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  • (by Donna Verry Dee) It's Saturday evening, and the joint is hopping. Singles, couples, entire families pile in, scoping out the crowd as they enter, their pockets filled with quarters, their arms filled with dirty clothes, dryer sheets and detergent. It's laundry time. When Brian Jahn, an Inman Square resident, wheels his loaded cart into Laundry Time on Cambridge Street, there's not a vacant machine to be found. Then, noticing one of the full washers completes its cycle, he quickly steers his cart over and begins to empty the idle machine, placing the clean, damp clothes into one of the rolling baskets provided by the laundromat. By Wikimedia Commons / Mu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons"The next thing I knew, a lady jumped up from the corner and started yelling, 'Don't you dare touch my laundry,'" Jahn said. "She screamed something about following the proper etiquette, that I was just coming in and trying to take over the place. I couldn't believe it." Self-serve laundromats are unquestionably a necessity in a city where two-thirds of the population rent their homes, many of which offer inadequate or no laundry facilities. Cambridge offers well over a dozen establishments for washing, tumbling, fluffing and folding. While many of these businesses are presided over by friendly attendants, ready to referee the occasional skirmish, others offer little in the way of rules of conduct, leaving a diverse population of launderers to sort things out for themselves. In the end, Jahn grudgingly apologized to the irate woman. "But I felt like she was the rude one for clogging up a machine when it was so busy," he said. Richard Marques, manager of Squeaky Cleaners on Kirkland Street, has seen many similar scenarios and speaks with some authority on the topic. "By right, you're supposed to stay with your clothes," he says. "If you leave your clothes, then it's fair game for someone else to take them out. Otherwise the business is losing money and customers are wasting time." Squeaky Cleaners is a sprawling space with friendly attendants and a plethora of amenities including dry cleaning, alterations and shoe repair. But a quick count of machines reveals a discrepancy common to most Cambridge laundromats -- a lopsided washer-to-dryer ratio. With 38 washers, some of them capable to holding double, even triple loads, Squeaky Cleaners offers a scant 25 standard dryers. Now, imagine what happens on a busy night or Saturday afternoon when launderers make a mad dash to deposit 38 loads of clothes into 25 dryers. Like in a grown-up version of musical chairs, someone is going to be left standing, holding a basket of their damp unmentionables. Marques offers several explanations for the washer-dryer discrepancy. "Some people take their wet wash home and hang it on the line to dry," he said. "Also, washers tend to break down more often so we need more of them. And most washers only hold between 13 and 15 pounds while dryers hold around 30. So you can put two washloads into one dryer." It sounds simple enough. But it's not always that easy, explains Brian Wallace, deputy executive director of the Coin Laundry Association, the world's only not-for-profit trade association for the coin laundry and drycleaning industry. "Customers tend to underload dryers. [They] often divide their wet clothes into as many dryers as possible to speed up the drying process. This behavior often creates a bottleneck," said Wallace, whose Illinois-based organization represents 30,000 coin laundry owners. For Oak Street resident Maurice Balk, laundry night is not stress free. "I could feel the tension mount with each machine I used," says Balk. He had just spread his two loads of laundry among a whopping five dryers, leaving only two for the other launderers at a small place called "Coin-Op Laundry" on Cambridge Street in Inman Square. "My theory is, the early bird gets the dryers," says the Berklee student, matter-of-factly. Although he says no one has ever confronted him about his dryer-hogging ways, Balk tries to limit the competition by visiting laundromats at odd hours. "I'll go on a Friday or Saturday night after eight. No one wants to do laundry then because you look like a major-league loser going off to the laundromat while everyone else is going out to Ryles or something," he said. While the power play for dryers is perhaps the most pervasive annoyance to the coin-op crowd, the lack of bathrooms can create an even more pressing situation, especially for parents. "When they're little, kids can't always wait till they get home," says Webster Avenue resident and mother of two, Eva Griggs. "What are parents supposed to do?" Griggs recalls one time when she walked her two daughters, ages 3 and 5, home to the bathroom during the drying cycle. Afterward, as she was folding her clothes, she realized one of her shirts was missing. "I told a neighbor what had happened and she said she had left her laundry [unattended] once and everything was stolen -- towels, sheets, clothes, everything. And she has seven children," said Griggs. Others just stay at home. "Sometimes I do laundry in my sink just to avoid coming to the laundromat," says Rossana Vaccarino, a landscape architect and instructor at Harvard. What she finds particularly unpleasant are those patrons who can't get through a wash cycle without lighting up a cigarette, subjecting everyone else -- including little children and pregnant women -- to second-hand smoke. Some laundromats fail to post "No Smoking" signs. And in those that do, there is often no one there to enforce the ban. "And there's too much commotion to really get anything done," says Vaccarino, indicating the reading material she has brought with her. "But it's not really a social place either like on the West Coast where they have coffee shops connected to laundries." When asked why she thinks the laundry/latte scene hasn't caught on in Cambridge and the area, Vaccarino reasons, "Maybe people are less social here. They just want to keep to themselves." Huron Villager, Owen Watkins, probably would agree. Watching a week's worth of clothes tumbling dry at Angie's Laundry, around 9 o'clock on a recent Monday morning, he laughs as he admits to feeling a little territorial at the laundromat. "Laundromats bring out a competitive streak in people," Watkins said. "When I'm doing laundry, I find myself feeling sort of resentful of anyone who comes in the door." Watkins brings his family's clothes to Angie's because it is close to home and, more importantly, it is clean. "I used to go to a different place but my clothes would come out of the dryer smelling like old fish," he remembers. "So I don't go there anymore. Because if your clothes don't get cleaned, there's really no point in doing laundry, is there?" This article originally appeared at: Cambridge Town Online You can reach Donna at jessiedee@earthlink.net

