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Plus, whose loan is it anyway?
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📜 George Washington's Pittsburgh plunge

Plus, whose loan is it anyway?

Hello and welcome to Tuesday.

Stop us if you've heard this one before. 

Q: Why did George Washington (yes, that George Washington) cross the Allegheny River? 

A: He almost didn't. 

On the evening of Dec. 29, 1753, the future first president of the United States, then a 21-year-old messenger, was trying to cross the river to reach the area now known as Lawrenceville. It didn't go well. 

Washington and his scout attempted their crossing with a crudely fashioned raft that promptly began to sink near modern-day Millvale. While trying to rescue the raft, Washington lost his balance, fell into 10 feet of icy water and nearly drowned. 

The 40th Street Bridge was still more than 160 years from being built but is officially named Washington's Crossing in what now feels a bit like a passive aggressive nod to the whole affair. 

The Post-Gazette has a great writeup of the ill-fated crossing here. And Twitter user @SheDidWhatPGH shared this artist's rendering of what Washington might have looked like moments before disaster struck.

Here's what else we have for you today: Vaccines don't take vacations, whose loan is it anyway?, Pittsburgh has a twin, and another local music playlist.

What Pittsburgh is talking about

Cold colors. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @aimhighdrones)

4 things to know today

📈 The arrival of several COVID-19 vaccines has done little to slow the development of new ones at Pitt. The university's researchers say there's a serious need for backups and they're watching and learning from those already on the market. One option in the works at Pitt wouldn't require ultra-cold storage, which the Pfizer vaccine does, meaning it would be easier to deliver to and keep in remote locations. TribLIVE has more on those efforts here. It also has the latest on the plan to begin administering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania's skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities on Monday

🔎 Want to know which local businesses and industries got the biggest shares of federal COVID-19 relief loans? PublicSource compiled a handy guide to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) disbursements in Pittsburgh. They tracked the schools, restaurants, law offices, religious organizations, nonprofits, doctor’s offices, and car dealerships that claimed the largest portions of a $1.5 billion pot. Find the breakdown here. In related news: 

  • A hospitality workers’ union claims Pittsburgh’s Omni William Penn Hotel improperly used millions in PPP loans. 90.5 WESA has the story here
  • A new COVID-19 relief package includes $600 stimulus payments for most Americans, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, and more. Here's the latest from CNN.

🗳 President Donald Trump is once again asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Pennsylvania's election results. A new petition filed by Trump's campaign wants the high court to reverse a trio of unfavorable lower court rulings and let the Pennsylvania General Assembly pick its own slate of Trump-friendly electors. The Supreme Court has already declined to take up similar challenges of Pa.'s election results. But even if SCOTUS reversed course, took up this one, and ruled in Trump's favor, it still wouldn't change the outcome given Biden's margin of victory nationwide, the Associated Press reports. Here's the full story.

⚾️ Pittsburgh was a 'mecca of Negro League baseball,' a distinction with roots in both the region's geography and economy. That's because of Pittsburgh's central location on east-west rail lines but also the plentiful number of steel jobs at the time. Steel companies often fielded teams to compete for money, pride or both, the Post-Gazette reports. And that meant Black players arriving during the Great Migration — a mass, mid-century movement that brought African Americans from the rural south to other parts of the country — were able to find work and an outlet for their talents here. The rest, as they say, is history. Read the deep-dive here.

4 things to make you smile 

❄️ Someone made a baby Dippy the Dino out of snow and we hope it never melts. Here are the photos.

🏠 Speaking of seasonal craftiness … This Fallingwater gingerbread house is definitely too beautiful to eat but also maybe too beautiful not to eat. You decide.

💭 It's been 35 years since Calvin and Hobbes pondered the question: Is Pittsburgh heaven or hell? 

🎄 An 8-foot tall Christmas tree made of Mancini's Italian bread looks as wild as it sounds. See for yourself.

➡️ Become an Incline Insider for half-off

It’s been an exceptionally tough year for local journalism in an already difficult time for the industry. Our one-person team (👋 it’s me, Colin) persevered to bring you the local news — everything from mail-in voting guides to regular COVID-19 updates — at a time when accurate, trustworthy information has never been more important. 

But as we approach the new year and look at our budget for 2021, we need your help to keep The Incline around for the long haul. 

If our newsletter informs, entertains, and maybe even makes you smile, please join us as an Incline Insider (enter code HALFOFF by Dec. 24 for a big discount).


Pitch-burgh, Part II

(📸: Incline illustration)

We recently published a Proper Pittsburgh Playlist™️ based on responses from readers like you to this callout: Tell us about a Pittsburgh musician who's been your go-to soundtrack this year. 

And as soon as we published it, we started getting more fantastic recommendations of local artists to know. 

So we're making it a double album, so to speak, and adding another 20 reader-endorsed tracks from some of Pittsburgh's best musical artists. Find the additions here in our Peak Pittsburgh Playlist™️ on Spotify. (Spotify is free to use with limited features.) Enjoy.

Things to do 

Submit your events to our calendar.

Today

🎁 Let the magic of "The Nutcracker" come to you with this virtual production of the Tchaikovsky classic from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre — multiple dates (Online)

Tomorrow

📸 See "Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery," a visual arts exhibition showcasing more than 100 Americans with western Pennsylvania ties (Online)

Thursday

🖼 Get timed tickets to see Contemporary Craft’s inaugural exhibition "The Heart Lives Through the Hands" and its collection of large-scale and highly personal mixed media artworks (Lawrenceville)

Wednesday, December 30

❓ Show off your knowledge of Pittsburgh history with "Pittsburgh Virtual Trivia Night – Winter Edition!" from the Heinz History Center (Online)

Thursday, December 31

🎉 Celebrate First Night virtually this year with a live KDKA-TV broadcast starting at 11 p.m. (Online)

One more thing ....

Pittsburgh has a doppelganger and it's … Kaunas, Lithuania. 

The mappers of Reddit are once again pointing out the similarities between the maps of the two cities — especially their rivers. See for yourself

But only one of those cities can claim the site of a George Washington blooper that almost changed the course of history. Just saying. 

Thanks for reading to the bottom. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

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