The evening sun greets us as we come up out of the woods from one of the hillside trails in Grandview Park.
McKeesport! What magic there is in that name!
Well, not really. But Father Pitt has a deep love for McKeesport, once a great city in its own right, and the center of the Mon Valley metropolitan area—a metropolis that, in spite of its proximity to Pittsburgh, has very distinct traditions, and even its own recognizable accent. (The accent is fast disappearing, replaced in the younger generations by a generic Picksburgh accent. Where is a Commission on Minority Languages when you need one?) No city in the Pittsburgh area has fallen further than McKeesport; downtown is nearly abandoned, and acres of vacant lots where there used to be houses and businesses surround the core. But it has what the real-estate people call “potential.”
This building is the most recognizable feature of the McKeesport skyline. You could probably buy it right now for less than the cost of a suburban house. It needs some work; but it is structurally sound, with a new roof. And you would have a perfect miniature skyscraper—only eight floors, but complete with base, shaft, cap, and even “bosses’ floor” (the third floor, outlined to show its importance on the social scale, as it was on all proper Beaux Arts skyscrapers). It’s a timeless landmark, ready for another century of service. What a way to give your clever little tech startup a dignified appearance in the world!
When this airport was built, it was the largest in the world in terms of runway footage; it is still one of the busiest airports in Pennsylvania, though there are no longer scheduled commercial flights. Moving the commercial flights to Greater Pitt meant that this airport never had to be rebuilt or modernized, so that the terminal (designed by Stanley L. Roush in 1931) is perhaps the most perfectly preserved Art Deco airport terminal in the world. It has played the airport in several period movies, and somewhere in a box or file Father Pitt has a picture of the terminal with the name “Bruxelles” replacing “Allegheny County Airport.”
The Civil War monument in Richland Cemetery, Dravosburg. The sculpture bears a maker’s plaque: “Manufactured by the W. H. Mullins Co., Salem, Ohio, U.S.A.”
Flags fly over veterans’ graves in the Homewood Cemetery.