  • American cities have their origins in Colonial times. Much of the machinery, economy, thought and growth pattern that have shaped today's cities have their origins in Colonial cities. Since we started newcolonist.com, a few readers have written saying the name "New Colonist" conveys a negative image of subversion, imperialism and colonialism which isn't contained in our substance. But colonies and colonization aren't confined to a time when Europeans sailed across the seas, set up shop wherever they landed, did away with or forced into slavery whoever happened to be there, and generally pissed a lot of people off. A colony is a group of people living together, and a colonist is someone who wants to live together with other people in a new place. In America today we move often and we are all forced to colonize some new place. The choice is whether to live in the city with people or in the suburbs away from them. And just as in days past, today's colonists are forcing change on established patterns of life. While they are bringing new life to decaying urban neighborhoods, they are forcing up property values and forcing out some of the poor people (often people of color) or people working as artists, by taking advantage of the inexpensive rents. Conversely, in other places, poor immigrants are moving in and "colonizing" urban neighborhoods, forcing out others who don't find living among members of another race or ethnicity attractive. I'm here to say that from a birds-eye perspective, its all good. It means we have begun to rediscover the value of urban life and of dense, transportation-rich, convenient, efficient center cities. Chicago Tribune newspaper editor Robert McCormick inscribed on the wall inside the Tribune Tower that it was part of the job of a newspaper to lead public opinion. As editor of a magazine about city life, I think it it should be part of our goal here to persuade city residents that change and movement bring renewal. They are signs of a civic-minded, participatory people interested in making things better. It was when no one cared about who lived in the city or what happened to the environment there that we got into trouble. The thing about the city, regardless of the frustrations and the pressures, is that it brings us together. When we are close together in a dense environment, the poor live near the rich, blacks live near whites, and immigrants live not so far from members of the Daughters of the American Republic. Subsidized apartments are near million dollar homes. Only when we are together can we begin to form ideals and goals as a community of people living together experiencing something new-- as colonists in a colony. On the convention center in Cleveland words are inscribed dedicating the building as "a monument conceived as a tribute to the ideals of Cleveland. Builded by her citizens and dedicated to social progress, industrial achievement and civic interest." The ideals of Cleveland? Here in the suburban 21st Century it is hard to imagine there could be such a thing. With everyone spread apart, it is hard to conceive that a place could accompany ideals. But then, Cleveland, a city planned using the model expressed by the City Beautiful movement, was once an ideal. It was a place where immigrants from any number of countries from Bulgaria to China could come together and see such words on a building that could somehow, someday translate into a better life. Writing them on the exterior walls of an office park wouldn't get the attention of pigeons. And then there's this "social progress" thing. Today even those words don't bring a clear image. But social also means together and interacting, and at face value, we could assume social progress means becoming more social.... coming together and interacting. And what are we coming together for? For industrial achievement--which simply means making things to make our lives better--and for civic interest, which means in the interest of the city, in the interest of civilization. Maybe the colonialists as we think of them got off to a bad start. But today we can make a new start and can once again begin to perceive of ideals that are common to residents new and old in Cleveland, Chicago, and San Jose, or wherever your city may be. We're all in this together, coming in from the suburbs or from other continents, and making a new life in the city--making a new city, not as residents, but as citizens. It is time to build new, inclusive, efficient and sustainable urban colonies. The New Colonist is here to help.

  • Along Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Strip District, a few Asian merchants have opened shop selling groceries, fresh vegetables and videotapes from across the Pacific. Some of the city's most visible Asian residents are long-time Pittsburghers. But Asians and recent immigrants who have made it past the coastal cities of the United States to the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states are a minority. While record numbers of immigrants are arriving in cities on the nation's shores, few are destined for America's "second cities." Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo and other cities that have historically been a destination for immigrants are not attracting the newest arrivals from China, Vietnam, the Phillipines and Mexico. Those have who ventured inland have mixed feelings about it. While there are good jobs, an affordable cost of living and less competition in business, common complaints stem from a lack of cultural amenities, limited opportunities for advancement, closed communities that make it hard to make friends--and even racism. With such barriers in place, the question of whether Asians and other immigrants will ever penetrate invisible interior boundaries remains unanswered. A Divided Country The Asian population in the United States is expected to increase from 11 million in 1999 to 38 million by 2050; most of them will reside on either coast. The top three countries of origin for immigrants are in Asia. According to Migration News, a publication of the University of California at Davis, immigrants are coming to and native-born residents are leaving, ten states: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas. The publication also says these fast-growing and diverse states are projected to be in sharp contrast to 20 others, mostly in the Midwest, that are expected retain largely white and native populations into 2025. Because most of today's immigrants are arriving from non-white countries, unless immigrants and minorities begin to move to Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern cities, the country could become further divided by race between the states receiving immigrants and those that aren't. Not only that, many of the states and cities where immigrants are not going are losing population, or gaining it at a much slower rate than other regions, which can lead to a loss of representation in Congress and less Federal tax money--both factors which could heighten animosity toward immigrants. Writer Joel Garreau called the cities in this part of North America "the Foundry" in his book "The Nine Nations of North America." As he points out, many in the country and the world historically viewed this region as the United States and North America itself. It's where most of what America created was produced for mass consumption. And, it's where most of the much of the wealth, art and economic history still is. But for these regions, maintaining a position--or gaining an economic lead in an information and technology ordered world economy--will depend in part on an ability to attract educated immigrants and technology investors, who today are more often coming from across the Pacific than the Atlantic. Economic Indicators Today, the high-tech industry is the single-largest manufacturing employer and, by sales, the single-largest U.S. industry. Cities in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic have, to some degree, played a part in the technology boom. A Computerworld survey of 5,611 companies showed that permanent information-technology staffs in the East North Central part of the country were expected to increase at 10 percent--a rate identical to Pacific regions--with Mid-Atlantic and New England regions not far behind. And, for skilled immigrants, there are jobs to be found there. According to the Los Angeles Times, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis all rank as top markets for electrical and electronic engineers. Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit rank as top markets for computer systems analysts and scientists. Researcher Corptech ranks Pittsburgh, Chicago and Minneapolis ahead of San Francisco in the top 30 cities for computer software jobs, with St. Louis not far behind. But according to the Pittsburgh Technology Council, many skilled jobs, at least in that city, go unfilled because of a lack of qualified applicants. With low numbers of native American's entering engineering and technology fields, high-tech economic growth is somewhat dependent on the ability to attract immigrants. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, a quarter of Silicon Valley's high-tech companies are headed by Chinese and Indian immigrants. An even a larger percentage of the work force is non-white. Compared with a nearly 20 percent Asian population in San Jose, almost 30 percent in San Francisco and a 21 percent foreign-born population in California, Pittsburgh has a .9 percent Asian population, and in Pennsylvania only about three percent are foreign-born. Other Midwestern cities aren't much different. Missouri has a 1.6 percent foreign-born population and St. Louis also has a .9 percent Asian population. Only two and a half percent of Ohio residents were born outside the U.S., and Columbus has little more than a two percent Asian population, with Cleveland and Cincinnati lagging behind even that, hovering at about one percent. According to 1996 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago is the only city in Garreau's "Foundry" region to rank in the top ten of cities with immigrant populations . In a global economy, a static, mono-racial population represents somewhat of a handicap. A University of Pittsburgh report seemed to agree when it concluded one of the most serious problems for the city is a lack of recent international immigrants. If much of the high-tech work force continues to be foreign-born and non-white, technology firms in Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic cities will need to be able to attract and retain Asians and immigrants to grow economically. Quality of Life But some Asians who have moved to and lived in Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic cities say that may not be so easy. "I think Columbus, Ohio is a hidden jewel," says Shih-Min Robert Liao, 57, born in China and a 32-year resident of Central Ohio. "It's getting better every year and it's much more sophisticated than ever before." Still, Liao says people in the Columbus suburb of Worthington are polite but remote, making for a sense of isolation. And he says racism can have a different face in Columbus from what it wears in New York or San Francisco. "The unique part of racism in this area is that certain local people feel strongly it is their patriotic duty to keep America 'real American,'" he says. Frederick Tsai said he came to St. Louis from suburban Baltimore in part because of an effort by Washington University to bring diversity to St Louis and the school where a $1.5 million gift from a local businessman established a professorship to foster racial, ethnic and cultural diversity in the St. Louis community. But Tsai said that while many other Asians have also come, few plan to stay. "To be quite honest," Tsai says, "the environment here does not embrace diversity. I made it clear I would never come back to Saint Louis." Tsai says much of the life he experienced in St. Louis was foreign from life in Maryland or California. It's not like in coastal cities, he says: Asians in St. Louis haven't integrated into society to any degree, and the barriers are daunting and obvious. "Asians in St. Louis are outsiders. There are very few in corporate positions despite large firms like AG Edwards, Boeing, TWA and Ralston-Purina," Tsai says adding that involvement in public life was also an uphill battle. "There's no Asian voice in the city." "Milwaukee is a fast-growing city right now. But, the pay does not compare to Southern California," comments Steven Lee Tanaka, a graduate student and teacher. With Japanese and white ancestry, Tanaka has also experienced frustrations with the Midwest. He explains that Milwaukee is a very segregated city with no clear place for him to fit in. "I think immigrants avoid the Midwest because it has a stereotypical reputation for being 'conservative' which to some means 'racist.'" While the effort in St. Louis sought to attract Asians, groups in Pittsburgh, worried about economic growth and survival without young, skilled workers, launched a campaign--not to attract skilled immigrants, but to draw white natives who have left for college or other employment opportunities back to the city. "It can be taken as a signal that Pittsburgh is happy being white," said Vietnamese immigrant Hien Ma, 36, who moved to the city from Dallas to take an engineering position with U.S. Airways. "It's a nice city with a fair amount of opportunity and lots of affordable housing, but there is a sense that certain doors are closed to anyone who isn't from here. People are friendly, but it's hard to make friends." My Kind of Town  The one clear exception among second cities as a choice and destination for Asians and immigrants is Chicago. The Chicago metro area has a 3.9 percent Asian population, and Illinois is one of the top states in terms of being a destination for immigrants--easily number one among heartland towns. And Asians living in the windy city have good things to say about it. "Chicago is filled with people who come from other places and don't necessarily have a lot of family and friends nearby," explains Jeanette, 33, a native of Canada who preferred that only her first name be used. "An immigrant could find a job and people to help them here." Similarly, Wilbur Pan, the son of immigrants from Taiwan and president of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals, said unlike other cities in the Midwest Chicago was a destination for Asians because the city has been able to attract the "critical mass" needed to facilitate more arrivals. "A lot of it is the 'founder-effect,'" Pan explained. "Someone lands here because they have friends and relatives who can help them. Being where there's people you know makes a big difference." Outside Chicago That effect may be taking hold in other places. Lisa Wong, 32, grew up in Cleveland and says she would never consider moving. In fact, she says Asian immigrants are moving in. Receiving recent national recognition as a "comeback" city, Cleveland seems to be a new hub for cultural and ethnic dynamics and a near frontier for immigrants. Despite the low population numbers, Wong says Cleveland has an active Asian community and there's plenty of access to culture and organizations. If an America that's tinted at the edges and white in the middle is ever to be avoided, it will be because of efforts like one in Cleveland to build an identifiable Chinatown where retail buildings and projects, including the first subsidized apartment building in Ohio aimed specifically at Asians, are being built. Networks of family and friends are what bring many immigrants to a particular city, and established cultural institutions like the Chinese schools, churches and business institutions in Cleveland can serve to make what can sometimes be unfriendly cities a bit more "livable" for Asians, minorities and immigrants. Leaving the coasts and moving to the interior can be an invigorating experience. "What's available for immigrants and minorities in these cities that isn't available in New York San Francisco or Los Angeles?" Gene Millar, a Filipino native of Milwaukee repeated. "The opportunity to educate fellow humans about culture and ethnicity, because for the most part there are a lot of people in Milwaukee who have never left Wisconsin." Chicago native Jean Liu, 30, agrees. "I think most people who start American life on the coasts are unaware there is anything between New York and Los Angeles," Liu says. "If they investigate they'll find some nice surprises."

