Keystone Crossroads

Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU and three other public media newsrooms in Pennsylvania are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, Web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA


In the name of safer streets, one group interpreted the “walk” signal a little differently.

On Monday Pittsburgh City Council unanimously recommended Complete Streets legislation for final approval. The policy is essentially a city-wide blueprint to make streets safer, more accessible, and convenient for everyone.

John Bry


For the most part, historic burial grounds do not get the same attention that is paid to birthplaces or battlegrounds. In Pennsylvania, some historic cemeteries have been relocated and the land redeveloped; other sites are neglected and overgrown; and some have been completely lost.

The most at-risk cemeteries in the state include burial grounds from Philadelphia to Westmoreland County, to Venango, Potter and Lackawanna counties. They range from pioneer burial sites to Civil War graves to late-19th century memorial parks.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo


A power company called FirstEnergy wants Pennsylvania lawmakers to once again regulate the electricity market in the state.

AP file photo

The Republican tide in Pennsylvania Tuesday wasn't limited to the presidential election and the U.S. Senate race. The GOP captured a super-majority in the state Senate as well.

Though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania, the GOP came into Election Day with a lopsided 31-19 edge in the state Senate.

The party targeted seats held by Democrats in the Erie, Johnstown and Harrisburg areas, and hoped to keep a Delaware County seat held by Sen. Tom Killion just since a special election in April.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

While Philadelphia and Pittsburgh organized protests against President-elect Trump, there didn't seem to be similar events in other parts of the state. In Pittsburgh last night, more than 200 people packed a meeting to figure out how to deal with a Trump presidency. Organized through Facebook, the event was called "Emergency Meeting: Let's Unite To Stop President Trump." 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY


I've been hearing for weeks that if you drove through western and central Pennsylvania, you'd see Trump signs everywhere, like mushrooms.

How could the polls showing Hillary Clinton so far ahead in the state have been so wrong?

Trump, who happily ignored the conventional tools of political campaigns, just did it his way and won.

An early look at the numbers suggests it was Trump's ability to excite and expand his populist base that got the job done.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

Linda Straub never thought she'd be so invested in a presidential election that she would attend a watch party on election night. But there she was, at Zach's Sports Bar in Altoona with the Blair County Republicans, cheering Donald Trump as he took Iowa.

"This is the first time ... I'm 54 years old and this is the first time that I feel that I'm actually electing my president," said Straub, from her spot on the bar's covered patio. "He is my president."

Republican Pat Toomey Re-elected To Pa. Senate

Nov 9, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY


Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey fended off his challenger Katie McGinty to win a second term.

The combined $155 million in spending from mostly outside groups made it the most expensive Senate race in history.

Around 2 a.m. on Wednesday at a Holiday Inn in Allentown, Toomey admitted that it was a hard-fought race. The door-to-door canvassing from each campaign and hours of negative television advertisements made that clear.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU


Over the course of the last year, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence have made a number of stops in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Most of the supporters waiting in line outside the Lackawanna College Student Union on Monday afternoon knew the routine. 

NewsWorks file photo


While Pennsylvania Democrats are optimistic about winning the presidential race Tuesday, some party leaders worry about state Senate contests.

Democrats hold a voter registration edge in Pennsylvania, but the 50-member state Senate has 31 Republicans and only 19 Democrats.

If the Republicans can flip three Democratic seats to the GOP, they'll have a veto-proof majority in the Senate. And they've poured campaign cash into capturing seats in the Erie, Johnstown, and Harrisburg areas.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


A proposal to do so never made it past a Senate committee.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY


There are requirements at polling places, but help doesn't reach everyone who needs it.

Elections have been hectic for Cesar Liriano for most of the nine years he's lived in the city of Lebanon. Presidential elections are craziest, but he's busy during the lower-turnout local and gubernatorials, too.

"Normally, I get up at 5 o'clock every day, doesn't matter elections or not," Liriano says. "I go down as soon to the polls as soon as they open, I go and vote with my wife, and then I get prepared to be running from one poll to the other."

AP Photo / Matt Rourke


Don't let last weekend's 70 degree weather fool you. Winter is coming, and quickly. Soon, it will be time to turn on the heater. But for many Pennsylvanians, that might be a luxury they can't afford. 

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

Episode 09 of Grapple takes you to Hazelwood. It’s a neighborhood in Southeast Pittsburgh that’s only four miles from downtown but hard to get to by public transportation. Besides feeling physically isolated from the rest of the city, residents in Hazelwood have watched other neighborhoods redevelop and cash in on Pittsburgh’s renaissance. But a big change is finally underway in Hazelwood, where a former coke and steel mill site is being turned into a huge site for tech research, commercial use and housing.


