). This text addresses concerns such as human trafficking, illegal smuggling, and the disenfranchisement of workers and the poor as well as discussing how shipping containers can transform how we think about regional, national, and local spaces.

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  • Jemisin, N. K. "The City Born Great." The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Charles Yu, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2017, pp. 230-244. 

    In this short story, Jemisin uses science fiction to explore what it means to be a city. She depicts a character who apparently embodies New York City, and shows why and how this person can "birth" the city through a series of events. This story forces readers to consider the good and bad characteristics of cities, and to consider what traits and identities a city would have if it were brought to life in a human form. 

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  • Jordan, John W. A Century and a Half of Pittsburg and Her People. III, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908.

    In this critical text, John W. Jordan of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania discusses an entire century and a half of the leading families of Pittsburgh and its vicinity.  Detailed in this book is a collection of genealogical memoirs of these crucial people in history, where important stories are told by the tracing of ancestry.

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  • Kimmerer, Robin Wall. “Learning to See from Gathering Moss.” Gathering Moss, OSU Press. 2003.

    Throughout this intriguing mix of science and personal reflection told through the perspective and voice of a Native American woman, this text focuses not only on explaining the life cycle of moss but also proclaiming how mosses fit in with the expansive world of living organisms surrounding them.

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  • Laqueur, Thomas Walter. The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains. Princeton University Press, 2015.

    In this critical text, Laqueur touches on the reasoning behind churchyards being a "cultural turning point" in history and providing a unified community of memory for those who have passed.  He wants the public to grasp a better understanding of the importance of the more ancient burial traditions that should be cherished and carefully considered for the dead.

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  • Luiselli, Valeria. Sidewalks. Translated by Christina MacSweeney, Minneapolis, Coffee House, 2014.

    Sidewalks examines the ways in which the built environment can instill in its inhabitants a feeling called saudade, a Portugese term that encompasses feelings of nostalgia, homesickness, and longing for places, people, and times that are gone or soon will be. In a series of short, eclectic, and allusive essays, Luiselli moves through Mexico City to contemplate how we navigate the neighborhoods and worlds we call home.

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  • Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City. MIT Press, 1960.

    This book focuses on the concept of mental maps, which people can create based on the information they take in while exploring city environments. Lynch’s ideas are centered around five specific elements of a city, including nodes, edges, landmarks, paths, and districts. He explains how they all make it possible to come up with mental images of the the surrounding area, which becomes a personal map for every individual.  

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  • Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way).  Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2011

    This Young Adult nonfiction provides readers with a brief history of the bicycle, as well as information on how women in the saw bikes as a ticket to freedom.  There’s also plenty of details about famous cyclists through out history, examples of literature and music related to cycling, cycling slang, and advertisements containing bicycles.  Anyone interested in learning how the bicycle came to be what it is today will enjoy this piece.

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  • Madarasz, Anne. Glass Shattering Notions. Pittsburgh: Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, 1998.

    This book serves as a recording and companion of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania's exhibition with the same title at the Heniz Pittsburgh Regional History Center. The book provides a narrative about the history of glass as well as a lyrical meditation about what glass offers us and the value it holds. Madarasz also discusses Pittsburgh specifically, and the city's historical significance in glass production. It is filled with images not only of the glass pieces themselves, but also with figures of historical events that are important for grasping a full understanding of the story of glass. 

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  • About the Dictionary of Imaginary Things

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  • Nicholson, Simon. "The Theory of Loose Parts, An important principle for design methodology." Studies in Design Education Craft & Technology, Vol 4. No. 2.

    In this article, Nicholson explains the Theory of Loose parts. In summary, the theory states that the more moveable, varied objects children are given for play, the more their creative thinking will be stimulated. While this article is a great read for anyone, it may be especially interesting to teachers of parents of young children.

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  • O'Nan, Stewart. Everyday People.  New York: Grove Press, 2001.

    O'Nan's novel follows the everyday lives of residents of the primarily Black neighborhood of East Liberty in Pittsburgh, PA. It takes place over the course of a week in 1998, and each chapter serves as a glimpse into the life and mind of one of the many characters in the book. O'Nan sheds light on the history of East Liberty and the Black experience in Pittsburgh by providing intimate, day to day moments that make up the lives of residents.

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  • Pascal, Molly. "Here is Squirrel Hill." Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy, edited by Beth Kissileff and Eric Ledji, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020, 9-20.

    Modeling her essay after E.B. White's classic "Here is New York" essay, Pascal narrates a year in her life, beginning at Rosh Hashanah in September 2018 and ending a year later, a year in which she experiences the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in her Squirrel Hill and Jewish communities. Pascal focuses on the people, businesses, history, infrastructure, and Jewish life that make Squirrel Hill a unique and beloved Pittsburgh neighborhood.

