Margaret J. Krauss

Producer

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

Used with permission from Carlino Giampolo and the Panther Hollow homepage.

Boundary Street runs through Panther Hollow in the shape of an inverted L. The houses cluster on the northern and western sides of the street and all face inward toward a stretch of grass and trees. They aren’t numbered chronologically, though the first few homes begin ordinarily enough: 1, then 1 ½, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9. Then 523, 525, 12, 14, 17 and 40.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

  From the highest elevations of Mt. Washington — about 1,200 feet — you can take in the whole sweep of the river valleys, each about twice as wide as the rivers running through them, said Charlie Jones, lecturer in the University of Pittsburgh’s department of geology and planetary science.  

“So then the question is why is the valley wider than the river? And the answer is: the ice ages,” he said. 

Notable Men of Pittsburgh and Vicinity

 The years between 1860 and 1910 were among the beardiest in recorded history. No one escaped bare-chinned: not Uncle Sam, not Jesus, and certainly not Pittsburgh’s mayors.

On the fifth floor of the City-County Building, Gloria Forouzan, office manager for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, walks a long, central hallway punctuated by the 56 portraits of mayors past. Fourouzan pauses under each one and describes their grooming choices, frozen forever in brass.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

On a side street in Bloomfield, not far from Pittsburgh’s “automobile row,” on Baum Boulevard, Tom Lynn points out the cars and parts of cars that make up his business, Flop Custom.

“There’s a ’30 Ford that I chopped, another ’30 Ford, a ’31 Roadster, a ’32 truck,” he said, turning in the small space.

Lynn builds and restores antique cars, specializing in metal work. Surrounded by the sheet metal of the early 1900s, Lynn said it’s amazing what those automakers could do, describing the six-story, 300-ton press needed to stamp out the car panels.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

In a chemical engineering lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Matt Cline and William Alba stand in front of three rectangular packets made of tinfoil. An arm’s length away from the range hood, they use their thumbs to eclipse the flash they know is coming.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Infrastructure decisions affect the public every day — which sewer should be repaired first, which pothole should be filled next—but it’s rare to be asked to weigh in on those decisions. However, an online poll will help decide the future color of the "Three Sisters" bridges, as well as a question of regional identity.

Library of Congress

Most days, Henry Clay Frick liked to take a late lunch with friends at the Duquesne Club, just a short distance from his Fifth Avenue office at the Chronicle-Telegraph building. He’d just returned to his desk on Saturday, July 23 1892, when anarchist Alexander Berkman, wearing a brand new black suit, pushed the door open.  

“Berkman rushed in, drew a .38 caliber revolver, and fired two quick shots right at Frick, point blank,” said Andy Masich, president of the Heinz History Center.

The first shot hit Frick in the shoulder, the second in the neck. As Frick’s associates wrestled Berkman to the ground, he fired a third time, hitting the ceiling. Berkman reached for the dagger in his pocket and struck at Frick’s legs. That dagger remains on display at the museum.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 Each night at 6:59 p.m., the state-run lottery conducts a live drawing at the studios of WITF in Harrisburg. From behind the three cameras that face a Pennsylvania-festooned background and drawing machines, it’s possible to hear the control booth.

“Stand by ready to roll red in 5…4…3…2…1. Cue music.”

Johnstown Area Heritage Association

On May 31, 1889 the South Fork dam in Cambria County failed, sending a flood wave through Johnstown that killed 2,209 people.

After a month of rain, a particularly heavy storm hit Johnstown on May 30, filling the streets with a couple feet of water by noon the next day. Flooding was nothing new, though: The city was built on a floodplain, at the base of mountains denuded by industry, at the confluence of three rivers. So people moved to their upper floors to wait.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A joke made its way around the Internet this winter that time-travel is possible in Pittsburgh — if you look into a pothole, where layers of cobblestone and brick snuggle under asphalt blankets. But on Roslyn Place in Shadyside, the past doesn’t hide.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Humans have lived in the region for close to 16,000 years. One of the few remaining vestiges of those early residents can be sought in McKees Rocks.

Mark McConaughy is a regional archeologist for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Historic Preservation. He stands on the edge of the Bottoms neighborhood with his back to the railroad tracks that skirt the Ohio River’s high embankment, looking past silos of asphalt aggregate and trucks driving in and out.   

