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A Publication of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition

Spring 2013

The Parks Issue


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Squirrel Hill In Every Issue 3

SHUC President’s Message Residential Permit Parking


What’s New From Our Advertisers


This Just In


Squirrel Hill Historical Society Nine Mile Run


Events Calendar

Features 8

Good News from Our Schools


Squirrel Hill Feature Frick Park Continues to Blossom


Squirrel Hill Feature Art Meets Nature in Mellon Park


Squirrel Hill Feature Birding Squirrel Hill


Squirrel Hill Feature High Joggers and Low


Squirrel Hill Spotlight Golf Course Recognized

More about Nine Mile Run inside.

Cover art: “My Favorite View” by Melissa McMasters. Photo appears courtesy of Melissa McMasters. Melissa lived in Squirrel Hill for five years while working for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. “I visit every couple of months and I’m still out in the parks every chance I get,” she says. “I was pretty heavily influenced by my time in Pittsburgh. It’s what turned me into a nature-lover.” You can find more of Melissa’s beautiful photography online at Her website features portrait photography as well as a nature photography blog called ::crickets::.

Many thanks to Lynne Goldstein of Goldstein Photography, who took the gorgeous photos of the Treasure Awards that appeared in our last issue. We’d like to apologize for forgetting to credit Lynne at that time! Goldstein Photography, the official photographers of the Treasure Awards, may be found online at can still view the photos at SHUC wishes to thank Steve Kijanka from First National Bank for his many efforts on behalf of our organization and the Squirrel Hill community as a whole.

Dynamic Duo! Murray the Squirrel Squirrel Hill Magazine is thrilled to welcome our new Marketing Director, Emily Stewart, to our staff. Emily holds a BA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MA from Duke University, and also serves as Communications Director for the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. If you’re interested in advertising, please contact Emily at We also hope you’ll continue to send your comments and suggestions to Adrienne Block at

Murray is available free of charge for visits and events to local organizations and schools. Give SHUC a call at 412.422.7666 or email The Parks Issue PAGE1

SQUIRREL HILL URBAN COALITION OFFICERS: Raymond N. Baum, President Richard Feder, Vice President Lori Fitzgerald, Vice President Erik Wagner, Vice President Francine D. Abraham, Assistant Secretary Ceci Sommers, Assistant Secretary James Burnham, Treasurer Harry M. Goern, Assistant Treasurer Steven Hawkins, Immediate Past President BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Francine D. Abraham, Kevin Acklin, Raymond N. Baum, James Burnham, Norman Childs, Andrew J. DeWitt, Vivian Didomenico, Andy Dlinn, Alan Dunn, Richard Feder, Judy Feldman, Lori Fitzgerald, Harry M. Goern, Ed Goldfarb, Barbara Grover, Steve Hawkins, Ryan W. Hopkins, Lois Liberman, David Miles, Tracy Royston, Ceci Sommers, Sidney Stark, Brandon Trombatt, Erik Wagner, Roger Westman, Chris Zurawsky MAGAZINE STAFF: Adrienne Block, Editor Emily Stewart, Marketing & Development Consultant Merle Weitz, Administrative Assistant

Our Mission The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition is a non-profit community organization dedicated to preserving, improving and celebrating the quality of life in the 14th Ward of the City of Pittsburgh.Volunteer-supported standing committees provide leadership to our community by studying, debating, and advocating positions on issues affecting our neighborhood’s vitality. Our mission is implemented through a long range planning process, which fosters community-based initiatives in the areas of education, public safety, transportation, parks and open spaces, and commercial, institutional, and residential development.

CONTRIBUTORS: Raymond N. Baum, Adrienne Block, Steve DeFlitch, Barb Grover, Christine Hucko, Erin Hutton, Frank Izaguirre, Judith Kadosh, Carolyn Ludwig, Tara McElfresh, Councilman Corey O’Connor, Tim Richart, Tracy Royston, Maddie Siegel, Emily Stewart, Helen Wilson DESIGN & PRINT: Patricia Tsagaris, Pinkhaus Design, Creative Director Typecraft Press Inc., Printer Printed with soy—based ink!


A Publication of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition

Winter 2013

The Technology Issue

Squirrel Hill Magazine, Vol. 11, Issue 1, is published through the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, 5604 Solway Street. Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Please direct any questions or comments to SHUC by calling 412.422.7666 or emailing To inquire about advertising, please contact Please support our advertisers—their ads solely finance this magazine!

Reserve your space today for the Summer 2013 issue!

Bring in this ad to receive 25% OFF one item. Offer valid at participating stores until 6/15/13. Not valid with other discounts, purchase of gift cards, Oriental rugs or Traveler’s Finds. One coupon per customer per visit. PAGE2 The Parks Issue


shuc presidentʼs message

Residential Permit Parking – Is It Coming to Squirrel Hill? By Raymond N. Baum, President, Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition


ccording to the City Planning website (, the City of Pittsburgh Residential Permit Parking (RPP) program was adopted in 1981 “to give residents of a designated area a better chance to park near their homes.” Residential areas may become permit parking zones if they are regularly and substantially “impacted” by non-resident parking for more than two hours. Pittsburgh’s RPP program now covers 31 districts, including parts of Oakland, Shadyside, Bloomfield and Squirrel Hill near CMU. Creation of an RPP district is coordinated by City Planning. The process includes neighborhood meetings, petitions, a hearing before the Pittsburgh Planning Commission and the approval of City Council. The process is governed by Chapter 549 of the City Code and described on the City Planning website. Enforcement of the RPP program is in the hands of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. To facilitate the process, Squirrel Hill has been designated as a “cooperative zone” so that the planning process will be open and hopefully less confusing and controversial. While the meaning of the term “cooperative zone” is not in the RPP ordinance, it appears to mean that City Planning will work with the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition to: (a) present information to and obtain information from residents, property owners, business people, institutions and others who may be affected; (b) make the process as transparent and open as possible; and (c) consider the overall needs of Squirrel Hill, as well as the needs of the residents most affected. As a part of the cooperative process, an ad hoc committee including representatives of the Coalition, the business district, City Planning and the offices of Councilmen Peduto and O’Connor has proposed four areas in Squirrel Hill for public consideration and discussion. They can be seen at and are preliminarily located at: Zone 1 North of Forbes, bounded by Forbes, Wightman, Northumberland and Shady Zone 2 South of Forbes, bounded by Forbes, Murray, Hempstead and Murdoch

