Re: Guest Post: History and Normalcy

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Once I found some very pictures and maps of my neighborhood. There was an early period where it was country estates resulting in the few old, grand houses you see now. Then came buses and suburban-style houses of the early 20th century. They put a freeway through in the 50s as well as built a large grade school, so some of the biggest landmarks are newish. None of the houses are on piers, but some of them have flooded. Not mine, because I'm near the top of the hill.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 5:51 AM
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The hill is there because the Wisconsin glaciation was a fucking quitter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 5:59 AM
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1: Are those online anywhere?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:09 AM
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The site of the Homestead Strike is right near me. I keep meaning to read more about that. Homestead had the mills (and now the Target) because it is flat. Not that the glaciers helped to make it flat, the lazy ice-blankets of Canada. The river did that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:10 AM
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3: Yep.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:12 AM
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My house is 100 years old this year. For most of that time (60+ years) it was held by the family I bought it from, middle class African Americans who emigrated from Texas and worked in the aviation industry.

If I renewed my membership in the hyper-active local heritage association, I could get a big 100 year birthday banner to put up on the house. On the one hand, they do a lot of good work and yay history. On the other hand they are super annoying weirdo busybodies who are obsessed with ridiculously minor zoning code violations and criticizing peoples' houses for having insufficiently "period" fixtures, especially this one lady who is like seriously the most annoying person of all time.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:14 AM
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5: Thanks!

Apparently, my neighborhood used to be a charred moonscape. I didn't know there were mines on Hobart Street to have fires in.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:16 AM
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"See Hobart Street and die" is a common local expression.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:19 AM
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That's the history of our house.

Suppressing the history of the Great Addition of '11, are you?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:20 AM
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My jogging route goes down here. Those three houses are still there, but both sides of the street have been filled with houses. The power lines are still there, but trees make them less glaring. I think it is here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:28 AM
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chez unimaginative built in 1850 and used as a funeral home for many years until about 1960. When we first moved in (1991) we met lots of people who had been to funerals inside. The funeral director and family lived upstairs. He was also chief of the volunteer fire department which seems like a conflict of interest.

The front porch was rotting away when we moved in and we had to take it down.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:29 AM
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I always wondered what they were for, but those cement footings are still there. The grandstand is long gone. The whole slope is over-grown in trees that are apparently younger than I thought they were.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:35 AM
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Our house (rented not owned) is about 120 years old. Although this isn't a particularly historic area [it's an unlovely suburban village on the far edge of London] there are some much older ones nearby, though. There's one across the road which is 15th century, so is (ahem) pre-Columbian.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:40 AM
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Not particularly historic by UK standards, that is. Unimaginably ancient by US standards.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:41 AM
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I remember this being a good book about Homestead, Moby (though, take note: it does not cure Cholera, as the better books do). I also remember that a friend of mine, a labor historian (you know how those people are), insisted that this was even better. I have some dim recollection that it was a bit more analytical, which leaves me thinking that you might prefer the first one, which is mostly cock jokes.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:41 AM
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14: It's not that we can't imagine 600 years, but that we mostly use the mental effort to think about sex.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:48 AM
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15: Thanks. I'm still just about done with the better book. I've gotten to the part with the definitive proof that Colorado is for assholes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:50 AM
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Famous neighborhood residents. We have Teapot Dome scandal guy, Wyatt Earp, Sugar Ray Robinson, and a lunatic Filipino general.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:01 AM
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I was about to quote the line about "In Britain a hundred miles is a long way and in America a hundred years is a long time".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:06 AM
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The house I bought with my ex was built in 1888. It was lovely, still had some of the hand blown glass in the windows. OTOH it had cloth insulated wiring with no ground. The apartment I currently live in has no history to speak about, but I think it might be owned by Michelle Malkin's husband.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:07 AM
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Probably beats your estimate for racial diversity in a public school in 1954.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:07 AM
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Somehow I had missed that my neighborhood is named after abolitionist and general liberation activist Wendell Phillips. That's neat.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:10 AM
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We have Teapot Dome scandal guy, Wyatt Earp, Sugar Ray Robinson, and a lunatic Filipino general.

