Environmental History of Pittsburgh RiverQuest
A City at the Confluence • Advantageous location on major rivers • Natural resources, bituminous coal • One of the world’s industrial centers from 1850-1980 • Environmental history defined by air, water, and land
1870’s River Traffic downtown South Side Steamboats and barges carry a valuable commodity.
Bituminous Coal: Pros & Cons • Cheap, easily attainable. Why? • High BTU content when burnt • CO2, Hg, As • Mining wastes • Undermining • Smoke What was the biggest barrier to controlling smoke pollution?
The Point, 1896 Why is the air in this picture mysteriously less smoky?
1906 Strip District June, 11:00 am
1907 Flood Penn Avenue, downtown
Water Woes: 1870’s-1900’s • Highest Typhoid Fever mortality rate • Why? • Wells located adjacent to outhouses • Sewage disposed of in river to 1958 • River is the drinking water supply! • “Modern” Combined Sewer System, water filtration plant, chlorination-1907 ALCOSAN Plant came online in 1958.
1911: Stacks Fifth Avenue Jenkins Arcade, currently Fifth Avenue Place
Smoky City, USA… time?? A rainy autumn morning in fall 1945, 9:20 am.
Nov. 5, 1945 11:00 am? 11:00 pm?
“Hell, with the lid off.” Pittsburgh Steel Company, Monessen Works 1949 When did things start to change?
Air QualityMovement • 1930’s: St. Louis, MO passes ordinances to reduce pollution. How? • Using cleaner-burning fuels • Using mechanical combustion equipment • 1940: Pittsburgh starts to follow suit • New industry created to treat coal • Most improvement due to advance of natural gas usage.
Clear Improvements Downtown as seen from the Liberty Tunnel 1945 1951
“You missed a spot…” 1952: a downtown building is cleaned of more than 80 years of soot
Other Changes • 1950s: regional railroads switch from coal-burning to diesel-electric locomotives • 1960s: metals industry still resistant to controlling emissions • 1970s: GASP works to advocate enforcement of Clean Air Act • 1980s: iron and steel industry collapse Where did the steel industry go?
Coal-to-GasControversy • Why a grassroots uproar over the mandated conversion to gas heating? • Costly to residents and small businesses • Despite political opposition, Mayor Lawrence won reelection • Controversy around clean air today?
1972: Water Pollution Control Act • Stringent controls on industrial pollution • Increased local legislation • Dozens of watershed agencies • Ongoing concern over CSO, runoff • Why is CSO and runoff getting worse?
Land Use and Reclamation LTV Works, 1945 Brownfield, 1975 South Side Works, 2005
Herr’sIsland 1875- major Rail-stop for Livestock; Huge meat- Packing and Rendering Plants 1981, Brownfield With toxic wastes
Washington’sLanding $2.5 million clean-up has resulted in $70 million in public and Private investment and over $1 million in city revenue
TheWaterfront, Homestead • Former U.S.Steel Homestead Works • Brownfield for 25 years • 2002--opened as upscale destination for shopping, housing, nightclubs, movies, and corporate headquarters (Eat n’ Park, AIU3, etc.) • Questionable benefit for adjacent neighborhoods of Munhall, Homestead, and West Homestead.
Other Notable Projects • Summerset at Frick Park • Reclaimed slag dump on Nine Mile Run • Pittsburgh Technology Center • Reclaimed J&L site on Monongahela • Riverplace/Duquesne RIDC • Reclaimed U. S. Steel site on Monongahela Century III Mall and other shopping center locations in West Mifflin and Jefferson Hills are built on slag dumps. What are the risks?
Green Pittsburgh • Green Building Movement: 1990s-2000s • “Sustainability” • Pittsburgh is a leader in 2006 • Indoor environment: 80-90% • 40 buildings certified or included in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Pittsburgh Voyager’s new vessel will be a “green” boat. However, the US Green Building Council chose not to assess a passenger vessel for LEED status. Expect this to change in the next decade!
Greener Things: • Buildings on brownfields (reclaimed) • Systems save 30-60% on energy • Systems save 20-50% on water • Up to 90% of construction waste is recycled • Abundant natural lighting • Emphasis on healthy buildings
Rails to Trails Great Allegheny Passage Montour Trail, Present Day 1935
Three Rivers Park • Mayor Tom Murphy • Riverlife Task Force • Friends of the Riverfront • PAFBC, PADEP • TAXPAYERS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY • TAXPAYERS OF ARAD
River = Resource = Revenue KAYAK PITTSBURGH rents kayaks to local paddlers from a stand beneath the 7th Street Bridge near PNC Park. FUN!
David L. Lawrence Mayor, 1945-1957 2 terms as Governor of PA • Notable for bi-partisan coalitions for the common good • Served an unprecedented four successive terms as mayor • Brought the Mellon family and other influential people into the support of “Renaissance I.” Mayor Lawrence started the first action groups to fight against smog in Pittsburgh.
Howard Heinz • Son of H. J. Heinz, b. 1877 • Served many positions with Heinz Company, and served as trustee of many entities including PA Railroad, Mellon Bank, Regional Planning Association, Chamber of Commerce • Notable commitment toward preserving natural spaces • With other industrialists started the Greater Pgh. Parks Committee in 1932.
Richard King Mellon • Recruited by Mayor Lawrence to help lead the city’s Renaissance I in the 1950s • Helped establish Allegheny Conference on Community Redevelopment • Pressured railroads to reduce emissions • Outdoor enthusiast
Native of Springdale, PA • PA College for Women grad • MA, Zoology, Johns Hopkins • Wrote radio scripts for US Bureau of Fisheries during Depression • Prize-winning study of the ocean • Articles and books on ecology of life and humans as part of nature • Silent Spring (1962) warned about usage of synthetic chemical pesticide • Testified before Congress 1963 for new Health & Environ. Legislation. Rachel Carson Writer Scientist Ecologist
Healthy Water Healthy Life