Zone 3 South of Forbes, bounded by Forbes, Murray, Douglas and Shady Zone 4 South of Forbes, bounded by Douglas, Beechwood, Forward and Murray The RPP ordinance assumes that the RPP program will improve matters and that the process should generally be controlled by the residents of each proposed RPP district. Arguments in favor of the program include that it will: (a) allow residents to park near their homes without having to compete with commuter vehicles; (b) keep people who work in Squirrel Hill and those who simply park in Squirrel Hill and catch a bus to go elsewhere from parking within the district for more than two hours; and (c) free up short term spaces for shoppers. So far, we have had one introductory public meeting focused primarily on Zone 1. Some residents spoke in favor of the RPP program. Others opposed it because they want to accommodate people visiting or working in the business district, they feel permit parking is unnecessary, or they would prefer that the City concentrate on removing cars that block their driveways. A recent concern is that RPP permits are now being counterfeited, making enforcement challenging. While I suggest you check the RPP ordinance, the City Planning and Pittsburgh Parking Authority websites and attend the meetings that will soon be scheduled and announced, here are some key attributes of the RPP program: 1. Residents of each district may purchase parking permits for $20/year per automobile, and may purchase one visitor permit for $1. Temporary permits are available for contractors or others working in your house on a very short term basis. 2. An RPP district must include ten or more contiguous city “block faces” (one side of the city block). The RPP district must also include at least ten adjacent block faces or at least 100 parking spaces and must “generate selling at least fifty (50) permits.” 3. The process is to start with a petition signed by at least 70% of the households in the proposed RPP district. The Continued on page 4 The Parks Issue PAGE3

message continued


City Planning Commission can also start the process by requesting a parking study. 4. City Planning conducts a parking study to determine, among other things, the extent of commuter vehicle parking in the proposed RPP district, that at least 75% of the parking spaces are taken during peak periods, and that at least 15% of the parking spaces are taken by nonresidents for more than two hours. If any of these RPP districts are approved many of us will be affected. The other criteria and more details of the process are described in the ordinance and on the City Planning website, and will be explained further in an upcoming public meeting yet to be scheduled. Neighbors in the first proposed district—north of Forbes Avenue—will be notified by mail about this meeting, but if you would like to receive notices of future public meetings regarding the RPP program please email us at and check out our website at A version of this article with embedded links will be posted to our website.

Lisa A. Osachy, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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Eye Care For You Dr. Roberta Horwitz is a second-generation independent optometrist and has been practicing in Pittsburgh for almost 30 years. She recently moved her practice to 416 Hastings Street in Point Breeze. As stated by her slogan, “Eye Care For You,” her primary interest is the health of your eyes. She provides each of her patients with a full diagnostic eye examination, including—where appropriate—digital retinal photographs. Dr. Horwitz will coordinate diabetic eye care with patients’ primary care practitioners. She recently served as the vice-chair of the State Optometric Licensing Board of Pennsylvania. Each spring Dr. Horwitz attends the International Eye Expo in NYC for continuing education

on the latest research and treatments, and to help her locate new and different suppliers of quality, fashion eyewear. When a patient chooses glasses, they should fit the patient’s lifestyle, sense of fashion and budget. Along with a plethora of eyewear, a wide range of lenses ensures that each patient gets the best possible lens to meet her/his specific needs. Dr. Horwitz also fits contact lenses. The office accepts most insurance plans including VSP, VBA, Davis, Highmark, UPMC, and Aetna. Please call for ahead for an appointment. 412-3613937,

Dobrá Tea Hello friends and humble guests! We would like to welcome you to Dobrá Tea Pittsburgh. This authentic, Bohemianstyle tearoom is something between a bar and a church; it is a place for relaxation and community. Our multicultural atmosphere is sure to have something for everyone. Tea drinking is a lifestyle. Imbibed by monks as a meditative beverage, tea somehow imparts serenity to the drinker. Thus, drinking tea is itself a life experience. At Dobrá, we provide a clean, comfortable, meditative environment to enjoy tea, along with great knowledge of this modest plant. Our tea is served in traditional vessels from the country of origin or in handmade pottery of traditional style when possible. Our selection includes hot tea, cold tea, and light vegetarian fare. Please join us for a relaxing cup of tea. Our humble devotees are happy to be of service. Namaste, Nathaniel Pantalone, owner The Parks Issue PAGE5







fresh off the street

This Just In Litter Patrol As part of the Squirrel Hill Litter Patrol’s “Ban the Bottle” contest, third graders at Minadeo and Community Day schools translated their knowledge about the negative impact of plastic bottles on our environment into creative posters. Many superb posters reflected the importance of saving the earth by reducing throwaways. After much discussion, judges selected Dontae McKenith from Minadeo and Hailey Shevitz from Community Day as the winners. Prizes will be awarded near the library entrance on April 21, 2013, at 1 pm at the annual Squirrel Hill Spring Cleanup event. Students, parents, teachers, and residents are invited to be present for the awards ceremony and stay to grab bags, gloves, and safety vests to clean up the litter on our neighborhood’s business and residential streets. The Spring Litter Cleanup will be held from 1-4pm. Registration is at the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues under the library. Light refreshments will be served. The drum group, Olam, from Community Day will entertain. Thanks go to Carole Wolsh, Bicky Goldszer, Sabina Berger and Lynn Rosenthal at Minadeo, and Erin Roth and Tim Richart at Community Day for making the poster contest so successful. Come join us for the Cleanup! See our ad on page 23.

