Regional Annual Report

Pittsburgh Real Estate

The Terminal, stretching five blocks along Smallman Street, had just been given a stunning makeover when COVID-19 arrived, threatening the eateries and shops it courted as tenants. Months later, the 95-year-old former hub of Pittsburgh’s wholesale produce industry remains a hot real estate property that has attracted tenants throughout the pandemic, including District Brew Yards, …

Pittsburgh Real Estate Read More »

A Seismic Shift in Higher Ed

Between declining enrollment, rising costs and at least one more pandemic-disrupted semester, Pittsburgh’s colleges and universities are facing 2021 budget shortfalls that may impact this mainstay sector of the regional economy for generations to come. Though often hailed as a bright spot in western Pennsylvania’s relatively moribund economy, the higher education sector—locally and nationally—was already …

A Seismic Shift in Higher Ed Read More »

New Paradigm

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie, whose immense wealth was earned along the banks of Pittsburgh’s rivers, called upon his peers to direct their fortunes toward the public good. In “The Gospel of Wealth,” he pitched “an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the …

New Paradigm Read More »

Municipal Time Bomb

The fear was real last spring as local taxes—the lifeblood of boroughs, townships and cities—were trickling in. The COVID-19 pandemic was closing or impairing businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania, the state and nation. The U.S. unemployment rate soared to nearly 15 percent. “We worried that our revenues would collapse,” said Scott Andrejchak, the municipal manager of …

Municipal Time Bomb Read More »

Breaking the News

With their traditional revenue models already suffering a long-term structural decline, local media operations have been further weakened by the government lockdowns and economic havoc accompanying COVID-19. Or as Tom Melia, Washington director of PEN America, the 99-year-old nonprofit that protects free expression, put it: “The pandemic has accelerated almost every contributing factor to the …

Breaking the News Read More »

Wanted: More People

Southwestern Pennsylvania staggered into 2020 in need of people, again. It was coming off of yet another year when deaths outnumbered births and the number of newcomers couldn’t keep pace with the number of residents moving somewhere else. The COVID-19 pandemic likely makes the already-long odds of a quick rebound in the region’s population even …

Wanted: More People Read More »

Baby Boom, or Bust?

After a major power blackout left New York City in the dark in 1965, the New York Times suggested it led to a citywide baby boom, citing a surge in births at local hospitals. After Boston was hit with a blizzard in 1978, the Boston Globe predicted it would result in a baby boom. In …

Baby Boom, or Bust? Read More »

2021 Economic Outlook

Economic recovery prospects in the Pittsburgh metro region are challenging for 2021. Government-mandated business closures and capacity limitations have sunk the metropolitan area’s labor force into steeper-than-average declines, undermining the ability of existing household consumption and business expenditures to reignite economic gains in the near term. New stimulus from the federal government may well provide …

2021 Economic Outlook Read More »

Gone Before Their Time

In Pittsburgh’s early 20th century industrial economy, danger lurked in rail yards, on the exposed I-beams of tall buildings under construction and in steel mills where gases and fire coexisted. “Ten minutes before, we stood there laughing, and not one of us had an idea there was anything wrong with that furnace,” lawyer and journalist …

Gone Before Their Time Read More »

Crime Is Dropping, but So Are Relations With Police

Editor’s note: This story was first published in the Spring 2020 issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly. Southwestern Pennsylvania continues to be one of the safest metropolitan regions in the nation, and the latest data suggest it’s only getting safer. The overall crime rate in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area stood at 1,687.7 per 100,000 residents …

Crime Is Dropping, but So Are Relations With Police Read More »

Sinkholes, Congestion and Amazon

On the morning of Monday, Oct. 28, a massive sinkhole, roughly 20 feet in diameter, suddenly opened on 10th Street in Downtown Pittsburgh, swallowing the back half of a Port Authority bus. There were no serious injuries, and the cartoonish photos shared from the scene were generally met with delight on social media across the …

