New at Reason

Pittsburgh columnist Bill Steigerwald is perplexed about a new round of praise for his dying, dingy city.

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  • bill||

    Well there's your solution to two problems. Relocate all the Nawlin's people to Pitssburgh!

  • ||

    There's a difference between shrinking and dying.

    Boston's population is down 100,000 people since 1970. It is also a vastly better, stronger, more prosperous, more liveable city.

  • McGcruiser||

    I visited Pittsburgh for a weekend wedding several weeks ago. We stayed at a hotel just across from the city's big concert venue--Christine Aguillera (sp?) was playing that night. After the show, the hotel bar was absoutely overwhelmed with the an unreal number of very, very attractive women. In fact, I had never seen anwhere in the world, more attractive women congregating in one spot. Pittsburgh gets high marks from me.

  • ||

    Joe, how much has the has the Boston metropolitan area grown since 1960? What shocked me about the stats in the piece was that the Pittsburgh Metro area has shrunk by 100,000 in the since 1960, and Alleghany County by 400,000. If a place becomes more "livable" because fewer and fewer people want to live there, the definition of "livable" needs examination.

  • steveintheknow||

    Western PA really is a beautiful place. To bad its basically East WestVirginia.

    I would say that if you did a regression of population and "livability" there is a region in there (somewhere) where depopulation actually increases livability. Of course at some point the economy crashes and that all changes, but before that point it's all good.

    Austin seems to be going in the opposite direction. Really prosperous, really fun, filling up to the brim, and a pain in the ass to live in.

  • ||

    I will also add that the city of Boston proper's decline in population is closely tied to skyrocketing housing prices. In other words, people are very much willing to live in Boston, but are unable to do so. I'd wager a similar situation does not prevail in Pittsburgh. All declining populations are not created equal.

    Finally, the fact that Pittsburgh public schools spend $16,000 per student is an outrage, unless there is some sort of education miracle taking place in those schools that has yet to be disclosed.

  • ||

    Will,

    I was just criticizing the argument that population decline is a reliable indicator of a lack of liveability.

    The important point here is that there are many cities that are both very nice places to live AND suffering from economic dislocation. Berkshire County, Massachusetts, for example, is a beatuiful place to live - if you can find a job. So there are NYC telecommuters buying up and fixing the old houses.

  • ed||

    education miracle taking place

    Yeah, they graduate loving the Pirates.

  • ||

    Will,

    The interesting thing about Boston's (now ended, btw) population decline is that the number of households in the city has increased, even as the number of persons has gone down.

    Three deckers that were rented out by a total of seven adults and 11 kids in 1940 are now owned as condos by a total of five adults and no kids.

  • VM||

    Will A:

    yes, Kiski and Shadyside

  • Russ 2000||

    Pittsburgh seems like a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere the liquor stores are run by the state.

  • ||

    Livable for whom? That is the question. I interviewed for a Corps of Engineers job last month Buffalo. I suspsect Buffalo has a lot in common with Pittsburgh. The climate is not as bad as it is made out to be. It has pretty low crime, a great lake front, very little traffic, is 100 miles from Toronto (a real world class city), no traffic, and 100s of beautiful old homes in neat neighborhoods that can be had for very little money. In a lot of ways it is very livable and if I snag a fat paying USACE job, I am sure I would be happy there. But, I would only be so happy because I am sucking off the government tit. If I had to go up and get a private sector job in Buffalo, no way would even consider moving up there. There are very few good paying jobs to be had there.

    We are remaking these rust belt cities as play grounds for the wealthy, reitrees and government employees. If you are trust fund baby and don't quite have the trust fund to get into New York or Boston, why not go to Pittsburgh or Buffalo or Austin instead? Taxes high? Who cares, you are rich you can afford them. Schools suck? You send your kids to private schools. Economy sucks? You already have your money or work for the government. City government sucks? Who cares you don't depend on them for many services anyway.

    Contrast Buffalo to Houston or Dallas. Yeah, those cities are more expensive and the traffic sucks, but I could get a job in one of those cities a whole lot quicker.

    Places like Pittsburgh are built for a certain type of person and not really built for the average working person. Raising taxes and rebuilding downtown and paramids for billionaire sports franchise owners is great if you work on the construction projects or have enough money already to buy the tickets to see the games. If you are not in that catagory, you are screwed. But, who ever said the government is set up to look after the little guy?