And Charles Bukowski! And Busby Berkeley!

Teapot Dome scandal guy is the indirect cause of Larry Niven (ancestor, trust fund, could become a full-time writer early).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:11 AM
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The allegedly oldest log cabin in the Western Hemisphere is about a mile from my house.

http://www.ettc.net/njarts/details.cfm?ID=752

When our neighbors took some British houseguests to see it, they were not at all impressed.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:13 AM
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The allegedly oldest log cabin in the Western Hemisphere is about a mile from my house.

http://www.ettc.net/njarts/details.cfm?ID=752

When our neighbors took some British houseguests to see it, they were not at all impressed.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:13 AM
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Based on the awesome maps at WardMaps.com, my neighborhood was built up between 1884, when the land had been parceled out, and 1895, when there are a lot of houses, including one that matches the footprint of mine. I keep meaning to go over to the registry of deeds and get more details from that era, but I haven't been up to taking off from work to do that yet.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:20 AM
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25: in their defence, they'd seen it once already at that point.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:25 AM
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My back yard would have been a fine place for a Salish family encampment, and undoubtedly was at some point in the last 600 years. There's a big old ponderosa that might be that old -- it's pretty damn old, anyway -- that may have shaded them.

My house in Maryland was built in the 30s, on ground that had seen some action in the Civil War. Alabamans getting fought off by Pennsylvanians.

My subdivision is early 1990s. For a friend over in the Rattlesnake, I looked up who lived in her house in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 census. It was pretty neat to work out some elements of their stories.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:26 AM
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Wendell Phillips, disgusted at then-candidate Abraham Lincoln's refusal to disavow the Fugitive Slave Act in 1860, dubbed the heroic railsplitter, "The Slave Hound of Illinois." Of course Frederick Douglass later decided that Phillips was too radical by half, that he was a demagogue who adopted a hard-line position that came relatively cheap for a free, white man. But that's another story for another day.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:26 AM
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My office, though, was built in the 1890s. There's an old picture that includes it in the opening credit montage of A River Runs Through It.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:28 AM
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Across the street from my office is the hospital used as an exterior setting in Love and Other Drugs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:29 AM
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Although our town has some heavy colonial cred, our house was built in the 1960s. We're the third set of occupants. One of the neighbors remembers when our now-busy street was a cul-de-sac, our lot was all trees, and there was a creek in our now-backyard. Ah, Wilderness!


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:34 AM
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29: Yeah, I mean, I can't fuck with that temperance stuff either, but given that we have a lake and a bunch of other shit named after Calhoun, I'll take what I can get with Phillips.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:37 AM
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(We're on the 3rd floor, on the corner, where it's faced with stone and not brick. My windows are to the right of the turret.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:39 AM
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The building I live in was apparently build in 1900, but I bet the attic was used as a real attic and not as a garret back then.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:39 AM
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LBJ lived near here for a while. And the bar down the street is ever-so-mildly-famous in the central Texas country music scene. When George Strait was getting his start, he played there a lot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:40 AM
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The apartment I currently live in has no history to speak about, but I think it might be owned by Michelle Malkin's husband.

I wouldn't speak about that either, at least not in polite company.

