In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     photo by Jessica Kourkounis, WHYY

    photo by Jessica Kourkounis, WHYY

    Introducing our urban waterfront series. Jump in for some great reads, video, photos, audio.



    These hot August days are the perfect time to jump into the Keystone Crossroads’ urban waterfront series.

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    Meet a community of people who prefer living on the water, right in the shadow of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

    Click and zoom through our interactive map and explore audio, video and photos of the Commonwealth’s urban waterways.

    In the early 1920s, Pittsburgh waterfronts were viewed as commercial assets, primarily for industrial use. Pollution and waterborne illness soon followed. In the 1970s, Point State Park was Pittsburgh’s first effort to reclaim its waterfronts for “recreation and admiration.”Planning a waterfront can be tricky, especially along Philadelphia’s Delaware River where there are obstacles, including a 10 lane highway. So small pop-up parks are a great way to test the waters.

    Keystone Crossroads’ Naomi Starobin and Irina Zhorov were on WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh to discuss the challenges and opportunities of Pennsylvania’s waterfronts. You can listen to the interview here. Vivien Li, the recently hired President and CEO of Pittsburgh’s Riverlife, also discussed what she wants to accomplish in her new position. Li comes from the Boston Harbor Association, where she was instrumental in the revitalization of the waterfront. (WESA)

    After decades of disuse, a 37-acre reservoir in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion section has evolved into a hidden habitat for migratory birds and an environmental education center for urban youth. (PlanPhilly)


    Data from the past nine years shows that opting out of standardized testing has risen dramatically for Pennsylvania elementary school students. (NewsWorks)

    At the high school level there is good news: Pennsylvania has made strides in increasing its overall graduation rate in urban districts. The bad news: challenges remain and there is room for improvement, especially in districts where English is a second language and students are impoverished and transient. Personalizing the high school experience is helping in some districts.


    What’s in a name? Everything if your name happens to be Michael Fleck, you’ve been involved in politics and you live in Pennsylvania. One Mike Fleck is a Republican and the other is a Democrat. Recent events in Reading and Allentown have created a lot of confusion.

    At what was billed to be a news conference, Attorney General Kathleen Kane did not take questions, but instead read from a prepared statement, calling for the release of inappropriate office emails that she said “will tell the whole story.” (NewsWorks)

    For now, that story won’t be told, though, as Judge William Carpenter has denied Kane’s request to release the emails. The judge said, Kane had not filed “any petition, pleading, motion, or other requests for court action.” (

    Governor Tom Wolf and the GOP thought that focusing on education spending and pension reform might be a way to break the budget stalemate, but Thursday’s session “ended inconclusively.” (WITF)Have a great weekend. Just add water.

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