history

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Imagine your mom, or your grandmother, maybe even your great-grandmother, with a secret past. Perhaps you know that she’s lived through some major historical events like World War II.

Now imagine finding out she not only lived through it – but was an integral part of secret military operations during the war.

That is part of Pittsburgh native Julia Parsons’ story. She was part of an all-women’s German code-breaking team.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

This week marks the opening of the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit at the Pittsburgh airport as well as the installment of a memorial at Sewickley Cemetary, commemorating those who served during World War II in the all black branches of the Army Air Corps. More than 100 members of the 332nd fighter group and 477th bombardment group came from the Western Pennsylvania region.

Wendell Freeland, one of the four surviving local Airmen, considered his fellow soldiers “the best and brightest.” And despite their completion of intensive military training, along with racial discrimination, the 477th bombardiers never saw combat.

“We were very disappointed. In fact, the whole group was almost completely demoralized because we were looking forward to helping our country overseas. When that bomb dropped, it killed our chances,” says former bomber pilot Edward Harris, referring to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

Night Football Returns To Its Place of Origin

Sep 13, 2013
Mansfield University Blog

One hundred and twenty-one years ago the first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The game was between Mansfield University formerly known as Mansfield State and Wyoming Seminary.

The teams played with the help of a new promotional lighting device from General Electric, the light bulb. The setup involved a string of lights wrapped around a wooden pole placed in the middle of the field.

Steve McCloskey, Director of Athletic Operations and Sports Information, says the lighting post “proved to be a detriment” to the game, as multiple “players ran face first into the pole because they had trouble seeing it, or it just kind of snuck up on them.”

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The identity of Pittsburgh is synonymous with the steel industry. The city’s largest skyscraper is the U.S. Steel Tower. Its football team is the Steelers, and to the nation, it's the Steel City.

But what about the city’s other industries? Before the rise of steel businesses in the region, western Pennsylvania was the center of glass sales in the United States.

Matt Paul / witf

Ceremonies and re-enactments this week are marking the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Three days of fighting in July 1863 on the rolling hills of Gettysburg claimed the lives of 51,000 men in what many historians call the turning point of the Civil War.

Now, 150 years later, work is underway to ensure the hallowed ground looks nearly identical to how it was when Union and Confederate troops met on those fields. But Gettysburg National Military Park has undergone many changes since the famed battle.

With 150th Anniversary, Gettysburg Comes to Life

Jul 1, 2013

On this day 150 years ago the Battle of Gettysburg began. By the time the three-day battle was over, nearly 8,000 Americans were dead and another 40,000 were wounded or missing. But the battle changed the tide of the Civil War. 

This week, thousands of spectators will gather in Gettysburg to mark the anniversary, as Civil War re-enactors play out some of the key skirmishes that made the three-day battle so memorable. That means Gettysburg Chief Historian Scott Hartwig will be busy.

At 249 Years Old, the Block House is Holding Strong

Jun 21, 2013
Roy Engelbrecht

The oldest man-made structure in Pittsburgh is looking pretty good, according to a local architecture firm hired to assess the Block House in Point State Park.

The building will celebrate its 250th year in 2014, and its owners are hoping to spruce it up a bit before blowing up the balloons and cutting the cake.

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Patrick Dowd

May 21, 2013
Heather McClain / WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd started out as a historian and while he's no longer in academia his reading still reflects that background. Dowd talks with WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson about his  reading selections which include historical nonfiction mixed with fiction "with a historical bent."

A history lesson with Prof. Patrick Dowd

May 20, 2013
Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd started out as a historian, and while he's no longer in academia, his reading still reflects that background. These days Dowd reads historical nonfiction mixed with fiction "with a serious historical bent." 

Edwin Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command

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