Our house was built in 1902 according to the deeds. It's an unremarkable mid terrace in an unremarkable neighbourhood, but the neighbours are nice. According to the old lady next door it was owned by a woman who moved in before WWII and stayed until after the turn of the century. When she went into a nursing home they sold it to a developer who did a quick fix-up and sold it on to the pleasant gay couple who sold it to us. So historically bot much.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:42 AM
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Historically, bots lived in terraced housing just like anyone else.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:47 AM
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Our house was built in 1903 and I still really love it and think it's the best on the block. One of the things I learned recently is that about a hundred years ago, our town became the first in the state to fund both the black and white schools out of the general education fund rather than making blacks pay separately for their schools, and they also used a common curriculum with equal standards. Our region also had a streetcar line with integrated seating, though that took some legal wrangling.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:56 AM
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My neighborhood:
*Has the oldest science fiction bookstore in the country
*Is represented by the first, and longest-serving, out lesbian state legislator in the country
*Hosts the largest puppet-based community parade in the country
*Used to ship pretty much all the Sears, Roebuck & Co. stuff that was ordered from the famous catalog
*Is extraordinarily diverse, with Vietnamese, Somali, Oromo, Ecuadorian, Mexican, African-American, Scandinavian, Lakota, Dakota, Ojibwe and other heritages represented
*Has an extensive bicycle culture, with residents biking for commerce, commuting, activism and fun

There are problems here, but I love it and I don't want to live anywhere else.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:57 AM
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Our building went up in 1939, right around the same time most of the apartment buildings in the neighborhood went up. Before that, it was mostly big estates as far as I know.

We used to have neighbors in the building whose family had lived in the neighborhood since the eighteenth century, maybe the seventeenth; there was a street with their (uncommon) family name. But they've moved up to Westchester now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:58 AM
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Kate Bornstein is doing better! Yay!

http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/2013/06/great-news-good-hope.html

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:00 AM
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Seriously, who wouldn't want to live here? I'm sure lots of people wouldn't. It amuses me to see how much has and hasn't changed in over 100 years.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:09 AM
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30, 34: the opening credit montage of A River Runs Through It.

CCarp is actually Brad Pitt. Now it can be told.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:16 AM
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I was gonna say more like Tom Skerritt, but he's my parents' age for God's sake.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:22 AM
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34. An attorney whose offices were in a building like that would be a solid, reliable fellow, whom I would trust.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:26 AM
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Let me see

Our house:1982
House to west:1968
House to east 1993
House on unconnected cul-de-sac to South: mid-70s, a little nicer than our street. I get to these, when walking dogs, through a vacant lot 1 ordinary and one sub-mcmansion past house 3

Most of the big square block is 60-70s 1000-1500 attached garage places.

When I was up North I lived in some interesting houses. One had a spooky servants staircase at the back.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:30 AM
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We're just round the corner from what was for a few days in 1974 the Alexandria White House. When we first moved in, most of our neighbors remembered secret servicemen blocking all the intersections. Now, though, there's just a plaque on the house.


Posted by: Jim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:33 AM
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Hosts the largest puppet-based community parade in the country

A little-known provision of the Homestead Act is that every midwestern community is entitled to at least one superlative, no matter how strained.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:00 AM
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Speaking of Anglo-American differences, check out this map of twitter activity by location and device: http://www.mapbox.com/labs/twitter-gnip/brands/#11/51.5314/-0.1020

compare, say, Washington DC (or worse, Atlanta) with London. stuff white people like evidently includes iOS, but not in Europe.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:03 AM
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Also, re log cabin: In the back corner of the cabin is a brick fireplace believed to have been built of imported Swedish bricks brought to New Jersey by the builder himself.

a building old enough that its builder couldn't buy bricks in North America and had to import them.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:04 AM
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I think old-world bricks in the US was a common thing. They get brought as ballast in ships. I recall reading something about there being recycled, Roman-era English bricks in some early structures in Seattle.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:10 AM
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Actually, it was Vancouver.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:12 AM
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Sorry, that's Fort Vancouver, which is apparently in Portland. I am clearly ignorant about the Pacific Northwest.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:13 AM
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The city of Vancouver, Washington is also in Portland.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:17 AM
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Maybe I'm not the one with the problem. Maybe its the Pacific Northwest, and they lack of originality with the names.

