New histories of the Northside


A forthcoming book from Arcadia Publishing that focuses on the history of several Northside neighborhoods hits the markets in early November.

Ed and Jim Yanosko, working with the familiar Arcadia template, have researched and authored this new perspective of ordinary Northside folks who lived, worked, played ball, worshiped and grew up in the communities of City View, Spring Hill, Troy Hill and Reserve Township.

These two local historians, working with old photos, along with computers, scanners and cell phones, represent a new generation of historians, a far cry from the "ancient" craft of doing history the way many of us were taught.

There was a time, not long ago, when history was literally written from massive collections of sources – hand written collections of notebooks and 4×6 note cards.

I vividly remember tossing out several shoe boxes filled with 4x6s (all with proper bibliographical notations) from which I wrote a piece of history, long forgotten, and, I might say, rather meaningless.

It was Studs Terkel who opened the eyes of many of us interested in local history and the history of ordinary folks, of neighborhoods, and of workplaces. My first go round at this was in the mid ’70s. I sent out a group of high school juniors with cassette recorders to gather recollections of life in Woods Run and the role of the Woods Runs settlement house gathered from folks who had lived there in the first half of the 20th century.

Then came the wonderful work of Andrew Syka, a resident of Sunnyvale California, who wrote his own remembrances of growing up in Woods Run. Syka wanted to tell his story to his grandchildren. Copies of his work are in the Allegheny and Woods Run libraries.
More recently Larry Berger and Jeff Barron of the Saturday Light Brigade coordinated teams of students in 2009-10 to interview folks who were "born and raised on the Northside."

With the aid of wonderful new technologies excerpts of these "Allegheny Voices" are in printed form at our libraries, and they can be can found in audio format on the following websites: and

Dennis Henderson’s eighth grade students at the Manchester Academic Charter School, working with Ann Canning from the Waynesburg University’s Teaching with Primary Sources program, became young historians in 2008. These students interviewed a number of folks who lived in the Manchester community from the 1920 to the present. The final YouTube versions of their project "Growing Up in Manchester" can be found online here.

Just writing these websites is evidence of a whole new language and technology. Gone are the 4x6s! This is an exciting new way of continuing to tell the story of the Northside.

On Wednesday, November 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. there will be a book signing event at the Penn Brewery hosted by the Allegheny City Society.

Come on down! Have dinner, a pretzel or a beer. Meet the Yanoskos and get your own copy of this new piece of Northside history – "Around Troy Hill, Spring Hill, and Reserve Township."

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