Updates: Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Library – 2006 December


Update -- Buhl Planetarium: Historic Buhl Planetarium artifacts, including the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and large Mercator’s Projection Map of the World, remain dismantled and in storage at the Miller Warehouse building, across the street from The Carnegie Science Center. Originally, The Carnegie Science Center told the City of Pittsburgh that the Zeiss II and Mercator’s Map would be reassembled by the end of 2005, while the Siderostat Telescope would be reassembled with the

completion of the planned $90 million expansion of the Science Center.


With the 2003 cancellation of The Carnegie Science Center’s proposed $90 million expansion project, the Science Center told the City that reassembly of the Zeiss II Projector would be “delayed” until the end of 2006. They propose to reassemble the Zeiss II, as a partially-working exhibit (it could not present sky shows), just outside of the current Science Center planetarium. They said nothing about reassembly of the Siderostat or Mercator’s Map. As I mentioned last year, I did not expect the Zeiss II to actually be reassembled by the end

of 2006, considering that reassembly of the Zeiss II in that location would take space away from the Science Center’s traveling exhibits gallery (which is considered important for

attracting both new visitors and repeat business).


In the early Autumn, The Carnegie Science Center completed a $1 million renovation of their planetarium theater to include the use of “full-dome video” (“Buhl Digital Dome”) the latest high-tech novelty being installed in planetaria across the country. Not one penny was spent on restoration of the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment; and the Science Center has said nothing about any future installation of these important artifacts. It seems, in announcing “delays” in their restoration, the Science Center hoped that they would be forgotten, allowing

the Science Center to do nothing. Early next year, after the second official deadline is not met, I will remind Pittsburgh City Council and the Allegheny Regional Asset District of the

Science Center’s failure to meet both deadlines.


This holiday season, the Science Center is publicizing the 87th year of the Miniature Railroad and Village, based on the first display in Charles Bowdish’s Brookville, Pa. home in 1920. However, they forgot that the Miniature Railroad was not displayed the first Christmas season (1991-1992) of The Carnegie Science Center! This is why the 50th year of display in Pittsburgh was celebrated in the 2004-2005 Christmas season (rather than 2003-2004).


This year, the Children’s Museum asked the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) for $44,639 (half of the funding needed) to replace the roof of the historic Old Allegheny

Post Office. It turns out that a roofing contractor had told Children’s Museum management in 2002 that the roof needed replaced, at the same time the Children’s Museum was

raising $29 million for their expansion into Buhl Planetarium. However, instead of using a small amount of money from this capital campaign to complete the $90,000 roof

replacement, they ignored the roof problem while using the money to gut Buhl Planetarium’s Theater of the Stars, Observatory, and Little Science Theater, and remove

an astronomical inscription (from the 19th Psalm of the Bible) on the east exterior wall!


In August, I told the RAD Board that “This clearly demonstrates the extremely misguided priorities of Children’s Museum management…It is the position of Friends of the Zeiss

that no public funds should be used for this roof replacement project, or for general subsidy of the Children’s Museum, until the Children’s Museum presents a plan to truly restore important Pittsburgh history with the return of the historic Buhl Planetarium artifacts, particularly the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector and 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope,

to be used to teach Science to children visiting the Children’s Museum.” Although the Children’s Museum received a slight increase in their RAD operating subsidy for 2007,

the RAD Board denied funding for the roof replacement project.


Regarding the astronomical inscription (The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night

sheweth knowledge) removed by the Children’s Museum, this year the Museum scattered the unorganized fragments of the inscription on Buhl’s east lawn, with some of these

fragments outlining flower beds! I complained about this obvious insult to Buhl history, and to the Bible, to several public bodies including Pittsburgh City Council and the

Regional Asset District. Only the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission expressed concern over this behavior of the Children’s Museum.


In preparation for a rare spacecraft impact on the Moon in September, Kent State University Professor and Friends of the Zeiss Steering Committee member  Francis G. Graham

prepared a detailed primer on how people could possibly view the crash of the European spacecraft SMART-1. This primer was posted on the Friends of the Zeiss web site

and distributed to the media by e-mail. Regrettably, the Sept. 2 evening event was clouded-out in the Pittsburgh tri-state area.


