Pitt-starter: Steel Town – A Film About the Homestead Steel Strike

steel-town-scriptI love this Kickstarter project and I hope you will take a minute to watch their intro video.  Steel Town is a film about the Homestead Steel strike in 1892.  This strike led to a violent battle and in the end 12 people were killed.  The Homestead Steel strike had major implications for the labor movement and it all happened here, in Pittsburgh – near where you find the Waterfront shopping center.

I sat down with the folks behind this Kickstarter and I’m really excited for what they are putting together.  I think this film is a great way to share some important Pittsburgh history.

I’ve asked the filmmaker, Nick Hurt, to share what inspired him to make this film.  I think it is pretty interesting that Nick isn’t from Western PA, but he is inspired to make a film about Pittsburgh history.   Check out his statement and consider supporting the Steel Town Kickstarter – they have just 4 days left to meet their fundraising goal.

Why I am making “Steel Town”

It’s a valid question to ask why a young guy from Vermont has decided to tell a distinctly Pittsburgh story. I came to Pittsburgh four years ago to study at Carnegie Mellon, and at that point I had not even heard of the Homestead Strike. Like most incoming freshmen, I had a limited understanding of local history that went something like this: Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry, he promptly gave away his fortune by putting a library on every street corner, and finally when he died in 1919, he burst into flames and from his ashes rose the Pittsburgh Steelers football team.

Coming to Pittsburgh for the first time and hearing the way people talk about the old steel barons is a lot like hearing people talk about dinosaurs. They were the “giants who walked here before us.” If you go down to the Waterfront, you can even see some of the fossils that they left behind, complete with a nice commemorative plaque. So when I finally learned about the Homestead Strike in a college history class, that was only the tip of the iceburgh. I took it upon myself to research this incredible event and the people involved so that I could tell the story in the best way I knew how—by making a movie.

“Steel Town” is that movie. It’s an 18-minute historical drama about the 1892 Homestead Strike. The story follows a family of poverty-stricken steelworkers who strike against Henry Clay Frick and eventually face off against an army of Pinkertons. We will be shooting the film in November at locations all throughout Pittsburgh.

But the Homestead Strike happened 120 years ago. Why tell the story now? Well, the inspiration for me stems from an appreciation for the strength of character of individuals on both sides of the conflict, including the rags-to-riches robber barons of the Gilded Age, like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, and the blue-collar champions of the workers, like strike leader Hugh O’Donnell. I want to remind audiences of the heroism embedded in the nameless Pittsburgh steelworkers whose backbreaking work shaped our country westward and skyward. This story of charismatic leaders and ruthless capitalism holds a certain relevance to key issues of wealth and organized labor that our nation faces today. “Steel Town” will address issues of workers’ welfare, labor rights, and economic equality that hold a special importance in the wake of the recent Occupy Movement and the empowering of the “Ninety-Nine Percent”. One-hundred and twenty years after the Homestead Strike, the context of organized labor debates has changed, but the underlying message of workers’ rights remains the same. By presenting the story as a dramatic film with high production quality, I hope to prompt an important dialogue on the relationship between capital and labor in the context of past tragedies and triumphs.

About the filmmaker: Nick Hurt is a current 5th Year Scholar at Carnegie Mellon where he studies business and film. Last summer he produced the winner of the 2012 Steeltown Film Factory competition, The Perils of Growing Up Flat-Chested alongside producing partner Yulin Kuang. Nick plans to use the “Steel Town” short film to gain attention and financing for a feature-length film about the Homestead Strike and the cutthroat feud between Carnegie and Frick.

The 4 P’s of October (Pittsburgh, Pirates, Playoffs, Phil)

philIt seems as if from a time immemorial my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates have been marginalized to somewhere between the Kansas City Royals and the Rockford Peaches.  And, maybe there is no crying in baseball.  I think “in” is probably the most important word in our previous sentence, because 20 years, 11 months, 3 weeks, and give or take a few minutes their were tears in a young mans eyes in North Hills of Pittsburgh. And, once again Monday night for completely different reasons those tears creeped back out of those ducts.  As I watched the replay of the on the field, post win celebration in Chicago, followed by the champagne showers after Adam LaRoche popped up to short for the Washington Nationals, assuring the Pittsburgh Pirates of their first post season appearance in 21 years, a few little tears of joy, relief, and fear rolled down my cheek.


Entering my house after a long day at work Monday, just an hour or so before the game between the Cubs and Pirates began, I noticed a very long awaited FedEx Express envelope.  Inside were my playoff tickets…lots of them…so many of them.  4 seats, 12 tickets per each seat, including the possible tiebreaker game, the Wild Card game, 3 NLDS tickets, 4 NLCS tickets, and 3 World Series tickets.  I also purchased 4 extra tickets for the Wildcard game and 2 extra seats for each of the NLDS.  58 tickets in all.  This was math, expensive, expensive math.

I have been a season ticket holder since the All Star year and since 2006 have seen some true and fantastical things.  For the last 5 years I have called section 26 my home.  This section is also home to a true Pittsburgh Pirates legend, Phil Coyne.  My 95 year old usher is one of my favorite things about PNC Park, baseball, the Pirates Baseball Club, and just being a human.  Here’s a little human interest piece that WTAE did about Phil in July.  As a note, he usually wears a Pittsburgh Pirates cap.

So, while I am very happy for the Pirates, their management, owners, the fans that have latched on to this incredibly fun team, all of us long time suffering folks. I’m incredibly happy to have all of those seats and to do the math involved.  I’ll be the happiest when I get to shake Phil’s hand as he shows us to our seats during that first playoff game that we have waited for for so long.