Sinkholes, Congestion and Amazon Read More »

The Obesity Puzzle

Temptation lurks in gooey fudge icing layered in a slice of moist chocolate cake and the hot salty crunch of a french fry. The sight and smell can incite the body to ramp up blood pressure, heart rate, skin conductance and salivary response—characteristics of arousal and excitement. It’s a response that Lisa Germeroth hopes to …

The Obesity Puzzle Read More »

Pittsburgh’s Economy 2020

Pittsburgh’s economy has a difficult row to hoe as we look ahead to 2020. Economic potential through the new year will be supported by stable consumer conditions and business sentiment, but the resources necessary to keep up with demand are running thin. It may be time for Pittsburgh to deliver on the promise of affordability …

Pittsburgh’s Economy 2020 Read More »

Cleveland 11,000 – Pittsburgh 1

The housing bubble had burst and the nation was reeling from recession. The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County were feeling the pain more than most places in 2009. Foreclosures were mounting by the thousands, and Fannie Mae and other lenders were desperate for a way to off-load the abandoned properties filling their books. They …

Cleveland 11,000 – Pittsburgh 1 Read More »

Gauging K–12 Education Quality

Allegheny County residents are tough graders when assessing the performance of the public schools that educate 115,000 county children in grades kindergarten through 12, a far-ranging survey of their views on education suggests. Fewer than half give schools a better-than-fair rating for their class size, funding, student preparedness, parental involvement and diversity of the student …

Gauging K–12 Education Quality Read More »

Gaining Critical Mass

Alfred Hunt knew a good idea when he saw it. And Charles Martin Hall had one. In 1886, the 23-year-old chemist had discovered a smelting process to make aluminum inexpensively while working in a lab he cobbled together in a shed behind his parent’s house in northern Ohio. Hunt, a Pittsburgh metallurgist, realized its commercial …

Gaining Critical Mass Read More »

What are “Waters of the United States”?

What are the so-called “waters of the United States” and why did the Obama administration expand the definition? To understand that is to understand the evolution of environmental regulation in the United States and how the nation’s courts have interpreted what’s protected. With the exception of the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Act, hardly any water …

What are “Waters of the United States”? Read More »

Region Gets Average Marks for Senior Livability

The Pittsburgh region has filled a trophy case with awards for being judged the “most livable” place in the nation by a variety of publications and organizations. But when the livability of senior citizens is considered, the region is less than a standout, an AARP index suggests. AARP scores the livability of U.S. counties based …

Region Gets Average Marks for Senior Livability Read More »

A Different Pittsburgh

There’s an Andy Warhol canvas of a newspaper clipping with a photograph of a can of tuna fish and, beneath it, two middle-aged women and the caption: “Seized shipment: Did a leak kill…Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Brown?” The painting, “Tunafish Disaster,” is comedian and Warhol collector Steve Martin’s favorite work by the Pittsburgh-born artist. And …

A Different Pittsburgh Read More »

Protecting Our Streams

Determining where water begins and ends seems a matter of physical properties, of whether two hydrogen molecules are bonded to oxygen, and how much of it exists. Where is it located, and will people eventually drink it? Swim in it? Fish in it? This molecule, essential to life, has become another point of political polarization. …

Protecting Our Streams Read More »

It Wears You Down

Caring for her father fell to Patrice Cottrell about nine years ago. It involved a few errands, at first. Doctor visits, marshaling his medications, coordinating health care and financial matters and scouting out and evaluating long-term care possibilities followed as his health declined. There were late-night calls when he was anxious about living alone, but …

It Wears You Down Read More »

The Economic Outlook for 2018

tronger hiring last year, rising wages and upcoming tax cuts lead those who read the economic tea leaves to be cautiously optimistic that 2018 could reward southwestern Pennsylvania with the largest increase in job growth in five years, finally shaking the malaise that works to contract the local labor force, send residents packing and stifle …

The Economic Outlook for 2018 Read More »

Top