I have been reading derogatory comments about Pittsburgh off and on since I have been on this site and have come to realize that people here know very little about my town. For the record I have enjoyed most cities in this great nation of ours and I really feel that the mid to large cities on this country are America and to hate them is to hate this nation. The facts are people judge these places and haven’t even been to most of them or if they have it wasn't very long at all. That being said I do believe Pittsburgh is a stand out, so if you care, here is what it special about my hometown.
Colleges and Universities:
There are 8 colleges and Universities inside the city limits of Pittsburgh (and another 2 dozen within an hours drive). Included in Pittsburgh's Universities are two of the top academic schools in the nation in Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon, and one of the top 10 medical schools in the nation at the University of Pittsburgh.
Hospitals and Medicine :
The UPMC Hospital system was ranked 13th in the nation last year as a hospital and 5th as a hospital system, it's Children's Hospital is also one of the best in the nation and ranked in the top 20 in almost every specialty category. UPMC Presbyterian was one of the first to do organ transplants and has remained a world leader in the field to this day.
Pittsburgh has another hospital system as well, known as West Penn-Allegheny and in 2006 they became the first hospital in Western Pennsylvania to receive prestigious Magnet recognition status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Magnet status recognizes excellence in nursing and quality patient care and has been achieved by only 4 percent of all healthcare facilities in the U.S. In 2009, Allegheny General ranked among the top 10 percent of U.S. medical centers for the treatment of stroke, according to HealthGrades, a leading independent healthcare ratings organization. The hospital has also been designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and was named a Stroke Center of Excellence by NeuStrategy, a Chicago-based healthcare think tank. More than 1,000 stroke patients are admitted to AGH annually.
The Pittsburgh Renaissance :
In the late 1970's it started to become apparent that the steel mills weren't going to be there forever, this became most evident when local mills laid off an estimated 153,000 people in 1981 and 1982. The collapse of the US Steel industry during the 80's left around 400,000 people with out jobs between the mills and the companies who lived off the mills. But Pittsburgh survived by doing something that has very rarely been pulled off, they transformed the base of the economy and job market into medicine, higher education, advanced technology and the service industry and it worked very well. Many people will tell you that there has been a terrible decline in population in the past few decades and while this is partly true the county and "tri state area" populations have actually stayed about the same and seen some small growth since the 90's. This transformation was said to be the reason the city was picked to host the G20 Summit in 2009.
"Culture" (Museums, music, theatre etc.) :
Pittsburgh is home to dozens of museums the most notably being The Andy Warhol Museum, The Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, all three of which are world renowned. The Pittsburgh Carnegie Science center is host to an OmniMax theatre and one of the world's best planetariums.
Pittsburgh's Orchestra Company and Symphony Orchestra are two world class companies and PSO travels the world playing in dozens of different countries.
Pittsburgh is host to about twenty play houses and theatres all of which have national talent playing on a pretty regular basis and plenty of local talent on a daily basis.
You want to eat and drink? Pittsburgh has four large bar/restaurant districts (Southside, Strip District, North Shore and Oakland) ruled primarily by college age people, dozens of small neighborhood strips of them in places like Shadyside and Squirrel Hill and of course there is the 9 corporate stamped mall/shopping centers in the area as well. In the last ten years though great micro brew and wine lists have shown up all over the city and (probably a result of the 5 culinary programs in the city) the food has gotten much better in that time period as well.
It's just a cool looking place, great sky line, lots of bridges, the three rivers meeting close to the center of the city. There is about as much green as you will ever see in an urban environment, lots of undisturbed tree covered rolling hills and plenty of parks all over the city. The inclines, the trolleys driving on the streets, the occasion glimpse of an old cobblestone road, its a unique place.
I don't think this city or any place like it is insignificant, they have made their contribution to this nation all throughout history and continue to do so today. And you can find pretty much whatever you’re looking for in Pittsburgh, unless it's a beach.