While the story of glass in America began at Jamestown in 1608, almost 200 years passed before skilled glassworkers crossed the Allegheny Mountains and began production in Western Pennsylvania. Since 1797, when the region’s first two glasshouses opened, the conical furnace stacks of glass factories have been a defining feature of the region’s skyline. Scores of glasshouses followed, producing rivers of glass for an abundant variety of uses around the nation and eventually around the world. By the Civil War, the Pittsburgh region reigned as the center of the nation’s glass industry.
A generation later, Pittsburgh glass could be found everywhere: as tile for the walls of New York’s great transportation tunnels, in the searchlights on the Panama Canal, as insulators for endless miles of wire; in “Liberty lens” headlights for Ford automobiles, in beer halls and in bars. Yet this region also produced glass fine enough for use on the White House tables of five U.S. presidents and in embassies around the world. Bottles by the boxcar load and singular presentation pieces, Pittsburgh factories made it all. Gas and electric streetlights, lamps, light bulbs, and lamp chimneys, our factories lit the world. Lenses and traffic signals brought order and safety to railways, roadways, and runways and plate glass for large windows made department stores a reality, allowing consumers to shop from the sidewalk. Store fronts of Carrera glass, basement windows of glass block, skyscrapers sheathed with reflective glass windows – the uses for glass seemed endless.
The Pittsburgh region became a center for the production of glass, but also for innovations in its manufacture, design, and marketing. Glass: Shattering Notions tells that story, unraveling the complex 200 plus year history of this region’s first industry. With one of the premier regional collections of glass known, the exhibit features more than 500 glass objects, immersive environments, hands-on interactives, and audio and video to help you look at, not through the glass in your life and hopefully see and understand it in a new way.
In addition to being in-person in the Library auditorium, this program will be available to watch live on Facebook Live, on YouTube, and on the OCPL website's LWB Livestream page. Log into your Facebook or YouTube account during the program to leave questions for our presenters in the comments box. They will answer them during the live broadcast.
Tuesdays at noon
LWB LIVESTREAM: Program details coming soon.
PRESENTER BIO: Anne Madarasz, director of the curatorial division, chief historian, and director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum has been at the Heinz History Center since 1992. A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., she completed the coursework for her PhD. at the University of Pennsylvania. Awarded a Richards Fellowship for research from the Corning Museum of Glass, Anne lectures and writes frequently on the subject of Pittsburgh glass, regional industry, and the history of Pittsburgh sports. Anne has served as the project director or curator for five exhibitions that have received the national Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.
Before Pittsburgh was the Steel City, it was the Glass City. By 1902, the region had more than 100 glass factories. By 1920, the larger Ohio Valley was producing 80 percent of the national output. The Pittsburgh region became a center for the production of glass, but also for innovations in its manufacture, design, and marketing. Glass: Shattering Notions tells that story, unraveling the complex 200 plus year history of this region’s first industry. With one of the premier regional collections of glass known, the glass objects from the Heinz History Center's exhibit featured in this book will help you look at, not through, the glass in your life and hopefully see and understand it in a new way.
This richly illustrated volume offers new insights into the beauty, science, utility, and technology of Western Pennsylvania's 200-year-old glass industry. The story of glass on a local and national scale is told through numerous personal and business histories. Also featured are 33 short profiles of selected glass firms. Includes an introduction by Philip Scranton, Kranzberg Professor of History at Georgia Institute of Technology.
ABOUT THE HEINZ HISTORY CENTER:
The Senator John Heinz History Center traces its roots back to 1879, making it the oldest cultural institution in Western Pennsylvania. In 1879, the Old Residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania established a historical society to help preserve local history. Five years later, the name changed to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and has been in continuous existence for more than 135 years. Known now as the Senator John Heinz History Center, the museum system includes the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, the Thomas & Katherine Detre Library & Archives, the Fort Pitt Museum, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, and the Museum Conservation Center.
The Senator John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum are currently open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. You can always experience the museum through virtual exhibition tours, family activities, podcasts, curator videos, thousands of historic images, and much more on the History Center’s History at Home online hub.
The Ohio County Public Library is a member of the History Center Affiliates Program and has been able to participate in Archives workshops, host genealogical workshops, and host traveling exhibits through this affiliation.
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"Lunch With Books" is the library’s flagship program for adult patrons. These lunchtime programs feature authors, poets, musicians, historians, and more every Tuesday at noon. Bring lunch (to your computer), feed your brain!
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