Portland is in Maine, Vancouver is in Canada, and Washington is in the District of Columbia.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:22 AM
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There was a news story about the "West Wyoming Marathon" recently. Apparently it is in the Jackson Hole region, and a serial marathon cheater was caught during it. I suppose must people wouldn't react to that news by thinking "Of all the towns in Luzerne County, why have a marathon there?"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:25 AM
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I think the house tigger and I own is almost exactly a hundred years old. Like, 102 now. I think the previous owner only had it for about 10 years. It's a rowhouse, so the neighboring houses are probably the same age. The neighborhood it's in (or rather, near) has become trendy in the past five years or less, and I gather it was a bad neighborhood for a long time before that, but I don't know about our house in particular.

Most of my childhood was spent in a farmhouse that was about a century or so old, I think, but a lot of work was done on it by my parents before I was born. And I did spend one year in a house in town that had been basically a mansion built in 1833 - something like seven bedrooms, separate servants' staircase, a fishpond on the grounds even though it wasn't anywhere near usable condition. I think my parents bought it during a real estate speculation phase. We think it might have been a stop on the Underground Railroad or something, but I can't cite a source for that.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:45 AM
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49: You should come and see it some time! It's really big!

https://www.google.com/search?q=heart+of+the+beast+may+day+parade&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs=ldQ&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=qoPEUcTvL-OayAGF8oEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=432


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:48 AM
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They get brought as ballast in ships.

Towns in western PA used to pave streets and then traffic islands with "Belgian block," which, my father once told me, originally was ballast in ships returning from Europe in World War I. Teh nets suggest a less colorful derivation.

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/were-pittsburghs-original-finished-roads-and-streets-paved-with-cobblestone-belgian-block-or-some-other-type-of-brick/Content?oid=1336413


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 9:59 AM
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Apparently I've been wrongly referring to Belgian blocks as "cobblestones" my whole life.

You know what always fascinated me? Plank roads.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 10:33 AM
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Pittsburgh has one of those. From the same newspaper column as 60.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 10:39 AM
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Not actually planks, but still wooden.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 10:40 AM
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When my sweetie was wooing me, he got it exactly right by sending me copies of the Sanborn Maps for my block.

My house will have its 100th birthday in 2015. Just last year we switched out the last of the knob and tube wiring.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 10:53 AM
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That wooden street looks like a nice place.

I used to live near an aluminum bridge. It was very ugly, and eventually was replaced by a bridge running parallel to it, but they can't tear it down because of its historical significance. The historical significance is that, in 1963, someone once thought that building a bridge out of aluminum was a good idea, and then it turned out not to be, because of some sort of problem with galvanic action and also aluminum is expensive.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 10:58 AM
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Sometimes the best a bridge can hope to be is a warning to future bridges.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 11:11 AM
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Hello, Unfogged! This looks like a good place to mention that Southern Alberta is underwater.

You know it's bad when a Toronto newspaper feels compelled to report what is happening in Calgary; never realized until now just how much comfort I drew from living in a city that is never, ever in the national news. Family and friends are all safe and dry, thank goodness... but it's pretty surreal.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 11:23 AM
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Yikes. Take care.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 11:27 AM
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67: Sheesh. Best of luck to Albertans!


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 5:50 PM
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That wooden street is pretty neat. Although Pittsburgh has another think coming if they think they invented parking chairs.

I walked past a street being repaved recently and was amazed to see bricks underneath. I have no idea how common this is.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:54 PM
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Holy smokes, Castock, that's awful. A hundred thousand people evacuated? I can barely imagine it.

I'm shocked I haven't seen it in the news here.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:58 PM
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The bricks under pavement is common here. In some places, you can still see the trolley rails when they redo the asphalt. Nobody likes to remove stuff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 6:58 PM
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72: It's our civic duty to make the job of future archaeologists easier. Really, we should start embedding our parking chairs in the asphalt.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:24 PM
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Are parking chairs chairs set out to save spaces in snowstorms? Because of course that is a Boston thing originally.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:28 PM
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Some asshole put down a parking chair after two inches of snow. I'd have buried the chair in his head if I'd have needed the spot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:28 PM
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Space saving annoys the fuck out of me but also I hate hunting for parking after losing my spot so I generally just leave my car there until the snow has melted.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:31 PM
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75: I saw parking chairs this week.

