Monthly Archives: March 2016

Touring the 18C in Pittsburgh: A Quick #ASECS16 Guide

My father was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but I’m relatively new to the city. In exploring Pittsburgh, I’ve been looking into the eighteenth century side of things. With the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies meeting coming up soon, I thought I’d write a quick post highlighting some of the eighteenth century related things to see in Pittsburgh. The ASECS conference hotel, the Omni William Penn, is located downtown and is in close proximity to some sites related to the eighteenth century that are worth checking out if you have some time.

Pittsburgh: A Transatlantic Black and Gold City

2015-12-13 10.50.09.jpgA cool thing to do while in Pittsburgh is to think of the city and its history in a transatlantic context. I’ve spent a lot of time as of late driving between western and eastern Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a big state and driving gives me a lot of time to think. One thing that has helped make the drive a little more interesting is thinking about Pittsburgh, and that big swath of in-between Pennsylvania, as a transatlantic contact zone between indigenous peoples, the British, the French, and many diverse groups. Maybe it is just me, but thinking of Pittsburgh as a transatlantic location helps in looking past the skyscrapers, the sports teams, and all of the black and gold.

Speaking of black and gold: You might be wondering what is up with all the black and gold in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a long and complex history. The city is defined by many things, but black and gold is the most visual manifestation of the city’s identity and the color scheme is rooted in the eighteenth century and the city’s connection to William Pitt. Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams– Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins—all feature black and gold as their team colors. Black and gold is also an important part of the city’s civic identity, too. A recent article delves succinctly into this black and gold history and I recommend it as a crash course to the black and gold.

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Things to See and Do Near the Conference Hotel

Be sure to check out Point State Park which is also home to the Fort Pitt Block House, and the Fort Pitt Museum, all within a 20 minute walk of the conference hotel. Known as The Point, it is the site of Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt. The park features some interpretive information. Visitors can also walk the footprints of Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt.

While at The Point, check out the Fort Pitt Block House, the only confirmed remaining remnant of Pittsburgh’s eighteenth century built past. There is no admission fee to the Block House. It is an interesting site that is run by the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Allegheny County. The Block House isn’t just a site of interest for its connection to Fort Pitt, it is also worth a visit if you’re interested in history and memory. The site includes a small commemorative garden celebrating the efforts of women in the early twentieth century to save the site from being turned into a stockyard.

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Fort Pitt Museum

If you have some extra time at Point State Park, I’d encourage you to visit the Fort Pitt Museum. The museum is part of the Heinz History Center and is not affiliated with the Fort Pitt Society. The museum introduces visitors the history of western Pennsylvania, focusing on the struggle for the region during the French and Indian War. Currently, the Fort Pitt Museum features a special exhibit called Captured by Indians where visitors can “[t]ake an epic journey to the heart of the early American frontier as the Fort Pitt Museum explores the practice of Indian captivity.” This is an interesting exhibit and is worth the museum’s nominal fee. The Capture by Indians exhibit is now closed, but Fort Pitt is still worth a visit for an 18C fix.

Visiting The Strip: The Heinz History Center and More

The  Heinz History Center, which is about a 20 minute walk from the conference hotel, is worth checking out, too. The Heinz History Center covers the entire history of Pittsburgh. Exhibits of note include Clash of Empires: The British, French & Indian War, 1754-1763 and From Slavery to Freedom. The Heinz History Center features other interesting exhibits, such as their Visible Storage. Plus you can see items related to Mister Rogers, too! The Heinz History Center is also the home of the Detre Library & Archives.

If you are at then Heinz History Center, then you are not far from many of the shops and restaurants in  The Strip. If you’re interested in Italian specialty foods, then The Strip is worth a visit. The Strip is also the home of Primanti Bros and their famous sandwiches. People have strong feelings about Primanti Bros. The sandwiches aren’t too expensive. I think the sandwiches are best when nice and hot. I recommend sitting at the bar to ensure a hot sandwich.

In this post I wanted to focus on some of the eighteenth century related things that Pittsburgh has to offer. If you have some more time you might want to check out the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, which include Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is also a fun time. Lastly, if you like baseball, the Pirates home opener against the Cardinals is on Sunday April 3rd at 1:05 PM.

November 2017 Update: During my last visit to the Carnegie Museum of Art they were updating their exhibit area of 18C pieces. I think the update was supposed to be completed at the end of October or early November.

I’m still learning a lot about Pittsburgh and all the things to do and see. And eat. If you have questions don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (specterg at DUQ dot EDU) or contact me on Twitter: @GregSpecter.

Note: Here is an updated section based on my scant food knowledge in Pittsburgh.

Several folks on Twitter have posted regarding food options for Pittsburgh. I’ve only been in Pittsburgh since August and can’t speak in great detail as to places to eat in Pittsburgh beyond a small sample set. However, I’ll share what I know.

There is a high concentration of restaurants in The Strip, which isn’t too far from the conference hotel. I can only speak to Primanti Brothers. However, you can find a restaurant guide to The Strip here.

I’m more familiar with the restaurants on Bryant Street. Bryant Street is located in Highland Park, which is a short ride from downtown. Many of the restaurants on Bryant Street are frequently featured in local newspapers and best of guides.

Applewood Smoke Burger Company is located in the Park Side Pub. Their burgers feature locally sourced ingredients. Prices range from $9 to $14. I’ve had nearly every burger they serve. Each one has been excellent. Their wings are also excellent. They do serve salads. I usually get my burgers done medium-well which tends to be medium at most other places. If you go, just order the doneness of your burger one step up.