"If you look real closely you can see where they’ve drilled through the rock to put in their dynamite and blast it out," he said. "That’s where the mound would have been."

He points up to the exposed rock of the bluff.

"There’s no mound left up there, at all."

Rob Long / Clear Story

To see some of Pittsburgh's most stunning artwork doesn't require a trip downtown but up a hill, to Millvale's Saint Nicholas Catholic Church. In two eight-week periods, one in 1937 and one in 1941, Croatian artist Maxo Vanka painted 25 murals that fuse faith and protest.

A fire burned Saint Nicholas to the ground in 1921. The new church might have been mistaken for the old except for the blank, white walls. The soaring expanse gave then-pastor Albert Zagar an idea, said Aaron Ciarkowski, docent at the Croatian parish.

90.5 WESA

This year, six-year-old Sean Stanley was finally tall enough to ride Phantom’s Revenge, a roller coaster at the 117-year-old Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. 

Standing outside the coaster’s gate, Sean sported the preoccupied look of the newly infatuated.

“It was like a hurricane because there was lots of wind,” he said, describing the ride.

Via The Associated Press

[asset-audio[{"description": "Alarmed by the potential for American involvement in the Second World War, a group of Pittsburghers offered a unique proposition to halt German aggression. ", "fid": "8145", "uri": "npraudio://201504/web_reward_for_hitler_05012015.mp3"}]

The letter appeared in The New York Times on April 29, 1940. It was brief — a couple of column inches — mixed in with opinions on higher subway fares, workers’ rights and risky mortgages. But the headline was hard to miss: “Reward for Hitler Capture.”

"He offered a million dollars to anyone 'who will deliver Adolph Hitler, alive, unwounded and unhurt, into the custody of the League of Nations for trial before a high court of justice for his crimes against peace and dignity of the world.'”

The letter appeared in The New York Times on April 29, 1940. It was brief — a couple of column inches — mixed in with opinions on higher subway fares, workers’ rights and risky mortgages. But the headline was hard to miss: “Reward for Hitler Capture.”

"He offered a million dollars to anyone 'who will deliver Adolph Hitler, alive, unwounded and unhurt, into the custody of the League of Nations for trial before a high court of justice for his crimes against peace and dignity of the world.'”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Don’t be fooled by Buffalo Drive just outside South Park; there are no buffalo there. Instead, you’ll find the park’s 11 resident bison on a small turnoff marked “Game Preserve.”

You have your usual suburbs, and then here you got a park with great big animals in it,” said South Park’s naturalist, John Doyle. He and Gregory Hecker care for the herd. 

The Associated Press

When Dr. Julius Youngner moved to Pittsburgh in 1949, he thought he’d be in the city for two years. Though a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service at the Cancer Institute, he wanted to work on viruses and took a position in a University of Pittsburgh lab directed by Dr. Jonas E. Salk, developing a vaccine for polio, said Youngner.

Dorsey-Turfley Family Photographs, Detre Library & Archives / Heinz History Center

The baseball season that opened on Monday is radically different from 80 years ago, when the nation’s pastime was segregated and the best team in baseball could be found in Pittsburgh, on the Hill.

Detre Library and Archives / Sen. John Heinz History Center

The old Allegheny County Jail towers over Ross Street. Built of foot-thick blocks of pink Worcester marble, the complex hasn’t held a prisoner since July 27, 1995, but it still manages to impart a chill. Inside, visitors can tour an old cellblock: small and bleak.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Just 10 years after the Revolutionary War, sparked in part by a tax on tea, Western Pennsylvanians nearly seceded over a liquor tax.

The Whiskey Rebellion wasn’t really about hooch but federal power, said Ron Schuler, a lawyer and author who has studied the Whiskey Rebellion. In July of 1794, the protests came to a head.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Doug Rehrer started graduate school at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1978.

“It was a fun time but you always had to be aware of your surroundings because you could end up in a very bad situation,” he said.