  • Rhywun||

    just 315,000 souls left in a city built to handle 1 million

    Pittsburgh was NEVER "built to handle 1 million" - I can't trust anything in an article with blatant distortions like that. Its maximum population was something over 600,000 and like all northeast cities, at its maximum population it was very much overcrowded.

  • ||

    Joe, I think what is an interesting comparison with Pittsburgh is the Twin Cities. While Minneapolis and St. Paul proper saw their populations decrease a large amount since 1960 (although Minneapolis is now starting to grow by a small amount), the metropolitan area as a whole has had a population boom. At first glance it is tempting to say that the Twin Cities was never as dependent on a declining industry in the manner that Pittsburgh was, although it should be noted that Minneapolis in particular still has, after much demolition, a very large number of grain elevators that no longer hold grain.

    One might be tempted to say that Minneapolis was better governed than Pittsburgh, but anyone familiar with Minneapolis politics, the last fifteen years especially, would find the prospect laughable. On the other hand, Hennepin County, by far the most prosperous of the seven counties which make up the Twin City metropolitan area, has been pretty well governed; I don't know anything about Alleghany County.

    In any case, Hennepin County has now gotten aboard the stadium-building train, committing about 300 million for a place to house baseball players who make 10 million a year, so that may be changing as well. A in-depth comparison might be interesting.

  • Rhywun||

    Contrast Buffalo to Houston or Dallas.

    Buffalo does not have the ability to absorb its suburbs and spread the damage around like those cities do. Its boundaries were fixed in 1853 and once most of the wealthier people left, it was saddled with the enormous cost of not only mandated benefits for tons of poor people but also of numerous cultural institutions. The story is the same in every northeast city.

  • ||

    VM, was the $16,000 per year cited in the article inclusive of private schools?

  • db||

    VM,

    Kiski Prep and Shadyside Academy are private schools.

  • VM||

    I know guys. I know.

  • ||

    "Its boundaries were fixed in 1853 and once most of the wealthier people left, it was saddled with the enormous cost of not only mandated benefits for tons of poor people but also of numerous cultural institutions. The story is the same in every northeast city."

    Why did the rich leave? Perhaps high taxes, decline of the schools and basic city services like policing had somthing if not everything to do with that. Northeastern cities were the great laboratories of post new deal liberalism and suffered the brunt of the negative consiquences of these policies.

  • ||

    The economy in Austin does not suck.

  • ||

    "The economy in Austin does not suck."

    No its great. It also had way high taxes for the area and is incredibly expensive and has the traffic from hell, worse than Houston if that is possible. You don't live in Austin, you work there and live in Round Rock or Dripping Springs or even Kyle these days.

  • ||

    Well, that's the rub, John. A place with a great economy will tend to have skyrocketing home values, and traffic that stays ahead of road capacity. I always get suspect when people tout the livability of a city because of low, stable, housing costs. Chances are that is the sort of place, like the Buffalo you mention, where well-paying jobs in the private sector are damned hard to come by.

    I think the lack of zoning laws in Houston likely aids in keeping the price of housing from skyrocketing.

  • ||

    "get suspicious" of course. Sheesh, you can barely tell that there is a neural connnection between my frontal lobes and my hands.

  • Rhywun||

    Perhaps high taxes, decline of the schools and basic city services like policing had somthing if not everything to do with that.

    It's a little bit chicken-and-the-egg but I believe the high taxes were mostly a result, not a cause, of rich people moving beyond the means of the city to tax them. The people moved out for the same reason they moved everywhere: to get more space, and often, to get away from blacks. In the south and west, it usually meant moving to a more distant part of the same town. In the northeast, it meant moving to a separate town.

  • ||

    Saying "the rich left" doesn't quite describe what happened. Capital left, primarily in terms of business investment, either to the suburbs, or to different parts of the country.

    "Northeastern cities were the great laboratories of post new deal liberalism..." is a truly ridiculous statement. The New Deal spread enormous amounts of money throughout what is now the rapidly-growing sunbelt, as well. Nor are any of the urban ills that characterized northeast cities absent, or even less intense, in Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Orleans, Miami, or any of the other large cities of the period.

  • ||

    Wow, inept management, traffic congestion, high taxes... it sounds so much like Portland, Oregon! I guess now we Oregonians know our future...

  • ||

    I haven't been to St. Louis in over a decade, but I thought the way the main promenade, leading away from the arch, had a large number of boarded up neo-classical buildings, from a failed attempt at urban renewal, was really weird to look at. It's another story I'd like to know more about.

  • ||

    Fair enough Joe, it is not just Northeast, it is inner cities. Inner City LA or Houston is just as much of a victim of loopy liberal policies of the 50s and 60s as any Northeastern City.

