Home Again, Home Again.


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.

Yinz can kiss my dupa ‘naht. 


Garbella loves us!

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:

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.)

c3d6c6da8da0052fb44b1110.LMy favorite Pittsburgh book recommendation is Out of this Furnace by Thomas Bell

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?

Trzymaj się,



Filed under Uncategorized

11 responses to “Home Again, Home Again.

  1. aiflcblog

    beautiful image dear

  2. sitanbul

    I lived in Pittsburgh about ten years ago, and two years ago I spent about half a year in Homestead (not kidding, on E 9th avenue even, quite close to the Carnegie Library of Homestead) and I have to say that I do have fond memories of the city and its people . . . I hope to be able to visit again, sooner rather than later . . .

  3. sitanbul

    On another note, I would very much like to read Out of the Furnace, as the 1892 Homestead Strike fascinates me no end, and I am sure that Thomas Bell deals with the event, providing ample detail and couleur locale to the bloody events that played such an important role in the history of the US labour movement . . .

  4. Suzi W.

    It’s funny that that you’ve had to defend not leaving…I’ve spent too many hours defending why I came in the first place (at 17, for my first two years of college) and why I came back, twice! (At 21, after college and 30, for library school.) I love the hills and the rivers and the parks…the museums, the thrift shops, the people…and though I’m not from here, I have spent most of my adult life here and lived in Pittsburgh longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.

    When I was away, I read Annie Dillard’s “An American Life” and there I was, back on 5th avenue in Oakland in my mind.

    Thank you for this love letter to the city of the Champions.

  5. Sheila

    I always say that Pittsburgh is a big city in all the ways you want a big city to be – the arts and sports, etc. and provincial in the ways you want a small city to be, the people and neighborhoods, the sense of community.

  6. I love the rich history of our cities and have found that family trips within the US are spectacular! Our kids have really enjoyed visiting and learning about some of the great cities including Boston, Seattle, Charleston, even did the whole cost of California. Pittsburgh is on the list as well as several others. Good to be proud of home and to branch out to others. Thanks for the book suggestions too!

  7. Kristine Sekely

    I grew up in Pittsburgh and miss it terribly now that I live on the other side of the state. Thank you for the great book suggestion. Can’t wait to read it! I am using the picture you posted “Dear Pittsburgh, I love you.” as my new desktop wallpaper now. :)

  8. Your words make sense to me. And I also love OUT OF THIS FURNACE which I thought was a serious tome until I got a few pages in and I started to realize it was sort of wild and sexy too. A big lusty novel! Great characters. I remember that people in Braddock thought about trying to get a job in Homestead because there you could work 7 days a week instead of just 6!

    I did move away from Pittsburgh for 16 years (mostly in the Carolinas) but I have to tell you I missed the weather here. I love the changing of the seasons, and today, July 24, 2014, the high is 75 and it’s absolutely beautiful and livable. It’s OK to like the weather too!

  9. Sue Banks

    If I’d been born in an awesome place like Pittsburgh instead of Cincinnati, I’d still live in my home town. As it is, I’m so grateful to have found the place that I finally and truly belong. I envy yinz who are natives.

  10. Irene

    Thanks Suzy!
    This is such a great post! It brings back lots of memories!.

    I grew up in the Pittsburgh Area. I did move away for a few years.
    I have also taken some long trips away from Pittsburgh. During those voyages I learned how important it is to me to spend my life with family, and friends in Pittsburgh.

    Here are some words and phrases I remember from growing up.
    “If your friends jumped off the Westinghouse Bridge, would you?”
    Kennywood’s Open
    Gum band
    Studda bubba
    Redd up your room
    Halupki (my house) or Galumbki (my friends house)
    Isaly’s chipped chopped ham

    I recommend How to speak Pittsburghese by Sam McCool, It is helpful for new residents of Pittsburgh to understand some of our colloquialisms and it brings back memories for us locals.

    I am glad we have libraries and places like the Heinz History Center to keep the History of Pittsburgh alive.

  11. I enjoyed your post! When I moved to Durham, NC, to work, many people questioned my living in Durham, which had a reputation for crime, while others seem to have blinders on when it came to crime in their own communities. Thank goodness, plenty of people have been tooting Durham’s horn the past few years, and some positive press has helped as well. I’m glad I stuck it out. :-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s