Saturday, April 18, 2009

World Class Skyline in Pittsburgh

Forbes Traveler rates Pittsburgh as one of the "13 greatest urban silhouettes" in the world:

It’s hard to beat Asian tigers like Hong Kong for urban audacity, but our round-up of great skylines holds some surprises, such as… Pittsburgh? Indeed. The city is "right at the intersection of three fairly large rivers, and you approach it through a mountain tunnel, so you arrive completely deprived of a view—and then you’re on a bridge looking at the city," say Stamberg and Aferiat. "It’s very beautifully proportioned the way it starts fairly low at the river and then climbs to the U.S. Steel building, which is the tallest one there."

The topography of Pittsburgh creates great drama and an overwhelming number of unique neighborhoods to explore. For aficionados of geography, Pittsburgh is a little-known gem. In fact, Pittsburgh is better appreciated outside of the United States. A good example of this perspective is the established international reputation of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). A CMU education is valued more abroad than it is domestically.

Anyone who has seen the Pittsburgh skyline won't be surprised at the ranking. That so many readers of Forbes Traveler would be shocked explains why Pittsburgh, among other shrinking cities, struggles to attract newcomers. How talent comes to appreciate a place hundreds of miles away is a bit of a mystery.

Over at Pittsblog, Samantha Bennett discusses a recent Forbes Most Livable Cities list:

Portland [Maine] is a small city whose long and frigid winters have not kept it from having HUGE income growth, very low unemployment, low crime and favorable marks for culture. I also remember reading recently that it is one of the best cities in the country for childless singles in their 30s and 40s. Again, I must point out that bad weather is not helpful, but: Madison, Denver, Baltimore, Stamford, Bethesda, Portland and three cities in Massachusetts. Life is tough. Buy mittens.

I can tell you that life is not tough in Denver, at least concerning the climate. But Bennett's perception is quite common for people who haven't lived in Colorado. I've wintered in all of the regions listed as weather-challenged. Relative to them, I feel like I am cheating residing in the Front Range. Mitten days are rare. You are more likely to be wearing shorts in January than suffer multiple weeks of bundling up. But if you miss the snow, you can always head to the mountains.

Knowledge of place is difficult to convey, particularly over great distances. This is why most migration, even today, is a short journey. Personal relationships can often trump rational choice. This is true for the business world, as well. Thus, "livable" Pittsburgh continues to shrink.

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