90.5 WESA's 'Good Question' Series

90.5 WESA's Good Question! series is an experiment where you bring us questions—and we go out to investigate and find answers.

So: What have you always wondered about Pittsburgh? Are you curious how your neighborhood originally received its name? Or maybe why the Mon and Allegheny Rivers are different colors when they merge at the Point? Or maybe you've always wanted to know what happened to all of our street cars and inclines? From serious to silly, we're here to help.

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Allyson Ruggieri / WESA

Pittsburgh is known for its historically ethnic neighborhoods – such as the Italians of Bloomfield, or the Polish of Polish Hill, but one area of downtown has an ethnic history that is less apparent.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

When it comes to pizza, everyone knows Chicago has deep dish and New York has a thin, foldable crust.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Monongahela and Allegheny rivers are a lot like twins.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Near downtown Pittsburgh, along the 10th Street Bypass and Allegheny riverfront trail, large metal rings that look like giant doorknockers are fixed to retaining walls. They’re rusty and discolored after decades of enduring the city’s weather.

Hilltop Alliance/Allentown CDC

From tinsel-covered telephone poles to strings of lights, decorations are an essential part of the holidays in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods. But these trees and ornaments don’t just appear; they’re curated and hung by groups of dedicated residents and local business owners.

Sabrina Bodon / 90.5 WESA

Ohio, Aliquippa, Youghiogheny, are all Native American names. Their use in this region is emblematic of how profoundly the area was shaped by tribal communities.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Everyone’s heard the siren of a fire truck as it zooms down the street. But the sounds associated with fire alerts have changed over time. All around the Pittsburgh region, fire stations alert volunteers and the public in distinct ways.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is expansive — a person could spend hours walking the different exhibitions. But what's on display is only a small portion of what's in the museum's possession.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh was one of the first cities in the U.S. to experiment with the concept of a dedicated bus rapid transit system. Today, Pittsburgh’s three busways cover nearly 20 miles and help remove thousands of cars from the city’s congested highways.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Infrastructure is more than roads, bridges and water lines. 

Pittsburgh City Photographer / University of Pittsburgh

Some people find billboards disruptive and unattractive. They cover up scenery and distract drivers. But billboards are one of the oldest forms of advertising and are still a popular way for companies to get their message across.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

When Ben Avon resident Deb Sadowski walks around her neighborhood she begins on Center Avenue, but after a few miles following the same sidewalk, the street signs change.

Keith Srakocic / AP

The skies above Pittsburgh are getting darker, and it’s not because of stormy weather. Look up around dusk this fall and you may see flocks of black birds, preparing for their annual trip south through Pittsburgh.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The 40th Street Bridge connecting Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood with the borough of Millvale is unlike the rest of the city’s more than 460 bridges.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Every Pittsburgher knows steel mills and coal mines make up the city’s rich industrial past, but this area was once a hub for another industry: salt.

General Postcard Collection / Detre Library and Archives, Heinz History Center


Along Route 19 in Pittsburgh’s West View borough, there’s a sign for a shopping center with a carousel horse fixed to the top. This is one of the only items marking the site of one of the city’s early amusement parks, West View Park.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Boulevard of the Allies begins at the Golden Triangle in downtown Pittsburgh, crosses Grant Street and lifts off onto a ramp. The intersection is flanked by two stony eagles perched atop pillars. 

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

Josh McIntyre moved to Pittsburgh two years ago after growing up in Latrobe, Pa. Standing in a back aisle of the North Side’s Giant Eagle on Cedar Avenue during a quiet evening, he said the store is the sole option in the neighborhood.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Giddy crowds of kids from a local summer camp recently gathered in the lobby of the Duquesne Incline’s upper station on Mount Washington. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The name Aliquippa is ubiquitous in western Pennsylvania, if primarily for being the largest city in Beaver County. However, many may not know that the name comes from a powerful Native American woman -- Queen Aliquippa. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Thousands of crystals dangle above the heads of Pittsburgh theater patrons, reflecting light onto the walls and ceilings of the elegant halls. The glass giants help create a distinct aesthetic for the cultural institutions, exuding charm and sophistication.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


It's easy to get lost navigating Pittsburgh. Cars ascend and descend sloped roads at angles and maneuver countless one-ways and alleys. Because much of the city is arranged in this disjointed manner, moving through neighborhoods can feel emblematic of the Steel City.  

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


While drivers won't find a poltergeist hanging out on the 100-foot long abandoned on-ramp that sneaks up on drivers heading east on Bigelow Boulevard, they might spot trees and shrubs sprouting through concrete in spite of heavy barriers.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Most Pittsburghers notice the billboard while they’re watching the Buccos on the North Side. Soft light beams from a triangle slowly rotating within a rectangular sign on a rooftop in the downtown Cultural District. No words or pictures float through the display, just the revolving shapes.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is known for its rivers. But many residents, like 90.5 WESA listener Judith Hoover, aren't sure where the bottom of each of the three lie. 

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration


Stanton Heights is filled with brick houses, families walking dogs, and lots of trees. It's also home to a 150-year-old piece of history.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Two pillars at the North Highland Avenue entrance to Highland Park feature classical Greek columns, 56 feet tall. Female figures up top stand draped in laurel wreathes, children clinging to their robes. At the bottom, women hold incandescent torches. Bronze eagles on "ornamental balustrades" flank the piers. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Behind a chain link fence on Montana Street in Pittsburgh's Perry North neighborhood lies a brick maintenance building, a looming radio tower and a collection of discarded satellites.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Driving in Pittsburgh is confusing. The streets aren’t on a grid system and going over the wrong bridge could result in a long, unwelcomed detour.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The ornate, four-story building at 413-415 Wood Street is abuzz with the sounds of construction. Landmarks Development Corporation is restoring the space to make way for fashion boutique Peter Lawrence this summer.

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