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John Morris

The sad fact of politics is that for a polititian it is always good. You take a bunch of money from millions of people and create an event in one place. Will people ask where the money came from or ask what they would have done with it. No. For a politician it is a no lose deal.

You see the event or the stadium or whatever and that's what people will remember. Also, piling all the money in a huge pot creates great opportunities for patronage or favors or whatever coruption you would like. Oh, thank you mister king for all this stuff.

Who said it was better to rule in hell than serve in heaven. That's the motto of politics. If you can't claim credit for it and it doesn't give you power then it isn't good.

John Morris

I have a few more thoughts. First, at least in this case there are fewer zoning restrictions on putting residential developement into the city now. I mean, if a person had come to the city for some previous All Star game and had said that they wanted to move into the downtown-- the city would have said that wasn't legal. What the hell is the purpose of marketing a city that you won't let people live in?

The other point is that since the city has no transit system to speak of that connects the major parts of the city. ( Outside of T to the south hills )The chances of visitors really getting around the town are so slim. Also the web infrastructure for planning trips here sucks completly. So it's hard for people to see what is going on and how to get there.

The result is that instead of planning weeklong vacations around the game with long stays in Pittsburgh, people likely made sure that the trips were as short as possible.

John Morris

I have a few more thoughts. First, at least in this case there are fewer zoning restrictions on putting residential developement into the city now. I mean, if a person had come to the city for some previous All Star game and had said that they wanted to move into the downtown-- the city would have said that wasn't legal. What the hell is the purpose of marketing a city that you won't let people live in?

The other point is that since the city has no transit system to speak of that connects the major parts of the city. ( Outside of T to the south hills )The chances of visitors really getting around the town are so slim. Also the web infrastructure for planning trips here sucks completly. So it's hard for people to see what is going on and how to get there.

The result is that instead of planning weeklong vacations around the game with long stays in Pittsburgh, people likely made sure that the trips were as short as possible.

Ed Heath

Um, well, I happened to watch Jon Delano on KDKA on Wednesday, and his slant on the impact of the All-Star game was: he found merchandise vendors in the city that really had not done that well. They were selling off significant inventory at half price by Wednesday. Hotels and some bars/restaurants near the park had done pretty well.

I'm glad to hear the convention center and stadium did well. The tax the city takes in might gives us a rainy day fund, or council might already be scheming to increase their “walking around money”.

I have to say something about “image”, although probably mostly in agreement with you. Delano said something about the All Star game increasing convention traffic. Maybe, if the hundred or so larger and more pleasant cities out there sit on their collective hands. I mean, Pittsburgh is a fine place to live; temperate, inexpensive, pleasant people, good higher Ed, etc. But really, other cities have shore line or warmer climates, better attractions, more history. Pittsburgh used to have a lot of corporate headquarters, which gave people a good reason to do conventions here. But now? Even Cleveland has the Rock ‘n Roll Museum. We’ve got … Andy Warhol? A stationary submarine? Rivers with no easily rental boats, beaches or other attractions? About a bazillion crumbling bridges? Some dinosaur bones (assuming you can navigate to Oakland and find the parking area)? Considering it is not even cheap to fly in and out of the airport, short of stealing computer secrets from CMU or research from Pitt’s medical center, I can’t think of one compelling reason to schedule a national convention here. Sure, statewide conventions, how often do you want to go to Philly?

Oh wait, we are getting slot machines. Maybe hotels will spring up all over downtown, with nightly shows featuring Bobby Vinton or the Poverty Neck Hillbillies (there’s a name to put Pittsburgh in a positive light). Eh, maybe conventions will come to Pittsburgh because we will have banned smoking (sorry, couldn’t resist jabbing a sore point).

sean mcdaniel


as i said elsewhere on this site, i guess all those christmas decorations that go on sale after december 25 indicate that the retails season was a flop.

