Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Next Seattle

After the Steel City came Roboburgh. A more recent incarnation is Energy Burgh. I don't know what you call eds and meds Pittsburgh. Eds and Meds Pittsburgh? Today, CNN Money floats Tinseltown of the East down the Mon:

While all of Pennsylvania has seen filming increase due to the tax credit, the Pittsburgh area is particularly unique in its labor situation. Both Keezer and Breakwell cited the skilled and inexpensive local unions as being an important part of the recent boom.

And when location scouts are looking for their next space, they'd be hard-pressed to find more diverse offerings.

"There was an excellent opportunity to do film here because of the talent, the infrastructure and the diversity of the landscape. You can shoot a farm in Ireland 15 minutes south of here or you can shoot a scene in New York City. And everything is less expensive," said Mike Dolan, who founded Smithfield Street Productions with partners Benjamin Barton and Brian Hartman in 2007.

Pittsburgh has Hollywood-class talent at a fraction of the cost. The Creative Class world is flat. The convergence of the Innovation Economy is gripping the region like no other place in the United States. Industrial ghost town? No, startup boomtown. It's a trend and Pittsburgh is leading the way.

The success sets the stage for ironic references to Pittsburgh's past. Two consecutive Tweets from writer Jesse Crall:

Kinda disappointed I'm taking the 90 through Pennsylvania. Always wanted to see Clairton.

Wouldn't mind seeing Pittsburgh, but not the new, Hollywood-revitalized Pittsburgh. I want the classic, rust-belt Shittsburgh version.

Give me Rust Belt Chic. Do you remember when Pittsburgh was cool? To put a bird on it:

And while the city's most noteworthy contribution to the culinary world has been to slap French fries atop supersized salads, Pittsburgh is becoming a foodie town, with upscale restaurants in the downtown Strip District and a wealth of ethnic eateries sprinkled around town.

Layers of hip are quickly burying the blue collar ethos that once defined the city. Seattle underwent a similar transformation. Cosmopolitan Seattle bears little, if any, resemblance to its working class identity that cratered in the 1970s. Thanks to the return migration of Microsoft's founders, the parochial intolerance is forgotten. Instead, we have Rust Belt Chic Seattle:

Ballard, a few miles north of downtown Seattle, retains a funky, working-class charm that hints strongly of its Scandinavian heritage and, more than just about any other neighborhood, paints a vivid portrait of city life a century ago. Ballard is the place for a growing number of bistros, pubs and art galleries. Farther south, along the Ship Canal, are steel fishing boats, giant crab pots in huge stacks, and in off-season, much of the Alaska salmon fishing fleet rests dock-side at Fisherman's Terminal.

Emphasis added. Sound familiar? That's where Pittsburgh is heading, faster than most appreciate. And boom goes the Burgh, Tinseltown of the East.


jnemeshjr said...

Just like Seattle...with less rain and fewer hippies!

Anonymous said...

Seattle native here with some fun facts.

Average annual rainfall in Pittsburgh: 36.9 inches
For Seattle: 37.2 inches
(Pittsburgh gets a lot more snow)

Number of days with >0.01 inches of precip, 153 and 155.

(More cloudy and partly cloudy days in SEA, though). Anyway, Seattle's climate compares pretty favorably.

Sorry, don't have any figures on hippies. Anyway, I found P'burgh very similar to Seattle in a lot of ways, except for the fries on salads and sandwiches.

But, speaking as a Seattle native, don't set your sights so low: be the next Portland. Much nicer city these days, unless you like traffic, new money, and bad taste.