History

Pittsburgh International or (Mister) Fred Rogers Int’l Airport?

There’s a petition out there to change the name of Pittsburgh International Airport to Fred Rogers International Airport.

Where would you weigh in?

Fred Rogers grew up near Pittsburgh and for 33 years episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the beloved children’s television show he and his red sweater starred in, were produced at Pittsburgh’s public TV station, WQED.

A special gallery at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center displays artifacts from the show, including Rogers’ iconic sweater, necktie, khakis, sneakers and the living room set he entered at the beginning of each show.  There’s also a recently refreshed exhibit dedicated to Rogers on Concourse C at Pittsburgh International Airport.

But that isn’t enough for Ian Miller, a Pittsburgh citizen who last week started a change.org petition asking that the name of Pittsburgh International Airport be changed to Fred Rogers International Airport.

“Fred Rogers, a television pioneer and children’s entertainer, shared Pittsburgh’s sense of community with the world through his PBS show,” Miller writes in his petition, “Pittsburgh is still an active transit hub and, for many people, our airport will be their first experience in Pittsburgh. We wish to welcome everybody to our neighborhood.”

The petition has over 11,000 signatures so far.

And while Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages Pittsburgh International, appreciates Miller’s enthusiasm and agrees “Fred Rogers occupies a special place in the hearts of Pittsburghers and people around the world,” said airport spokesman Bob Kerlik, it seems unlikely the airport’s name will be changed.

“In 2016, we completed a rebranding of the airport to better match the ongoing renaissance of the Pittsburgh region,” said Kerlik, “And at this time our focus is on continuing to advance ‘Pittsburgh International Airport’ as a global aviation leader.”

Naming – or renaming – an airport after a celebrity with a local connection isn’t unheard of in the United States.

In Santa Rosa, CA, for example, passengers land and take-off from the Charles M. Schulz -Sonoma County Airport. In Louisiana, the major airport is the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. John Wayne Airport serves Orange County, CA and the Will Rogers World Airport provides air service to Oklahoma City, OK.

 

Oklahoma City Airport

And while it has recently been rebranded as Hollywood Burbank Airport, the official name of the airfield about 12 miles north of downtown Los Angeles is still legally Bob Hope Airport.

 

My run-in with Janet Reno

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I don’t remember now exactly what year it was, but I was flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. with precious cargo in my carry-on: cassette (!) recordings of interviews I had just completed with women who had starred in some of the earliest radio soap operas and comedy shows.

There had been news stories out about people stealing bags from security checkpoints and these interviews were destined to be part of a documentary to air on NPR, so I was determined not to let my equipment bag out of sight.

Once past the checkpoint metal detector I rushed to get my bag, rudely pushing past a very tall person I imagined was eyeing my bag.

Two other people moved in a bit closer.

I looked up.

Yup – U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and what I realized later was probably her security team.

My bags were safe. Me? Maybe not..

Czech travel posters on display in … Iowa

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43 Czech travel posters are on view (some for the first time) in a new exhibit at the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The posters are from the collection of George and Nicholas Lowry (father and son owners of the Swann Auction Galleries in New York) who own more than 1000 Czech posters – the largest such collection outside of the Czech Republic.

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Here’s a bit of background from the museum on what makes these images so appealing:

“For a small country, Czechoslovakia produced a large number of posters, owing to a combination of the country’s rich artistic legacy and strong economic climate. The travel posters are a unique form of advertising showcasing the beauty, intrigue, and architecture of the Czech lands, sometimes urging tourists (in German, English or French) to visit such wonders in Czechoslovakia as Brno or Kutna Hora. Other posters extol the sporting opportunities in Czechoslovakia, such as golf or skiing. A few are in Czech, printed to promote internal tourism and travel.”

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Nicho Lowry is a regularly appearing expert on the Antiques Road Show. His dad, George Lowry, was born in Czechoslovakia, and escaped on the eve of World War II and Hitler’s occupation of the country.

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Museum Monday: solar system made in Kentucky

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While visiting Kentucky last week I spent a few hours with the knowledgeable and very gracious staff at the museum of the Kentucky Historical Center in Frankfort. While there I was pleased to see – and learn about – the orrery pictured above.

An orrery, I learned, is a mechanical model of the solar system. This one was made by Thomas Barlow – a mechanic and inventor who lived in Kentucky – and purchased in 1887 for use at a school in Lexington. It’s unknown how many orreries Barlow (and his son) made in their shop, but today there are only three intact models remaining around the world.

New name for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

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Looks like Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is getting a new name.

The St. Louis Airport Commission has voted on it and, if approved by the St. Louis Board of Alderman, the new name of the city’s airport will be St. Louis – Lambert International Airport.

On the face of it, not a huge change, but a meaningful one for many people in the city because the current ‘Lambert’ in the front end of the airport’s name is meant to honor Albert Bond Lambert, who learned to fly with the Wright Brothers and founded the airport.

“This effort is about aligning the Airport with our city and becoming more unified with the brand and marketing power of the St. Louis region,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge in a statement released by the airport. “We’ve received a lot feedback in the last few weeks that highlighted the support of our effort to put St. Louis first.”

An airport working group originally proposed “St. Louis International Airport at Lambert Field” for the new name, but the Commissioners amended the proposed name and approved “St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.”

“We’ve spent the last few weeks talking with relatives of the Albert Bond Lambert and heard how important it was that Lambert still have a vital position in the airport’s name,” said Hamm-Niebruegge.

The new name does that and puts STL more on par with major airports which are geographically named.