New Teen Library Scene By Maddie Siegel

As one eighth grade library user recently said, “We used to walk up the hill and then

there wasn’t any place to be. Now we have a place to go.” In the past year, Teen Services at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill has been completely revitalized. First and foremost, there’s a new full-time Teen Librarian (yours truly) who is dedicated to the needs of our community members in grades 6-12. This past July we created the brand new Teen Space which is outfitted with comfortable furniture and the newest books, magazines, comics and Manga. We also have a weekly program called “Tuesday Teen Scene” where patrons ages 11-19 are invited to play the Wii, make a craft, have snacks and socialize with friends. Teens also have the opportunity to fulfill community service hours by volunteering at the library either by shelving, assisting with programs or joining the newly formed Teen Advisory Council. We are always adding new programs for our teens, so check out the CLP Teens website at for upcoming events, including the 2013 Teen Summer Reading Program kicking off in June!

A Pearl Found In Pittsburgh The year 2012 was momentous for local author Sydelle Pearl. Her newest book, Dear Mr. Longfellow: Letters to and from the Children’s Poet, is a biography that was published in October of 2012 by Prometheus Books. It incorporates actual letters children wrote to Longfellow in the 1880s. Sydelle’s historical fiction picture book, Hope Somewhere in America: the Story of a Child, a Painting, and a President, was published in April of 2012 by Twin Lights Publishers. It is about an African-American girl who becomes the subject of “Somewhere in America,” painted by Robert Brackman in 1934. Sydelle saw the painting three years ago when it was at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh. A native of New Jersey, Sydelle lived in Boston before moving to Pittsburgh over seven years ago. After living in Squirrel Hill, she now resides in Greenfield. Her website is The Parks Issue PAGE7

good news from our schools “Love Your Block” at Allderdice Last year, Allderdice ninth graders, as part of the service learning component of the Civics curriculum and the Promise Readiness Corps program, participated in the “Love Your Block” program. Ms. Amy Davies and Ms. Michele Papalia, both teachers in the Social Studies program, received a grant from the Mayor’s office to revitalize a city block. They chose to work on the area leading up to the basketball courts and baseball field on Tilbury. The Allderdice students worked to clean up the area, rid the driveway of garbage, pulled weeds, planted flowers and mulched, began painting the basketball poles and started to clean the baseball field area. We had a dragon painted on the driveway leading up to the field, and had a sign made that identifies the area as the Allderdice field.

Thanks to our contributors: Judith Kadosh (Allderdice), Carolyn Ludwig (Colfax), Tara McElfresh (Linden), Tim Richart (CDS), Tracy Royston (Minadeo)

Pittsburgh Colfax K-8 Nestled in the heart of Squirrel Hill, Colfax serves more than 700 children from East End neighborhoods. With a dedicated team of educators, led by our Principal Adam Sikorski, Colfax is committed to teaching a fantastic curriculum, impacting students with stimulating resources—all with heartfelt passion for our children. Colfax offers vital programs including after school tutoring, gifted instruction, daily enrichment, special education, counseling, and ESL. Along with many sports teams, Colfax rallies for our Student Council, School Yearbook, Chess and Ski Clubs, Spanish instruction, chorus, instrumental program, cheer teams, Science Squad, a top-notch library, and we have a pool! Eighth graders have the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, while grades 6-8 can embark on a “Cleveland Area” trip!

This spring, students will return to the area to clear out garbage and weeds that may have accumulated as well as finish painting the basketball hoops and courts. Ms. Davies and Ms. Papalia also hope to work with the community to fund new bleachers and work on the baseball field. Ultimately, they hope to make the whole space a great place for kids to go and play sports.

Through tireless fundraising and committed volunteerism, the Colfax PTO enables supplemental programs, including our Edible Schoolyard, Frick Environmental Center, countless field trips, and additional technology tools. Outreach through our school newspaper, website, and emails are invaluable resources.

To learn more about how you can help, please contact Michele Papalia at

Our annual “Colfax Carnaval” on June 11 is a celebration for students, staff, and our community. Come see public education thriving in your neighborhood!

CDS Launches New Pre-Kindergarten Starting Fall 2013 We are delighted to welcome our city’s youngest learners into our already established K-8 school community. Our new Pre-K program offers another excellent option for Jewish families seeking a warm, loving, and nurturing environment where children can learn and grow. Our Pre-K is a full-day program where children enjoy a seamlessly blended learning experience as Jewish learning and Hebrew language are organically infused. Our curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilio philosophy that embraces the child’s interests, family, and environment. Our primary goal is to respond to children in age-and interest-appropriate ways, challenging them to pursue passions and satisfy curiosity. At CDS, we believe that children learn best through hands-on activities and interactive play which allow them to explore and discover their natural and cultural worlds. Interested families should contact Admission Director, Judy Goldman at jgoldman@comday or 412-521-1100, ext 2113.