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  • Sheldrake, P. “Placing the Sacred: Transcendence and the City.” Literature and Theology, vol. 21, no. 3, 2007, pp. 243–58. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23927123.

    This article investigates the relationship between sacred spaces and the cities that they inhabit. It investigates what it means for a sacred site to be considered sacred, and the relationship between contemporary architecture and the urban values that architecture reflects.

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  • Simon, Ed. An Alternative History of Pittsburgh. Cleveland, Belt Publishing, 2021.

    In his charming history of Pittsburgh, Simon explores the city’s journey from a prehistoric ocean into a major industrial hub.  With a series of short, interconnected essays, Simon paints an entertaining and informative tale which highlights the more obscure elements of Pittsburgh’s history.

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  • Solnit, Rebecca. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Penguin Books, 2001.

    Solnit analyzes the ways in which the mechanics of walking impact the ways in which we interact and interpret our surroundings. By looking at the history of walking, Solnit discusses how a person’s experiences—cultural, political, philosophical, and aesthetic—are impacted by the action of walking.

     

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  • Solomon, David.  National Negro Opera House. Pittsburgh: WQED. DVD.

    This documentary depicts the conservationist efforts of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh. The house, as seen in the documentary, is in a state of disrepair. Nonetheless, this documentary details the many stories that make this house a historical landmark and cultural landmark for the black community of Pittsburgh. Home to the first National Negro Opera Company, the walls of the house have seen a number of stories ranging from a bet to win the Steelers to Mary Cardwell Dawson’s great success with her opera company.

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  • Standiford, Les. Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America. New York: Broadway Books, 2005.

    This unbiased story of two of the most influential men in the history of the city of Pittsburgh is a great read. Standiford captures the rags to riches tales of both Carnegie and Frick as well as stories of mill workers and how their friendship eventually dissolved due to business opinion differences. This is a fairly easy read and a great book for anyone interested in history or Pittsburgh or Pittsburgh history.

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  • Sweterlitsch, Thomas. Tomorrow and Tomorrow. New York: Berkley Books, 2014.

    This novel is a work of futuristic, cyberpunk fiction. The novel’s main character, Dominic, follows the protagonist role of an anti-hero, as he has some major personality flaws. This novel explores corruption in the digital age and Dominic’s quest to uncover the truth about a mysterious murder and cover-up. Readers who like sci-fi, murder mysteries, or any type of literature set in Pittsburgh will want to read this.

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  • The Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, PA. Its Origin and Early History, Also a Report of It's Condition, Progress, and Business During the Last Ten Years. 1910.

    This book on the report of the Allegheny Cemetery highlights the upkeep of management for the facility, those involved who adhere to their critical duties in maintaining the cleanliness, as well as the division of sections in the place that allows for plenty of land and reserved spots for graves of those who have passed.  It is essentially a detailed collection of the various rules, regulations, and guidelines in place for such important burial grounds for the community surrounding the Allegheny Cemetery.

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  • Toker, Franklin. Pittsburgh: A New Portrait. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.

    Building off its predecessor, Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait of 1986, this guidebook takes readers through Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and thier transformations since the city’s founding in 1758. A professor of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, Franklin Toker blends his architectural knowledge and playful admiration for the city into a chronology of when, how, why, and by whom the buildings were constructed and used. His work unveils the colorful personalities of Pittsburgh’s infrastructure, while exploring how “the same city [could] be both the most livable and the most leave-able in the United States…where the quality of life keeps rising while the population keeps falling” (ix).

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  • “Introduction.” Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. University of Minnesota Press, 1977.

    ​​​​​​​In his influential book, Tuan uses the lens of human experience to define and differentiate between the concepts of space and place.  He examines the feelings associated with both and considers how we relate to the concepts.

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  • "Metaphor: Or, the Map." Turchi, Peter. Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer. San Antonio, Trinity University Press, 2007.

    In this book chapter, Turchi uses the idea of a map to examine writing through the ideas of exploration and presentation.  Turchi explores how writers navigate the unknown and decide what to present to their readers.

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  • University of Pittsburgh Neighborhood Alliance, Pittsburgh Neighborhood Atlas: Oakland. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1977.

    This piece which is essentially a neighborhood census mixed with atlas features a vast amount of data about the city of Pittsburgh. This particular section of the Atlas features Oakland in 1977 and describes some of the demographics, satisfaction survey results as well as crime rates in the area. The data which was gathered by several surveys to locals in Oakland gives us a peek into the status of Oakland during that time.

