What I Learned From The Pirates

A lifelong baseball fan recalls his early days and explains the rewards of abject loyalty

Two months after the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series of 1909, my mother presented them with one of their most faithful fans—me. It took them another sixteen years to come up with their next triumph; and there were to be no more world championships after that until I was fifty.Read more »

Rich Kids

For the children and grandchildren of a poor boy from Pennsylvania, childhood was magic

BORN IN 1839 TO AN EMIGRANT COBBLER and his wife, Henry Phipps, Jr., grew up near Pittsburgh. Determined to escape the “despised” cobbler’s bench, he succeeded, eventually becoming a partner of his boyhood neighbor, Andrew Carnegie. Phipps retired in 1900 with more than forty million dollars. Phipps had five children; Jay, his eldest son, built Westbury House on Long Island, which became the center of existence for three generations of Phippses. Read more »

The French And Indian War In Pittsburgh: A Memoir

She played the war, learning to creep through the woods without leaving footprints or snapping twigs. She read and dreamed about the war, lying on her bed, limp with horror and delight. The history of the war was a drug and she was an addict.

The French and Indian War! This was a war of which I, reading stretched out in my bedroom, could not get enough. The names of the places were a litany: Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, Fort Frontenac on the St. Lawrence, Vincennes on the Wabash. The names of the people were a litany: Captain Claude-Pierre Pécaudy, Sieur de Contrecoeur; the Swiss commander of Fort Pitt, Simeon Ecuyer; the great Indian fighter Col. Henry Bouquet; Maj. Robert Rogers of the Rangers; the Sieur de Marin; the Marquis de Montcalm; the Seneca chief Half-King.Read more »

Mother And Son

MY MOTHER DIED in Pittsburgh on the evening of Thanksgiving Day, that is, on November 25, 1937. If she had lived three weeks longer, she would have been seventy-three. Read more »

The Good Provider


Pittsburgh, God knows, was no fourth-century Athens, but around 1900 it did have a remarkable group of industrial leaders. The Pittsburgh barons exercised their power and made their fortunes in coal and coke, iron and steel, aluminum and oil, glass, rails, and heavy machinery. Five of them were commanding figures in their time and are legends in ours: Carnegie, Frick, Westinghouse, Mellon, and Heinz. Allan Nevins has called such men the architects of our material progress. They have been called other things as well, all except H. J.Read more »

A Wrecker’s Dozen

There are places on this earth, in Europe particularly, where conservation is taken to mean the preservation of the notable works of man as well as nature. Magnificent old railroad stations and churches, public buildings, historic houses, architectural landmarks of all kinds, are valued for their beauty or for the memories they evoke, for the sense of continuity they give a place, or, often, just because they have been around a long time and a great many people are fond of them. But here in America we don’t—most of us, anyway—seem to feel that way.Read more »

Sitting On A Gusher

How gullible Edwin L. Drake, an ailing ex-railroad conductor, brought about America’s first and gaudiest oil boom

Perhaps the most bizarre of all the great mineral booms of the nineteenth century took place not in a remote western wilderness, but in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, within easy reach of such well-established centers of population as New York and Pittsburgh. In this case the sought-after prize was not gold or silver but an infinitely more valuable substance, petroleum.