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Plus, can a hashtag save an opera house?
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☁️ Why it's never sunny in Pittsburgh

Plus, can a hashtag save an opera house?

Hello and welcome to Thursday.

Homewood's National Negro Opera House is a national treasure. But the site of one of the first Black opera companies in the country has fallen into disrepair and is now listed as one of the 11 most endangered places in the U.S

The opera house's creative director says a total restoration could cost $5 million, so they've launched a fundraising campaign to gather donations and the #OperaHouseChallenge hashtag to get "singers from across the country to use their singing power to raise attention and renovation dollars," KDKA-TV reports

Here's how to donate, if you're in a position to do so. 

And here's what else we have for you today: An end to Pittsburgh's billboard battle, the race for mayor gets crowded quick, hitting the slopes in Market Square, and what all these clouds are doing to your health. 

What Pittsburgh is talking about

Throwback Thursday to that time Beacon Pharmacy was raided by prohibition agents for a third time. More info here. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @pghthenandnow

4 things to know today

🗳 Mayor Bill Peduto officially has challengers. The most formidable of them is likely State Rep. Ed Gainey, who threw his hat in the ring for May's Democratic Primary this week. Gainey would become the city's first Black mayor if elected. 90.5 WESA has more on his bid. Is anyone else running? Northsider William Parker and retired police officer Tony Moreno have announced bids as well. We'll let you know if any others join them.

➡️ The Mount Washington billboard isn't going anywhere. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court yesterday ended a seven-year legal battle between the city and Lamar Advertising, the owner of the nearly 100-year-old sign. The city argued that the billboard violates city code and is illegal, but Pennsylvania's high court disagreed. The Post-Gazette has more on the 4-3 ruling.

🚨 City Council just introduced a ban on no-knock warrants, calling it "a continuation of the Black Pittsburgh Matters agenda." City police say they already don't use the controversial tactic because it's already banned by state law. But supporters on council say they're "leaving nothing to chance." The Post-Gazette explains.

🔢 Smokers, pregnant women, and other high-risk groups are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania. Those 65 and older and those aged 16-64 with serious medical conditions have also moved up in line. Here's the latest on the additions.

4 things to make you smile

🎁 Mount Pleasant glass cutter Peter O’Rourke has made inauguration gifts for U.S. presidents since Ronald Reagan. See what he made for Biden and Harris here.

📚 The Tiny Bookstore is the only Black-owned bookstore in Pittsburgh. Meet the owners (who are also full-time criminal defense attorneys), via City Paper.

📱 What's Port Authority's new smartphone payment system going to look like? See for yourself.

❄️ There's a ski lodge in Downtown Pittsburgh serving hot toddies and cheesesteaks. Good Food Pittsburgh has the pop-up menu.

It's always (not) sunny in Pittsburgh

More than a touch of grey. (📸: Incline illustration)

Pittsburgh's prolific cloud cover is again getting headlines.

"Rare sunny days wash over Pittsburgh — one of the cloudiest cities in the U.S." read a recent TribLIVE title.  

The article says Pittsburgh averages just 59 clear days a year and explains why, citing a National Weather Service meteorologist:

"Cold air sweeps down from the north, picking up moisture as it travels over the Great Lakes, often parking over Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania for long periods of time." (Today is only supposed to be partly cloudy, so live it up, folks.)

But what are the consequences of all this gloom, besides stunted tomato plants? 

We asked a doctor for a piece called "Yes, Pittsburgh is always gray, and yes, it’s affecting your health." Read it from our archive here.

Things to do 

Submit your events to our calendar.

Tomorrow

🍹 Explore new ways of supporting Pittsburgh's service industry and the next generation of hospitality entrepreneur with this virtual cocktail fundraiser (Online)

💛 Learn how you can empower women who are entering and returning to the workforce at this Dress for Success Pittsburgh volunteer info session (Online)

Saturday

♻️ Be confident that you're doing recycling right with this virtual tutorial from Inhale and Recycle This Pittsburgh (Online)

Monday

📰 Learn the story of journalist Nellie Bly in "How a sassy girl from Pittsburgh became a legend," a virtual event from Doors Open Pittsburgh (Online)

Tuesday

⭐️ Embrace the light side of the force with a discussion of author and knitting expert Tanis Gray's newest work, "Star Wars: Knitting the Galaxy: The Official Star Wars Knitting Pattern Book" (Online)

❄️ Marvel at the wonders of nature in winter and what lies above and below the snow with this free virtual story event (Online)

Wednesday

🌱 Explore the many options for bringing more plant-based ingredients into your cooking and baking with this lunchtime webinar from Phipps and the Pittsburgh Vegan Society — multiple dates (Online )

Thursday, Jan. 28

🎧 Develop audio and interviewing skills in this free podcasting workshop geared toward Mon Valley teens — multiple dates (Online)

One more thing ....

If you've ever noticed those 56-foot Grecian columns at the North Highland Avenue entrance to Highland Park, or the bronze statues of young men taming horses near the Stanton Avenue entrance, you may have wondered what their story is. 

They're called gate piers, they're 122 years old, and they were created by Giuseppe Moretti — the same sculptor behind the now-removed Stephen Foster statue in Schenley Park. 

90.5 WESA has a history lesson here.

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We'll see you back here tomorrow.

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