    Asian Population by percent of total (1990)
    Northeast 18.4 Midwest 10.6 South 15.4 West 55.7
    Tech Growth by Region (SOURCE: A Computerworld survey of 5,611 companies, as reported in Computerworld, 7/6/98)
    East South Central +1 percent West North Central +1 percent Mountain +3 percent South Atlantic +3 percent Mid Atlantic +4 percent New England +8 percent East North Central +10 percent Pacific +10 percent West South Central +17 percent
    Population Increase in 1990s by percent of Fast Growing U.S. Cities Attracting Immigrants (Migration News, University of California at Davis)
    Las Vegas 55 Laredo, TX 41 Boise City, ID 34 Naples, FL 31 Phoenix 31 Austin, TX 31 Fayetteville-Rogers, AK 29 Wilmington, NC 27
    MSA Asian Population by percent (1996)
    Cleveland-Akron, Ohio 1.3 Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, Michigan 1.9 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York 1.3 Columbus, Ohio 1.9 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 0.9 St. Louis, Missouri 1.2 Chicago, Illinois; Gary, Indiana; Kenosha, Wisconsin, 3.9 Cincinnati, Ohio; Hamilton, Kentucky 1.0 Kansas City, Missouri 1.4 Indianapolis, Indiana 1.0 Milwaukee-Racine, Wisconsin 1.6
    U.S Cities Favored By Immigrants Ranked (1990)
    1. Miami 2. Los Angeles 3. San Francisco 4. New York 5. Orange County 6. San Diego 7. Houston 8. Chicago 9. Washington 10. Boston

  • Though his name might not ring a bell, buried outside of a church in the Washington County town of Amity lies the man once thought to be the author of the most influential book in the history of the United States. But a visitor might just walk by his headstone without notice. It reveals only that Solomon Spaulding died on October 20, 1816 at the age of fifty-five. A taphophile, or someone who loves cemeteries, may recognize Spaulding as a man once thought to be the author of the Book of Mormon.. Cemeteries are the last place many people want to spend a vacation. Still, the numbers of tourists visiting cemeteries and searching for the graves of people like Spaulding continues to grow every year. And they visit cemeteries for other reasons. Concerts in a Bronx, New York cemetery draw thousands of jazz fans to hear the sounds of Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. Visitors to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston can rent an audio cassette guide of the grounds and wander through the past at their leisure. Lawyers and Congressional aides regularly meet for coffee in Washington's Congressional Cemetery and last year more than 5,000 people toured Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery, stopping by the graves of Elliot Ness, John Rockefeller and President James Garfield. Cemeteries from New Orleans to Buffalo are like books with magnificent stories to tell, and Western Pennsylvania's are no exception. Stories like Spaulding's are ones that "tombstone tourists" relish. In the early 1800s, Solomon Spaulding set out to write a fanciful history of ancient races showing that American Indians were descended from one of the ten lost tribes. Though he never saw his book published, he called it "The Manuscript Found." Later, when the Book of Mormon was unveiled by Joseph Smith in 1830, early accounts say Amity residents familiar with Spaulding's tale were struck by the resemblance. Believing the Book of Mormon and The Manuscript Found were one and the same, Cephas Dod, a minister in Amity, purchased a copy and inscribed inside, "I fully believe that this Book of Mormon is mainly and wickedly copied from it." Years later the Mormon Church published Spaulding's work to show the two were not related. Spaulding's story is but one of hundreds that lie waiting to be discovered in Western Pennsylvania's cemeteries. Another began to unfold in the 1930s. The site of a revolutionary massacre near Saxton had been known in 1929 when an American Legion Post decided to erect a monument to some of the areas earliest settlers. But in January of 1933, when the workers came to make improvements to the site, they began to unearth the remains of ten soldiers killed there on July 6, 1780. The Revolutionary era patrol led by Captain William Phillips was headed for Fort Bedford when they sought refuge in an abandoned cabin. As the story goes, the Captain Phillips awoke early to find the cabin surrounded by Indians. A battle ensued and the cabin was soon in flames. Private Phillip Skelly fired a bullet which passed through the cheeks of Chief Bald Eagle, breaking several teeth. The patrol soon surrendered. The captives were marched about a half mile from the house when they were tied to trees and shot with arrows. Their bodies had already begun to decompose when they were found by a group of settlers and buried in shallow graves, only to be discovered again in 1933. GravesOther tales don't need to be uncovered. In addition to the graves of the first air ace in World War II, Colonel Boyd Wagner, and John G. McCrory, the founder of the McCrory 5-and-10 store chain, a section in Johnstown's Grandview Cemetery contains the bodies of many of the 2,209 victims of the 1889 flood, including eight hundred who were never identified. When the diverse population and bustling economy of late nineteenth century Johnstown was hit by a wall of water from the broken South Fork Dam, one of the worst calamities in our nations history was written into the books. After the flood, a central monument and individual markers were purchased to honor the victims. It was dedicated in1892 in the presence of about 10,000 people. Long after everyone who remembered the flood was gone, the event remains deeply embedded in Johnstown's psyche. More than a century before the Johnstown Flood, in 1795, a Russian Prince came to Western Pennsylvania for the first time. Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was ordained as a Catholic priest shortly before he was assigned as the first pastor of McGuire's Settlement. Gallitzin changed the name to Loretto and encouraged other Catholics to join him. Father Gallitzin and the Church brought together urban congregations and the mountain parishioners, helping to insure the future of the new nation by maintaining settlements in the Allegheny Mountains. Gallitzin'sThe remains of Father Gallitzin are housed in an attractive tomb on Saint Mary's Street in Loretto that already draws visitors each year. Although Gallitzin died in 1840, the present monument wasn't erected until 1891 when his remains were relocated from outside the chapel house where he had ministered. Loretto wasn't the only area in Western Pennsylvania to be inhabited early on. A cemetery in Sinking Valley also dates to the eighteenth century. Peter McMullen, who founded Saint Luke's Cemetery, arrived in the summer of 1784. When McMullen died, he deeded that part of his plantation as a burial ground