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sean mcdaniel

hey, here's the solution...live in pittsburgh, work in baltimore...how? a massive daily airlift from a separate PGH to BLT terminal. just think, add scores more flights out of greater pitt, which means a healthy usairways, more pilots, attendants, baggage handlers, 100s of construction jobs, taxi and bus drivers, etc. we've got the cheap, plentiful housing stock...and even with fingerprint ID security checks, it could be a 90-minute trip each way if both cities build expressways or high speed trains exclusively for the P to B crowd...you may call me a dreamer...

John Morris


I really do believe in letting the market decide stuff like that and I think that looking at the general conditions along the whole east coast one can get an idea of what is in demand. Also, this is not scientific but, most of the people that I know who are coming here or sticking around were attracted by the available housing.

I think the one thing that comes out in your posts on D.C. and Baltimore is that there is a huge shortage of housing there. Compared to the general- Philly to Boston metroplex, that is nothing. I think the coast is likely short more than a million housing units. I think that NY, Boston and Providence inner city prices show that a lot of that is for some kind of somewhat urban walkable stuff.

I think that what underlies your idea is a deep lack of understanding of how cities work and also why they have to exist. Looking at NY, one thing that stands out is that it ias doing OK keeping and attracting jobs in spite of a huge cost of living. Why is that? I mean ALCOA decided to move it's headquaters there and a bunch of other people are doing the same. ( I supect that they are gradually moving out-drones in India? )

While perhaps in an industrial age, some types of jobs were just so hard to move and so site specific that cities could grow around them. Most of todays jobs are much more high skill based or creative. They are also to a large extent office jobs that can be moved anywhere. ( or anywhere that those high skilled/ creative people choose to live. )

What that then creates is a labor pool that any employer can dip into to get people with skills. That's why a lot of cities do have a lot niches- a deep film labor pool and skill base makes it easier to make films in LA. The deepest Wall St lawyer pool is in NY. NY continues to have such a deep pool of skills in so many areas that the low transaction cost of finding the right person and all the convenience of the city has offset the costs of being there.

I think that Pittsburgh has made a lot of bad moves and seems to have positioned itself as a drone/ back office type city that is going to have to slug it out with India.

Sam M


Perhaps that's what downtown Pittsburgh has done. But, say, Oakland? There is a lot of world-class stuff there.

So maybe I do have a hard time understanding cities. But I also think it's true that some people say "city" when they really mean "downtown."

Is New York City a "successful" city? I think that by just about any definition, it is. At least in terms of its "urbanity," density and walkability. But is that true across the board? Across every square inch of all the boroughs? Is it all walkable and nice and mixed use? Are there coffee shops and galleries everywhere? Of course not. And actually, "downtown" might be one of the "failed" areas.

Forgive me for being boring with this... But why then does Pittsburgh have to have a vital downtown?

And I asked this sarcastically before, but perhaps its worth considering a bit: Would you consider Pittsburgh a "successful" city if we changed our perception a bit and called Oakland/Shadyside "downtown?" I mean, people live where they work. They walk to galleries and shops and restaurants. There are universities. Hospitals. Jobs.

So what if we just quit calling it "Pittsburgh" and started calling it "Oakland."

I know. This is not going to happen. But my point is, New York does not seem to "function" as a perfect city in all parts of the city. But it does function as a city. Even when downtown is quiet at night. So when making that assessment in Pittsburgh, why is "downtown" such an important part of the mix? Downtown New York is kind of dead. It might be getting better. But for a long time it has been rather, well, sleepy.

Which reminds me a lot of Pittsburgh. Only instead of shipping lawyers and accountants in from Uptown and Midtown and Westchester, we ship them in from Shadyside, Mt. Lebanon and Cranberry. Would Pittsburgh be more functional if more of them took a subway? Or is there another distinction?

Overall, I guess I am just not clear why "downtown" is such a critical lynchpin.

To be sure, I can see some reasons people might want to live there. And I wish people would let that happen. But still, it's one neighborhood. And the kind of neighborhood that gets short shrift in a lot of cities. But those other cities seem OK.

OK. That was less a "point" than an observation. Or an attempt at one.

John Morris


A city can have several different centers and i have no problem in Oakland being one. Given the history, it has a head start, but is also blowing that in terms of loading too much of the same stuff in one place. ( colleges and hospitals ) I do think it is however nuts to not make build back the downtown. It is a great downtown and all of the original transportation networks center on it. Also It's by far some of the most buildable land in Pittsburgh. This is a city of hills.

To anyone who comes to town it is the obvious center. I realy think it falls into the self evident category. The message that Pittsburgh sends to the world by having a dead downtown is - I am dumb. ( or I hate cities )

Back to the function of a city. The main funtion of a city is trade- in ideas and in goods. A bunch of spread out office parks can be part of a city but they do not fulfill that function.

Now, getting back to NY. NY has a number of centers, and I think more importantly it has a high enough continuous density in most of the city to provide funtional and self sufficient neighborhoods. My mom does not live close to manhattan and still is within walking distance of 6 supermarkets, fruit stands, shoe stores etc... ( actually shopping in her neighborhood has more density and variety than that in any Pittsburgh neighborhood. NY is very much a city of neighborhoods, but Ny neighborhoods are much more dense as a whole.

so anyway by not having a lot of areas of density, you are sort of removing the cities reason for being. If it's not convenient to meet a lot of people in a short time or to see a lot of goods or to make new contacts in a city then what is it there for? I think that those cities that fail to provide the advantages of being in a city are sort of positioning themselves as just boring inconvenient places for worker drones. that's nut's because cities don't generaly compete against suburbs as being cheaper places for office space. They can't win that fight.
The advantages of a city are 1) convenience of interaction
2) selection/ diversity
3) depth of labor pool ( a lot of people with diverse skills in a small area.

Now this leads back to the quality of life issue. A poor quality of life will thin out the labor pool and make it harder to find and recruit workers.


J. Morris maybe you should join Richard Florida in Washington D.C. or is Florida actually living in the suburbs now?

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