Region

Greening the Region

The G-20 Summit provides southwestern Pennsylvania with an unprecedented opportunity to share its compelling story with the world. Ours is the tale of a region dramatically transformed by foresight and innovation, which have led to a remarkable economic and environmental revival. After the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s, our region worked hard …

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You’ve come a long way, city

The 2009 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranks Pittsburgh 52nd in the world. This annual report aims at an international business audience and compares 215 cities based on 39 criteria. Among the most important are: Political/economic stability, safety, education, hygiene, recreation and transportation. Each city is indexed against New York (100). The top five cities …

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Life After (And With) Steel

With recession upon us and its attendant unease, taking stock is an unavoidable activity for people like me in the information business. The exercise is made more intense because the past 30 years in Pittsburgh have been times of high drama that attracted international attention and visitors coming to see for themselves. They ask about …

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Global City: The Vietnamese are Here

Father Dam Nguyen presides over the flock at St. Gabriel’s Church of the Sorrowful Virgin in the South Hills town of Whitehall. Several in the congregation share his Vietnamese heritage, and more often these days he finds himself given the joyful task of presiding at the marriage or baptism of one of their children or …

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50 Years Ago…

To understand the culture of a region, one must consider how its residents view themselves, especially during a milestone event such as a major anniversary celebration. So, as Pittsburgh commemorates its 250th birthday, I decided to look in my library for several brochures from the city’s 1958 bicentennial. On the surface, looking back 50 years …

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A Grand Idea: Pittsburgh 250

It really was George Washington’s “grand idea”—the Potomac River was the true Gateway to the West. Joel Achenbach writes about it in The Grand Idea—connecting the tidewater of the Potomac to the headwaters of the Ohio would secure Virginia’s leadership among the new American states. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that almost 250 years later, …

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Safety in Numbers?

Pittsburgh is a safe city. Pittsburgh is a safe region. This has long been the case, and the latest data on crime indicate that the shoe still fits. These four statements need to be tempered, however. This is because with public safety what matters is not regional or municipal crime rates as much as whatis …

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The face of Brazil in Pittsburgh

Five years ago, Brazilian conductor and composer Flavio Chamis set out to create an album with musicians from five nations at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. Chamis and producer Jay Ashby decided to take things slowly, something unusual in the commercial music world. Three years later, in 2006, Especiaria was released. The album was picked up …

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Lacking Nonconformity

Perhaps we can blame Richard Florida, the former Carnegie Mellon professor, who popularized the notion that, yes, there is a creative class of people and a direct relationship between their representation in a region’s population and the social and economic prospects of that community. As Florida still tells it, everyone loves to be in the …

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Conformity or Confirmation?

I recently received correspondence from a man who posed several excellent questions about the Regional Indicator project and the city-state of Pittsburgh. “I understand the importance of facts and fact-based decision making,” David Palmieri wrote. “However, I view facts like I do data as the basis for information. What information and intelligence can we glean …

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Testing the Waters

Herbert Dreiseitl was in a hurry to get back to work one day last February, so he did what most people do here. He jaywalked. He scuttled across Liberty Avenue — no cars were coming — and headed uptown, where his design team awaited him.​ His hurry was understandable. Dreiseitl, a world-renowned urban designer who …

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The City’s Fortune Depends on It

Among subjects of continuing public attention, none resonates like the size and efficiencies of local government. For some months now, a citizens group under the leadership of Mark Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, has been investigating the potential merger of city and county government, either in total or in part. I cannot recall …

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Getting It Right

Time flies even when you are not always having fun. That’s the lesson I take away from 18 months publishing indicators on pittsburghtoday.org and writing about them in this space. My ambivalence is a product of pride that we have developed a regional information system that can serve us well if we expand and sustain …

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Job Health Not So Simple

If you read the daily newspaper, listen to news radio or watch the local TV news, you’ll get a report in the first week of every month on the latest Pittsburgh unemployment rate. It is a news tradition of decades. The data come from the state Dept. of Labor and Industry one month after the …

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We’re Art Lovers to the HIlt

Last fall, PittsburghToday commissioned the first-ever survey of arts involvement in the 22-county Pittsburgh region. Done by the University of Pittsburgh, the survey asked several questions including: What arts events do you attend? What arts activities do you engage in personally? What arts activities have your ever had instruction in? The results are interesting in …

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Let’s Solve the Region’s Fiscal Strain

Very much in the news these days are the related subjects of unfunded pension liabilities and escalating costs of employee benefit packages because of rising health care costs. They are delivering a one-two punch to local governments and school districts throughout the nation, with the situation being particularly acute here in the old industrial heartland. …

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Steel City vs. Silicon Valley

In 1890, when my great-grandfather returned from San Francisco to take over the family farm on Shady Side’s Ellsworth Avenue, the value of Allegheny County real estate ranked sixth in the country. With its river connections, access to coal and access to Wall Street, Pittsburgh was becoming America’s most vital manufacturing center. Entrepreneurs such as …

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The Truth Can Be A Good Thing

Let us take a few moments to ponder the corrosive nature of pessimism and its companion, bending over backward in the face of bad news to put the best face on things. Both are civic diseases of significance in our corner of the world. This is not merely anecdotal testimony from someone involved in public life …

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Gambling a Boon to Travel Industry

The public discussion about the pending arrival of casino gambling in the region has been largely preoccupied with one tangential, if related, subject. Is there enough money to be made from a slot machine operation within the corporate limits of Pittsburgh to fund the construction of a new civic auditorium to replace Mellon Arena? This …

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Conventional Wisdom of City is Not So Wise

They were by reputation and position an informed group of citizens. All were guests at a November coming-out party of a new consortium promoting “Pittsburgh Regional Indicators.” The question put to them was a simple one: Commuters in which of these cities face the most traffic congestion going to and from work? St. Louis. Indianapolis. …

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The Economic Forecast: U.S. and Pittsburgh to Expand

For 2006, the U.S. economy’s prospects remain favorable, along with those of Asia, North America and, to a lesser extent, Europe. One key assumption underlying our sanguine global economic outlook is that crude oil prices will fluctuate within a $45 to $70 per barrel range, but average close to $55 per barrel in 2006, down …

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