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North Hills Monthly

What a Difference Two Decades Make

Feb 29, 2020 10:50AM ● By Vanessa Orr

When Marnie Lutz first started North Hills Monthly magazine in 2001, her goal was to create a space where the growing community could share news, highlight notable people, spotlight impressive places, support local nonprofits, and help residents and businesses connect for mutual benefit.

Two decades later, we’re proud to be celebrating her legacy, as 2020 marks our 20th year of serving the North Hills community. Just as it has grown, so have we, expanding our coverage to include not just the areas north of Pittsburgh, but events and activities happening in the city as well. While people from the North Hills and South Hills have earned a reputation for “not crossing the rivers,” with the advent of the digital age, we’re reaching even more people through the Internet and our social media sites.

Still, we never want to forget where we started, so let’s take a look back at what was happening when it all began…

Our First Issue

Feb. 1, 2001, marked the beginning of what would be a decades-long love affair with the North Hills community—celebrated, in fact, with a cover shot of two wine glasses and a heart-bedecked card. Community Events and New & Notable pages kicked off the first issue—two staples that are still part of the magazine today. And not surprisingly, some very familiar organizations, such as North Hills Community Outreach, In Tune with the Arts Studio, La Roche College (now University), UPMC Passavant, Beattie Technical School (now A.W. Beattie Career Center), and Northland Library were featured—community leaders that can still be seen today in the magazine’s pages. 

Our first issue also kicked off the Person of Distinction feature, with the goal of highlighting a person in the North Hills who went the extra mile in serving the community. We don’t have this feature anymore—for the simple reason that there were too many people doing amazing things in our area, so we now fill our pages with a wealth of stories showcasing the wonderful people who make the North Hills and surrounding areas so special. 

Even now, we don’t have all the space in our print issue that we need to tell their stories, so we’re expanding to add even more articles online. As the community grew, so did we, and we’re pleased to be able to have a new way to share this information with our readers, who continue to provide story ideas, send photos, and let us know who and what we should be covering!

Two Decades of Change

While we were just starting our journey, other places in the region were celebrating their own milestones. In 2001, McCandless Township marked its 150th anniversary with its first Community Day, which has taken place every year since then. Three Rivers Stadium was imploded on Feb. 11, followed by the opening of PNC Park on March 3, and Heinz Field on Aug. 18. The first event at Heinz Field was a concert by N’Sync—if that doesn’t make you feel old, I’m not sure what will. 

And sadly, the final episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood aired on Sept. 11, 2001. His legacy remains intact, however; in fact, our February 2020 issue features an article all about his influence on Pittsburgh and ways that you can still pay tribute to our favorite cardigan-wearing neighbor.

Speaking of neighborhoods, we watched as Cranberry Township, once home to mostly farmland, started an incredible growth spurt as the result of the opening of I-279 in 1989, which made it even faster to drive downtown. In our inaugural year, the population sat at between 24,000-25,000 people; today it’s pushed past 30,000, and it’s expected to grow to 50,000 by 2030. 

Of course, not all was good news in 2001. We mourned, along with the rest of the nation, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A special feature, called Current Events, was added to the October issue to share the story of local Rotarians who were traveling in Europe at the time of the bombing, sharing what the event looked like from the other side of the ocean.

It Takes a Community

While we are very proud to be finishing our second decade, we know we couldn’t have done it without an amazing amount of community support. From our advertisers who support us monetarily, to local organizations and individuals that give us great stories to write about, to our talented corps of freelance writers who provide well-written and researched features, to our vendors who keep us running, we thank you for being as much a part of the magazine as our own hardworking staff. 

While Marnie passed away in 2012, leaving the magazine to her nephews, Matt Hill and Eric Hill, there is no doubt that she hoped it would continue to represent the North Hills and everything that makes it such as special place to live and work. Our goal is to continue this legacy. Here’s to another 20 years!