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Ed Heath

So, nine catagories, didn't finish in the top twenty in any, below one hundred in two, and we finish first overall? Out of 379 other cities? I'm not buying the book just to look for the error.

John Morris

I think these guys must give a lot of weight to affordability and that makes sense. Adjusted for price-- it's a good deal, in spite of it's flaws.

What this shows is that the city has a number of advantages that play well outside the Pittsburgh region--- Afordability is the biggest one.

Mark Rauterkus

The fix is in. I dare not knock the city. But, who did the math?

We're still a top city because we have the promise of gambling without the dispair it brings. So, we are in this perfect zone of a place that shoots us to the top of the charts.

Asking about the difference between then and now -- humm.


The 3RS worked.

Tons of additional Section 8 housing is throughout the city now, street by street. Before they had kept lots of poor folks in taller, tighter quarters.

Lots of old but still functional housing was around 15 years ago. Now it is fallen into trash or else has been taken. In another 15 years tons of great places / homes will be but a memory.

Big box retail, 15 years ago, was still absent from Pgh, but had begun to find its groove elsewhere. So, we had lot of mom & pop places. Many of them are gone. Home Depot took out 10 hardware stores in the east end. Now we've got much more big box, but still not as much as elsewhere. Heck Wall -Mart can't even get a grip on its hillside in Kilbuck.

Small manufacturing was still a big deal 15 years ago. A number of foundry / forging / milling / die-casting places have departed. Some for Indiana County. Some for overseas. Some for other states. We made thing in the day and we've lost nearly all of that.

The creative class was not to be found in Pittsburgh 15 years ago. We were big business to the bone. Not now. We've got pockets of small tech operators. We've got people who can communicate without being on KDKA. Big iron has been replaced by nimble folks to a degree. But we still lag.

Pitt was more of a commuter school 15 years ago. Now it is more competitive in all areas. Pitt isn't Ivy League -- but it is much more like PSU if not way better in stature -- than it was. All the schools have done a little better and are holding their own. Robert Morris, Point Park and Carlow and even D.U. still have a long way to go to thrive and succeed and top-notch educational institutions -- but they are all doing better and have found their ways. I think in 15 years into the future, these schools could really soar.

UPMC was a nice player. Now they dominate. Other hospitals have gone away. Other places have been driven into the ground.


for a laugh, from this article:
about the mon-fay expressway...
"It hit home when I (recently) read about the population losses in Allegheny County," he said. "What would help reverse that loss more than any other thing would be completing this project," the northern link in the 70-mile highway now about half built in the Monongahela River corridor south to the West Virginia border.

Yeah, the MFE will reverse the population losses. What an idiot!

Mark Stroup

We no longer see ourselves as a big business headquarters -- with the exception of the metastasis of UPMC. The arts are a bigger sell. As a matter of fact the arts, emerging arts, engage people more than they did. Some emerging arts orgs., say Pgh Filmmakers, have now become institutions.

So the cocktail party conversations sway more to the "What do you love to do?" rather than the "What do you do?", much as in San Francisco area.

Biking is growing. River trails have been established. For better or worse, there are more cranes in the city than there were 15 years ago. Little neighborhoods that could have done so, viz. L'ville, Friendship, and Bloomfield, and others like Braddock are upcoming. The sunbelt will continue to be a draw, and people will still look for the next career opportunity, but Pittsburgh remains as a small and inspired city. If you can make it here, you've got it made.

Paul Galvanek

Affordability probably does play a big factor but the reality is that Pittsburgh's affordability is largely a myth. Housing costs make up a big part of the cost of living numbers often used for comparison and the large number of very low cost, poor condition homes in undesirable neighborhoods that few people have any interest in weight the averages and create the illusion of low cost housing. More useful numbers like the Housing Affordability Index which considers how what percentage of homes are available at different income levels shows that Pittsburgh rates pretty poorly when it comes to an average income trying to buy an average price home. If you're willing to live in near ghetto conditions and send your kids to some of the worst schools in the state it sure is "affordable" but who the heck wants that? http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06357/748355-109.stm

Sam M

Maybe so. But I have been in four-bedroom homes in Regent Square that go for $400,000, tops.