76: A foot of snow over your vehicle is a great way of claiming a spot and not getting a ticket during street cleaning.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:45 PM
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A neighbor told me Matt Damon lived in my house when he was young. I am skeptical.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:47 PM
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77.1: I hope it was somebody moving or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:49 PM
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77: Not apparently--no trucks or "apologies for stealing the commons, we're moving" signs. It's an unusual time of the month for that, anyway.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:55 PM
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80->79; 80->77 only by transitivity.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:56 PM
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by transitivity

Just can't escape that New Math.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:02 PM
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Some old guy sent us a letter out of nowhere a few years ago talking about how he'd grown up in our house and how when it snowed they used to sled down the road that is now a speedy death trap.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:08 PM
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I had someone visit me once because the people in the house behind us weren't home. She'd grown up in it as a boardinghouse, but it's now a big Restoration-Hardware perfect mansion. We couldn't decide if it had started as a mansion, could have been a nice boardinghouse, has been much remuddled.

If ever in West Palm Beach again, which seems unlikely, I get to visit the people living in the several houses my grandfather built and tell them why their road is named Quonset Lane and all the street numbers are the same turned upside-down. (I was nine, is why.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 10:30 PM
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Our house first shows up on any of the maps Moby links in 5 in 1897. Probably a few years older, the plot it is on was created in the breakup in the '80s of the estate of Heinz's partner in his first unsuccessful venture. The story from a few-old-timers is that it and surrounding lands were the mustard fields. (Believable, both the failed and later successful venture were located at the base of the hill below us. I am the latest in a string of under-capitalized owners* who felt the need to try to "improve" the place. It is sobering that I am soon to have been its owner for over 1/4 of its lifespan. Neighborhood is a mish-mash of the few older places and in fill houses and small developments at various different times.

*One almost certainly added a sub-basement during Prohibition to make liquor for his restaurant across the river in Lawrenceville. And when we moved in one quite old neighbor claimed that he met his wife in our basement which the guy ran as a bit of an informal nightclub. I guess have no reason to doubt him but it is hard to visualize that happening in our dingy old basement.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 7:49 AM
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I have done a bit if tracing the property "chains' (admittedly in part to try to sort out the various surveying, easement/right-of-way issues that bedevil the area) and have the sequence of our starting back to the early ones which reference various trees along the bank of the river. Most of the parcels in the original land warrants in Western PA. all seem to have aspirational names which neither reflect anything real in the landscape nor seemed to have survived in any form. We are located right along the line between "Richland" and "Great Meadow."

I did make it a point to speak with as many of the older/previous residents as I could, but semi-regret not actually doing something a bit more formal on tape.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 7:58 AM
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Squirrel Hill has a fuck ton of squirrels and "hills".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 8:12 AM
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But not in a way we can comprehend any more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 8:16 AM
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A fox or my neighbor (using a trap) have gotten the ones near me. My neighbor is trying to kill a groundhog in a way that is not totally different than Carl from Caddyshack.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 8:24 AM
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My "Hav-a-Heart" groundhog trap is currently deployed in my neighbor a backyard.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 8:42 AM
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Hmmm.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 8:46 AM
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My neighbor's trap just contains the rodent without removing its heart.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 8:46 AM
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I hate phones.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 9:16 AM
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My parents don't like living in old houses, because of ghosts. They both claim to have seen ghosts or ghost-like things, and my mother occasionally has gut-level feelings that "something is not right about this place." They are not at all superstitious about feng shui, the zodiac or anything that can be decided by a simple set of rules. But they did use to watch a lot of horror movies...


Posted by: torrey pine (YK) | Link to this comment | 06-22-13 10:03 AM
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Towns in western PA used to pave streets and then traffic islands with "Belgian block," which, my father once told me, originally was ballast in ships returning from Europe in World War I.

There's an entire area of Newcastle called Ballast Hills where they used to dump ballast from ships - mainly colliers - coming in to load up. (There are similar hills at other ports; Banks fans may remember one turning up in "The Crow Road".)