John Morris

Wow. Ed has me beat as a downer. I haven't been around that much, but I don't think there are 100 larger and more pleasant cities than Pittsburgh. The city is on a lot of levels, insanely attractive. That is the whole point of a place like PNC Park. That is what is so frustating about life here. The city has assets that most smaller cities don't have but it seems bent on squandering them.

Most of all it needs to start embracing being a city with all the mess that entails. It is not a suburb and it is not an office park or a parking lot for vistors. The geography of the city should dictate a certain type of growth. The land here is not made for sprawl. This is the frustrating thing most Yankee fans who came here would have likely asked the obvious question-- Who would be so dumb as to put half a mile of parking on some the best land in town? What city would hate itself that much?

Nothing is a more eloquent symbol of what Pittsburgh thinks of itself than seing the hideous block long government office buildings in the Strip. Only someone who thought that land had no value would create such a huge waste of space.

I am a little optimistic. I think that a few people have likely passed through town that may have gotten some ideas. I just sort of wonder if anyone will listen to them.

Living here is like watching an insanely beautiful woman carve herself up or starve herself to satisfy a guy who ignores her. The obsession is always-- what do people in the North Hills or Cranberry want. The fact that they left should tell you that they are not your main market.

The main diference between Pittsburgh and a city like San Francisco is that San Francisco loves itself. It loves being a city and it isn't going to waste it's chance.

sean mcdaniel

To J. Morris:

Watch it with the n. hills cracks! I've lived in the n. hills for the past 30 years. some of us are proud to consider ourselves as pittsburghers by association.

Seriously, i couldn't agree with you more about the attitude of most pittsburghers. last year i went to two of the three games the pirates played at yankee stadium...not a parking lot in sight and both nights nearly 50,000 fans turned out for a game pitting a team just starting to right itself against a team that can't seem to do anything right. and each game was like a playoff game. in the bars across the street under the el. on the streets leading up to the stadium. and certainly in the stands.

but it kills me too to see all those big empty spaces in the strip between 16th street and the convention center. and what a joke that we put up a 400 story parking garage in the midst of all that real estate near pnc and heinz field...

and would you believe that teams don't stay at the hotel across from the ballpark because it doesn't have a full service kitchen? seems like the hotel management caught pittsburgh-itis.

look, i love this town and all that it has to offer. but the first thing people will ask you when they hear that you've moved here from someplace like nyc will be...WHY? instead of something like Welcome, it's one fantastic place.

actually, it's kind of like the pretty smart girl who dresses frumpy and acts dumb because she doesn't want to seem uppity. only philadelphia seems to be more self loathing.

John Morris

Do you remember the show-- Welcome back Kotter from the 1970's. Well that expressed what NYer's thought of themselves at one time and what America thought of NY. The whole premise of the show was why would this guy who had a lot going for him move back to NY. Most of the people who thought that was really funny can hardly afford to visit now. That was the moment when Donald Trump made the one move that made him by buying an old hotel in bad shape accross from Grand Central Station.

What one has to realize is that what is going on is a trend much bigger than Pittsburgh. The growth of China and India means that fuel demand is in an absolute uptrend. NY itself is short of maybe- half a million housing units to meet it's current population. Thousands of artists from Brooklyn are looking for the next big place. Then you ad in trends like the aging of America and the aging infrastructure of the country and you are set for explosive demand in urban real estate. The question is weather Pittsburgh can take advantage of these trends.

I really don't know Philly well at all but I think it's starting to feel a serious push from people moving out of NY. A very serious art scene is developing there driven by a lot of people picking it over Brooklyn as the next big thing.

This is something a lot bigger than Pittsburgh.

John Morris

I can't shut up!!

In regards to the North Hills cracks, I guess I am sorry. I don't really know the place. But, one has to see one thing that I think NY learned a while back. The suburbs as they exist today are not the friends of cities at all. They are at best competitors. This is very true here since most of them are not part of the city. So this is a war for cash.