8 Things to Store Around Town for Pittsburgh Events

If you’re visiting Pittsburgh for the 1st or 500th time to attend a big event, you might travel with supplies and equipment. Luckily, you can use Spacefinity.com – an online marketplace to connect with friendly neighborhood residents to store your stuff around town. Here’s a list of some of the big annual events and the stuff you can put in storage:

  1. Art – Over 10,000 visual and performing artists have presented work at the Three Rivers Arts Festival since the event started in 1960. With all of the creating, planning, and organizing, who has time to worry about tables, chairs, and finding a place to put everything? Discover a nearby garage to store your art supplies before the festival.
  2. Bikes – BikePGH organizes an annual event called BikeFest which leads up to Pedal Pittsburgh, Western PA’s Largest Bicycle Ride with around 3,000 participants. Also, the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile bike trail that connects Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md., (then joining C&O Canal Towpath to Washington D.C.), was completed earlier this summer. Find a space to store your bike and pick it up when you’re in town for a ride.
  3. Boats – Every year, over 500,000 spectators visit the Three Rivers Regatta – a boating and water sports festival held at the Point over the 4th of July. Find a space to store your boat before, after, or during the festival in a warehouse, garage, or open lot.
  4. Cars – The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix attracts more than 250,000 people to Schenley Park each year for the nation’s largest vintage sports car racing event. All proceeds from the event go to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. Store your classic car in a nearby garage and get ready to race on the city streets for a good cause.
  5. Costumes – The world’s largest furry convention, Anthrocon, draws a crowd of over 5,000 people to Downtown Pittsburgh every year. Join the costume-clad community as your favorite anthropomorphic animal character or check out the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival and journey back to the age of knights and maidens. Before you travel back to being a present day human, find a place to store your costumes.
  6. Golf Clubs – Did you know that the Oakmont Country Club has hosted more combined USGA and PGA championships than any other course in the U.S., including eight United States Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships, and two U.S. Women’s Opens? Visit Pittsburgh for the upcoming 2016 U.S. Open Championship in Oakmont and keep your golf clubs in nearby storage for when you’re ready to play a round.
  7. Tailgating Equipment – Tailgating is a time-honored tradition before big a Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins game, but you’ll need to bring tailgating gear: grills, coolers, food, drinks, chairs, tables… and if you’re driving or flying in from out of town, it’s inconvenient to bring those items with you. Instead, store them in a garage near a grocery store and pick everything up on the way to the game.
  8. Giant Rubber Ducky – The Rubber Duck Project will launch the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts with a 40-foot-tall rubber duck in the Allegheny River from September 27 – October 20, 2013. According to this Post-Gazette article, “because of its size, the duck is constructed from scratch in the city that it’s visiting.” So if you’re a giant rubber duck artist who needs a warehouse, Spacefinity lists some spaces available for such an occassion.

The Spacefinity team launched the online marketplace for space in August 2013. Currently, we have 65 Spacelords listing garages, warehouses, basements, spare rooms, outside lots, and even an airplane hangar in Pittsburgh. Find space or list space today at Spacefinity.com! Questions? Contact Jackie Vesci at jackie@spacefinity.com.

Pittsburgh Zine Fair & Weekend Treadings


Treading Art has been putting together an amazing list of weekend events around Pittsburgh.  Each week we feature one of the events from their Weekend Treadings list.

This weeks Treader’s Choice event is the Pittsburgh Zine Fair on Sunday at the Union Project.  Check out all of Treading Art suggestions for this weekend here.

Whether you’re into zines, cool affordable art or just want to meet some new and interesting people, we suggest you head over to The Union Project and do all three! But first, check out HOMUNCULUS reading at Assemble on Saturday evening.

Pittsburgh Zine Fair
Sunday, September 22nd
The Union Project @ 801 N Negley Ave – Highland Park
2-8pm // FREE

You can read more about the 2013 Pittsburgh Zine Fair over on Geek Pittsburgh.

Help Wanted


Recruitment (Photo credits: www.mydoorsign.com)

Do you love Pittsburgh? Do you love to tell stories? Are you interested in getting involved with a loveable crew of misfits searching for some new talent? We’re looking for some new writers and entrepreneurs to get involved with the IheartPGH family. Think you have what it takes? Check out what we’re looking for below.

Storytellers– Are you a writer, podcaster, photographer, or videographer interested in telling the story of Pittsburgh and its amazing people? We need outgoing creative types to help us fill the site with inspirational stories found everyday in Pittsburgh. We’re interested in different mediums to tell stories, so if you feel compelled to tell a tale, shoot us an email.

Entrepreneur/Brand Manager- Are you interested in helping manage an established brand? Are you perhaps an aspiring entrepreneur looking for experience in a start up? IheartPGH would love to chat with you. We’re seeking a passionate person to help on the business end of IheartPGH, with an interest in Brand Management and possibly editorial aspirations.

Nuts and Bolts Stuff. IheartPGH would be happy to take on students looking for internship experience as well as Pittsburgh enthusiasts interested in becoming more involved in the city. I came to IheartPGH looking to cover interesting people and events, and have been grateful since Day 1. There is room for innovation as well as personal creativity–an excellent experience for self starters.

Want to get involved? Shoot Lindsay an email Lindsay@iheartpgh.com, including your name, favorite blog (besides IheartPGH), and what you’d like to help us out with. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!