I have failed to visit the glorious city of Pittsburgh for the last 25 years. Why? Well, for a not so good reason. I used to date this guy who went to Carnegie Mellon. One day while I was visiting him on campus he got down on bended knee and asked me to marry him. He painted this picture of our life together where he would go to PhD school for then next 10 years and how I would get a job to support us, clean the house and raise our children while he busied himself with his studies. He told me I would make a wonderful wife and mother to our unborn children. Needless to say, the day he proposed was the day I broke a landspeed record by car out of Pittsburgh and I haven't been back since. This left a bad taste in my mouth about Pittsburgh which is a perfectly good city and didn't deserve my ire.
Now that Rick Santorum is out of office I felt it was safe to go back. Pittsburgh was a town never meant for tourists, but that doesn't mean ignore it. The place was built so that a few people could get rich off the backs of unsuspecting immigrants from Europe during the Industrial Revolution. The Carnegies, the Mellons, and God knows who else would build these megafactories that cranked out steel, ketchup and other goods that the rest of the country needed, and these folks somehow convinced these Europeans that toil in a miserable place under miserable conditions was a good idea.
Since Pittsburgh never cared how comfortable and pleasant it was, it used the wonderful riverbanks to place some rather ugly highways and railroad tracks. Consequently nobody gets access to the waterfront. I am not this situation can be fixed, all I know is that if I were a politician I'd be making a big deal out of relocating some roads and trains somehow.
But the real star of the show isn't the waterfront or lack there of, but the edifices the immigrants built. It would take me a month and a much better camera to do justice to the many churches, factories, homes and halls that these people created. The immigrants that came to Pittsburgh were Germans, Italians, Slovaks and Russians. They knew exactly what to do with all the stone and brick lying around and boy did they build and build and build. Even the old factories are amazing with all sorts of architectual delights.
These folks liked to outdo each other, the German church had to be bigger than the Ukranian church next door. I guess what was being told to these people was that your life sucks now but if you work really really hard at the factory you would go to heaven and life will be much better. After a few years Pittsburghians quit believing in this BS and quit going to church. The steel industry took a nosedive and the locals decided that they should move elsewhere and get degrees in computers and move to Maryland, which is where many of them are located now. So many of these huge building stand empty. The vacated churches are being transformed into homes and bars so they get a new lease on life.
However, people, this place has some wonderful real estate bargains, probably because there aren't that many jobs in Pittsburgh. So if you are looking for some cheap living and a reasonably pleasant place you should look into Pittsburgh. This is primarly why I was there, to help my friend from New York take a long hard look at a more manageable place to live.
I wonder if they let people kayak on those rivers? I'll check into it.
Lucky for me I left on Saturday night, it was a good decision because the Ravens thoroughly humiliated the Steelers the next day 27-0, and I didn't want anyone to cap my ass, driving around with the Maryland tags. They take their football very seriously.