MARKET SQUARE is the historic heart of Pittsburgh and as such has borne witness to many of the city’s fads and fancies over the years. Today, weather permitting, it plays host to an enthusiasm undreamed of by its earliest denizens: An event called “Yoga in the Square.” Sponsored by the athletic clothier lululemon and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, an hourlong yoga practice open to everyone will be held at 10 a.m. and thereafter every Sunday through Aug. 24. Yoga instructors from throughout the city will lead a class during the three-month run. While mats are always good, the yoga will be done on the flat part of the square, not on the cobblestones, so no need to get bent out of shape more than yoga requires.
SATURDAY was the 125th anniversary of the great Johnstown flood that occurred May 31, 1889, when a 37-foot wall of water from a broken dam devastated the town, killing some 2,209 people. As reported in last Sunday’s edition, the anniversary has been remembered with events for the past week and they continue today. Johnstown was hit again in later years, with floods returning in 1936 and 1977. Anyone who thinks these tragedies are remote should think again: Every purchase made in a state store has the 18 percent Johnstown flood tax, a surcharge added to rebuild the city after the 1936 flood and never repealed (it now goes to the General Fund). It’s a reminder that the Pennsylvania liquor control monopoly is its own disaster.
IT WAS BACK to the future in Pittsburgh last week in a good way with the reopening of Mellon Square, long celebrated as a great example of modern urban design. When the public green space occupying an entire city block and sitting on top of a parking garage was dedicated in 1955, it was an oasis in what was still the smoky city of industrial might. But the park was allowed to deteriorate for lack of maintenance and in 2011 was closed for renovation. Thanks to funding from foundations, the square reopened last week looking as it did back in 1955 but with a terrace, planned but not installed at the time. Welcome back, old friend.