Margaret J. Krauss

Reporter, Keystone Crossroads

Margaret J. Krauss produces 90.5 WESA Celebrates Inventing Pittsburgh, a series that explores the lesser-known history of the city and region.

A freelance multimedia journalist and researcher, Margaret learned the nuts and bolts of radio as a 2013 newsroom volunteer. Before moving back to the nation's most livable city, Margaret worked as an editor for National Geographic KIDS magazine in Washington, DC.

When she isn't geeking out over a good story, Margaret can be found biking the city's streets or swimming its rivers.

Ways to Connect

Jared Wickerham / AP Photo

On Monday afternoon, candidates in the Pennsylvania race for U.S. Senate taped the first of two debates at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. The outcome of the election could determine whether Republicans maintain the Senate majority.

Katie McGinty and incumbent Senator Pat Toomey attacked each other on state and national issues, including gun control, coal and steel jobs, and Obamacare.

In a charged exchange, they argued over who supported police more, both stating they'd received support from police unions and organizations.

Evan Vucci / AP


On Monday afternoon, the line to enter the Donald Trump rally in Ambridge, a small town near Pittsburgh, stretched for blocks. The rally was held in the field house of the Ambridge Area High School. 

Before the speech, protesters stood on the other side of the street chanting, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Donald Trump go away.” Several young women held signs that read, “Students against bigotry.”

James Thomas Finley was visiting Ambridge, and watched from a nearby porch. He said he can't believe Donald Trump is running for president.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Eight people waited expectantly in the basement of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville. They sat in pairs around a long table littered with construction paper and markers, Post-It notes and iPhones, waiting for Connor Sites-Bowen to start the speed dating clock.

“So go. Talk. You guys ask questions, you guys answer questions," Sites-Bowen said. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Jasmine Cook stood in front of her house in the North Side neighborhood of California-Kirkbride. She held her 7-month-old daughter, flanked by her other two children. Her 7-year-old daughter was a self-proclaimed singer-gymnast and her 4-year-old son was a superhero with laser eyes, graciously contained by a pair of plastic red sunglasses. Running around the side yard was a miniature Batman, the boy who lives next door.

  “All kids around here, nothing else, just all kids,” she said. “Everybody knows each other around here. It’s a good street to live on.”

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

Trib Total Media’s shift toward a digital-only model is playing out amid a larger narrative of an entire industry in transition.

Gene J. Puskar / AP


You know the old adage "Never judge a city by (just) its bond"? Or "Forgive and forget: bonds have histories, too"? No? How about that bumper sticker: "Reductive is as reductive does"?

OK, none of those are real.

Joshua Franzos / Pittsburgh Foundation


A foundation in Pittsburgh will dedicate 60 to 70 percent of its grant making to address poverty and disparity in the region. 

Depending on the news outlet, Pittsburgh is a lot of things: it’s Steel City or the Paris of Appalachia; it’s the new Brooklyn; it’s the best place to eat, it’s the most underrated American city. 

But for many, the debate about whether or not Pittsburgh merits all this chatter is immaterial: 30 percent of people in the region live at or near poverty.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A dumpster parked curbside, piled high with construction debris or outdated building guts, is not an uncommon city sight. But a certain dumpster just off one of Pittsburgh’s main business corridors is different. For starters, it’s painted bright yellow.

“We love the yellow,” says Phoebe Downey, project manager for Envision Downtown, a public-private partnership between the mayor’s office and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Smoke enveloped the Liberty Bridge this afternoon after sparks fell onto plastic piping below and caught fire. Workers were torching beams to replace the bridge deck, says Scott Fennell, a laborer with Joseph B. Fay Company. There were no injuries, but Fennell said the incident would cost them time.

The final phase of the bridge deck replacement began August 29 as part of the $80.8 million Liberty Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

Matt Rourke / AP


A developer wants to build an ice cream factory on a stretch of vacant lots in your city. The city is eager to have the ice cream companies and woos them with tax abatements and other public subsidies.

"Jobs!" the city council cries. "An increased tax base!"

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA


On Wednesday, a court will decide whether a referendum to change Pittsburgh's home rule charter will remain on the November ballot. The city argues the proposed amendment unduly hampers city government.

Ben Peoples / Flickr


Park ranger Doug Bosley stands at the crest of a quiet, green hillside, looking down a stretch of railroad track that appears to have gotten lost and wandered into the woods. 

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads


"Are you registered to vote?" Dave Tessitor asked a man as he walked past the library in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

"Yes," the man said, not stopping.

Tessitor fell in step. "We're collecting signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot," he said, walking up the street with the man. He only turned back several blocks later, the cargo pocket of his shorts one pamphlet lighter. He shrugged and smiled. And then a young couple came out of the library. "Excuse me, are you registered to vote?"

Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The murals in the United States Post Office and Courthouse on Grant Street are pretty hard to get to. There’s security, now, unlike when the Department of Treasury’s Section of Painting and Sculpture commissioned the three works in 1934.

