So the other day I was all about how, if the one-note dump that is Pittsburgh can regain its footing even as it continues to shrink, so can the one-note dump that is Detroit. In that spirit, it seemed like a good plan to drive on down to the hub of Steeler Nation to track progress. The tour started with coffee at 21st Street, a smart cafe (using Intelligentsia beans) in the city's thriving Strip District market area, which is like Eastern Market, except more compact and way more grimy.
Downtown Pittsburgh - sometimes called The Golden Triangle - is similar in size to Detroit's, a compact area down where the three rivers (Ohio, Monongahela and the Allegheny) meet, occupancy at street level is noticeably better and there is a dearth of parking lots. Here's the Benedum-Trees Building, an appealing piece of the Fourth Avenue streetscape puzzle. On a national holiday, the streets are filled with people walking around. This is probably because the Steelers won the night before.
No matter how hard times were in Pittsburgh, there was always Mt. Washington, and always the Duquesne Incline, which dates back to the 1800's.
The buzz on Pittsburgh today is good, but that doesn't mean it's all sweetness and light around here -- the city's still about half down from it's 1950 high. Neighborhoods like the Hill District, right above downtown, have an eerie emptiness to them. Familiar, much?
Like this. There's plenty of this. The difference is, abandoned buildings aren't everywhere - so many of the city neighborhoods are really packed. Even here in the Hill District, one is reminded that it's not so much about filling up the city again, and more about managing your decline so the city doesn't start to feel like the Wild West. Ahem.
Iron City in bottles at Primanti Bros. - the official beer of the Pittsburgh Nation. A lot of beer being served in bottles up in here. Pffft. Advantage: Detroit.
Yes, Pittsburgh looks pretty good these days, all things considered. The average visitor will have no idea that the city is at half of its peak population.