90.5 WESA's 'Good Question' Series

We're starting something new at 90.5 WESA. It's an experiment where you bring us questions—and we go out to investigate and find answers.

So: What have you always wondered about Pittsburgh? Are you curious how your neighborhood originally received its name? Or maybe why the Mon and Allegheny Rivers are different colors when they merge at the Point? Or maybe you've always wanted to know what happened to all of our street cars and inclines? From serious to silly, we're here to help.

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Keith Srakocic / AP

The skies above Pittsburgh are getting darker, and it’s not because of stormy weather. Look up around dusk this fall and you may see flocks of black birds, preparing for their annual trip south through Pittsburgh.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The 40th Street Bridge connecting Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood with the borough of Millvale is unlike the rest of the city’s more than 460 bridges.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Every Pittsburgher knows steel mills and coal mines make up the city’s rich industrial past, but this area was once a hub for another industry: salt.

General Postcard Collection / Detre Library and Archives, Heinz History Center


Along Route 19 in Pittsburgh’s West View borough, there’s a sign for a shopping center with a carousel horse fixed to the top. This is one of the only items marking the site of one of the city’s early amusement parks, West View Park.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Boulevard of the Allies begins at the Golden Triangle in downtown Pittsburgh, crosses Grant Street and lifts off onto a ramp. The intersection is flanked by two stony eagles perched atop pillars. 

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

Josh McIntyre moved to Pittsburgh two years ago after growing up in Latrobe, Pa. Standing in a back aisle of the North Side’s Giant Eagle on Cedar Avenue during a quiet evening, he said the store is the sole option in the neighborhood.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Giddy crowds of kids from a local summer camp recently gathered in the lobby of the Duquesne Incline’s upper station on Mount Washington. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The name Aliquippa is ubiquitous in western Pennsylvania, if primarily for being the largest city in Beaver County. However, many may not know that the name comes from a powerful Native American woman -- Queen Aliquippa. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Thousands of crystals dangle above the heads of Pittsburgh theater patrons, reflecting light onto the walls and ceilings of the elegant halls. The glass giants help create a distinct aesthetic for the cultural institutions, exuding charm and sophistication.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


It's easy to get lost navigating Pittsburgh. Cars ascend and descend sloped roads at angles and maneuver countless one-ways and alleys. Because much of the city is arranged in this disjointed manner, moving through neighborhoods can feel emblematic of the Steel City.  

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


While drivers won't find a poltergeist hanging out on the 100-foot long abandoned on-ramp that sneaks up on drivers heading east on Bigelow Boulevard, they might spot trees and shrubs sprouting through concrete in spite of heavy barriers.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Most Pittsburghers notice the billboard while they’re watching the Buccos on the North Side. Soft light beams from a triangle slowly rotating within a rectangular sign on a rooftop in the downtown Cultural District. No words or pictures float through the display, just the revolving shapes.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is known for its rivers. But many residents, like 90.5 WESA listener Judith Hoover, aren't sure where the bottom of each of the three lie. 

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration


Stanton Heights is filled with brick houses, families walking dogs, and lots of trees. It's also home to a 150-year-old piece of history.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Two pillars at the North Highland Avenue entrance to Highland Park feature classical Greek columns, 56 feet tall. Female figures up top stand draped in laurel wreathes, children clinging to their robes. At the bottom, women hold incandescent torches. Bronze eagles on "ornamental balustrades" flank the piers. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Behind a chain link fence on Montana Street in Pittsburgh's Perry North neighborhood lies a brick maintenance building, a looming radio tower and a collection of discarded satellites.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Driving in Pittsburgh is confusing. The streets aren’t on a grid system and going over the wrong bridge could result in a long, unwelcomed detour.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The ornate, four-story building at 413-415 Wood Street is abuzz with the sounds of construction. Landmarks Development Corporation is restoring the space to make way for fashion boutique Peter Lawrence this summer.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny Cemetery stretches 300-acres in Lawrenceville, bordered by Butler Street, Stanton Avenue and Mossfield Street. Between the rows of headstones and mausoleums that line the burial ground, many people run into some four-legged visitors.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Downtown Pittsburgh today is known, in part, for the entertainment it hosts. It's a place one can see Broadway shows, art galleries and music festivals, sometimes all in the same night. But in the not-so-distant past, a section of the city was home to a different type of entertainment.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, three towns all share an astronomical feature in their names. None of them have an observatory, and no groundbreaking space discoveries were made in any of them, but the trio of cities, within 200 miles of each other, all begin with the word “star.”

David Cook, of Whitehall, brought the idea to the attention of 90.5 WESA’s Good Question series. He wondered about the origins of Star City, Wv., Star Junction, Pa. and Starbrick, Pa.

AP

While he was working on the US Constitution, James Madison realized there was a pretty fundamental part of state governments that seemed useless to regulate.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Traveling from Forbes Avenue on Duquesne University’s campus to the South 10th Street Bridge, drivers and pedestrians making a right into the Armstrong Tunnel encounter something unusual for a tunnel: a curve.

Keith Srakocic / AP

This winter’s saturating rains and repeated freeze-thaw cycles have led to damaged roofs, thousands of potholes and landslides across several steep city hillsides. What are Pittsburgh leaders doing to help the 20 families displaced by Mother Nature, and how can they better address infrastructure needs?

90.5 WESA's Margaret J. Krauss joins the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bob Bauder to discuss.

Coming up next....

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Pasted to the wall of Department of City Planning is a large, colorful map of Pittsburgh. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED

Cars rumble overhead as historian John Schalcosky trudges through crunching snow beneath the 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville. Gesturing toward the Allegheny River bank, he flicks on his iPhone flashlight.

Miller Library / Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Our Good Question! series fields a lot of questions around Pittsburgh transit, from the history of streetcars to the creation of light rail. We pulled together a variety of questions for this short history.

OFF 84, Detre Library and Archives / Heinz History Center

The steep drive up P.J. McArdle Roadway takes drivers from the Liberty Bridge to the top of Mt. Washington's scenic overlook. It reveals a stunning view of Pittsburgh’s skyline and three rivers, from the Point State Park Fountain to the Birmingham Bridge. 

Doug Brendel / Heinz History Center

Lewis Marascalco remembers the buzz he and his fellow engineers felt while they were working on a futuristic transportation system everyone was calling “Skybus.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

"Broadcasting from Pittsburgh’s historic South Side, this is 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station."

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