A lot of the things Pittsburgh has done in the last bunch of years have worked out fine for the suburbs but not well for the city itself. Take Heinz Field ( to me one of the worst moves ever made here ) One has a contraption that occupies some of the most valuable land in the city ( land that would be valuable in a normal city )and is used what 16 times a year. ( If you throw in the Pitt games )Moreover the whole culture of Football seems related to tail-gaiting. So the city of Pittsburgh threw away this land and all it's potential tax revenue it might have made plus all the tax money that went into the thing for what?

To create a place where a largly suburban crowd comes with food from some surburban Wall-Mart and beer bought out of town and stands around yelling "Yea Pittsburgh". Assuming they they dont kill a poor slob on The North Side while driving home the city gets a bunch of broken beer bottles vomit and trash for it's trouble. That stadium is a great thing for the people who live in the North or South Hills. They go when they want and don't have to live near it. But what exactly did Pittsburgh get out of this?

In NY we would call you guys suckers. Pittsburgh needs to start looking after itself. NY has quit playing the sucker for people who live in New Jersey. To someone from out of town this has to look like a city of suckers.

sean mcdaniel

i'm not really much of a football fan. but we didn't have the luxury of n. jersey when it came to finding an offsite wasteland to build a football stadium. as i've told sam a few times at this site, the general area west of federal (which was a thriving commercial area) where PNC Park and Heinz Field sit (and three rivers before them) was pretty much a wasteland. In fact, a large scrap yard occupied much of the space for years. It was also an industrial area, the home of the clark candy bar company and some trucking companies. east of of federal (in the direction of the warhol) you would have found more trucking companies and at least one meat packing plant. in general, that part of the n. side from near heinz field to the 16th street was a tough place. when the industrial and commercial places folded up (and the business district withered), that entire area turned into a lot of unpaved parking lots for commuters. i have no problem with the new athletic fields being there...if you have teams and new facilities, they have to be somewhere. i'd rather have them close to the city (and draw people into town) than in cranberry or monroeville — and give the suburbanites even more reason to never come downtown.

another thing i've mentioned to same is that since about the mid 1800s (or close to that period) downtown pittsburgh's never been a residential area. as far as people calling it home now, that's something that hasn't happened since people settled here at the turn of the 19th century.

i agree that people will keep looking for that next bargain when it comes to affordable living. I hope they focus on the city. unlike a lot of people you may encounter, i welcome the new blood. i really think it's the only way this town will survive. the locals (i'm one of them) seem hell bent on resisting any change. and then there's the "reason" crowd that thinks the "market" should be the determining factor in what shape downtown and the rest of the city takes. if you ask me, it sounds like a christian science approach to urban planning...no intervention is needed if the sick being is meant to survive. and i don't think a lot of these guys are saying their prayers for pittsburgh.

Sam M

OK. I am back. And now I am going to try to enter an abbreviated version of the huge comment I tried to post a few days back. So if you are interested in rehashing...

A few days ago, Mr. Morris offered a comment on a different post. He said something along the lines of "Sam and Sean hate Pittsburgh" because we were talking about parking downtown. I get the point. But here's mine.

I agree about the stadiums. I don't think brigning people into town eight times a year for football games is going to revitalize anything. But my side lost the stadium issue. And it lost the convention center issue. So here we are.

So now the city--or at least ten years ago the city--was hell bent on revitalization through some kind of Big Bang theory. Have great big events that draw tourists. Those tourists come and spend money. Renaissance III!

But now everyone in the whole world is certain--absolutely certain--that you can't draw residents with retail and big events. Nope. You draw big events and retail with residential. Oh, and by the way, we'll need several hundred million in subsidies to make that happen. All those other hundreds of millions? Sorry about that.

But back to parking: We are still stuck with the legacy of the Big Bang boom. We have all this stuff. And since we have it, I came up with what I thought was a cheap and effective way to make that stuff more accessible for people coming in from out of town. Because you are going to need a hell of a lot of $1 million condos to bring in enough people to fill Heinz Field.

