My 48 hours in Pittsburgh
The wife and I celebrated a major anniversary milestone in our marriage not with a trip to the islands but with two days of getting in touch with our urban inner selves, spending a couple days on a getaway to beautiful, downtown Pittsburgh. Some would instantly mock at the romance of the Steel City, but we both absolutely loved it. For history aficionados like us, Pittsburgh has strong formal and informal celebrations of its past. What's apparently murkier is its vision of the future. Some random observations:
What a walkable city! There is so much to see in a very small area.
I can't speak for today, but there has been some amazing wealth generated in Pittsburgh, and it shows in its buildings. From the mansions of the Fricks and the Heinz's [sic] [...] to the investments at Pitt (Cathedral of Learning, Heinz Chapel) to the gifts of Andrew Carnegie, to the more modern buildings erected by Mellon Bank and US Steel, the vision and attention to detail is remarkable ...
Food is a big deal in Pittsburgh; I guess it is anywhere, but I don't remember too many distinctive Nashville dishes when I lived there. In Pittsburgh, the region is defined by the Primanti Brothers sandwich, the turkey Devonshire at the Union Grill, or the amazing meals at one of only two Lidia's Italian restaurants outside of the NY metro.
My wife and I spent many hours at the Heinz History Center. The center is 12 years old and really well done. You get the sense of how important Pittsburgh has been to the rest of the nation, with its industry fueling the nation's growth. That is until the early 1980s, with the collapse of the steel industry. There's a sense that the city and region must find a new way of revitalization and prominence.
Which leads me to the feeling I have that Erie and Pittsburgh are linked in that kind of defeatist, "best times are behind us" attitude. Certainly it has got to hurt to lose 90% of the industry jobs that defined your city for nearly a century. But we need to embrace the new opportunities in knowledge industries and services that depend on the skills our kids are coming out of the exceptional universities that this region is also known for.