I have lived in Pittsburgh my entire life. I didn’t go away to college, I didn’t leave after I graduated, I stayed here for graduate school and I’ve spent my whole library career (so far) at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
I have zero complaints about this.
Yet twice recently I’ve found myself defending my choice to stay in Pittsburgh. I’m sure some of you have had someone say, “Sooooo, you just never left” in a particularly arch voice, implying a provincialism and xenophobia that I’m sure to be chock full of.
Let me tell you some amazing things about where I live. But promise not to tell anyone because we have enough people here already. We get lots of prestigious awards here in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was listed as one of the best trips in the WORLD by National Geographic Traveler in 2012. This is a list that includes New Zealand, Croatia, Mongolia and Thailand!
We were voted the 4th Most Literate City in the US (because our public library rocks!) and voted Most Romantic by Amazon. Everyone knows that literate people are good at doing it. We are also regularly voted most affordable (6th), safest, most livable (29th world wide), and we have the NUMBER ONE ballpark (PNC Park) as voted on by Fox Sports. We have internationally known museums, theater venues and a bunch of other great art stuff.
According to to Economist Intelligence Unit “It’s official: Pittsburgh is best place live in U.S.”
Also: Cookie Tables.
In an admittedly piqued mood, I went to social media. Of course it turned into a Steel City love fest.
Here’s a snippet what other people had to say:
DO IT FOR SCIENCE!
If you were born and raised in Pittsburgh and never moved away, please explain why in the comments. Thank you!
- I like it here. It’s the perfect balance of urban and natural landscapes. It’s inexpensive enough that I can afford to travel. The literary and arts scenes are solid. People are friendly.
- I seriously feel like an outcast in other cities. I love cities like New Orleans, San Diego, Boston, etc… But no city but Pittsburgh understands that quirky, high strung, angry but funny, serious but carefree attitude people here have.
- It’s home, it’s roots. I love other places too, but I fit Pittsburgh and it fits me.
- Carton tea. Also, strangers are nice to each other, I can find at least one person that knows my gram, or uncles, or cousins pretty much anywhere I go and I want my kids to say “dahn” properly.
- It’s home. I make sense here. Is that scientific enough?
There were another 30 comments. People love this place. (Though we nearly unanimously hate the weather.)
Out of this Furnace is one of my favorite books and my favorite Pittsburgh book of all time. Also, while I was working on this post, I discovered Thomas Bell and I share the same birthday! That kind of made my day. Anyways, Out of this Furnace follows three generations of an immigrant Slovak family- the Dobrejaks. Patriarch Djuro Kracha arrives in the mid-1880s and makes his way to Braddock, Pennsylvania. Working in the steel mills, Kracha’s bad decisions (money and personal) contribute to his downfall. Part two follows his daughter, Mary and her marriage to political idealist Mike. It is an amazing portrait of the immigrant experience in Pittsburgh, a fascinating look at the inhumane conditions in the steel industry, and documents the rise of unions and the people who fought and died for workers rights. I’ll say up front that it’s a heavy read, but it’s worth it. And you’ll love Pittsburgh even more for its history.
My response to why I never left? Everything and everyone I love is here. Why have you stayed? Or left?