And last point: A while back Sean commented that the Renaissance must not have been all bad because really vital until the 1980s, and it should not have taken that long for the ill effects of urban planning to settle in.

Well, first of all, of course it can take that long. It takes time for the shiny and new to wear off. And the worst consequences of this sort of governmental misadventure--the social consequences--can be a long time in the making.

But even more directly, the Post-Gazette has a different take on the city's decrepitude timeline. Here's the paper on the Cultural Trusts's efforts in a certain section of downtown:


Money quote: "What was a derelict district in 1980 now gleams."

In retrospect, I guess this wan't very abbreviated after all...

sean mcdaniel

that district was derelict in a way that you might not realize. starting in the mid-1970s, the "market" had its way with penn and liberty avenues as the porno industry devoured real estate in the area. on liberty, the porno peep show stores with live nude girl booths, massage parlors and strips clubs and theaters seemed to occupy about about 25 percent of the street's storefronts. and i think i could be underestimating. the porn explosion was fast and invasive, and worked it's corrosive effects much to the city's long lasting detriment

over the years, landlords kept upping the rents because the porno guys could afford them, driving out legit business such as lighting stores, florists, dry cleaners, restaurants and the like. along penn, which was mainly an "office" district during the day, prostitution was the problem from twilight on. there was a time you could walk from 9th and penn to 10th and encounter a dozen or so girls working their trade. they flashed motorists. walked up to their cars at traffic lights. potential customers stalled traffic as the endlessly circled the block trying to get their courage (and other things) up enough to welcome a "date" into their vehicles. of course the drug dealers and other assorted lowlife (muggers, that is) populated the area too. back in the day, the local mob, which is usually quiet around here, killed a few massage girls and associates, blew up one massage place (i think at liberty and seventh) and drove away thousands of people not looking for an illicit thrill.

as you might imagine, the area wasn't exactly disney world after dark. it was the kind of place you headed to for a reason that you probably wouldn't mention to your wife, girlfriend or mother.

the cultural trust finally started buying buildings and evicting the porn merchants, with some help from the local govt. i think their plan worked and continues to work. or would it have been "better" to let the market shake things out — as you propose for forbes and fifth where the pager/bling stores flourish? by the way, zoning ordinances that restricted the opening of new porn outlets made a difference too. and i'm thankful for that type of govt interference.

and i hope john morris realizes that i love this city. but like him i'm terribly annoyed and disappointed by those who only sit around and complain. by the way, it must dishearten you greatly that the PG's ruth ann dailey thinks bob o'connor is good for pittsburgh because he's encouraging locals to stop whining and start doing something to help. hell, i think i read something in the trib about how o'connor listens to many opinions and seeks advice from others — unlike murphy — before developing and executing plans. how bad can that be? unless he's not consulting you?

maybe you and some of the others honestly are concerned about the city's future (but i really think all this is about proving how smart you are). but i think that you need a better grasp of history before you start displaying your current events smarts.

John Morris

First of all using terms like "the free market" in America today is just foolish. We don't have anything close to one. But suburbia as a whole has to realise that for the most part it is an entirely non-market phenomena. To pull apart all the goverment freebies and eticements, from "free" roads to the historic suport for single family housing etc.... So, a rational discusion of the issue means that one should see some of the support for high density housing as fighting fire with fire.

I think a simple look at how much the different types of lifestyles would show that they are not comparable in cost. How much does it take in construction money to pave a downtown filled with a dense mix of say 10,000- 20,000 people who can walk to work or shopping? Compare the cost of the same group of people spread out all over the place in sprawl? How much would it take to police a dense area or to provide sewer lines? What about when they get old? who will drive the fleets of vans for the people to old to drive and who will pay for it?? Who pays for the cancer care for the people who have breath all the Hummer filth?