    Will Allen,

    I don't think the people who do these lists think about actually getting a job and what that job would pay. Yeah, you can get a great Victorian house in Buffalo for like 250K, but finding a job to pay even a 250K mortgage might be a challenge. I have a feeling that the people who do the lists just fly in read the real estate ads and look around and imagine what it would be like to live in the city at their salaries. Yeah, give me an Austin salary and Buffalo and Pittsburgh are more than livable.

  • LarryA||

    and 100s of beautiful old homes in neat neighborhoods that can be had for very little money.

    This is great news indeed, until you get a job offer elsewhere and discover these homes are nearly impossible to sell.

    The climate is not as bad as it is made out to be.

    Translation: Only in a bad winter will your garage door be frozen shut all eight winter months.

    It would be really interesting to know how many writers for Places Rated Almanac live in the cities they tout. Do as I say, not as I do?

  • Rhywun||

    Inner City Suburban LA or Houston is just as much of a victim of loopy liberal policies benefit of government largesse of the 50s and 60s as any Northeastern City.

    Works both ways.

  • ||

    Taxes are a big reason by the city/county population is dropping like a rock. I have a house that cost me $177K a few years ago and my property taxes are $6000 a year. There's an income tax, a school tax, and a 7% sales tax on top of all that. You don't need a map or signs to find the county line, cuz there's a huge development there on every road, filled with commuters fleeing taxes.

    Making up (somewhat) for the high taxes is the spectacular scenery, and as mentioned above, the masses of absolutely beautiful women. The old guys here attribute it to the exercise climbing all the hills.

  • ||

    "Inner City LA or Houston is just as much of a victim of loopy liberal policies of the 50s and 60s as any Northeastern City."

    Uh, yeah, those inner cities were such garden spots prior to 1940. You're right, of course - it was those evil Democrats that caused capital to leave older urban areas, not the interstate highways or the historic trend of heavy manufacturing migrating away from core urban areas. Nope, it was the New Deal that caused the textile industry to start migrating to the South in the 1920s. No, wait a sec...

  • ||

    Really, it's all Eisenhower's, Levitt, and the Robert Moses types' faults. Tearing apart cities to build giant office plazas and highways through the middle of neighborhoods… what did they think would happen?

  • ||

    Yeah Joe, high taxes, the complete collapse of the school system, hugely bloated public welfare and benifit systems that cities could not afford and the absoultute refusal to enforce the laws in big cities had nothing to do with the collapse of the cities. Nothing at all. Everyone moved the suburbs not to get better schools and lower taxes but just because they built roads there.

    Denial is a wonderful thing.

  • ||

    John.. the roads made the land in what are now the suburbs accessible to the offices of the city, and that land was cheaper than city land. Without the government built highway system, nobody would live 40 miles from where they work because it would take forever to go back and forth. It's not necessarily the only REASON they moved out (as you pointed out), but it certainly enabled white flight rather than encourage a sense of community.

  • ||

    "Yeah Joe, high taxes, the complete collapse of the school system, hugely bloated public welfare and benifit systems that cities could not afford..."

    All became characteristic of American cities AFTER white flight and capital flight decimated their economic bases. There are these things called "books" out there, John, which some would say are more reliable sources of information about history than your ideologically-informed "gut."

  • channeling-yoo-know-hoo||

    but i didn't think Exodus talked about white flight. And they don't mention capital flight. 'less you mean those locusts...

    cuz they fly.

    what other books are there?

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiiter||

    The city sucks to live in, but that's why god created Cranberry, Peters Twp, Murraysville, Hopewell, Center and Butler. If you get into the suburbs and away from the oppressive taxing bodies of the city and county, it's a great place to live.

    Just use the city for entertainment, yinz guys should know dat.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiiter||

    cuz there's a huge development there on every road, filled with commuters fleeing taxes.

    See? This guy knows where to live and where to buy a jumbo.

  • Russ 2000||

    There's this other thing called "the federal government" which wrote these, attributing the idea of superhighways to FDR.

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/origin.pdf

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/excess.cfm

  • ||

    I grew up 40 miles from a city. My town had been there for over 100 years even though the government built highway system is about a half hour drive away. Seems that 100 years ago a corporation decided to build a railroad and train station and people followed.

    If governments had not built big highways, somebody would have built something because of the demand. Maybe mass transit would still be viable if not for the government's road policy?

  • phocion||

    attributing the idea of superhighways to FDR.