Minadeo school children

Linden’s Basketball Season Congratulations to Linden’s basketball teams for a successful season! The girls’ Lady Lions made it all the way to the semifinal playoff round where undefeated Morrow Elementary had to work hard for their 13-7 win. All the boys and girls who participated should be very proud of their efforts. Honoring the Lives of Children at Minadeo In 1954, at only 14 years of age, John Minadeo, the school’s namesake, sacrificed his life rescuing children in his line of duty as a safety patrol. John’s family had moved to this country only six years earlier from Montegano, Italy. Just this year we found out there is also a school there that bears his name. On February 14th, the two schools communicated via Skype and shared insights about each school and talked of setting up an exchange program. On Feb 22nd Minadeo had its 26th Annual Talent Show. Students from kindergarten through fifth grade showcased their creative abilities. With over 25 acts including dancing, singing and joke telling, and 14 fifth grade emcees, this year was a huge success. The most inspiring moment came at the end of the show. One of the teachers pulled together a group of fifth graders and performed Matisyahu’s “One World.” With lanterns lit and a chilling darkness, the children dedicated the piece to the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings and pleaded with the audience to commit to nonviolence, even leading the group in a chant. This beautiful scene left barely a dry eye in the house.0

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squirrel hill feature

Frick Park Continues to Blossom By Christine Hucko


egend has it, according to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, that Helen, daughter of Henry Clay Frick, when told she could have anything she wanted for her debutante party, “asked for a park where the children of Pittsburgh could enjoy nature.” Eleven years later, in 1919, 151 acres belonging to her father were bequeathed to the City of Pittsburgh following his death. The city acquired an additional 190 acres of land in 1925. Two years later, “Frick Park was born.”

Around the start of the new millennium, a restoration project was launched to address these issues. The project was a 7.7 million dollar undertaking supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning. Brenda Smith, Executive Director of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, said that those involved in the restoration responded to problems by, among other things, reconfiguring stream channels, rebuilding and constructing new wetlands, and creating pool-riffle sequences to slow and oxygenate the water.

What happened thereafter would have made Helen extremely proud. Instead Paralleling the stream is a path aptly of sticking to its original bounds or named Nine Mile Run Trail. A segment diminishing in size, Frick Park began to of the trail, which was completed in 2012, Nine Mile Run meanders through the valley en route to grow. Nearly a century has passed since moves from one end of the valley to the the Monongahela River. Photo by John Moyer. the park’s inception, and yet, like a other in a peaceful setting. Bikers, joggers, sequoia that becomes ever mightier through the years, the park and walkers can exercise or relax there in the company of birds and continues to expand. butterflies, listening to the stream as it gurgles along. The most recent expansion occurred as part of a project aimed at revitalizing land near the Monongahela River where industrial waste was dumped for decades. Since the 1990s, when the project got underway, the site has been steadily blossoming into a residential development called Summerset at Frick Park. All told, the new development will include more than 700 units, approximately two-thirds of which have already been constructed on a plateau in Squirrel Hill. Phase three of the project will involve constructing the rest of the planned units on a neighboring plateau adjacent to the Swisshelm Park neighborhood. Located between the two plateaus, in a sylvan valley, is the most recently added strip of park. The newest piece of parkland stretches roughly from beneath the Parkway East near the Squirrel Hill Tunnel to the Monongahela River. Frick Park gained 106 acres through this expansion, pushing its total acreage up to 561, making Frick the largest park in the city. Winding its way through the valley is a portion of Nine Mile Run Stream. Longtime residents of the East End may recall the days when Nine Mile Run gushed toward the Mon after heavy rainfall, carrying with it litter, pollutants and waste, while at the same time eroding the stream’s banks and threatening animal habitat. PAGE10 The Parks Issue

According to Craig Dunham, Project Manager for Summerset Land Development Associates, there are plans to add more trails in the area. The new paths will connect the Summerset at Frick Park residences located on either side of the valley to Nine Mile Run Trail. “Summerset residents will enjoy easy access to the public park,” Dunham said in reference to Frick. Park-goers who live elsewhere can access Nine Mile Run Trail by parking in the lot next to the Lower Frick Park Play Area, in the small lot located on Commercial Street, or in the lot in Duck Hollow, situated on the Mon. To reach the trail from Duck Hollow, circle back to Old Browns Hill Road—the trail begins up the hill on the right. If it’s true that Frick Park grew out of Helen Clay Frick’s wish to give Pittsburgh’s children a place to enjoy nature, Helen would be proud today. For today, people of all ages can enjoy what has become the city’s largest park, a wooded retreat that stretches from Point Breeze, where the Fricks used to live, to the Monongahela River, where the most recently added piece of parkland continues to develop.0 Christine Hucko is a writer and editor living in Squirrel Hill. You can visit her on the web at

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Art Meets Nature in Mellon Park By Erin Hutton

Mellon Park, a patch of green tucked into the East End, has spent the past several years undergoing a serious makeover and is now emerging as not only a place to play with your dog and lounge on the grass, but also to enjoy installation art. The Walled Garden, once the modern backyard of the Richard Beatty Mellon mansion, has been restored to a lush lawn anchored

by a fountain and surrounded by flower beds. And hidden in the lawn, there’s installation art easily overlooked in the daylight. One hundred and fifty lights placed in the lawn of the garden reflect the position of the stars and planets in the night sky over Pittsburgh at the time of Ann Katharine Seamans’ birth. Seamans was an artist and dancer who passed away at the age of 19 after a car crash in the Strip in 1999. Artist Janet Zweig created the memorial, titled 7:11AM 11.20.1979 79°55'W 40°27'N, for Seamans, who loved Mellon Park and spent as much time there as she could. The memorial breathes new life into the garden and invites visitors to come see the park at night so they can admire the night sky shining up from the grass. It’s only spring now, but soon the fireflies will be out at dusk, an ideal time to tour the Walled Garden and the sculptures that have found a home in Mellon over the past few years. This spring, new lights will be installed in the park to illuminate the sculptures and increase safety at night.