for "Roman Catholics and no others." Revenue from McMullen's cemetery was sent to Father Gallitzin. Some of Altoona's first residents who came in search of employment in emerging industry have roots in Sinking Valley and Loretto. The triad of cemeteries in the East End of Altoona--Saint John's, Saint Mary's and Oak Ridge--reflects the ethnic and religious diversity of the people who migrated to the city. No longer isolated on vast farms, cultures came together and ethnic enclaves formed in neighborhoods and inevitably in cemeteries. Hundreds of years from now, historians will be able to tell a lot about people in industrial America from the cemeteries. While people group in a neighborhood according to a racial or ethnic culture, they also group according to a religious culture. And so cemeteries remain divided in these terms, as well as by race, class and in rare instances, politics. Chinese GraveSaint John's and Saint Mary's served Catholics while Oak Ridge served Protestants. Likewise, Oak Ridge is adjacent to Eastern Light Cemetery, an area which custom holds was reserved for African-Americans. Some groups which never grew to a significant size in a particular area, such as the Chinese or Turks in Altoona or Johnstown, were not able to form ethnic neighborhoods. Nor do they represent distinct areas in this region's cemeteries. Stories told about the Johnstown Flood show members of many different ethnic and racial groups from Middle-Eastern to African, most of whom are buried in Johnstown's cemeteries. Some took measures to keep racially pure cemeteries. The Harmonites, a religious group that founded several towns including Harmony and Economy in Western Pennsylvania, had imported Chinese workers to help run a mill. As the Chinese died they were buried in a hilltop cemetery and local historians point out that when the last had died their bodies were removed from Beaver Falls and "faithfully and religiously transported to far-off China." In terms of class, the Chinese and the African-Americans were on top of a hill for a reason. In these more rural burial areas they were given the least accessible plot of land. Yet in more formal urban cemeteries such as Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh, the higher spaces were reserved for the mausoleums of industrialists, and the plots on steep hillsides and in valleys were left for often poor ethnic and racial minorities. While a picnic, a jog or even a wedding in a cemetery might be less out of the ordinary than it was a few years ago, now isn't the first time cemeteries have been used by the living. Before 1830, cemeteries were located almost exclusively on church grounds, which quickly reached capacity. The crowding combined with sanitary concerns lead to the establishment of formal burial grounds on the edges of cities. As the industrial revolution progressed, cities like Johnstown, Altoona and Pittsburgh grew around the once rural cemeteries. Cemeteries became an oasis of natural scenery in otherwise gloomy and congested cities. Today many cemeteries are still beautiful places. While some use them for a picnic or as a place to take wedding photographs, tombstone tourists go looking for the graves of interesting people. Efforts to promote the interesting burial grounds around the U.S. have increased tourism and even stimulated interest in local history. Marketing our cemeteries in order to attract tourists to Western Pennsylvania can also provide a means for raising the money needed to preserve these historic treasures. Often the victim of neglect and vandalism, many have been forgotten and left to decay. Some have been surrounded by commercial development and are unable to provide the security andmaintenance necessary to ward off vandals who steal stained glass, urns and figurines and sell them to restaurants and gardeners, unaware or ignorant of their origins. There's more than enough about the cemeteries of Western Pennsylvania to make them a stop on the heritage trail. In addition to those mentioned, Western Pennsylvania Cemeteries are the final resting place of some famous people including Charles Schwab, Hedda Hopper, General Braddock, JohnBrashear and Andy Warhol. Allegheny and Homewood Cemeteries in Pittsburgh contain monuments to prominent families including Frick, Mellon, Horne, Benedum and Heinz. Beyond famous people, other burial grounds are filled with intrigue. A cemetery in Gallitzin is filled mainly with children who perhaps died in an epidemic. Several of Albert Gallatin's wives are buried on his Southwestern Pennsylvania estate. And a visit to a Harmonite cemetery will seem curious, as the religion forbade the use of grave markers. Cemeteries are a permanent museum dedicated to a past very near to us. If you are still leery of spending too many living hours this close to death, heed the words of astronomer and lens cutter John Brashear. Inscribed near his tomb inside Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh are the words "We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." A few of the notable people resting in Western Pennsylvania's cemeteries:

    Joshua Barney, U.S Naval hero, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Stephen Foster, Composer, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Edward Braddock, Major General, Farmington Henry Clay Frick, Industrialist, Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh Errol Garner, Jazz Musician, Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh Josh Gibson, Baseball Hall of Fame, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Henry J. Heinz, Industrialist, Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh Hedda Hopper, Columnist, Rose Hill Cemetery, Altoona David L. Lawrence, Pittsburgh Mayor, Calvary Cemetery, Pittsburgh Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury, Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh Galbaith Perry Rodgers, Aviation Pioneer, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Rosey Rosewell, Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Lillian Russel, Actress, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Harry Thaw (Killed Stanford White), Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Pie Traynor , Baseball Player, Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh Honus Wagner, Baseball Player, Jefferson Memorial Cemetery, Pittsburgh Joshua Barney, U.S. Navel Hero, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh Charles Schwab, Steel Magnate, Schwab Mausoleum, Loretto Lt. Col. Boyd "Buzz" Wagner, WWII Air Ace, Grandview Cemetery, Johnstown John G. McCrory, Merchant, Grandview Cemetery, Johnstown Father Demetrius Gallitzin, Catholic Priest, Loretto John Brashear, Astronomer, Allegheny Observatory, Pittsburgh Andy Warhol, Artist, St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Bethel Park
