as it was 150 years ago, the place for big news is Gettysburg, which is preparing to mark the anniversary of the great battle between the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Gen. George G. Meade, and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Civil War's bloodiest battle, with 51,000 casualties, began on July 1, 1863. After three days of fighting, the battle ended with a Union victory that relieved the threat to several Northern cities, including Pittsburgh. As the Post-Gazette's Len Barcousky wrote last Sunday, thousands of men were employed in June that year digging trenches and putting up earthworks to fortify Pittsburgh and its sister city Allegheny (now the North Side) against the possibility of an attack that never came. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the pivotal points in American history, its significance undiminished by the passing of years.
THERE'S PLENTY to choose from in U.S. history and David McCullough has chosen well, becoming one of the nation's greatest historians. He is a two-time winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But it's his personal history that makes him acclaimed here -- he grew up in Pittsburgh and attended Shady Side Academy before going to Yale. The fate of those who are especially acclaimed here is to have a bridge named after them -- which will happen to Mr. McCullough next Sunday when he will lend his name to the 16th Street Bridge, which will become the fifth Allegheny County span named for someone with strong local ties. As it happens, next Sunday is July 7 and that's Mr. McCullough's 80th birthday. Happy birthday to a Pittsburgher who has bridged the centuries.
PITTSBURGH is a smart place to live, so it stands to reason that people here are smarter than most. As it happens, a lot smarter, if a couple of recent studies are to be believed. As the Post-Gazette's Sally Kalson reported, Movoto.com, a real estate brokerage company, has declared Pittsburghers "the smartest population" in the country, according to its data. However, Lumosity, an online brain performance program, rates Pittsburgh only No. 4 for "brain performance" -- which is still pretty good. But as Ms. Kalson points out, both these assessments have their flaws; for example, local universities attract smart out-of-towners. So we should be smart enough to take the compliments but also smart enough not to believe them completely.