Date:

Wed, 18 May 2005 15:37:35 -0700 (PDT)

From:

"Glenn A. Walsh" <siderostat1989@yahoo.com>  View Contact Details  View Contact Details

Subject:

Ten Years Ago...

To:

"Glenn A. Walsh" <gawalsh@planetarium.cc>

CC:

"Glenn A. Walsh" <gawalsh@planetarium.cc>

See Also Addendum to Message

On today's date [May 18] ten years ago, we
successfully stopped the proposed sale, by The
Carnegie Science Center, of the Zeiss II Planetarium
Projector and 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor
Telescope, at a public hearing before Pittsburgh City
Council.
 
Despite a letter I sent to The Carnegie President
Ellsworth Brown on 1994 January 3
 
<
http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/friendsofthezeiss/L-BrownE1994.htm
>
 
the Allegheny Square Annex of The Carnegie Science
Center [name they then were using for The Buhl
Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building]
was closed a month later. Within the next few months,
The Carnegie staff went through the building and
threw-out nearly everything the Science Center staff
had not transferred to the new building--with the
exception of a few antique artifacts that looked
valuable such as the Zeiss, Siderostat, and the
Epideoscope.
 
For several months, there were rumors that the Zeiss
would be sold to a museum near Cape Canaveral. On
Buhl's 55th anniversary [1994 October 24], I sent a
letter to the new Science Center Director, Seddon
Bennington, providing him documentation that the Zeiss
is City property--hence, the Science Center could not
sell it without the approval of City Council.
 
From then on, I attended every City Council meeting to
ensure that the Zeiss was not sold. Then, in April, a
bill was introduced to sell the Zeiss and Siderostat.
I immediately got the necessary signatures of 25 city
residents to, temporarily, stop the sale until a
public hearing could be held.
 
The hearing was held ten years ago today. Ten speakers
spoke against the sale of the Zeiss and Siderostat.
Also, I submitted letters, to City Council, from 33
other people who could not attend the hearing--all
opposed to the sale of the Zeiss and Siderostat. In
fact, two letters had just been faxed to me that
morning from former Buhl Planetarium staff members, Becky Reitmeyer
then living in Honolulu, and Davin Flateau then living
in Boston.
 
One speaker, from the North Side Chamber of Commerce,
took no position on the sale, but said they would like
to see the Buhl Planetarium building placed back into
use.
 
In addition to Dr. Bennington, Science Center
Planetarium Director Paul Oles spoke in favor of the
sale. Also, regrettably, a member of the Amateur
Astronomers' Association spoke in favor of the sale,
wanting to support his "good" friends at the Science
Center. And, although the astronomy club had
officially decided to not take an official stand on
the controversy, this club member implied that he
spoke for the entire club.
 
City Council was in a quandary. They really do not like
to contradict a recommendation by officials of a major
city museum, such as The Carnegie Science
Center--officials who are supposed to be the experts
in these matters and are supposed to be doing what is
in the best interests of city residents [although City
Council was not happy that the Science Center had
nearly executed a sale of city property, without their
knowledge].
 
Yet, we had provided a very convincing case that the
Zeiss and Siderostat were extremely significant to the
history of Pittsburgh.
 
I think City Council would probably have stopped the
sale anyway. But, I gave City Council the perfect
excuse, so that they could save-face in front of the
Science Center officials. I provided documentation
that proved that, in 1938, City Council had authorized
the Mayor to enter into a legal agreement with the
U.S. Customs Service that clearly stated that the City
of Pittsburgh agreed to NEVER sell the Zeiss
Projector! In return for that agreement, the U.S.
Customs Service waived all import duties on the
importation of the Zeiss Projector [and, likely, also
the 4-inch Zeiss Terrestrial Refractor Telescope] from
Germany.
 
When City Council members asked the City's Director of
General Services about the legality of this Customs
Service agreement, the Director of General Services
simply said she was aware of the agreement and they
were investigating it further.
 
That was good enough for City Council. City Council
members, simply, took no official action on the
proposed sale of the Zeiss and Siderostat--and, hence,
the sale simply died. There was talk about setting up
some type of committee to determine what to do about
the building and artifacts. To my knowledge, nothing
really happened on this proposal.
 
Now, although City Council was eager to ensure that
important Pittsburgh historical artifacts did not
leave the city--that is all they were interested in.
Just so they could say that Pittsburgh retained this
important history--never mind that the history
continued to be unused and unmaintained in an unused
building.
 
So, when the Children's Museum made their proposal for
reuse of the Buhl Planetarium building in January of
2000, the city jumped at it. The building had been
empty and unused for about six years--it was starting
to be an embarrassment to the city, combined with the
planned abandonment of the nearby Hazlett Theatre when
the Pittsburgh Public Theater moved to a new theater
Downtown in 2001.
 
Hence, the city appeased and satisfied all of the
wishes of the Children's Museum, just so they could
say the Buhl Planetarium building was back in use.
And, when Children's Museum Executive Director Jane
Werner told City Council that the Children's Museum
would pull out of the expansion project if the city
forced the Children's Museum to keep the Zeiss and
Siderostat, the city believed her [even though the
Children's Museum had spent so much money on planning
for the expansion project, by this point in time, it
is unlikely that the expansion project would have been
canceled]. However, this is the way Jane wanted it,
and the city wanted to make sure the building was in
use [and, the city would no longer have to pay for
having the building mothballed]; so, the city agreed
to whatever the Children's Museum wanted.
 