History of Buhl Planetarium/Friends of the Zeiss web site: < http://www.planetarium.cc >

Space/Science News & Astronomical Sky Events, Monthly Astronomical Calendar, Precise Time, Weather

(Updated, at least, 3 times a week) : < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >

Quick-Reference Page – Science: < http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/quick-refer-science.htm >

Astronomy & Science FAQ: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/#faq > < FAQ@planetarium.cc >


( Update: Carnegie Library -- begins on page two. )

Updates: Buhl Planetarium & Carnegie Library – 2006 Dec. -- Page 2 of 2


Update – Carnegie Library: On April 7, lightning struck the clock tower of the historic Allegheny Regional Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, located next-door to Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium. The lightning strike caused much damage to the Library, which fortunately had closed three hours earlier that Friday evening. The damage was restricted to the Library section of the building; the adjacent Carnegie Hall/New Hazlett Theater (renovated and reopened in September), and the City Senior Citizen Center in the

basement, were not impacted.


Originally called the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny, this was the country’s first publicly-funded Carnegie Library, built in 1890 in the neighborhood where Andrew Carnegie

grew-up. Constructed with the Library was the very first Carnegie Hall (opened one year before Carnegie Hall in New York City), and it was the first (and possibly only original)

Carnegie Library built with a clock tower. Andrew Carnegie engaged the architectural firm, Smithmeyer and Pelz (which had just completed designing Wsshington’s Library of

Congress building) to design the Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s North Side) library building.


Library service in the building was immediately suspended, while Carnegie Library, the City, and the insurance company started planning for repairs. In the meantime, Carnegie Library considered moving the Library to a “temporary” site, but could find no nearby building suitable. Then, without any input from the general public, on  Aug. 31 Carnegie Library

announced that they would abandon the historic building and build a new North Side library building on Federal Street, 3 blocks north of the original building.


Several citizens, including former Allegheny Regional Branch Reference Librarian Steve Pietzak, argued against the Library’s abandonment of such a historic structure before

Pittsburgh City Council, Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) Board, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Board. Our pleas were ignored when the URA Board

sold land, for the new library, to Carnegie Library for one dollar! Still, it is unclear as to whether Carnegie Library has the money to build a new library. So far, they have not

acquired the funds to match a $7.5 million grant from the Pennsylvania Governor earlier this year; they cannot obtain the State money without the needed matching funds.


Last month, the RAD Board rejected a new county-wide library funding formula, proposed by the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA). America’s first Carnegie Library, in Braddock, Pa., had serious concerns that the new formula may force them to close, due to library funding problems. The existing funding formula, which will be continued for another

year, is not much better. It has caused Carnegie, Pa.’s Andrew Carnegie Free Library to cut their collection size almost in half (from 35,772 volumes in 2001 to about 20,000 today),

to ensure an equitable share of RAD funds for the Library. Due to a “Turnover Rate” criterion, which favors popular books with high circulation, maintaining older or less circulated

books results in less RAD funding for libraries!


The RAD Board, noticing considerable dissension among the 45 member libraries of ACLA, will also require that ACLA conduct a Performance Audit (first time required of any RAD-funded asset). Through such an audit, the RAD Board hopes that the consultant will be able to find a more equitable way to distribute County tax dollars to the 44 suburban libraries funded by ACLA (The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, although an ACLA member, receives their RAD funding through a separate RAD appropriation.).


The National Trust for Historic Preservation held their annual National Preservation Conference in Pittsburgh Oct. 31 – Nov. 5. Several local Carnegie Libraries were toured by the conference attendees, some during official tours. Additionally, “Carnegie Libraries Challenges and Solutions” was the title of a conference session on Nov. 3.


This was the third annual National Preservation Conference session on preserving historic Carnegie Libraries (the first official “educational” session), managed and moderated by

historic preservation consultant Joanne Weeter. Ms. Weeter had initiated the first session (an “affinity” session) during the 2004 Conference in Louisville (held at the historic

Main Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, built by Andrew Carnegie), prior to her retirement as  Louisville Historic Preservation Officer.


The educational session included three presentations: "The Architecture of Literacy, Carnegie Libraries in the U.S." by historic preservation consultant Mary B. Dierickx of New York; "How to Save Carnegie Libraries as Libraries" by New York historic preservation architect Joseph C. Rizzo, AIA, ALA; and "Primary Impediments to Historic Preservation: EGO and MONEY!" by historic preservation advocate Glenn A. Walsh of Pittsburgh. These presentations can be reviewed on the web site of the Network of Carnegie Library Preservationists

at: < http://www.carnegielibraries.info/nthp/clsesspgh.html >.



gaw                                         ( Update: Buhl Planetarium -- begins on page one. )


Glenn A. Walsh              Internet Web Sites - History of Buhl Planetarium: < http://www.planetarium.cc >

P.O. Box 1041                                          Friends of the Zeiss: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >

Pittsburgh PA 15230-1041  U.S.A.               Science News & Astro Calendar < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                    Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >

E-Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >               Preserving Carnegie Libraries: < http://www.carnegielibraries.info >