in rough shape, as forms to cast the pieces that now stretch up from the ground in Mellon Park. Steelcityscape (1976) and Untitled (January Sprinter) (1973) were Five Factors by Peter Calaboyias restored by McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory, Inc. According to the City’s Public Art Manager Morton Brown, President Bob Lodge was extremely dedicated to the project, reaching out to the artists to confirm everything from original materials used to intent of the sculpture. The Mellon Park project, says Brown, will hopefully serve as a model for future city improvement projects. Brown says Steelcityscape by Aaronel deRoy Gruber he’d like to see more integrated art around town, such as art in green spaces and bridges created with artists on the design team. Moving forward, he’d especially like to see art integrated into park restoration in a “subtle, tasteful, and mutually beneficial” manner. 0

The sculpture garden is situated on the lower side of Mellon Park and features three newly restored stainless steel sculptures from the 1970s: Five Factors by Peter Calaboyias Steelcityscape by Aaronel deRoy Gruber Untitled (January Sprinter) by Tom Morandi These pieces underwent extensive restoration before their placement in Mellon Park last year. Five Factors (1973) was restored by the original artist, Peter Calaboyias, who lives in Shadyside. Calaboyias used the original pieces, which were worn out and PAGE12 The Parks Issue

Untitled (January Sprinter) by Tom Morandi

Erin Hutton moved to Pittsburgh four years ago to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham, fell in love with Pittsburgh, and decided to stay. She writes about food, travel, and health on her blog Don't Forget to Eat! Find it at:

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Birding Squirrel Hill: An Interview with Ted Floyd By Adrienne Block

Squirrel Hill’s parks have been home to a vibrant birdwatching community for decades, but many residents may have little or no idea what birdwatching (or birding) is, let alone why it’s important or what makes it so much fun. One of our country’s most prominent birders got his start in our parks—Squirrel Hill native Ted Floyd. Now a resident of Colorado, Ted is the editor of the American Birding Association’s Birding magazine, North America’s premier birdwatching publication. During a recent visit, Ted was kind enough to sit down with me on a crisp morning in Frick Park.

place is so much more like the Costa Rican rainforest than it is like the desert in New Mexico. The trees were so tall, the air was so humid, the birds were so colorful. AB: What would be your advice to somebody wanting to get started as a birder? TF: My advice would be just to get outside. To go breathe fresh air, get sunshine on your skin, open your eyes and your ears to all of the real stuff that is out there. I think that it’s so seductive in this world of ours to just try to do everything remotely, indoors, in an office, in a meeting, on the internet. You can simply walk through a park with your eyes and ears open and start to look at things and you’ll start to notice things that you’ve never noticed in your life.

AB: For Squirrel Hillers that don’t know about birding, can Ted birding on remote Adak Island, Alaska, in the midyou talk about what makes birding here so special? dle of the Bering Sea. TF: We always take for granted the places we live. If you live at the South Pole you probably take for granted all those fascinating penguins and icebergs and the beautiful night sky. It’s the same thing here in Squirrel Hill. A nature writer who used to live in Western PA would refer to the spring warbler flight through Pennsylvania as “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It’s one of the most visible, most colorful, wildest natural pageants anywhere on earth. You can just go to a nearby park, or you can step out into your backyard in May or September and witness it. AB: How did Squirrel Hill’s parks help lead you to where you are in life now? TF: They gave me a proving ground, a forging ground, for all of the knowledge, the application, the understanding that I retain today. I came to Frick Park certainly hundreds of times during high school, it might have been thousands, often several times in a day. It wasn’t force of habit or the same old routine; it seemed as if every time I came here there was something new to find, some new discovery, some new nook and cranny. AB: You’ve birded all over the world. What’s it like coming back to Squirrel Hill? TF: I always assume when I come back here that I’ll instantly lapse into this sort of nostalgic, sentimental trip down memory lane, and that never happens. I’ll use one example in particular. I’d been living in the Desert Southwest in New Mexico for quite some time and had not been in the Eastern U.S. at all. Interspersed into that trip to New Mexico I’d spent quite a bit of time in the rainforest in Costa Rica. Then I come back to Frick Park. I remember thinking to myself: this

AB: How have the parks changed? TF: To me that’s the most exciting thing about coming home, the dynamism of life in the park over the course of decades. When I think about the birds that I saw here in the early 1980s, compared with the ones I’ve noticed this morning, the difference has just been overwhelming. On the one hand I see this landscape that hasn’t changed. The trails are the same, the buildings are the same, the lay of the land, and yet when you start to look at all the nitty-gritty, the nature of the bird population in Squirrel Hill, so much has changed in 30 years. And it’s exciting for me to think that if I come back here 30 years from now, it’ll be different still.0 An expanded version of this interview can be found on our website, To learn more about birding, visit the Three Rivers Birding Club at or the American Birding Association at

When she’s not working on Squirrel Hill Magazine, Adrienne Block is a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has most recently been published in inTravel Magazine. You can reach her at The Parks Issue PAGE15

squirrel hill feature

High Joggers and Low: A Word Portrait of Schenley Park By Frank Izaguirre

Among the first things you notice about Schenley are the beautiful families emerging from the winter woodwork of their homes, the berylline buds pushing their way out of branches, and the intricacies of graffiti. Just look at the colors in the tunnel adjacent to the swimming pool and you’ll see patterns of block letters and cursive, shaded lettering edged in silver resembling clip art, only more human than clip art. And above you as you stand at the entrance to this tunnel is a rusty, disfigured light socket in which there is a neatly cut rectangle of paper with the word “love” written on it, hanging by a piece of Scotch tape. Descend onto the trails that crisscross Panther Hollow both high and low and you will experience another barrage of color. A young man with an electric blue Under Armour running a hundred feet beneath. A woman with a hot pink sweater on the high trail. Then another with a neon yellow top and orange tights. A lightly bearded man with a maroon hoodie and pale gray shorts. Descend further into the low and find the creek with the nook beneath a person-sized rock with a water strider living in it, six marble sized circles projected on the brown streambed by its feet touching the water. It swings its front two marbles behind it and glides forward in a manner most closely resembling the breaststroke. Then there is another. Then three more. There are always more, the longer you stare. Up the stairs: write down the details by the two bright green leaves emerging from the detritus. Touch them: they are in fact plastic, cousins of the black tights worn by the woman jogging above you while you write, now walking down the stairs where you sit, now past you, now staring, craning her neck back to keep looking at the writer. Decide to enter the café only if there are people, and there are: a beautiful young father wearing a sweater with the name of a prestigious out-of-state school, with his beautiful babbling son, both of them looking in different directions, until the boy struggles to PAGE16 The Parks Issue