So, I do think there is some justice in giving a break to people who's lifestyle is going to cost the city less and add to it's economy. Unlike almost all the other schemes this one has a strong basis in logic and a proven track record in dozens of cities. ( Like throughout human history )

sean mcdaniel

To John Morris:

The basic beef sam and others have with the downtown development plans is that subsidies are invovled. They might not say it this way, but my feeling is that they see it as "welfare" for the rich. Trust me, i won't be able to afford a downtown high rise condo anytime soon...if ever. however, i'd rather see an upscale, high income neighborhood in the city center than the deserted storefronts and low-end stores that blight the area now.

what these guys will tell you is that "rich" people moving into downtown is merely a reshuffling of the deck without adding any new cards. and they claim that population shift may/will cause harm to other neighborhoods that suffer from the exodus to downtown.

and the one point that always makes me laugh, is that sam is a grad student at Pitt -- a state subsidized university where the basketball coach makes nearly a $1 million a year, not to mention the salaries and perks that school officials receive -- and rails against government support for organizations that appear as though they can stand on their own.

and strangely, i never hear him criticize the new peterson events center, which draws sellout crowds about 20 times a year, cost more than estimated and has been an maintenance nightmare is the few years it's been open. i wonder why he's silent on that subject and others concerning the hand that feeds him?

oh yeah, the free market stuff gives me a chuckle, too.

John Morris

I think that Sean's Stadium comments while perhaps well meaning do show why the city has to have a new set of eyes to look at it. Pittsburgher's are acutely aware of thier own history but don't seem to have to much perspective on the wider world. The stadiums occupy prime land with wonderful views of the downtown along a river within a short walking distance of the downtown office buildings. Can someone show me sound engineering reasons or proof of tremendous brownfield problems that would make this not valuable land? The only thing missing in the area was an enough residential density to support shopping. This was a place to die for. That people didn't see a future for it beyond a place for a parking lot or a an industrial site is pretty lame.

I understand Pittsburgh's history and it is not that different from that of a lot of other cities. I understand that at one time the entire lower part of town was likely covered by smoke and that the rivers were black and for a large part of the cities history sewage treatment did not exist. New York had a similar hitory as a dirty stinking port and manufacturing center and that is why old high end property there is in the center of Manhattan away from the rivers.

The tragedy is that at the point that Pittsburgh should have been making a transition into a vital organic city; the whole idea of cities was considered obsolete. Instead of help it got a bunch of advice and a billions of dollars to destroy itself.

I will leave by pointing out the clinical definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Pittsburgh got the city it worked and planned for. A vacuous office park that emptied out at night. Hopefully this is changing.

sean mcdaniel


I wish the spaces between Heinz Field and PNC park were filled with apts. and businesses. orginally, that was part of the plan. the riverwalk along the allegheny was to be a mixed used business and residential area. who knows why that never took off. what's there instead is basically an urban office park, with two corporate HQs and a parking garage and parking lots – and no connective tissue.

(which brings up a real sore spot as far as the city goes overall. for the most part, areas don't really connect. on the n. side no one has done much to make the children's museum, aviary, carnegie science center, UPMC sportsworks, the warhol and the ballparks part of one big attraction package. for the life of me i can't explain why there isn't a one day pass package that gives you admission to those place, except maybe the sports venues on game days. downtown doesn't blend into the strip, as you pointed out, and the strip doesn't flow into lawrenceville. even bloomfield, shadyside, oakland, east liberty and point breeze seem separated by dead spaces. try to find something that links station square to the rest of carson street beyond the 10th street bridge. thankfully, new businesses are opening to bridge the gap between the SouthSide Works and Carson street from 24th street. the gaps are sometimes imaginary and real, either created by stretches of office buildings, abandoned warehouses, and blocks-long parking lots — and then there's the hills, valleys and bridges. my bike riding has helped me connect the neighborhoods. but most people around here, espeically the natives, don't explore enough to know that.)

