Friday, September 25, 2009

Escape Pittsburgh

A bit of shame that this post will get lost in the slow Friday blog cycle. Of course, writing while everyone else is enjoying happy hour doesn't help. Just the same, here is a juicy quote that needs a bit more attention:

"It's a wonderful story of redemption, renewal and renaissance," said David M. Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It's also a story of pitfalls and stereotypes and of a city still facing serious economic challenges.

"There's still litter on the streets, you can't fly anywhere from our airport, and it's still hard to keep our young people here," Shribman added. "Having said that, there may not be a better place to live in the United States."

That's not all:

"We educate some of the brightest young people in the world," said Shribman, who once was a reporter for The Buffalo News and who won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished beat reporting when he was based in Washington for the Boston Globe. "If only we could keep them, even 5 percent of them."

That's some model for brain drain Connecticut to follow. In fairness, some see the demography in a different light:

In the 1980s, young people didn't see much of a future in Pittsburgh. Working-age families fled the city in droves. Now, though, Pittsburgh's unemployment rate is lower than the rest of the country's. And more and more young people are deciding to stay.

"I think people have recognized, over the last decade especially, that it's a valuable place to be," said teacher Kate Benson.

I might take Ms. Benson more seriously if she won a Pulitzer Prize. There's a narrative war going on and the trump card seems to be the population numbers:

However, what Briem failed to mention is during this purge of steel mills, Pittsburgh's population went from 680,000 in 1950 to 330,000 in 2000. Between 1970 and 1990, that city lost 158,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 300,000 residents. Most of the net exodus was young families: people lost their jobs, their homes and were forced to move away (some even committed suicide).

Truth be told, Hamilton has done a great job negotiating the downturn and minimizing the impact, and we should fear the day we follow Pittsburgh's radical example.

If Pittsburgh is so great, then why is everyone leaving (or killing themselves)?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post. Thanks.