articulate his needs and wishes, and his father’s eyes are on him so lovingly (“Hot chocolate!”: Dad buys and brings it to him; “Too hot!”: Dad blows on it). Also, a woman in the corner, sweater and other tchotchkes littered about the chair opposite her, smushing her index and middle fingers into her temples as she stares at her writing or perhaps an excruciating email. And there is a waitress, an attractive woman who asks you if you would like a glass of water (“No.”), and a wholesome looking man who is a Pens fan both on his sweater and on his hat. Realize this is a superior café because rarely can one learn about geology, watersheds, vegetation, cultural history, and park history at a café, but here this information is all over the walls. You learn: “Some 290 million years ago the Pittsburgh region was a large flat-lying river delta at the edge of a broad-interior sea.” Also: “By AD 1635, after a series of droughts had destroyed their corn crops and an increasing number of raids by the Iroquois from the north, the Monongahela disappeared from Southwestern Pennsylvania … It wasn’t until the Delaware, Shawnee, and other tribes were pushed into Western Pennsylvania in the late 17th and early 18th centuries by European colonization of the eastern seaboard, that Native Americans once again lived in the region.” So between about 380 and 330 years ago, no one lived in Pittsburgh. Back in the trails: A mid-30s man in a blindingly white shirt, Godlike in its brilliance. A girl in tangerine orange shorts. Long stretches of brown nothingness with no one on the high trails or the low. Then, purple vested grandpa, turquoise mom and a turquoise baby in a green carriage and a gray granny with a fuchsia pink sweater and extraordinarily yellow shoes. Impossible not to realize how beautiful they all are, the assault of color. The high trail bends back on itself. White t-shirt man with white headphones, cinereous shorts and a purple scarf. A jogger with a sweaty white tee with red flanks, racecar-like. Back down the trails, among more kaleidoscopic joggers, both high and low, around the playground, back beneath a tunnel filled with beauty and beneath a burnt-out socket to stare at a single word. This is the joy of the parks: You can know their details, and learn where to find love dangling by a single strip of Scotch tape.0 Frank Izaguirre is a writer and teacher. This spring he’ll be in Schenley looking for a Connecticut warbler.

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squirrel hill spotlight Have you heard about

Golf Course Recognized for “Greening Up”

The Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program?

By Councilman Corey O’Connor

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf is an award winning education and certification program that helps golf courses protect our environment. After two years of analysis and rigorous documentation, the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, owned by the city and managed by the First Tee of Pittsburgh, was certified an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. This makes it one of only five percent of all golf courses in the country to be certified and the first certified course managed by a First Tee chapter. Working with the U.S. Golf Association, Audubon International established its sanctuary certification program 22 years ago. Requirements covered environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, water quality management, outreach and education. Seeking this certification was part of a five-year strategic plan administered by the First Tee of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit youth development agency that uses golf as a platform to teach life skills. Although the local effort was expected to take three to five years, it was completed in two. The First Tee gathered board members, volunteers, neighbors and experts from the National Aviary, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Penn State Agricultural Extension, Rachel Carson Homestead, Phipps Conservatory, Tree Vitalize, the USGA and the Greater Pittsburgh Golf Course Superintendent's Association.

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Insuring our neighborhood for over 70 years

Audubon International provided an action plan of what needed to be done for compliance, including a comprehensive assessment of the site, policies, procedures and inventories. Watershed remediation had already been initiated. Some of the many improvements included: installation of donated bird boxes to attract more bird species; planting of 93 new trees and nitrogenrich clover; implementation of measures to improve rain water infiltration and refuse runoff, use of more environmentally friendly fertilizer that is applied less often and more efficiently absorbed; and the return to a natural state of areas that were previously mowed. Pittsburgh is very fortunate to have this valuable resource and thanks should go out to the leadership of First Tee and all of the volunteers, non-profits, community organizations, and community-based experts that worked together so effectively to make an environmental dream become reality.0

PAGE18 The Parks Issue

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squirrel hill historical society

Nine Mile Run—Squirrel Hillʼs Valley of Decision By Helen Wilson Vice-President, Squirrel Hill Historical Society

There’s a lot of history to see when you look at Nine Mile Run valley from the Waterfront in Homestead. The thin white horizontal line extending from left to right just above the Monongahela River is the snow-covered Duck Hollow Trail, which used to be Second Avenue. The trail goes over the mouth of Nine Mile Run on the historic green bridge in the center. A wharf built by the Duquesne Slag Company in 1950 is on the left. Directly above the trail are railroad tracks. Above the trail on the right is the tiny community of Duck Hollow. Towering 120 feet above it is the slag dump. The houses of Summerset sit on top. The horizontal line of houses above them is Beechwood Boulevard, which runs along a prehistoric shelf showing the water level from glacial melting just after the last Ice Age. Above Beechwood Boulevard is where the coal seam and some of the coal mines were. The highest point, around 460 feet above the river and 1,180 feet above sea level, is Landview Road.


