Friday, September 07, 2012

Many Boomtowns But Only One Pittsburgh

The more distinctive the better. That's the current rage in place aesthetics. The world has finally come around to appreciating Pittsburgh:

Some of those looks are magnificent. From the top of Mt Washington, the city is quite beautiful. Skyscrapers, including a marvellously odd glass ‘castle’, soar in a central triangle, created by the convergence of three rivers. Dozens of eye-candy bridges peel off to the sides.

This may come as a surprise to anyone who lumps Pittsburgh in with struggling northern industrial cities such as Detroit and Buffalo. In truth, Pittsburgh’s a bit of a chameleon that doesn’t quite fit anywhere. It’s too inland to be east coast, but not quite far enough to be mid-West. And it’s too prosperous to be ‘Rust Belt’. Despite being in a northern state, it’s only narrowly above the Mason-Dixon Line — and its rivers eventually flow into the Mississippi rather than the Chesapeake Bay.

Emphasis added. That oddball look and feel is what makes Pittsburgh, to my geographer's sensibilities, so wonderful. There's no place like it, anywhere.

Pittsburgh doesn't have to try to be weird or quirky. It just is that way. Larryville might have shed its parochial soul. That still leaves 2,000 other authentic neighborhoods for you to explore.

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