Two of the octogenerian paintings survive on the 8th floor; one disappeared. That’s the thing about murals, said Sylvia Rhor, associate professor of art history at Carlow University. They’re large, but they’re not immune to time’s vagaries. They can go missing, be discarded or painted over.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

At the Carpenter’s Training Center just outside the City of Pittsburgh on the Parkway West, a class of nine learns how to build a level floor. Forty years ago, getting into the center’s apprenticeship program would have been a feat for a person of color or a woman.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

From one of the file folders arrayed on her kitchen table, retired Spanish professor María de los Ángeles Stiteler pulls out a lyrics sheet.

Kaufmann's Department Store Records and Photographs / Rauh Jewish Archives / Detre Library and Archives / Senator John Heinz History Center

“There’s Florence and London and Paris and Prague and Brussels.”

Lina Insana, chair of the department of French and Italian at the University of Pittsburgh, points to a spread from the Kaufmann's department store’s in-house magazine, Storagram, which proclaims the 30th anniversary of the “Foreign Office.”  

“They used these foreign offices as proof of the quality of their merchandise—how up to date that merchandise was, how up to the minute the styles were,” Insana said.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Walking down Penn Avenue in Garfield, people likely don’t see Jason Forck through the window two stories up as he balances a near-molten glass tumbler at the end of a steel rod.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The main building on Carrie Furnace’s 80-acre site in Braddock looks like a giant has just scattered its playthings and stomped off, not too far away, to eat a few goats. Inside the blowing engine house a 48-inch universal plate mill lies in 40- and 50-ton pieces on the concrete floor. A sign hanging at the south end lists the safety guidelines (“6. Be aware of crane movements”). Bill Sharkey sits on a few benches meant for visitors.

Kristi Jan Hoover

A black and yellow helmet sits on the floor of Janet Hoover’s kitchen. It’s perched on top of a pair of boots and an old miner’s lamp. The helmet label reads, “Fasloc: Keeps the Roof Over Your Head.” 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Don Zeiler stands on a wall in the middle of the Monongahela River. In work boots and a bright orange jacket, the lockmaster at Braddock Locks & Dam is dressed for dance.

“When you’re dancing with your partner you take a step, they need to know where to go: when I’m doing this, then you do that, then I’ll do this, then you do that. So that’s basically what locking is,” he explained.  

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The love Steelers fans have for their team is the stuff of legend: hordes of faithful waving Terrible Towels, wearing logo-emblazoned pajama pants, cheering in one of the nation’s more than 700 Steelers bars. So I figured the best way to learn the back-story of the logo was to go right to the source: Heinz Field, on a Sunday, an hour before kickoff.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Anchored at the corner of Fifth Avenue and McKee Place in Oakland, Hieber’s Pharmacy sports a glass block window that reads, “We Create Medicine For Your Family.” Inside, white cabinets hold powdered chemicals and a rainbow assortment of empty capsules waiting to be filled.

Hieber's is a compounding pharmacy.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 It would be easy to breeze past the mountain goats on their sliver of vertical cliff in the Hall of North American Wildlife or to step around the black rhino milling about in the hallway. But these are not just any animals: they’re animals remade by humans.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It’s hard to miss the four brick stacks of the Liberty Tunnel Fan House towering over the houses on Secane Avenue in Mount Washington.

“There are two exhaust shafts,” said Bill Lester, Assistant Director of Construction for PennDOT’s District 11, pointing them out. “And there are two intake shafts where we draw fresh air in from up here. We push it down into the tunnel and then we turn around and we drag the bad air back out.”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Let’s get this out of the way: The stuff you put in the recycling bin does get recycled.

“Yes, we do. We recycle. That’s the name of the game,” said Robert Johns, plant manager of a single-stream material recovery facility, MRF, owned by Waste Management.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Georgie Kovacosky leaned on the fence surrounding a sunny enclosure on her 230-acre farm in New Bethlehem, about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.  

The Childs Family Collection on Daisy Lampkin, 1924-1997, MSS 657, Detre Library and Archives, Heinz History Center

It was October 1916. The Brooklyn Robins, later the Dodgers, played the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, making it possible to forget, for a little while, that summer was over and Europe was at war. Pittsburgh newspapers posted the scores in their office windows and so many people crowded the streets to keep tabs that City Council supposedly passed an ordinance prohibiting the papers from doing so.  

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Michael Joyce started working at Homewood Cemetery in 1978, cutting grass.

“I live real close to here so it was just a summer job,” said Joyce, now the tie-wearing superintendent of the more than 200-acre spread. He’s responsible for everything that happens outside.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

After a long day of moving goats around the city, Doug Placais stood – sweaty, covered in dirt – a mile from Downtown Pittsburgh at Arlington Acres, the one-tenth of an acre urban farm he owns and operates with Carrie Pavlik.

“Well, UPS is funny because, you know, they ask you what’s in there. So the first time I said, ‘goat blood,’ and he actually didn’t blink, to his credit. I don’t know how he held a straight face.”