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Pittsburgh History Series

Something About Oakland

Oakland is more than just a Pittsburgh neighborhood. It's a second center for the city. In this program WQED's award-winning producer Rick Sebak ("South Side," "Kennywood Memories," "Pennsylvania Diners," etc.) celebrates some of the unusual people, places and things that make Oakland unforgettable.

It all started when Mary Schenley donated land for a beautiful wooded park. Soon Andrew Carnegie built a great library and several museums nearby. There was a grand hotel, a spectacular greenhouse, and a beloved old ballpark called Forbes Field. Before long, students were coming from around the globe. The University of Pittsburgh built a great tall building known as the Cathedral of Learning, and Carnegie Tech merged with Mellon Institute to form CMU.

We marvel at the Bug Rooms, the murals and the Music Hall at the Carnegie Museums. We race through Schenley Park with the Vintage Grand Prix, stop in at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, and several of the shops along Craig Street. We also visit the Shrine to the Blessed Virgin that's perched on the hillside above the Parkway. This entertaining documentary is full of surprises, history, and reasons why it's always great to come here. The program is called Something About Oakland because it would be impossible to include everything about this amazing neighborhood.

Inside Oakland:
A Royal Affair

There is much praise for Mary Schenley in Pittsburgh for her generous donations of land and the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind. Although Schenley was revered in Pittsburgh, she was ousted by British society for a number of years after her elopement with one of the Queens dignitaries.

When Mary Croghan was fifteen, she secretly eloped with a British Army officer nearly three times her age. Her father became aware of the marriage and he petitioned the government to use the Coast Guard to stop her from fleeing to England with Captain Edward Schenley. The federal gunboats were too late, and the couple lived in England for the rest of her life.

Although William Croghan eventually forgave his daughter, Queen Victoria was not that generous. For years the Empress of the British Empire forbid Mary Schenley from court because she had been a disobedient daughter.

View the trailer.

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