Rehrer is not talking about his religion classes.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Once a month, seated at a long table in a conference room, the members of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USGN) decide what to call things. The board was created in 1890 during a period of persistent exploration. Maps and reports were coming back from the west and Alaska with different names for the same feature. The USGN formed to standardize names across the federal government. In 1891 the USGN ordered all cities ending in “burgh” to drop the "h."

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

At 2 A.M. on December 17, 1936, Pittsburgh Banana Company employee Peter Auletta reported for work. He flipped on the lights in the banana ripening room and then turned on an electric fan to circulate the air. Reports said a spark from the fan ignited what must have been a gas leak.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Poison Center is located about halfway up “Cardiac Hill” within the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center complex. It’s an unassuming place: a reception desk, a few offices, a conference room and a call center.

Though Pittsburgh is just now beginning to appear on lists of “most-romantic cities” and “romantic weekend destinations,” its soil has long fostered fiery and impetuous love.

A prime example is the 1842 elopement of Mary Schenley. A New York Times editorial called it to the greatest romance of the city’s early history: While attending a boarding school on Staten Island Mary Schenley, nee Croghan, secretly married a British army captain three times her age.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Nestled into a hillside not far from the Schenley Bridge, the Bellefield Boiler Plant provides steam heat to most of Oakland’s major institutions.

Built in 1907 to heat the library and museum Andrew Carnegie had recently donated to the city, the plant now services the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library's main branch, Carnegie Mellon University, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ administrative building and UPMC’s Childrens and Presbyterian hospitals.

On July 6, 1917 the Courier Junior of Ottumwa, Iowa published a short essay from Mary Elizabeth Champney, age seven: 

Now that everybody is talking about war and every little boy and girl loves our flag, the stars and stripes, I want to tell you about the Fort Pitt block house of Pittsburgh, Pa., that was built many years ago in 1764...[The caretaker] said all the people of Pittsburgh loved it and that hundreds of people visited it every year. They loved the name of Washington and that made the block house dear to them. 

What Miss Champney doesn’t mention, and likely didn’t know, is that just ten years earlier, the Block House had only narrowly escaped destruction. That the last surviving remnant of the French and Indian War still stood was due to the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

John Tabatchka affectionately pats his horse, Will, and flips the switch on the Electro-Groom. He begins to methodically vacuum Will’s flanks.

“It’s designed to groom show cattle, horses, etc,” Tabatchka said over the roar of the machine. Will shudders his flesh as if shooing a fly. “He’s a little ticklish.”

Tabatchka is the huntsman for the Sewickley Hunt Club, one of two remaining foxhunting clubs in Western Pennsylvania. Instead of chasing a live fox, Sewickley organizes a drag hunt, in which members chase a fox’s scent through the woods. But Tabatchka’s job remains the same.

“My job is to breed, raise, train and then hunt the hounds on a hunting day,” he said.

Foxhunting came west over the Alleghenies with the region’s earliest European settlers and took root in the region. George Washington himself spent as much time as possible on the back of a horse. The sport is a direct link to the past, Tabatchka said.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    

The last time Pittsburgh elected a Republican mayor, Charles H. Kline, the World War had yet to be distinguished by a I or II, the stock market had yet to crash and machine politics remained the modus operandi of most large cities.

Kline took office in 1926 and was almost immediately embroiled in controversy for not following the rules of office, said Anne Madarasz, museum division director of the Heinz History Center.

“At the time if you were to purchase something for the city and it was over $500, you had to put it to bid,” she said.

Which is where Kline got into trouble.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

On a muggy Wednesday morning, before the sun has burned off the morning’s clouds, Lionel Greenawalt drives across his 100-acre Westmoreland County farm to a field of sweet corn.

While Greenawalt and his children pick an average of 400 dozen ears of corn each morning, at the moment, they have more corn than they can sell.

“It was kind of rainy this summer season, and we weren’t able to get into the field to plant every five to seven days,” he said. “So what happens is we have a lot of corn that comes in all together.”

That’s where gleaning comes in.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Making music is to Czechs what barbecueing is to Americans, a means of coming together.

This week a traditional Czech folk ensemble is performing throughout Pittsburgh and tapping into the region’s past.

If your idea of folk music is a particularly soulful rendition of “Oh, Susanna,” or perhaps the “Wabash Cannonball,” prepare yourself for a paradigm shift.

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