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the mysteries of Pittsburgh

January 11, 2012

“No one ever satisfactorily explained to me the enormous hole, bridged in three separate places by long iron spans, that makes the whole southeastern end of the Oakland sector of Pittsburgh into a precipice.  Between the arrogant stupid prow of Carnegie Mellon University and the ugly back of the Carnegie Institute, between the little shrines to Mary in the front yards along Parkview and the park itself, lies the wide, dry ravine that contains, essentially, four things: the Lost Neighborhood, the Cloud Factory, train tracks, and a tremendous amount of garbage.”

– The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, pp 48

I’ve started reading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon again (I stopped when I went abroad), and it’s making me miss Pittsburgh in a very big way.  it’s really just how the book romanticizes the many secret areas around my alma mater that make me so nostalgic.  I went on several little adventures this summer, wandering down the mysterious stairways deep in Oakland by the University of Pittsburgh.  it really is hard to believe that there are so many different levels of streets in that neighborhood.  the cloud factory is another wonderful secret that only those who get to travel across the bridge between Schenley Park and the Carnegie Museums get to discover, something that I did daily on my way to work.  it’s the steam plant for CMU’s facilities, but it really just does look like a quiet little factory, pumping frothy white clouds into the sky.

if you’ve ever spent time in Pittsburgh, or you want to read a little bit about the adventures of a young man in the city about 20 years ago, I would highly recommend this book.

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