you think i don't ride along the river trails on my bike and wonder where the restaurants and housing are — and why developers aren't champing at the bit to build there? other than one apartment complex on the n. side at the ninth street bridge, there's nothing residential until washington's crossing...a good 21 blocks away. one thing these two places prove is that if you do build it, people will come. that's why i'm hopeful about downtown. also, along with the cultural trust, there are people like jane werner of the children's museum who do see a bigger picture and are working to make it possible for everyone to see it too.

i'll stick to my guns on the ballparks...i'd go to far fewer games and concerts if PNC park and Heinz field were in Cranberry, monroeville, or burgettstown (home of the Post Gazette ampitheater, where i've never seen a concert in it's more than decade long existence). as a result, i would have eaten fewer meals in downtown before and after games and maybe would have missed a lot of the good things that I see when I go to a Pirates game. all those people in town for the all star game would have never seen one bit of downtown if the baseball field had been plunked in suburbia or exurbia. they would have spent their days at the ross park mall or at ikea in robinson township. by the way, san francisco seems to be doing all right with its new baseball park smack in the middle of some of the costliest real estate in the company, instead of the far more remote candlestick park. the same seems to hold true for baltimore too. and just so everyone knows this, heinz field does get used for far more events than Steelers and Pitt football games. There are concerts and other gatherings that take place there that bring in substantial numbers of people throughout the week.

one other thing that i've discovered recently the pirates original n. side ballpark was surrounded by a real neighborhood. you look at photos from those days, you can see homes around old exposition park. when the club moved to forbes field in oakland, industry moved in. maybe the pendulum is swing the other way.

as for so much invaluable real estate going to waste, i don't hear too many people calling for developers to plow under nyc's central park. in fact, a lot of pundits who voice their opinions here will tell you that cities really don't need all that many green spaces — or grocery stores — to make downtown livable.

aside from the San Francisco ballpark, no matter how you look at it, you can't compare pittsburgh to NYC or san francisco. but when you stack us up against cincinnati, detroit, st. louis, or indianapolis or cleveland, I think we win hands down. Now, i'd love to hear people start mentioning us in the same breath as asheville, austin and other places of that type. that would be perfect.

sean mcdaniel

sorry about some of the typos and missing words in the last past. but drinking wine in the heat can do that.

i'll be the first to admit it...i like this town. warts and all. yes, mistake were made. and will be made. but good things have happened too. and will continue to happen as well.

i'd rather see a few bad decisions happen than nothing at all. you got to swing the bat to get a hit. you can't wait for the free pass all the time.


Not that this makes its right, but look at every city with sports arena/stadiums... how many are NOT adjecent/close to the city's CBD?

For what its worth, the Warhol is a nice (and in some ways) unique draw.
It also draws well. The problem is that the city needs to enhance attractions. There also needs to be a cheesy tourist trap a la World of Coke - Come on Heinz show every visiting SUV all of those 57 varieties....

Obviously transportation is a must. It is pathetic that 20 years after the T open, we now have a red let to - cross another river - barely - and that's it.


sean mcdaniel

wrigley's in a neighborhood. fenway too. even new york could do more with the land where yankee stadium sits. i'm just guessing, but i bet most baseball parks sit close to residential areas and downtowns (the west coast ones might be the exceptions, aside from the giants. now football fields might be different. and probably the steelers would have had no trouble drawing SRO crowds if they had built heinz field in zelienople. and the attraction doesn't have to be cheesey. the aquarium in baltimore is anything but. and the harbor place is touristy, but not cheesey.

John Morris

Don't have time to blog endlessly but I think it's time to fish or cut bait. You are right, the Stealers stadium could have been surounded by two miles of broken glass and be full. So I think the time has come to blast out as much of the parking as one can to minimize the damage that thing causes and to maximize the cash flow.