    Well, I guess that's one way to skirt around saying that the federal government copied Hitler.

  • ||

    Grew up in Etna in the 70s and 80s, graduated from Indiana University of PA in 93, then spent the best part of the next year looking for a job with my chemistry degree until I finally moved to Lancaster. 15 years later I'm in Frederick Md working for a biotech company, enjoying a great career and family, and watching Steelers and Pens games on cable. You can't swing a jumbo sammich around here without hitting a 25-40 year old who grew up in Western PA and moved to get a job.

    Proud to be from Pittsburgh, love the character of the city, big admirerer of the Rooneys and Lemieux, bla, bla, bla. That being said, the local pols have their heads in their asses if they haven't noticed that the only people who still live in the 'bug are old people, college kids, and adults too timid to move to somewhere with more opportunity. In 10 years, unless someone figures out a way to attract some new business to the region, the only reason to go to the city will be to catch a Steelers or Penguins game...it shouldn't be too hard - CMU, Duquesne, Pitt, etc., can offer lots of young, bright talent. Of course, doing so might require Ravenstahl, Onorato, and the rest of their ilk to drop their traditional, democrat, pro-union mentality that helped kill the local steel industry and adopt an aggressively pro-business stance, so I'm not holding out much hope…

  • ||

    If you hate Pittsburgh, Bill, then you should leave too, because I don't want you in my city. Have you actually ever been to another city?

    I can't believe on how far in the past you are stuck. The manufacturing/steel industry left Pittsburgh because it was unprofitable. The metropolitan area is full of new business and development and many of those who lived in the city moved into the suburban areas. Your own numbers reflect that.

    It's the people like you that live in Pittsburgh that are killing. You have an aversion to change. Change can be good, you know.

  • Jonathan Potts||

    Matt,

    Actually, Bill lived for years in LA, and he now lives in Eighty-Four, Pa.

    I'm not sure how you could conclude that Bill is living in the past based on what he wrote here.

    If I recall, Bill's numbers showed that despite an increasing U.S. population, the Pittsburgh metro region's population has remained virtually unchanged, while the population of the city and county have dropped. That means that the economic growth the rest of the nation has experienced during that time, as measured by the ability and desire of people to live here, has passed us by. It also means that the city proper has become an increasingly undesirable place to live, based on the factors that Bill cites--namely, high taxes and crumbling infrastructure.

    Pittsburgh does live in the past, but not in the way that I think you mean. Our leaders keep trying the same schemes, over and over again. All the promises made about the new stadiums were the same ones made about Three Rivers Stadium in 1970, and I'm sure the promises about the new arena were the same promises unfulfilled by contruction of Mellon Arena. Consider the money that is being spent to subsidize Downtown condos. If you read news accounts, you'll see that many of the people moving there are coming from other parts of the city. Is that the new development you are excited about?

    I do think that the recent report of population loss has been overblown, and Chris Briem can lend some perspective. (http://nullspace2.blogspot.com/). Overall, however, Bill makes some excellent points. There are great things about Pittsburgh.
    But it does us no good to pretend that there isn't much that still needs to be fixed.

  • MB||

    This article is pretty misleading. First of all, although the region is indeed losing people, it is mostly due to deaths outpacing births. And even as we're losing people overall, the city itself is *gaining* young people. According to the American Community Survey, the city's population in the 20 to 24 age group went up by 18.2% between 2003 and 2005. The city also gained 4.8% in the 25 to 34 age group during that time.

    This is a nice city. It may not have booming job growth but there are jobs. The medical, biotech and robotics sectors are doing well, for instance. Average salaries are not great, but you can get a nice apartment or house here for a very reasonable price. I live in a two-bedroom apartment in a gorgeous victorian house, and my rent is less than $600/month. So it doesn't matter if my salary is so-so.

    And there is a lot of new housing going in downtown. It's selling well in the preconstruction phase too. The cultural district is great. The city has a lot of really nice neighborhoods. I have never felt like living here is holding me back in any way.

    Right this moment I am looking out my office window at the river. There is a great mixed-use development just across from me, which is well integrated into the surrounding neighborhood. And I am looking at an old bridge that'ss being fixed up for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It will connect trails on either side of the river.

    Every city has good points and bad points. This article focuses way too much on the bad points and exaggerates them to paint a misleading picture. I could go on and on about why I love living here. I promise that it is not like Bill makes it sound. It is absolutely not dying. On the contrary, there are all kinds of good things happening. The arts community is great, including tons of grassroots stuff. The riverfronts are being reclaimed, as are former steel mill sites. the development I mentioned above is on a former steel mill site, in fact.