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  • (by Blake Harris) Q. Apart from the many other professions that have been listening to you, now economists, according to press reports, are also beginning to take you seriously. Which particular ideas would you want them to pay attention to in terms of how we view cities? A. How important innovation is to us. How we cannot, and in fact we never could, just continue to do the same thing without courting utter disaster, because you can't exploit the same resources too long. You can't do the same thing monotonously too long. If there is one thing that will save us, it is innovating in time. We have reached a stage when we must mimic nature and how nature does things, not in a superficial way, but very deeply. Q. There are some who say that cities are losing their capacity to be the crucibles of value-creation. It is a very dark view, that cities are ceasing to be the intellectual engines. A. We are in trouble. Anyone who thinks about it and looks at life knows that we are in a lot of trouble. Q. What happens if cities become these sterile, non-listened-to places? A. This has happened historically quite a few times. When we say the Dark Ages, we mean a particular time in European history when that happened. But the more prehistory and the more histories other than Europe that have been looked into, the more clear it becomes that there have been quite a few dark ages. Q. Do you have any sense that creativity is fleeing the cities, going off somewhere else where it feels safer, where schools are better? Are the bright, creative people leaving the cities? By Phil Stanziola [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsA. Nothing goes on forever; the same thing doesn't go on forever. For people who want to project trends, the one trend you know won't happen is a continuation of what is happening now. It may be higher, it may be lower, but nothing stays that much the same. So we have all these problems of sprawl. It is very expensive in land, it is very expensive in energy, very expensive in time and money. And those are good reasons why it won't go on. But that is not why it won't go on. It is because every few generations comes along a generation that just despises what the generations before it did. That happened at the end of Victorianism. It also happened at the beginning of Victorianism, when the whole classic form of architecture and site planning that was derived from it…and even furnishings…were jettisoned. When this happens, the generation that experiences this big change in taste--I don't know a better word for it, but it is more than taste--they get absolutely ruthless about what the previous generations did. They build what would have been considered very inappropriate. They tear down what they want, they drive through what they want. That's going to happen with the present suburbs. Some generation is going to come along that just despises them and is going to treat them that way and do something else with them. What will they do? I don't know and nobody knows. You can see some germs of some possibilities now--the new urbanism. There is already a revulsion against modern architecture. And I think we are probably very near the brink of one of these big changes in taste again. And that always means big changes in function, too. Q. There are communities where there is a very real choice between development or the preservation of the land, the water, the landscape, sometimes people's health.. If you put that decision into the hands of the people, the community, they will almost inevitably choose the jobs and the development. How do you balance that with your thoughts that if you put it into the hands of the people, it will work? A. Well, take Oregon, for example. They would go to where the logging was, set up their saw mill, do the logging, cut all the trees, and leave. And the town collapses. That kind of exploitation, not only with logging, but mines and all sorts of resource places, even farms--anything that is built on that kind of exploitation--is very insecure. Anything which is overexploited is going to end up in economic disaster for everybody concerned. Q. So you have to regulate. A. No, you have to do it differently. You don't just exploit but do it more slowly. That's no answer. It is a way of using the land differently so it is sustainable, not just so that you can lengthen the moment you can exploit it. The way you make things sustainable is largely by diversification, adding things that haven't been done. You know, nature itself is not simple. It is very, very complicated. And any eco-system is an extremely complicated thing. The moment we try to simplify it and exploit one thing, or make some sort of a mono-culture, we are going to be in trouble. The way to deal with nature in an harmonious way is to recognize that it is diverse, not just in terms of the whole globe, but also in any single place. In one logging town, for instance, one solution to getting jobs was to put up cranberries, and there is now a nice mail-order business of cranberry products that didn't exist before. And the wood that they cut, instead of just shipping it all out, if you can create jobs making products from that wood, you don't need to cut as much wood and you still have good jobs, there are more of them and it is more sustainable. That's the idea in general, you diversify. Q. But who makes the decision about the diversification? A. You can't make people creative by telling them, "Be creative." It has to be economically sound for them to be creative, and feasible both for the area itself and for what they can do. You can, however, look to see what is missing. You can't just say to people, "Don't do that." You have to say, "Hey, you are able to do this." You have to be positive, not just negative. The trouble with regulations is they are always telling you what you can't do. You can show people what they can do, but not necessarily tell them they have to do it. You know there are so many bright people, so many good ideas, so much concern. You find this in lots and lots of localities. It's there. It often just needs a little encouragement to show how to use resources to better advantage and that you don't always have to do what you were always doing in the past, what your parents did or your grandparents did, if indeed the town lasted long enough for that. Q. What are the limits of regulation? Is it possible to make a generalization about what we should regulate? A. You have to be careful and not get abstract about this. You have to look at specific things, and they change over time. For instance, a few decades ago in Toronto, there was not a single outdoor café. Regulation against these had been made when the streets were full of horses and horseflies--when it really was not sanitary to sell food on the sidewalk and so on. The times have