Making History: the Heinz History Center Blog
September 30, 2020

A Season for Diplomacy

From its earliest days, Fort Pitt was not only a military and economic center, but also a diplomatic one in the Ohio Country. Given the many broken treaties that punctuate subsequent American history, it is easy to view the past through the lens of inevitability.

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September 25, 2020

80th Anniversary of the Jeep

Happy 80th anniversary to the jeep, the tough motorized vehicle manufactured in 1940 by the American Bantam Car Company in Butler, Pa.

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September 16, 2020

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Columbus?

On Oct. 12, 1958, a monument of explorer Christopher Columbus was unveiled to the public in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. This event marked the first of many bicentennial festivities celebrating the city’s 1758 founding when a twenty-something George Washington helped establish Fort Pitt.  Fast forward more than 60 years later – our society is engaged in debates about symbols in America, their meaning and public display. Symbols are subjective and their interpretation can be influenced by personal experience. Symbols are especially complicated when they are made in the image of a historical figure. Columbus is one such case. Is it possible to both publicly laud and protest the same person? This is where we find ourselves today. But how did we get here? 

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September 5, 2020

Behind the Portrait: Bill Hartack’s Derby Disappointment of 1958

One of the most striking portraits on display in the History Center’s current exhibition, Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery, depicts famous jockey Bill Hartack suited up for a horse race and standing in front of a row of racing silks.

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September 1, 2020

Martha Graham Inspires Modern Dance in Pittsburgh

Inspiration takes many forms. American artist Paul Meltsner was fascinated by modern dancer and Allegheny City native Martha Graham. His oil portrait from 1938, currently on display in the Heinz History Center’s Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery, was one of at least seven images of Graham that he created during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

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