quirrel Hill is fertile ground for city parks. Schenley Park opened in 1889, Frick Park in 1927 and Mellon Park, just outside Squirrel Hill’s northeastern border, in 1943. Squirrel Hill contained large tracts of undeveloped land because it remained an area of farms and estates long after the areas around it were densely settled. Some of that land, with help from wealthy donors and civic-minded citizens, was set aside for parks rather than for housing and factories. However, one area of Squirrel Hill that had been recommended as a prime place for a park had a different fate. In a 1910 report for the Pittsburgh Civic Commission, noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. wrote, Perhaps the most striking opportunity noted for a large park is the valley of Nine Mile Run. Its long meadows of varying width would make ideal playfields; the stream, when it is freed from sewage, will be an attractive and interesting element in the landscape; the wooded slopes on either side give ample opportunity for enjoyment of the forest …and above all it is not far from a large working population. Does one phrase seem out of place? “When freed from sewage.” In 1910, Nine Mile Run was already bedeviled by polluted runoff from its watershed and a poorly planned sewage system designed to overflow in storms and spew sewage into the creek. Built in the late 1800s, the sewage system still causes problems today. PAGE20 The Parks Issue

Notwithstanding the polluted creek, the valley was prized for its rustic beauty. Nine miles upstream from the Point, it was the only undeveloped area left in Pittsburgh along the shores of the Monongahela River because landowners refused to give up their prized farms and estates. Despite its rural nature, it was a historic place—the oldest recorded cabin in Squirrel Hill was built there in 1760 by Colonel James Burd, who was stationed at Fort Pitt at the time. Burd called his farm “Summerset.” Before that, sometime before 1755, the French had built an outpost farther up the valley consisting of a log cabin, gristmill and blockhouse. And before that, Native Americans hunted there. Historical sources mention the remains of an “old Indian fort,” which might mean a mound built long before European settlers came to the valley.

At the time Olmsted wrote his report, Pittsburgh was booming economically but was suffering the ills that went with industrial development—pollution in all its varieties, overcrowding, disease, social unrest and labor problems. Olmsted and other proponents of what was called the “City Beautiful Movement” viewed parks as part of a carefully designed urban landscape of grand buildings, spacious boulevards, graceful bridges and large rustic areas that promoted not only the citizens’ physical health but also their moral wellbeing. Parks were viewed as a return to natural spaces to refresh both bodies and souls. Olmsted’s idea of a quiet rural park in Nine Mile Run valley was rejected by Mayor Magee and City Council in favor of a park that had a playground, botanical garden, athletic field, picnic grounds, tennis courts, theater and lake. The City Fathers believed the moral health of the citizens would be better served by active recreation, which would offset what they felt were the “undesirable elements” attracted to the new for-profit amusement parks such as Kennywood that were springing up at the ends of trolley lines. The park at Nine Mile Run valley didn’t happen. The trolley lines built in the late 1800s along the banks of the Monongahela River from Downtown to past Braddock brought the secluded valley to the attention of land speculators, who made the farmers and estate owners offers they couldn’t refuse and began to subdivide the land into smaller housing lots. But even those plans fell through when the Duquesne Slag Company began to surreptitiously buy up land there beginning in 1922, lot by lot, and dump slag from local steel mills. By the time the last load of slag was dumped in 1972, the once scenic valley was buried under 200 million tons of slag twenty stories high, covering 238 acres.

The moonscape of so-called Brown’s Dump is now being transformed by the new neighborhood of Summerset, built according to the philosophy of “New Urbanism,” which eschews a suburban look in favor of an upscale urban neighborhood of sizeable but closely spaced houses with front porches and sidewalks. The development includes a 106-acre addition to Frick Park that runs through Nine Mile Run valley to the Monongahela River. Olmsted’s idea of a serene rural space is beginning to triumph after all.0 Anyone interested in learning more about Squirrel Hill history is invited to attend the meetings of the Squirrel Hill Historical Society held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Ave. Go to to view upcoming lectures and events. Also, consider joining the SHHS. Membership is only $10 per year. There is no charge for attending the meetings.

Helen Wilson can be reached at

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events & happenings

Calendar Squirrel Hill Historical Society The Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Avenue Events are held on the second Tuesday of each month FREE at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday May 14: TBA – Please check website for details Tuesday June 11: “The Formation of Temple Sinai” Speaker: Jackie Braslawsce, Director of Informal Education at Temple Sinai Temple Sinai comes from humble beginnings: a tiny room at Forbes and Murray housed our offices; two neighboring churches opened their hearts and their doors to us for our worship and Religious School. Dr. Burton E. Levinson, our first rabbi, accepted the challenge of molding a new congregation in Liberal Judaism from a small group of unaffiliated families who knew neither each other nor what Reform Judaism had to offer them. Special Historical Society Event: Saturday June 1: “Walking Tour of Chatham University” Tour time: 10 am to Noon Starting Location: Chatham University Mellon Center on Woodland Road Cost: $5 ($3 Members) Maximum group size 25

explores work by contemporary artists from the United States and abroad who employ textiles to explore conceptual, social, religious, historical or identity issues. Challenging the long history of Jewish textiles and their utilitarian uses as Torah covers, prayer shawls, rugs, challah and matzah covers, the artists here use textiles primarily as an expressive medium.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill Branch 5801 Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill (412) 422-9650 or Genre Book Club Meets on third Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. April 17 - Science Fiction Ready Player One by Ernest Cline May 15 - Romance Love Story by Erich Segal June 19 - Young Adult Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Chatham University dates its beginnings back to 1869 where it was first housed in the Berry Mansion on Woodland Road. Today’s campus consists of buildings and grounds from former Mansions of such Pittsburgh notables as Andrew Mellon, Edward Stanton Fickes, George M Laughlin Jr. and James Rea. Elements designed by the renowned Olmstead Brothers for the original Andrew Mellon estates are included in the present campus. Chatham’s campus was designated an Arboretum by the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.

Friday April 26 at 10:30 am: Join us as a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs presents a lecture on budgeting. Get tips on how to establish financial priorities, start an emergency fund, and make your dollars go further.

