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This Week in City Paper History 

In celebration of City Paper’s 25th Anniversary, we’ll look back each week at the headlines, pictures and people who graced our pages over the years.

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I think enough time has passed that I can finally say what a lot of media types around here were thinking between 2006 and 2014: Luke Ravenstahl was an asshole. But this was the week that we all had waited for. Plagued by scandals and just plain tired of being mayor, Ravenstahl decided not to run for re-election. He still sat around his office — or somewhere, he actually wasn’t in the office much — until his term expired. In the March 6, 2013, issue, Lauren Daley and Chris Potter looked at what the upcoming mayor’s race would look like without Luke in the picture. Me? I got to recount the eight hours I stood in the hallway outside the mayor’s office waiting for an announcement that the media thought was coming. So did all that wasted time make me bitter? I guess so. But in my defense, I’m pretty sure I thought he was a dick long before that. — Charlie Deitch


Fighting fire with nothing (March 9, 1994)

John Hayes writes about the alarming shortage of volunteer firefighters in towns and municipalities across Allegheny County. “Dozens of operating departments cannot guarantee that even a single firefighter will be available to extinguish fires,” Hayes writes.

This high-priced coffee craze will never last (March 8, 1995)

CP’s David Bothner jumps on the specialty-coffee trend in a story called “Sipsters Rule.” “There’s a movement growing, a coffee culture on the rise, and in Pittsburgh a specialty-coffee industry is percolating.” Of note: “Starbucks Coffee, also of Seattle, is building its first local store in Squirrel Hill.” Needless to say, there’s more than one now.

This Internet is one crazy place! (March 5, 1997)

Writer Bill Waddell dives into the “dark side of the Internet,” and is shocked at what you can find “with common search engines and link pages.” Now, any third-grader who knows how to spell the word “boobies” can find porn on the Internet. But back then, all the “sex and perversions,” “government conspiracies” and people posting things that weren’t true was a whole new world. In 1997, the Internet contained fabrications that could never come true, such as Donald Trump running for president.

An investment for the future … or at least until 2010 (March 5, 1997)

The aging Civic Arena needed an overhaul, according to Chuck Greenberg, the head of the Igloo Development Corp., a consortium formed to decide whether the arena needed to be replaced or refurbished. “We’ve been studying this in the long run,” Greenberg said, “and it’s possible the arena could be transformed rather than replaced.” We all know how this story ends.

Bill Peduto becomes the Bill Peduto (March 6, 2002)

Before he was Mayor Peduto, he was Pittsburgh City Councilor Peduto. In 2002, he was a freshman councilor and a new appointee to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. Peduto has always been a guy to speak up when he objects to something and apparently has been so since the beginning. He was one of 50 board members on the committee and drew the ire of his colleagues when he dared to vote “no” on a plan to fund the legendary Mon-Fayette Expressway because an environmental impact study wasn’t complete. “It was like, ‘Hey, how you guys doing? I’m Bill, I’m the troublemaker.” A reputation that has proudly stayed with him.

Goodbye, neighbor (March 5, 2003) 

You didn’t have to be a child to be a bit brokenhearted on Feb. 27, 2003. That’s the day one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic figures, Fred Rogers, lost his short battle with stomach cancer at age 74. Like most media outlets, CP produced tributes to the man. “The Neighborhood was a make-believe land in which the distinction between black, white, rich and poor didn’t hold sway,” wrote writer Justin Hopper. Former editor Chris Potter wrote: “Mister Rogers wasn’t trying to sell us something — which is another way of saying that he, unlike almost everyone else, let kids be kids.”

The U.S. health-care system has sucked a long time (March 9, 2005)

Staff writer Rich Lord profiles individuals suffering from HIV and AIDS who were worried that state and federal budget cuts would keep them from receiving their necessary, but very expensive medications. Lord writes, “Among the most frightened are those with HIV, which has a devilish proclivity for making people both sick and poor.”

The beginning of the end (March 10, 2004)

Rich Lord examines the pending Republican primary battle between incumbent Arlen Specter and far-right challenger Pat Toomey. Toomey said that Specter was “too liberal.” Specter would narrowly beat Toomey for another term. But six years later when facing another challenge from Toomey, Specter became a Democrat only to find his 30-year senatorial reign upended by progressive Dem Joe Sestak.

We Rock? (March 10, 2004)

Esquire magazine names Pittsburgh as the “No. 1 city to rock.” But writer Justin Hopper wasn’t impressed that Pittsburgh led a list that also included Fresno, Calif., Gainesville, Fla., and Cincinnati: “Rusted Root and The Clarks get name-dropped, so that cancels out the righteous shout-outs to Mr. Smalls Funhouse and JoJo’s late-night diner for ‘where to soak up the beer’.”

Major Head reporting for duty (March 8, 2006)

What’s in a name? CP staffers wanted to find out. This six-story package looked at the intricacies of picking a band name; the problem with the selling of naming rights to corporations; the red tape for married couples trying to change names; and a look at why certain people change their names. One story focused on a couple who changed their name from Head to Hede to save their future daughter a lifetime of teasing like her father, Air Force Major Neil Head, had endured.


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