Those same homes in DC--anywhere in DC--would cost somewhere between $800,000 and $1.2 million. In a nice section of DC? Forget it. That's where the rich people live.

In 2004 I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Silver Spring. Nothing special. On the 11th floor. The fire alarms didn't work. There was a fire. Our neighbors died.

$1,400 a month.

I now live in a huge three bedroom house in a reasonably nice section of Friendship. For hundreds of dollars a month less.

So anecdotally speaking, Pittsburgh seems pretty cheap to me.

Paul Galvanek

There's no doubt the housing is cheaper in absolute terms, but the problem is everyone I know has to work to pay for their housing and the number of people in the area who earn enough to be able to get a mortgage on that $400,000 is relatively small. As the fella pointed out in the article I gave a link to; If you're earning enough in this region to buy a $400,000 home you can almost certainly earn enough in the NOV area to buy the $800,000 place with lots of income to spare. AND you don't have to worry about being in the disasterous Wilkinsburg or PPS school districts if you have kids. Those nifty cost of living comparision tools on the web illustrate the problem pretty clearly: if your household income in NOV is $150,000 you need about $105,000 to maintain the same standard of living in Pittsburgh. I personally know lots of friends and family living in NOV with income in excess of $150,000, I know very few in the Pittsburgh region earning $100,000 where the median household income is about $40,000 and falling. The Housing Affordability Index says my personal experience is not unique as a far smaller percentage of the population is able to afford the average priced home here ($286,000) than are able to afford the average price home just about anywhere else.

Sam M


Again, all good points. But again, anecdotally speaking, I know this: I am a grad student. My wife is a nurse, part time. With what we make, we can afford a pretty nice place in Friendship. We almost rented an entire house in Regent Square for the same amount.

The is no way--absolutely no way--we could have rented a similar place in Fairfax, VA. And REALLY no way we could have rented in a decent neighborghood within the district. And I am not talking with the same income. I mean with the pay differentials included. Grad students and nurses get paid more there. But not enough more to get me in a three bedroom house with a yard and parking within a ten minute drive of where I work--walkable even.

I would be looking at $4,000 a month in DC for that.


I think where people move might have a lot to do with image, too. Let's face it - someone who comes to this country for the first time is much more likely to know of, say, San Fransisco than Pittsburgh. It doesn't matter how livable a place is if everyone *thinks* it's not, or hasn't even heard of it.

Paul Galvanek

>Again, all good points. But again, anecdotally speaking, I know this: I am a >grad student. My wife is a nurse, part time. With what we make, we can >afford a pretty nice place in Friendship. We almost rented an entire house >in Regent Square for the same amount.

Thing is Sam, you're not really disputing my point. You're a grad student now, but you hopefully won't always be and when it comes time to take that first job once you'll probably have chances to take many more jobs outside of Pittsburgh earning two or three times what you will be able to here and live in a much nicer, granted more expensive, place than Regent Square or Friendship.

There's a reason that only about 5% of the graduates from the region's colleges and universities will remain in the area and that is because of the job and income disparity.

Anecdotaly, when my brother and his girlfiend (now wife) graduated, him with an accounting degree and her with CS and minor in math, they also could have take one of the few offers they got in Pittsburgh with salaries in the mid 20s and chosen to live in a place like Regent Square or Friendship. Instead they found they could have much higher standards of living by accepting one of the multiple offers in the Fairfax, Alexandria, Montgomery County area the lowest of which was in the high 40s.

The reality is that the only reason a place like Friendship or Regent Square is desirable to anyone around here in the first place is because to of low earning potential in the area. Most working couples pulling down 100k right out of college would see Regent Square and Friendship as steps down.

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