As far as the stadium facts go. I think historically there were many baseball parks that were integrated into urban settings but most were destroyed in the anti urban period. Wrigley and Fenway are and some new ones like Camden Yards are OK. I think for the most part there has to be a strong proportion between the size of the attraction and it's setting. A huge city like NY with it's density and transit system might be able to absorb a Football Stadium and fill it on a regular basis with events. Even in that case it's likely a fools game. ( terrorism is one big reason NY just doesn't need the trouble )

Actually there is a strong case for small parks and stuff like Minor League ball as being a great amenity. Something like an indoor arena like Madison Square garden can be a great urban thing. The key thing is to think about the atraction as a benefit for residents first. The Theaters have that kind of character. It's actually the street level culture that counts a lot more. The venues can be in proportion to the area and in theory one could go to a different place every night. Hear a new band or eat new dish or whatever.

I think that PNC is a possible gem and a lot depends on how it's played. Heinz Field was just wrong! In fact putting the two together wrecked the benefits of PNC. On it's own the baseball park had a good chance of being the lychpin of a great nieghborhood of apartment buildings and stores that might have worked well with the Warhol.

I think one just has to play hardball and blow out as much parking as one can and try to create some kind of a neighborhood. If the Rooneys care even a little about the town they will shut up and try to minimize the damage they helped make.

sean mcdaniel

okay, heinz field is a mistake and if you've ever caught a glimpse of those older buildings opposite from PNC park, i'd be among the first in line if the above street level floors ever were turned into lofts or other living space.

John Morris

Those buildings look great. I think one likely had the makings of a gallery and residential district near the Warhol. That land will increase in value as one starts to put residential in the downtown. I came to town a little over two years ago and I have asked a lot of people- would you live in or near the downtown if you could and most people I knew said yes.

You see my point. There is a big conflict going on here. Pittsburgh is orienting itself and wasting it's land and tax base to try to attract ocassional visitors from it's suburbs. These visitors, if they come- are at this point, just costing the city more than they are worth. Instead, the city has to start looking for people who want to live in a city. The two things are not compatible.

I have a good memory of this process since i saw it in NY. By 1979, NY had lost a lot of it's white middle class families to it's suburbs. There were however certain groups that stuck with the city and that's what it built on. 1) Artists, writers, musicians who thrived on the density and raw exchange of the city 2) retired people who needed it's convenience 3) imigrants who needed to live close to a cultural support system 4) Other cultural minorities like the gay community. Transient groups like students. The rich.

After NY started to come back, the single YUPY -- workaholic crowd became a big driver. Then some of these people started to have small families and stayed. Only now are the sububan people starting to come back. I once met one in tears at a party in Brooklyn. Her family left years ago and she wished so much that she could afford to come back.

sean mcdaniel

a few years ago, i heard a story on NPR about an artist who was being pushed out of his east village apartment by high rents, caused by the "rich" bastards moving into his neighborhood. He blasted them for coming in and reaping the harvest of the pioneer spirit of people like him who opened restaurants and galleries and other cool, hip places that attracted a more affluent crowd. and for a while i shared his anger and resentment. then he recalled how he and his fellow students and artists pushed out the poor people who formerly lived in the neighborhood, because those less fortunate types couldn't afford to pay the rent that the bohemian types could afford (or their parents could subsidize). and he wondered what happened to those people and where they might find affordable housing.

In downtown that won't happen. No "less" affluent class exists there now. Walk around downtown sometime and you'll notice something peculiar...there's nothing downtown that remotely resembles an apartment building. the one structure that used to be a house dates back to the mid 1800s, one of the few survivors of the last great pittsburgh fire. it hasn't been a residential section for ages.