Jewish Community Center

Origami Classes Third Saturday of every month and Sundays on April 28th and July 28th. Beginner class – 12 pm Advanced class – 1:30 pm Recommended for ages 5 and up.

5738 Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill For more information, please call (412) 521-8010 or visit Family Shabbat Dinner Celebrate Shabbat with food, Kabbalat Shabbat, songs and crafts. Friday May 10, 5:45 pm $10/JCC members, $14/community Children under the age of 2 are free Advance registration required; no walk-ins A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles Fine Perlow Weis Gallery and Berger Gallery May 12–July 28 A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles is a group exhibition organized by the Hebrew Union College Museum that PAGE22 The Parks Issue

Sunday May 5 at 2 pm: Prudence Holmes, film and theater actress, author, and playwright, will present “Call Me William: The Life and Loves of Willa Cather” after the annual Friends’ meeting.

For Kids & Families...

Terrific Tales for Toddlers Tuesdays 10:30 am; repeats at 11:30 am Recommended for 18 months – 3 years. Baby and Me Thursdays 10:30 am; repeats at 11:30 am Recommended for birth – 18 months. Family Storytime Saturdays at 11:00 am. All ages welcome. Summer Craft Club for children ages 5–10. Wednesdays at 4 pm featuring crafts such as beaded keychains, papermaking, and tie-dye! Continued on page 24

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events & happenings cont. Our Summer Storytime Schedule starts in June! Share stories, songs, learning and fun! Free for children and their caregivers.

Sunday May 19 9:30 am – 12 pm A Walking Tour of Squirrel Hill Details TBA

Andy Warhol Museum Good Fridays

Wednesday June 12, 7 pm Past, Present, Future: Squirrel Hill and Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Roundtable Discussion with Jeffrey Finkelstein (Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh); Brian Schreiber (Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh); Barbara Burstin and Rachel Kranson. Moderated by Adam Shear (University of Pittsburgh)

117 Sandusky Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 Fridays, 5-10pm For a more social experience, the Museum is open late with a cash bar in the entrance gallery and special half-price regular Museum admission. Many Good Fridays also feature special programs including music, film, performances, and more. Be sure to check our online calendar for specific weekly special programming (additional ticket pricing may apply).

The Squirrel Hill Project Squirrel Hill’s Jewish Community, Urban History, and American Jewish History A Series of Community Events and Academic Projects in 2012-2013 Presented by the University of Pittsburgh All events are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested, but not required. To pre-register email: Squirrel Hill and its Jewish community are unusual on the American scene. In contrast to most other 1920s-era Jewish neighborhoods around the country, it remains heavily Jewish and the center of Pittsburgh Jewish life. The public programs in this series address the history of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, the history of Squirrel Hill in particular, larger patterns in Pittsburgh’s urban history, and key themes in American Jewish and urban history. Examining the history of Squirrel Hill offers an opportunity for Pittsburgh's Jewish community to think about the current status of the community, the neighborhood, and the city, and to think about the future.

PAGE24 The Parks Issue

Location: Jewish Community Center

Sister Helen Prejean at Rodef Shalom 4905 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Thursday May 16, 7-9 pm Sister Helen Prejean, international speaker and author of “Dead Man Walking,” will be speaking in Pittsburgh at Temple Rodef Shalom. A well-known opponent of capital punishment, Sister Helen will share her experiences counseling men on death row and how it led her to writing several books and an Academy Award-winning movie against the death penalty. This event is free and open to the public.

All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner Mary S. Brown Memorial-Ames United Methodist Church, 3424 Beechwood Boulevard Saturday May 4, 4-7 pm Choice of homemade sauces, salad, Italian bread, beverages, and desserts. Suggested donation $8. Take-out available. For more information, call 412-421-4431 or go to

events calendar — parks

Frick Park Planting Day

Saturday April 20, 9 am-1 pm Location TBD We have over 600 trees we need help planting! Join us for our spring 2013 volunteer work days. Register at Free event.

Mellon Park

Volunteer opportunities for late spring and early summer can be found at:

Urban EcoSteward Training—Wildflower Walk & Campfire Thursday May 9, 6-8 pm Frick Environmental Center 2005 Beechwood Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Join us for a hike through Frick Park to identify our region’s spring wildflowers. Afterward, enjoy a BYOH hotdog and marshmallow roast around the campfire. For details and to learn about other Urban EcoStewards events, visit Free event.

Music and the Parks at Schenley Plaza Forbes Avenue, Oakland

Music soothes mind, body and spirit and so a lot of programming in Schenley Plaza is devoted to offering an assortment of sounds. The Squirrel Hillbillies will be performing lunchtime concerts from 12-1 pm on the following Fridays: May 10, June 7, July 12, and Aug. 23. For more info, visit And the popular WYEP Summer Music Festival kicks off on Friday nights beginning June 28!

Bach, Beethoven and Brunch

Sundays: June 16 – August 11 10:30 am – 12:00 pm Mellon Park – Fifth and Shady Avenues, Point Breeze/ Squirrel Hill This longtime favorite series entertains music lovers on the lawn at Mellon Park. Satisfy your appetite for classical music by treating yourself to a special Sunday morning composed of Bach, Beethoven and Brunch. Join us for this delightful buffet of classical melodies, and don’t miss the “Best Brunch” competition during intermission – the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will award prizes! Sponsored by Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, Bagel Factory, WQED-FM 89.3 and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. For more information, call 412-255-2493.

Free Tai Chi and Yoga at Schenley Plaza Forbes Avenue, Oakland

Starting in June, Folding Space Yoga will lead yoga classes on Saturdays and Mondays. On Sundays, tai chi with the Tao Applied will be offered. There is no cost for participation. For more info, visit

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Squirrel Hill Magazine Spring 2013  

The Parks Issue

Squirrel Hill Magazine Spring 2013  

The Parks Issue