Early English polar explorer Martin Frobisher sailed to the North-West Passage and brought back a load of what he thought was auriferous ore; unfortunately it was just fool's gold, and they used it to build a wall in Kent which is still there today.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 7:00 AM
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96

Ballast, and also OTHER THINGS:

http://www.donmouth.co.uk/local_history/ballast_hill/ballast_hill_body.html


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 8:10 AM
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There was an early period where it was country estates resulting in the few old, grand houses you see now.

The fabulous house where I lived as a kid was something like that, the attached property occupying the entire block, iirc, with a portion of it used for some gentleman-farmer sort of purpose. My siblings and I came across a large trunk of receipts from when it offered the grandest accommodations in the Southern Tier, with Rockefellers and such among the guest names.

My own house turned 100 two years ago.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 11:05 AM
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95: There's a New Castle [sic] in western Pennsylvania, and since Pittsburgh is in some weird sense a major inland port it took me a while to understand what you meant--there's no way ballast-bearing ships would come this far upriver. To add to the confusion, there's also a town named (presumably accurately) Collier.

There was a place I stayed in for two years in undergrad that was built in the '10s or '20s and had a floor tile pattern consisting of repeated swastikas. You know, from back when they were innocuous and the most they could say about the bearer was their interest in eastern culture. I know there's an article by the local paper about it online but I couldn't find it; however, my Googling did turn up this, which is a delightful way to handle anti-Semites.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:04 PM
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97: Not that grand. I mean 5 bedroom Victorian houses that were probably on five or ten acres.

98: It isn't weird. It's the junction of two navigable rivers with lots of coal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:10 PM
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Sure--I see the barges on the Mon all the time. But the tonnage involved always amazes me. Pittsburgh takes in more port traffic than Philadelphia, which used to be one of the nation's major shipbuilding centers and is a bit more directly connected to the ocean.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:16 PM
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Coal is heavy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:23 PM
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102

And quiet flows the Mon.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:32 PM
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103

Excepting the during Kenny Chesney concert, apparently. It turned into a redneck version of whatever parrot heads do.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:34 PM
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102: Googling only leaves me with more questions.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:41 PM
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105

Someone needs to work on his googling skills.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:44 PM
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106

And if that doesn't help, "Mon" is what everybody calls the Monongahela River.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:48 PM
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107

So, not a reference to this?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 2:54 PM
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108

It's refreshing to see that Squirrel Hill's defenses are in Greenfield. Anyway, the Franco-apologist barber shop is a hairstyling place, but not a barber shop in the technical sense. That bridge what I walk on the route from my house to my bar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 3:08 PM
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109

Franco-apologist? Really?

Are their haircuts any good?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 3:12 PM
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107: No, but that is the Mon. Probably from Frick Park, with what I think is Homestead on the other side.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 3:14 PM
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It's a slideshow. Keep clicking and it shows you the Gaint Eagle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 3:49 PM
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Oh. Yeah. My bad. Those are recent photos, what with the Geagle being non-24/7.

Realistically, we would place our defenses in Regent Square.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 4:10 PM
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The church there with the Giant Eagle is about 200 feet from the "barbershop."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 4:37 PM
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My house is the carriage house behind a house that, according to city records, was built in 1901. I assume the carriage house was built at the same time. I don't know anything about the people who built the place, except that they probably owned a carriage.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 5:32 PM
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115

Or at least hoped to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 6:37 PM
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I would think that anyone who could afford a carriage house could also afford a carriage, but maybe not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 7:24 PM
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It would be kind of sad if they were still saving up for the carriage but went ahead and built the carriage house aspirationally, and then by the time they had saved enough for a carriage, carriages weren't cool anymore and everyone was cruising around in cars, and they'd look at their carriage house and be all,"Man, stupid carriage house."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-13 7:40 PM
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There won't be any marriage / if you can't afford a carriage.


Posted by: OPINIONATED DAISY | Link to this comment | 06-24-13 4:19 AM
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