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

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.   

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

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.”

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.

Fifty new bike racks will be installed throughout downtown by the end of this month, bringing the total of city-installed bike racks to more than 500.

Stephen Patchan, Pittsburgh’s bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, said adding more bike parking downtown is intended to spur business growth.

“The more bicycle-friendly business districts are, the higher customer capacity they generally have, which equates to more foot traffic for local businesses,” he said.

While the state legislature considers pension reform, the liberal-leaning Keystone Research Center released a brief Thursday meant to demonstrate how public pension benefits paid to state and school employees drive local and regional economies.

Stephen Herzenberg, economist and executive director of the center, said the data was important to consider in the context of the ongoing debate about state pension reform, and in particular, the plan championed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A team of international scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of the oldest-known fossil primate skeleton, Archicebus achilles, uncovered in an ancient lake bed near the modern Yangtze River in China’s Hubei province.

Christopher Beard, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, said the fossil’s discovery has profound implications for understanding eras of human evolution that remain shrouded in mystery.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Look alive, Pittsburgh — two of the year's busiest weeks are upon us.

On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Wow! Partnership, a collaboration between some the city’s most prominent cultural, business and civic entities, announced a two-week bonanza of events meant to highlight and contribute to the city’s vibrancy.

Taking place from June 7 to June 16, events include rededicating the Point State Park fountain, playing host to the Three Rivers Arts Festival, commemorating the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage and cheering on the Pirates at a string of home games.

If 736 chief executive officers had their druthers, they’d rather operate in 41 other states before setting up shop in Pennsylvania.

Each year, Chief Executive magazine asks hundreds of CEOs to evaluate the national business climate on a state-by-state basis. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, J.P. Donlon, said that the annual ranking feature provides a holistic, qualitative view of states’ ability to attract and maintain businesses.

BikePGH

At the turn of the 20th century, bicycling enthusiast and Pittsburgh native, Frank Lenz was an American celebrity. His two wheeled global journey, and eventual disappearance in Turkey, are chronicled in David V. Herlihy's book The Lost Cyclist. Last year Herlihy came to Pittsburgh and Essential Pittsburgh to celebrate Frank Lenz Day. This year, in observation of Lenz's world tour departure, we look at Pittsburgh's place in cycling history with WESA reporter Margaret Krauss.

On May 15, 1892, bookkeeper, amateur photographer and bicycle enthusiast Frank Lenz set off on his bike along rail lines in Pittsburgh. He was headed east to New York City on the first leg of his journey to cycle around the world.

More than a century later, cyclists in Pittsburgh will gather Saturday morning at the Pump House in Homestead. They are not headed for New York but rather Duquesne. And the supplies they will be carrying are food donations destined for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.  

Air quality in Pittsburgh is getting cleaner, but it continues to negatively affect the health and well-being of city residents.

The Breathe Project and Allegheny General Hospital convened a summit Tuesday — World Asthma Day — to examine the overall effects of poor air quality, from increased instances of asthmatic attacks, higher mortality rates and cancer.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Through recent artistic conceptions, we explore a world of advanced robotics and consider the philosophical questions one might ponder if robots were a part of everyday life. Essential Pittsburgh Production Assistant Rebekah Zook  and WESA reporter Margaret Krauss visited Fraley's Robot Repair Shop in its final week Downtown and we spoke with Japanese contemporary theater Director Oriza Hirata at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Heinz History Center on Tuesday kicked off the Healthy Heritage Cooking Series, a three-month pilot program designed to introduce students to Italian, Syrian and Bulgarian cooking and connect health to history.

Viviana Altieri, who directed an Italian cooking demonstration, is the executive director of Mondo Italiano, a local meet-up organization that promotes Italian language and culture. She said food traditions have always been important to mankind and that the Healthy Heritage series will broaden students’ cultural horizons.

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