And, City Council could also say that The Carnegie
Science Center had promised to reassemble the Zeiss,
Siderostat, and large World Map. It did not matter
that the Zeiss would no longer give sky shows [in
fact, other than light-up, it would not do much of
anything]; City Council could still say they saved
this important city history.
 
Now, a few years later, the $90 million Science Center
expansion project has collapsed. This means that the
Siderostat Telescope cannot be reassembled at all. And,
there really is not any room in the present building
for the Zeiss and World Map, even though the official
word from the Science Center is that the Zeiss will
be reassembled by the end of 2006.
 
And, these three artifacts continue to languish,
dismantled, in a warehouse in a floodplain--a flood
plain that had a major flood in 1972 and a minor flood
last September. Through the office of City Councilman
Bill Peduto, I did learn that the artifacts
experienced no damage from the minor flood last year.
 
Yet, the Science Center claims that the artifacts are
being kept on the warehouse's first floor, which is a
mere six feet about the flood plain! This may have
been enough for last year's minor flood, but it would
not have been enough for the 1972 flood.
 
So, that is the story. So long as the historical
artifacts are retained--for possible reassembly in
some vague future--City Council is happy!
 
However, that does not in anyway diminish the
important accomplishment ten years ago. We did keep
the Zeiss and Siderostat in Pittsburgh.
 
And, indirectly, we may have also saved the Buhl
Planetarium building from demolition. Yes, I know the
Children's Museum's modifications are almost as bad as
demolition. However, the Theater of the Stars still
exists and the historic Zeiss elevator has not been
dismantled. So, in theory, the Zeiss could some day be
returned to the Theater of the Stars.
 
Had the Zeiss and Siderostat left town in 1995, there
would no longer have been any major reason to keep a
building with a theater that has no planetarium
projector and an observatory that has no telescope. It
could then have been demolished. And, Greg Madden has
told me that he had heard that Carnegie had been
seeking bids for the possible demolition of the Buhl
Planetarium building in 1994!
 
We did accomplish a lot ten years ago. Now, we need to
maintain vigilance, for the long-term goal of return
of historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts
to the Buhl Planetarium building--still, the only
place where the Zeiss and Siderostat could actually be
used!
 
You can read the newspaper articles written, regarding
the 1995 proposed sale and public hearing at:
 
<
http://buhlplanetarium3.tripod.com/Buhlnews.htm#1995hearing
>
 
Both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review wrote good articles about the issue
just before the public hearing. The Pittsburgh City
Paper was the only newspaper to publish an article
after the public hearing.
 
However, regrettably, no newspaper reporters covered
the actual public hearing. Why?
 
Because at the same exact time as our public hearing,
the Mayor was holding a news conference to announce
that Adelphia cable television company founder John
Rigas had agreed to buy the Pittsburgh Pirates. So,
*of course*, ALL of the news reporters went to cover
this news conference. This was the future of the
Pittsburgh Pirates!
 
Ironically, this sale of the Pittsburgh Pirates, also,
never went through. And, just as well--on 2004 July 8,
John Rigas and his son Timothy were convicted of
conspiracy, bank fraud and securities fraud for
looting Adelphia Communications Corp. and duping its investors!

See Also Addendum to Message

 
gaw
 
Glenn A. Walsh
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc > 
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: 
  < http://www.planetarium.cc > 
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: 
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer & Optician John A. Brashear: 
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com > 
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: 
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc > 
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh: 
  < http://www.incline.cc >
 

Date:

Wed, 18 May 2005 16:06:22 -0700 (PDT)

From:

"Glenn A. Walsh" <siderostat1989@yahoo.com>  View Contact Details  View Contact Details

Subject:

Addendum: Ten Years Ago...

To:

"Glenn A. Walsh" <gawalsh@planetarium.cc>

CC:

"Glenn A. Walsh" <gawalsh@planetarium.cc>

One thing I forgot to mention in the previous message:
 
The proposed sale of the Zeiss II Planetarium
Projector and the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor
Telescope was not to the Astronauts Memorial Museum
near Cape Canaveral, despite the rumors in 1994.
 
The Carnegie Science Center proposed to sell the
instruments to a new planetarium being built at
Navarro College, a small multi-county community
college in central Texas, about 50 miles south of
Dallas.
 
These instruments would be sold, in addition to The
Carnegie Science Center's first planetarium projector,
the Digistar I, which would become the new
planetarium's actual projector. The Science Center
would then use the proceeds to purchase a Digistar II
projector.
 
The Zeiss and Siderostat would have been simply
displayed as antiques--but for how long? This, seemed
to me, simply, The Carnegie Science Center's [CSC] way of getting rid of equipment they did not want to deal with.
 
The sale of the Digistar I went through. They are
still using this projector in Texas.
 
Since CSC could not sell the Zeiss and Siderostat to
Navarro, they agreed to provide some free sky shows to
the Texas planetarium, to make-up for the equipment
that would not be going to Texas.
 
gaw
 
Glenn A. Walsh
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc > 
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: 
  < http://www.planetarium.cc > 
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: 
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer & Optician John A. Brashear: 
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com > 
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: 
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc > 
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh: 
  < http://www.incline.cc >