Like lower manhattan around the WTC site, downtown is a new up-scale residential neighborhood. no one will bemoan the fact that they left downtown years ago. now on that point, long ago i lived on the n.side...just across the street from beech street and a few blocks from the mexican war streets. while those neighborhoods, especially beech, offer many fine homes, my old section of rowhouses is struggling. though they've been rehabbed very nicely, many of them have never been purchased and others seem to be constantly on sale. the one biggest obstabcle to n. side's big leap forward is the lack of a vital, functional business district....such as bloomfield's and southside's...two neighborhoods where people are amazed at how much it would cost them to move back into the homes their parents sold even 20 years ago much less 40 years ago.

and finally, i don't abhor the suburbs, big malls or wal-mart or any of the other things that seem to cause much dread in so many people. i will say that i think SUVs are awful. but, as a guy who lives in one of the first suburbs outside the city limits, i'll say this...i work at home....my wife works less than a mile from her job...most months we spend less on gas for our toyota then on my comcast interet bill (and much less than on our cable bill). not everyone in the suburbs is a drain on the city.

John Morris

I rest my case. If you don't live in the city and are not paying taxes into it your wishes are not primary. Wasting half of the North Side's most valuable land so you might park is just not in the interest of the city. It's highly doubtfull that a good mathamatical look at you would show that the town should coddle to your wishes.

This is what I meant. Pittsburgh is a beautiful woman destroying herself for people who don't even want to live with her. NY has managed to get along with it's suburbs by brute force as does London. If you park your car out of town and take a train in you then are interacting in a sustainble way. Otherwise, you are likely a nuisance. Do you think that the potential buyers of downtown properties want to live in a sea of parking garages? These people are paying hard cash for convenience. You are just a visitor.

sean mcdaniel

good god, man...i'm the last person here saying the city should coddle me or bend to my wishes. you'll never hear me complaining about parking or the lack of it downtown. i went to last week's all star game...on my bike...the kind you pedal. it's how i shop in the strip...almost year round...i hauled 15 pounds of baby back pork ribs from there on sunday...i'll probably take a ride to PNC tonight to watch the Pirates...my point is that the suburbs aren't evil...and the truth is that the number of suburbanites who work in the city is dwindling every year as companies move beyond the city to escape the tax burden. it's not a battle of dark and light forces.

for whatever reasons...locals think they should be able park downtown within a half block of work or whatever theater, restaurant, arena or whatever venue is on their itinerary. same goes for the local take on public transportation. ever notice how many stop a PAT bus route has? my route to downtown includes a stop at nearly every corner...and sometimes in mid block. on average the stops are about one-tenth of a mile apart. i've said it again and again....it's mass transit...not a private car service.

my point is that some who live in the suburbs contribute more economicall to the city and participate in what is has to offer than those who live within its boundries. for a long time, local pundits proposed a commuter tax on suburban workers, which seemed okay to me. but no one ever proposed slapping an extra surcharge on city dwellers who shopped at suburban malls or watched a movie at showcase cinema.

this isn't a battleground to establish whether sam's plan (or my lack of a plan) is the best approach or whether the city should accede ass backwards to suburbanite demands (which i don't think anyone has suggested. the anti-suburb tact is a wrinkle you've added to this discussion. as for that idea, i don't see many people extolling the virtues of living in the depths of the Hill or Northview Heights just because they're city neighborhoods.) there's plenty of middle ground all the way around. For too long pittsburgh's been balkanized by those type of attitudes. people in the suburbs need to know that their neighborhoods wouldn't exist without the city...and these days, the city can't thrive without its suburban neighbors.

as for the downtown dweller living in a sea of parking garages...well, a local business paper asked some people who do live downtown now if the area needed a grocery store...their answer...no...you just get in the car and drive to the giant eagle (probably in a suburb)...like everyone else... sounds like they expect some parking spaces to be around...now if 10,000 people move downtown and even if half share that attitude, you'll need some parking garages...but as long as the sea of garages hold their vehicles it might be okay.

face it, pittsburghers love their cars as much as any LA resident. and they love their parking spaces. whether it's on pearl street in bloomfield or in the garage attached to the lofts at SouthSide Works. I'm not saying I agree with the philosophy...but it's the reality around here. you're going to be extremely hard pressed to find many in this town who don't own a car...by choice instead of circumstances.

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