I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, graduated from Pitt in '89 and tried back then (unsuccefully) to find employment that would have kept me in the area. I moved to Washington, DC, and have enjoyed all the career and lifestyle benefits of a growing and prosperous MSA. My partner considered a job opportunity in Pittsburgh in 2001, and I found myself seriously considering a move back to the home turf. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. I've thought about relocation from time to time since 2001. Then this casino talk erupted. No way. No way would I attempt to create a future in a city that is hitching itself to casinos for any fraction of its revitalization dreams. It all smacks of desperation, and a low-rent stripe of it at that. To me, a former Pittsburgher still incredibly fond of the place, I feel the city has failed at selecting from two future portraits of itself: 1). an affordable city full of warm people and a variety of attractions (from sports to high culture), and growing business buzz; 2). sports-centric, nostalgia-driven, and seemingly precoccupied with a revenue savior (gambling) that graces too many other destinations all over the map. I can't tell you how sad, desperate and pathetic this all appears to a variety of former Pittsburghers with whom I stay in close touch. We all love the place, and a few have even moved back. But none of us enjoys the prospect of Branson-on-the-Mon. It's death by imitation, not reinvention. It broadcasts conventional thinking. Pittsburgh has given up on being something unique, on daring to be a city of the future built on all that's best about its past. In an anxious, expensive, and rat-race-paced America, Pittsburgh is missing out on its incredibly opportunity to offer America the invitation for which it is so desperate: come home again.
Except that I'm not so sure that everyone has given up on the "city of the future built on all that's best about its past" thing. And how about the following for a slogan (not that slogans do much except capture a certain Zeitgeist):
Come home to Pittsburgh.