    I'm rambling, but you get the idea.

  • MB||

    Just to add to my comment above. I do agree that the problems need to be worked on, but I don't think it does any good to blow them out of proportion.

    Bill makes the city sound worse than it is. It is not dying. The infrastructure is in need of some work but "crumbling" is too strong a word.

    By the way, from what I have heard a large portion of the new condos and apartmens downtown are being sold to out-of-towners and suburbanites. And the subsidies the developers are receiving are tax abatements. It's not like the city is simply handing them cash. Developers are also putting in quite a lot of their own money, millions and millions of dollars.

    As for the stadiums, the area around them already looks a heck of a lot more developed than it ever did when Three Rivers was there. Not to mention the gorgeous riverfront park.

  • MH||

    MB, do you think it could be possible that births are outpaced by death for a reason? Let's take the case of those 20-34 year olds who are moving into the city, probably to go to one of the colleges and universities and maybe because that is where they got their first job. Most of them, eventually, will meet somebody and want to start a family. Then you need a bigger space, a safe neighborhood, and good schools.

    You buy a house; the city appeals your property taxes. Soon you're paying twice as much in property taxes as the elderly couple next door in a nearly identical house. Then you look at the schools, which quickly causes you to look at the price of private schools, which causes you to look back at your salary and the taxes you pay (4% local income tax, 7% sales tax, 50% parking tax, property taxes higher than the rent of the apartment you had just five years ago, ridiculously high liquor prices, etc). Then, you watch the tax abatements that go to developments that are basically for singles and couples. Before you know it, you're sitting in a realtor's office in Cranberry. Hypothetically.

  • MH||

    I forgot the one advantage to Pittsburgh. When I lived in Ohio, often there were two names on the ballot -- two names for a single office. Thanks to machine politics, now I don't have that problem anymore.

  • ||

    I grew up in Buffalo, and then I moved to San Francisco to see a bit of the world. All things considered, they are equal. A nice house in Buffalo costs $60,000 (seriously), there is no traffic, the schools are good but the weather can be tough. San Francisco houses cost 15 times more but the weather is great. If you do this for all the factors, things even out; it just depends on what is most important to you.

  • MB||

    Actually, deaths outpace births because the region currently has an unusually high proportion of elderly people. This is an after-effect of the genuine population loss back in the 80's.

    I'm sure there are many people who do move out to the suburbs to raise their families. But I think the tax situation is exaggerated. And of course one reason taxes are higher in the city (especially the parking tax) is that we have one of the nation's highest daytime influxes of population. In other words an awful lot of the people who work in the city live in the suburbs, and they pay little tax to the city that supports them all day.

    As for the schools, lots of people have this crazy fear of public schools. I don't know what the big deal is frankly. You can get a perfectly good education at a public school if you want to. My sister and I both did. Public schools have their flaws, but a child who pays attention can get what they need out of it.

  • MH||

    MB,

    The eighties were over 20 years ago. It isn't a reason, it is an excuse. Other places have recovered just fine. The city has a disproportionately high number of the elderly because it overtaxes everyone else. And these taxes, at least the recent increases, are used to pay the pensions of workers the city should have cut back when deindustrialization was happening.

    The tax situation isn't exaggerated if you work, own a home, and drive in the city. If you try to live a typical middle-class life with kids in Pittsburgh, you got hit with every tax increase in the last ten years. If you have lived in the same house for 30 years, your house is valued at very close to what you bought it for 30 years ago. If you bought it in the tail end of the Tom Murphy disaster or later, your taxes are based on the price you paid circa 2004, or something very close to it. (Don't take my word for it. You can look at the county real-estate web site yourself.) I also realize that you can get a fine education at public schools, in general. My point is that very large numbers of children get little to no education at the public schools in Pittsburgh. I think the 33% drop-out rate is a good indicator of this. While a child who pays attention can get what they need, the dozens who don't pay attention don't make it easy.

    I know the parking tax is to get some money out of the suburbanites, but you still pay it if you live in the city. Basically, my choice is moving to the suburbs or not being able to give my kids the things my parents gave me. This is a remarkably easy choice. Everyone I knew in the city left after they had a child. I stayed just long enough to realize that I'm more likely to see the Mon freeze in July than to see "reform". I'm glad you are getting what you want out of life in Pittsburgh. I just don't think it's very likely to stay that way. Unless you've got a cousin on the Democratic committee or something like that. Then, never mind. You'll do fine.

