PITTSBURGH has undergone a striking renaissance from a down-and-out smokestack to a gleaming cultural oasis. But old stereotypes die hard, and Pittsburgh probably doesn’t make many people’s short list for a cosmopolitan getaway. Too bad, because this city of 89 distinct neighborhoods is a cool and — dare I say, hip—city. There are great restaurants, excellent shopping, breakthrough galleries and prestigious museums. The convergence of three rivers and surrounding green hills also make it a surprisingly pretty urban setting. And if the Pirates are in town, head over to PNC Park. Besides the game, the ballpark offers a great excuse to explore downtown Pittsburgh and the river views.
Given the introduction, I have the impression that the rebirth is a recent occurrence. Pittsburgh's transformation from gritty steel town is at least two decades old. We're going through a fresh round of rediscovery. On the other hand, I do sense a new round of change that is beginning to garner notice.
Another angle is the completion of the transition to the knowledge economy. Economic redevelopment doesn't happen overnight and the recognition of metamorphosis is downright glacial. I'm inclined to think of Pittsburgh as emerging from this long and difficult purgatory. Past glory would seem to be relinquishing its grip on the Steel City image. Does anyone have any ideas for a new nickname?