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  • The heyday of Pittsburgh's Hill District lasted from the 1930's through the 1950's, and this eloquent documentary recaptures it all: the music clubs that attracted both black and white, the best Negro League baseball teams in America, the church picnics and family businesses that comprised the essence of life in this vibrant neighborhood.

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  • Wells, H.G. The Wheels of Chance. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1896. 

    The Wheels of Chance is a novel follows Mr. Hoopdriver, a “draper’s assistant” in London on his bicycle ride around the Southern Coast on his holiday. He keeps running into a striking young lady having difficulties with a dastardly man…intrigue, love interest, and a daring bicycle escape ensues. It was written in the time period where cycling first became popular and showed how the bicycle offered a new mode of travel and socialization.  Readers who like to see history displayed through an interesting narrative would enjoy this novel.

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  • Westphal, Bertrand. Geocriticism: Real and Fictional Spaces. Trans. Robert T. Tally Jr. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 

    Westphal’s idea of Geocriticism is useful for figuring out how texts and the real world connect. It helps study how literature can represent a given space and how space interacts with texts. Readers who want to look deeper into the setting of different pieces of literature and connect it to the real world may be interested in this work.

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  • Whitaker, Mark. Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2019.

    This book discusses the Renaissance of Black culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, between the 1920s and the 1950s. Whitaker explores the stories of Black pioneers who had a significant impact on the community and made history both in the city of Pittsburgh and in America as a whole. He focuses on contributions from individuals such as August Wilson, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, and more, bringing to light the lesser-known tales of how they helped transform the Steel City and the United States.

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  • Wideman, John Edgar. Damballah, in The Homewood Books. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.

    The Homewood Books is a collection of fiction written by John Edgar Wideman, who was raised in Homewood, Pittsburgh. His writing, as quoted from The Homewood Books introduction, “offer[s] a continuous investigation, from many angles, not so much of a physical location, Homewood, … but of a culture, a way of seeing and being seen.” Damballah is a short story collection that takes readers along in a series of stories about the intertwining lives of Homewood’s residents. Inside the book you’ll find stories including the characters Reba Love Jackson, Elizabeth, and Tommy.

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  • Wilson, August. The Piano Lesson. New York: Penguin, 1990.

    First performed in 1987 as the fourth installment in the Pittsburgh Cycle, this play is set in 1936 during the Great Depression in Wilson’s home neighborhood of the Hill District. Disagreeing on whether to sell an heirloom piano that was carved by their enslaved ancestors, two siblings must decide if honoring their family’s legacy through keeping the piano is worth giving up the economic advancement of buying land. Highlighting the themes of preserving and honoring one’s family history, August Wilson depicts the struggle between what the future could hold and the ghosts of the past. 

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  • Wilson, August. Jitney. New York: The Overlook Press, 1979.

    As the eighth play in his Pittsburgh Cycle, August Wilson set the play in his home neighborhood of the Hill District, during a period of urban renewal. His piece puts a real face on gentrification and the people that experience it. There are five main characters, as well as secondary characters that come and go in the play, that experience this gentrification in their community as it threatens their livelihood: working at a jitney station. Readers that enjoy a heavy topic fused with historic information would love this play!

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  • Wilson, August. The Ground on Which I Stand. Nick Hern Books, 2001.

    First presented as an address to the Theatre Communications Group in 1996--expresses his debt to the Black Arts Movement as it emphasizes the need for more proactive engagement with inequality around race in contexts ranging from production funding to critical criteria.

    August Wilson beckons his audience to remember the "hallowed" ground upon which he stands. He emphatically calls for the dignification of black culture/art, drawing our attention to the "self-defining ground of the slave quarters.... made fertile by the blood and bones of the men and women who can be described as warriors on the cultural battlefield that affirmed their self-worth."

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  • Wilson, August. Two Trains Running. New York, Plume, 1993.

    This play is part of the “The Pittsburgh Cycle,” August Wilson’s famous series of plays set in each decade of the twentieth century in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Set in 1969 in the Hill District neighborhood, Two Trains Running's action stays within Memphis's diner and tells the story of several members of the African-American community--Wolf, Sterling, Hambone, Risa, and others--and how the redevelopment plans for the Hill impact their lives.

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  • Young, Damon. “Everybody Knew Teenie.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 17 Feb. 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/03/charles-teenie-harris-pittsburgh/617789/.

    This article gives a brief overview of Charles “Teenie” Harris's life and how he was known to and by the Pittsburgh community. It features several of his photographs from his time as a photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier. The article also discusses the collection of his work at the Carnegie Museum of Art and how he captured at least 125,000 people over the course of 40 years in his hundreds of photos.

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