changed but the regulation had not. In Toronto, as well, there were regulations about how many square feet of windows had to be with so many square feet of floor and the distance of buildingss from each other [which prevented the conversion of a lot of downtown spaces into living spaces]. These regulations had all been made at a time when the tuberculosis rate was terribly high. These regulations about distance of buildings, width of courtyards, amount of windows, were all calculated to combat tuberculosis. We got at tuberculosis in other ways, but these regulations lived on. So what is a good regulation? Well, for one thing, knowing why it is in there and when it is no longer necessary. Knowing when a different regulation is necessary. But these are things that governments and bureaucracies are generally very bad at. There are planning departments which have learned to do a lot of things but they often have not learned to do away with useless regulations. Canada and the United States are just full of architects who just break their hearts fighting regulations that are destructive. They have wonderful ideas, beautiful ideas about what they can do. Q. When you first moved to Toronto from New York, were there elements in Toronto, because it was a smaller city, that made you more optimistic that you could make more of a difference there compared to New York, where everything had become so politicized, so big? A. No. I thought it was an adventure, how nice and so on. And then we heard about this expressway that was coming through right where we lived, and my husband said, "Oh my God, another expressway." And we had to get into that. There are responsibilities you can't evade if you find yourself in an expressway path. You have to do something about it. But, you know, I'm like most people in this. I have other things to do. I don't like getting in these fights. I hate the government making my life absurd. I don't want the government to set an agenda for what I have to be doing by it being so stupid that I have to devote myself to that. I have other things to do. And this is true of most people. It is really an outrage when you come to think of it. Here are all these people who get paid for government jobs, and we the taxpayers are paying them. And how are they spending their time? Making life miserable for us so we can hardly earn the money to pay their wages because we are so busy fighting them. That's what I mean by making our lives absurd. Q. When you start talking about the big role of government and that it messes around too much in people's lives sometimes, is there a danger that one can become too free-enterprise, that one is forgetting the social network that government can provide? A. You are putting words in my mouth. I never said that government was messing around too much in our lives. I said it was doing stupid things. That's not the same thing at all. It may be doing too little in our lives and still be doing stupid things. It's not an ideological thing. Q. Ideological labels don't stick too well to you. A. You try, if you can, to get people to look at the specific thing that is happening and not try to generalize it as an ideology. Ideologies, no matter what kind, are one of the greatest afflictions, because they blind us to seeing what is going on or to what is being done. Q. But you have lived and been civically active first in New York and then in Toronto. Can you describe the difference you found between the two cities? A. I know very well what people are struggling to do in New York. In the old community I used to live in, I know how hard people worked all the time, harder than practically anyone in Toronto works on civic things. Because they were so much more under the gun in New York, so much more desperate. And I get that community--the West Village community--newsletter still once a month and see what they are going through. And every time I read it, I almost weep for them, how hard they are working on things. So, no, people in Toronto don't work harder at it than New Yorkers. I think the thing is that they are institutionally so different. It is just so much more feasible here in Toronto for citizens to make a decent difference. Q. Why? What is the different culture? Is it an individualistic as opposed to a more collective approach? A. No. No. The minute you get into all these loose abstractions...I think it is much more concrete. I think it is the size of the bureaucracies in New York. It's the huge amounts of money for certain things that became available to New York and other American cities from the federal government. And one attitude that does make a difference--I think that the American melting pot compared to the Canadian mosaic has been very destructive to the United States. But mostly, it's the way their institutions work. Q. You have talked about self-organizing states. Today, there are these twin pulls of globalization one way and national identities going the other way. A. Everything in nature is self-organized, and a whole lot of what human beings do is self-organized. And there are all sorts of states that were self-organized. But as soon as you get above a certain size, and I don't know what that size is, but we could easily find out by looking at the some 200 sovereign states in the world today. But as soon as you get above a certain size, it is not self-organized at all. It has gotten that size by conquest. And that is the very opposite of being self-organized. Q. What does self-organized mean? A. Well, it means there wasn't a plan and command structure that made the thing, that decreed it and then shaped it. A great many things now which are done by command are not self-organized any more. They started as self-organized, because that is the way that creativity usually happens. For example, our postal service. People got documents and messages around to each other before there were any postal services. And finally, when there was enough of this and enough custom and systems had grown up about who paid and how much you paid and how you sent these things, finally governments took them over and had institutional postal services. But it was a self-organized system before that. Commercial law was that way. There was no such thing as commercial law under feudalism, and the merchants themselves made their courts and supported them and abided by the rules. And they set them up wherever it was convenient for the merchants and ship owners. All of these were taken over by governments after they were established. Governments are very uninventive. That is one difference between something that is self-organized. It grows what you might call organically. Some things always remain self-organized and self-regulated. Q. Lately, you have been fighting the amalgamation of a number of cities around Toronto into the new megacity of Toronto. A. Well, I think this