Pittsburgh: Then, Now and Always

Edward Slavishak

Pittsburgh once served as the symbol of America’s turn from manufacturing center to postindustrial decay, but how is Pittsburgh defined now? As Pittsburgh struggles to reinvent itself as a city of the future, The New York Times recently called it the aging city of the vanishing workforce. Who is right? How much does the projected image differ from the real Pittsburgh?

Assistant Professor of History Edward Slavishak examines Pittsburgh’s long struggle of self-definition in his new book, Bodies of Work: Civic Display and Labor in Industrial Pittsburgh. In it, Slavishak explores the relationship between those professionals who branded the city as an industrial titan and the people who bore this brand on their backs as they labored and lived in Pittsburgh. The repercussions from this conflict between what the city was and what the city wanted to be are still as visible today as they were in images at the beginning of the 20th century. No time is as important for definition as the present.

A native of Pittsburgh, Slavishak teaches classes on United States history since the late 19th century. His research interests include the history of leisure and consumerism, urban social history and work spectacles. Bodies of Work was released this fall by Duke University Press.


Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Stephanie Beazley ’10, Jenny Ruth Hawbaker ’04 and Julie Buckingham ’09.

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