Land & Power

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Explainer is taking a break this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. Instead, we’re bringing you the first episode of 90.5 WESA’s new series, Land & Power.


Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Five years ago, a place called the Penn Plaza Apartments burst into the city of Pittsburgh’s collective awareness, when a letter from the building’s landlord became public.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Some people worry there’s another looming housing crisis in Pittsburgh. It won’t hinge on tearing down buildings, because the buildings are already gone.


Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Late in the fight for Penn Plaza, a new group of people arrives on the scene. They look at the battle for the apartment complex and see it as a symptom of a much bigger problem: lots of people can’t afford America’s “most livable city.”


Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The mayor of Pittsburgh and his right hand man sit down to negotiate with Larry Gumberg and the Penn Plaza tenant council, led by Bob Jamison and Gail Williams. But what can city officials really do in scenarios like Penn Plaza? What power do cities actually have? A lot.


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A lot has been said in Pittsburgh about the would-be developers of the Penn Plaza Apartments, Lawrence Gumberg and his two sons, Brian and Zach. Land & Power presents the first and only comprehensive interview with the family. 


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In episode one of Land & Power, we meet Bob Jamison and Gail Williams, two residents of the Penn Plaza Apartments in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They react very differently to the news that they and 200 of their neighbors will have to leave their homes to make way for new development.


Archives & Special Collections / University of Pittsburgh Library System

This week on Explainer we have something a little different -- the introduction to a new podcast called Land & Power.

In 2015, residents of the Penn Plaza apartment buildings in Pittsburgh learned that they’d have to leave their homes to make way for a new development. The news arrived like a pronouncement: this neighborhood, East Liberty, isn’t for you anymore.

From 90.5 WESA, this is Land & Power: who has it, what they do with it, and how that shapes the cities around us.