Gentrification is a controversial issue playing out in cities across America. What happens when wealthier residents begin to move into a lower-income neighborhood? Who gets to stay, and who doesn’t? In episode 09 of Grapple, we heard about how the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood is on the cusp of change. Residents there are hopeful about a major new development and the potential job opportunities; but they’re also concerned the development could push them out of their community.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY


A proposal for a $15 deed and mortgage recording fee awaits Gov. Tom Wolf's signature.

The fees collected would go to counties, which would have to use the money to demolish blighted structures.

Irina Zhorov / WESA


The EPA says requirements of the 25-year-old Lead and Copper Rule are in urgent need of an upgrade. 

There is no safe blood level of lead for children. While there have been major reductions in childhood lead exposure over the last few decades, the EPA says there is more to do.

Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo


As the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians head to the diamond for the final games of the World Series, Carmine Parlatore will be in her living room, on the edge of her seat. Parlatore hasn't been waiting for a Cubs win since 1908 like some fans. Just since 2015, when her brother, Joe Maddon, became the manager of the team. 

Now, her family — and the city of Hazleton — is on board with Chi-town. 

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads


After more than two years of contentious legal battles, Uber and Lyft may operate legally in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Senate voted 47-1 to allow ride-hailing services to operate in the state — and to begin regulating them as their own transportation entity. Governor Tom Wolf plans to sign the legislation. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA


Banks make it possible to build credit, wealth, and security. But for the 7 percent of U.S. households that don’t have a checking or savings account, those benefits remain out of reach.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads


When an immigrant living in the United States illegally gets arrested, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency may issue a detainer request for that person. Detainers ask that the local jail hold that person for up to 48 hours until ICE has a chance to come pick them up. 

Sanctuary cities — or counties, since counties run the jails in Pennsylvania — are places where officials refuse to detain immigrants after they have made bail or their charges are dropped. For Senator Pat Toomey, this is a problem.

Keystone College


Keystone College is a small liberal arts school in a rural area outside of the city of Scranton. No part of that preceding sentence screams "high earning potential."

But for graduates of Keystone College, salary might not be the most important consideration when getting a job after graduation. Many students want to go into the non-profit world, become teachers or pursue careers in the arts. Others want to stay close to family in Northeastern Pennsylvania, even if it means taking a lower-paying job. 

Matt Rourke / AP Photo


In 2015, the Harvard Kennedy School decided to support Pennsylvania in creating Pay for Success programs. If Pay for Success sounds like bribing a middle schooler to bring home good grades ($5 for an A, anyone?) it’s because both transactions aim to incentivize results.  The former is just more involved than the latter.

Is the American Dream still possible? In this episode, we’ll talk with leading American political scientist Robert Putnam about why he thinks the American Dream is in crisis. In his most recent work, Putnam examines our nation’s growing income inequality and opportunity gap compared to the 1950s when he was a kid in an Ohio town along Lake Erie. Putnam is a political scientist at Harvard University and the author of the best-seller, “Bowling Alone.”


Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

On this episode of Grapple, we follow a thread of narratives about leaving and staying in Scranton with one of our reporters who’s got a personal connection to the city. Conversations include the ups and downs of business in the area, whether Scranton’s newest immigrants are fitting in, and how cheap housing and little crime could help Scranton grow again. At its peak, this northeastern Pennsylvania city had 140,000 people. Today there are about half that number of people.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY


Over the past few years, in the economic development world, there has been some whispering.

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank caught wind of a growing suspicion that donations and grants from foundations were being funneled into just the largest, most well-off cities in the country. Small and mid-sized cities, as well as those deemed economically distressed, were getting ignored by these large, national money-givers. 



When a construction fire damaged Pittsbugh's Liberty Bridge last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation closed it for 24 days to do repairs.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo


You know the old adage "Never judge a city by (just) its bond"? Or "Forgive and forget: bonds have histories, too"? No? How about that bumper sticker: "Reductive is as reductive does"?

OK, none of those are real.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads


The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church stands on a hill above what remains of Centralia, Pennsylvania. The small, white building and its bright blue dome might be unremarkable in another town, but the Primate of the world-wide Ukrainian Catholic Church, Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, was so moved when he visited in November 2015 that he designated the church a holy site of pilgrimage.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo


In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s.