Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow

How Do We Attract People to Pittsburgh?

David Feehan, president of Civitas Consultants in Maryland, is a recognized expert in downtown revitalization. For more than 50 years, his work has helped improve dozens of cities and neighborhoods in the United States and elsewhere, including Minneapolis, Detroit, Austin, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Today spoke with him about ideas that might help …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow 2020

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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 …

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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 …

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Local Economy Stays Healthy

Pittsburgh’s spirited bid fell short of landing Amazon’s second headquarters and the 25,000 jobs it promised last year, but the southwestern Pennsylvania economy continued encouraging trends in job growth, wages and unemployment on its own. Without the jolt of such a major employment stimulus, the region’s hopes are pinned on creating jobs with the companies …

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What’s the Big Idea?

As the kickoff to a region-wide competition, we asked a group of regional leaders to submit an idea, in 50 words or less, that, if enacted, would make Pittsburgh a better place to live. It could be something that wouldn’t cost a dime or it could be a multimillion-dollar public works campaign. Below are their …

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The Pittsburgh Flip

Tom Maiden has been renting in the city of Pittsburgh for decades. He has a well-paid job as manager of user services at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and while he’s never shut the door on the idea of buying a home, the ease and convenience of renting is too compelling. “While renting might be slightly …

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Never-Ending Gap

The wide gap between incomes earned by white and black workers is a national phenomenon that won’t go away. And it’s particularly severe in southwestern Pennsylvania. African Americans living in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area earn 48 percent less than white residents on average, 2017 U.S. Census Bureau median income data suggest. Income influences …

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More People Are Leaving the Region. Does It matter?

Sometime in 2008, more people began moving into the cities and suburbs of southwestern Pennsylvania from other parts of the country than were leaving for places and opportunities elsewhere. It was a watershed moment, the long-awaited reversal of a decades-long trend of being on the losing end of U.S. migration patterns. It proved to be …

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Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow 2019

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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. …

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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 …

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Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow 2018

In this 2018 Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow report, we compare the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area with regions across the country in key quality of life measures. Additionally, look for in-depth reports on: the region’s 2018 economic forecast; the rationale for building a new airport; an examination of what effect the Trump administration’s removal of …

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Airport Overhaul

As birthday celebrations go, this one was fairly harsh. The local news media was gathered at Pittsburgh International Airport’s Midfield Terminal on a late-summer day last September. Earlier, they’d reported the terminal complex, once lauded for its innovative design, had turned 25. Now, with cameras rolling, airport officials noted its inefficiencies, declared it was time …

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