is so ill-conceived, the Toronto megacity, from so many directions, that there is not going to be much reason to think that we can work it tolerably. It is something that is going to have to be wiggled out of somehow, probably by transformation rather than reversal. One thing is, of the expenditures this megacity is going to have to make--responsibility and the funds are not combined. And the city won't have the power, and yet is going to have to pay 80 percent of the funds for various programs, if I have it correctly. It is all out of balance. And that will be quite a disaster, as it always is when you get responsibility and power uncoupled from each other. The other thing is we are going to have much bigger municipal bureaucracies than we have ever had to contend with. And coming from a big city which amalgamated its boroughs and then began running downhill, I understand how awful it is working with great big bureaucracies. Big bureaucracies have to go on the premise that one size fits all. I have always thought [that] they work to the lowest common denominator. It wouldn't be any different if it was the highest common denominator. The idea that they have to put as much as possible into a common denominator--Toronto had escaped that with its different municipalities, not only because they were separate, but because they are small enough to make these distinctions if they wanted and do a better job. And a big one can't. The idea that big bureaucracies are efficient, is that ever a laugh! If anybody has ever tried to deal with a great big bureaucracy, in comparison to a small one, which one do you think is more efficient? But I also don't want to sound too negative. Quite often, our governments have done good things. If the government is doing something good, support it. But you have to have a point of view that nobody is going to swat you and make you lie down just because there is a great big thing--not being intimidated by the size and difficulties of something. And keeping the idea that if the government is doing something wrong, you never give up on it. Q. Without even trying to pretend to get a little sense of your ideas, but whether it is economics, how energy can overflow into other areas, or whether it is in terms of neighborhood activities and the creative things that make a neighborhood, where will the core of change and innovation be in this new megacity? Will they be destroyed? Will they still be there? A. You know, you can't predict these things. They are self-organizing. They are surprising. By cores, I take it you mean incubation modes and things like that--they happen where they will. In hindsight, you can often see why. But it is quite futile to try to predict it. And it is also futile to attempt to control it. That is mostly suppressing. These things come out of human creativity. You can just rejoice at it and try not to stop it. Q. What do you do when you can't predict? You don't just sit there and wait for these wonderful things to start bubbling up. A. Oh no, you are part of the bubble. Q. So much of what you have talked about and thought about over the years in terms of neighborhoods, so much of it is about people going outward, whether it is on the street, whether it's their neighbor, whether it is in their community. Yet there is a new concern that we might start turning inward with our computers, in our little nests at home. Are you concerned that this computerized world is also going to change the focus of the neighborhood? A. [There is] a very persuasive argument that the computer, in the form of things like the World Wide Web and the Internet, is actually [giving] people firsthand experience with use of a Web and making virtual changes in a Web-like way. This is not real. But after all, quirks and quarks and atoms are not real, for all we know. But thinking of them, picturing them and seeing the world with these things, really illuminates our understanding. It may be untruthful and it may be wrong, but usually, each of these things gets a little nearer the truth. So this Web-thinking in the place of the mechanical, cause/effect kind of thinking is certainly closer to the truth. The use of the computer [may be] indispensable to this, both for the complications we have to understand and have begun to understand and also because of a different notion this gives people. You know it's always been available to people that they be hermits. But think of how few of them have been. So, no, I don't think the human race will suddenly be smitten with an overwhelming urge to become hermits because of a new machine. Q. Do you see a more exciting time today, with these new technologies? Or have we become more cynical? A. I think that the world is getting more exciting. I think the end of the Cold War, which made the whole world in many ways absurd…. Think of how many idiotic things were done, on both sides, everywhere, because of the exigencies of that cold war. It has been a great liberation to have that off us. But also, we are living, I am convinced, in one of the most intellectually exciting times the human race has ever gone through. We are emerging from this linear cause-and-effect way of seeing the world into a way that has really been led by the ecologists, into a Web world, beginning to understand relationships in quite a different way. And it is affecting everything. And no end of people have grasped this and are seeing the world differently and analyzing things differently and seeing possibilities differently--basically in a very hopeful way. And I think this is awfully exciting. People who are younger than I am, you are lucky. You can play a part in what I think can be an extremely hopeful stage. Q. Are people puzzled that you are now into economic theories and even biology? Many people thought you were just into city planning and building neighborhoods. Do people shake their heads and not get it? A. No, people seem to get it. They don't really find it outlandish that one would also bring in biology. Lots of people have been thinking, in some ways, along the same lines. You know, I think we are misled by universities and other formal intellectual places into thinking that there are actually separate fields of knowledge. And most people know that there aren't. But they are always getting victimized somehow by the idea that there are. And they are delighted when in some respectable way it becomes clear that there are not separate fields of knowledge, that they link up. That life and the Earth and everything in it really is a seamless web, and that's not merely a poetic expression. It is a very functional thing, that it is a seamless web, and that it is possible to understand something about these webs. by Blake Harris Copyright (c) 2002 by Government Technology magazine. Reprinted with permission. 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