Park Bruges serves mostly Belgian inspired food. They are well-known for their mussels and frites. I do recommend getting those. They also serve poutine, which is very good, too. The bar is nice with a decent selection of foreign beers, but it does tend be expensive. The food can be expensive depending on what you order. It is also very popular and tends to get very busy. Point Brugge is a sister restaurant located near Bakery Square. I’ve heard positive things about it, but I have not been there.

Smiling Banana Leaf serves Thai food. It is fine for a neighborhood place. I wouldn’t say to travel all the way to Highland Park to dine here.

Joseph Tembellini Restaurant and Teppanyaki Kyoto are also on Bryant Street. I’ve not been to either restaurant, but people seem to like both of them.

If you go the Carnegie Museum or Natural History / Art, then you might want to check out Union Grill, which is nearby. They serve burgers, sandwiches, and other things. I’ve been there a few times and enjoy it. It is like an everyday kind of establishment. It doesn’t seem to get too busy. There are other restaurants on the same street, but I’ve not been to them.

Here is a best of guide from Pittsburgh Magazine. You’ll see that many of the locations on Bryant Street make the list.

November 1, 2017 Edit and Update:

I was still new to Pittsburgh when I originally created this quick guide. I’ve had a chance to explore more of the city since then, especially the area around Market Square. The Market Square area is a quick walk from the Duquesne University campus—just around 15 minutes. There are several restaurants and shops in the area. There is a Primanti Brothers location here; it isn’t the original location, but it has the same vibe. I still recommend sitting at the bar in order to get the hottest sandwiches. I’ve also eaten at Pizzaiolo Primo—a nice Italian restaurant the in pizzas. I enjoyed the food here, but it is on the expensive side, but not unreasonable. Check out the menu here. Many of the restaurants are busy for lunch and dinner.




Filed under ASECS, Pittsburgh

Revolution, Marketing, & the Legacy of the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies

I’ve been working on a project examining poetry at the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies since the fall of 2014. Of course, when I began this exploration I had many questions. I had the big research questions.

And I also had logistical questions: Was there an archival record? Where was this archival record?

Looking for an archival record of the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies naturally led me to the potential of exploring materials related to Moravian College. Was there a connection? Did they have materials? Information on the webpages for the library and the school archives seemed to indicate an avenue of pursuit, but it wasn’t screaming “hey, look here! Hey, start here!” Additionally, there was the issue of access. Library websites made it clear that there was not a full-time archivist available.

Eventually, I sorted out my archive questions out and have since spent a lot of time at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem.

The connection between the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies and Moravian College wasn’t exactly clear when I began exploring this project in the fall of 2014. On the surface, however, that connection seems to be clearer today. Sort of. Or, at least, the connection Moravian College wants to make to the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies and a revolutionary past has become clearer.

Moravian College’s embracing of its historic past is interesting to me as someone involved in higher education. My composition classes in the spring of 2015 and the fall of 2015 addressed on higher education. In class we frequently explored the marketing of colleges. Together we took a critical eye to the marketing rhetoric of colleges and universities. One of my classes in the spring of 2015 was a dual enrollment class. We often focused on Lehigh Valley colleges and universities since many of the students were going to schools in the area. A local focus also made sense since we could frequently use local media coverage of area schools as a jumping off point for discussion. The online presence of Moravian College was something we explored often.

The above paragraph is an attempt to build my ethos. I remember what the website for Moravian College looked like a year or so ago. It certainly doesn’t look like it does at this moment. Just trust me: it was a rather typical website of a small liberal arts college in a nice community. When I began initially exploring the website of Moravian College in the fall of 2014, there wasn’t anything distinctive about it. It was what one expected from the website of a small liberal arts college in a bucolic setting.

Last fall, I found myself again visiting the webpage of Moravian College. Things had changed.

Navigating to Moravian College’s website forces the viewer to confront immediately a revolutionary past. It isn’t subtle.

Moravian Splash Page

When a viewer of the website scrolls down, the call to “Be a Little Revolutionary” recedes and they’re confronted with a very short history of the origins of Moravian College.

Scroll Down Moravian Website

The “16-year-old girl” mentioned in the short history blurb is Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf, daughter of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

Moravian Revolutionary in Your Blood

Taking ownership of that “revolutionary” claim.

When I visited the Moravian Archives in the fall of 2015, I noticed that the streetlights surrounding the campus of Moravian College featured flags proclaiming their motto for all to see. “Be a Little Revolutionary” is a marketing campaign that seems to be everywhere. Again, these streetlight flags were not something that I saw present in the summer of 2015 when I first visited the Moravian Archives.

a lot of revolution now and then

wow much revolution such colonial past wow

The new list of best places to work in the Lehigh Valley came out recently and there was a profile of the award winners in the local newspaper. Each workplace profiled is listed with a little bit of information, including the founding date. The local paper, The Morning Call, lists the founding of Moravian College as 1742 and in another article, featuring factoids, lists the claim of “the sixth oldest college in America and the first school to educate women.”

best place to work

Competition for students is difficult. I understand the drive of colleges and universities to undertake attention-grabbing ad campaigns and to develop buzz phrases for marketing purposes. I do know that the history of education in American, especially women’s education, is complicated. It is far too nuanced for sloganeering. I’ve not delved too far beyond the #18C in tracing the connection between the schools. It is certainly much more complicated than what a marketing campaign tries to make it. This use of the idea of revolution, The Revolution, and a historical past is driven by marketing. It is a clever and organized campaign.



This isn’t an all-inclusive post about the history of the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies and it isn’t a post about the history of Moravian College. It is a post drawing attention to branding and marketing of higher education today. I think this post is a starting point for highlighting the collapsing and simplification of a rather complex historical past, not just of the boarding school and Moravian College, but also American history and the history of women’s education in the United States.

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Filed under academia, higher edcuation, history, Moravians