Letter From the Editor


Finding New in the Familiar

Oakland is one of those neighborhoods that’s easy to stereotype. Sure enough, when the Fall 2016 magazine journalism class was told to produce an entire issue of Off the Bluff about Oakland — without focusing too much on universities, museums or hospitals — many were skeptical. What else was there to write about?

As would soon be clear, more than anybody could imagine.

Like many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, Oakland is a community of change. What was once a thriving residential hub now acts as the home of academia and healthcare. As we found, however, that spark of life is still present, even if it does reside just under the surface. The overwhelming takeaway is that those who live in Oakland love Oakland.

Within the following pages are stories of that lesser-known side of the neighborhood: A community center fostering productive conversation, a birdwatcher with her eyes on the sky, restaurants serving authentic world cuisine, the remnants of a bygone era of baseball and so much more.

Of course, attention was also given to those broadly visible staples of Oakland. No survey of the area is complete without a look at the Cathedral of Learning, the Original Hotdog Shop or the Carnegie Library and museums.

The lesson I, and many of my classmates, learned is that Oakland is a neighborhood far more vibrant and diverse than a first glance might let on. Turn off the main drags, get to talking and dig deep. Social archaeology is fruitful labor in a community like this.

For a decade now, that’s been a common theme of this magazine. Off the Bluff was started in 2005 as the brainchild of Dr. Mike Dillon, the chair of the Duquesne University Media department. Two years later saw the magazine’s evolution into the Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Project, which shines a spotlight on a different neighborhood each academic year.

I’d like to extend my utmost thanks to all of the writers, photographers and editors that made this issue the incredible body of work that it is. And, of course, I’d like to thank Dr. Dillon for this wonderful project he created. It was an honor and a pleasure to see this edition to its completion.

And to you, dear reader, I merely ask a favor. Next time you find yourself in Oakland, look around. Strike up conversations. Take new detours. Feel the pulse of life that binds the community together.

Do so, and you’ll come to love the place — I promise. I know I did.



Seth Culp-Ressler