  • ||

    Interesting piece. It's too bad the writer has such a jaded view of the city his newspaper is named for. The decline in population in large metros like Pittsburgh is not uncommon and represents one of the greatest challenges facing local leaders.
    We visited a a family 2 years ago and had a memorable experience. And from I could see of the re urbanization going on in several areas, it's clear there are still plenty of good people who care about the city and are working to improve it.
    Pittsburgh should take that rating and use its fullest!

  • eric||

    I grew up in suburban New Orleans (Metairie for those who know or care), and lived in Pittsburgh for 10 years - 5 years at CMU, and another 5 working at UPMC, basically the entirety of the 90s.

    Da burgh was always kind of a double edged sword for me. Yeah, I got to see the occasionally good concert there, and a fair amount decent local music, but on the whole, the cultural/night life for a 20-30 y.o. was pretty dismal. (Did someone seriously suggest there were "hordes" of beautiful women there? Where can I get drugs like that?!?! Not in Pittsburgh!!!!)

    Some of the predominant memories I have of da burgh:

    -Oh, and I thought Louisiana had corrupt politicians!

    -Is there any place to go dancing without a redneck trying start a fight?

    -oh look, my car is encased in ice. It's pretty.... I think I'll telecommute today. (what's off street parking?)

    -No freaking way am I moving to S.F. - I'm paying $500/month in rent on $30k/yr! My salary would have to triple! (eventually I did, and my rent and salary both did)



    I haven't been in PA for more than a few days for over 7 years, so I can't really say what it's like now, but from Steigerwald's article and some of the comments, it doesn't sound much different than when I lived there. Lots of great local bars, local music, a ridiculous collection of museums (for a city of that size anyway), some interesting architecture, more bridges than they know what to do with, kickass trails and parks, and a pretty solid tech industry. On the other hand, taxes out the wazoo, struggling schools, politics that would make Earl Long blush, the Pirates, the crappiest highway system ever, rednecks around every corner, and an ever diminishing population.

    All in all, I like Pittsburgh - I'd never live there again, but that's just a southern boy's aversion to winter. As far as it being the most livable city in the U.S. - well that's just silly. As someone else pointed out, it just depends on what makes you happy.

  • MB||

    MH,

    I disagree with your connection between the high proportion of elderly and the tax situation. The population loss of the 80's is not just an excuse. We lost a lot of people during that time, and they took their kids and hypothetical kids (and grandkids) with them. There is no way that didn't have a ripple effect on the city's future demographics.

    Yes, a lot of people move to the suburbs when they have kids. That's an American thing, not just a Pittsburgh thing.

    Would I like to see the taxes lowered? Of course. Do I think some things need to change? Yes. But I just don't think the city is as bad off as some people think. Obviously there are still a lot of people living here, and liking it. As I said before, the city gained young people in recent years.

    We'll have to agree to disagree, I guess. But I stand by what I said.

  • JoeP||

    Interesting, several ignorant posts here

    Pittsburgh took an economic hit that in some ways rivals any hurricane. There was no concern from the rest of the country when industry was forced out of the country (No it wasn't the unions unless you think that working for a dime a week is reasonable).

    Nope, every other region was more than happy to take the fresh meat (new taxpayers) and Pittsburgh couldn't expand its city limits from a mere 55 sq miles to inlude the burbs like Houston, Phoenix, Columbus and many other "growing" cities who can then balance the tax burden and consolidate services (also helping on the tax front). Nah, it's just easier to live in the burbs and leave the city to suffer, though it's nice to rape the city of its services and not pay for it.

    The population loss from 20 years ago, has just as much impact now (natural population is declining due to the births being less than deaths currently). Others cities weren't hit as bad - even though domestic migration is negative in many American cities, including Boston, NYC and DC, they are growing due to births and foreign immigration.

    A little perspective would nice on this comment section(better yet in the orginal column). Hmm, and no mention of the traction in growing areas like VC investment (biggest increase from 97 to 06 of '97 top cities).

  • ||

    The problem is rooted in government policies that started right after World War II, that prefer suburbs to cities. They provide financial subsidies and other incentives to moving out of cities to the suburbs. Add to that the urban pathologies, starting with the 1965 riots, the rise in crimes (particularly in the 1970s), the catastrophic decline of urban schools, forced student bussing, and urban redevelopment wich for decades has been a relentless destroyer of low and moderate cost urban housing, and you have a prescription for government-facilitated decline of cities. Pittsburgh is evoidently no exception.

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