Sunday, October 30, 2011

The "Reinvention" of Pittsburgh is Nothing New

Proof that the stories about Pittsburgh "reinventing" itself are nothing new -- here is a page from a 1950s book called "Great Cities of the World." All of this talk of a "renaissance" came before Pittsburgh lost half its peak population.

Pittsburgh, the iron and steel colossus of the world, stands astride three great rivers-- the Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela. Coal and this mighty water transportation system were responsible for the growth and the far-reaching influence of Pittsburgh's vast industrial domain. Scarcely a decade ago they were also responsible for devastating floods that periodically spilled their unleashed fury on the city, and for the sooty smoke that continually shrouded the area in a dense black pall. Today, as Pittsburgh nears its 200th anniversary, the city is still a Titan of industry, but it has undergone a remarkable transformation. With smoke-filtering devices, the innovation of smokeless fuels and stringent laws controlling smoke density, the sun again shines on Pittsburgh. Floods, one of the city's greatest obstacles to progress, are now regulated by a mammoth network of dams and reservoirs. Its decaying physical structure of dingy outmoded commercial buildings, its tangle of inadequate streets and highways, its seedy and deteriorating Lower Hill tenements have experienced an extravagant renaissance. A shining and refurbished Pittsburgh points with pride to the tall clean lines of its stainless steel and aluminum skyscrapers, its broad sweep of superhighways and expressways and its many sociological, civic and economic improvements. A beautiful park, with the 36-acre Gateway Center as a backdrop, now fills the apex of the Golden Triangle. Here Fort Pitt, the tiny nucleus of the modern city, withstood Indian attacks during the Pontiac War. A small brick blockhouse, the only remnant of prerevolutionary times, is preserved within the park. Along Bigelow Boulevard and in the area of Schenley Park are found many of the city's renowned cultural and educational institutions including the University of Pittsburgh with its 42-story Cathedral of Learning, Carnegie Institute and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.

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