Out with the Pittsburgh Old?

I get letters . . .

Someone forwarded me a link to Yappin' Yinzers, "Pittsburghers with Personality," little mullet-headed dolls that speak in Pittsburghese, which, according to the note, "does a good job of promoting Pittsburgh as a uneducated redneck town that only cares about beer, steelers football, and pierogies." I'm quick to add (before the Comments start pouring in): not that there's anything wrong with that!

My initial reaction to yesterday's announcement that Pitt is going to clean and restore the exterior of the Cathedral of Learning was -- someone is out there muttering about how the dirty Cathedral is a symbol of Pittsburgh's glorious industrial past. And it should preserved as is. (Looks like I'm starting to think like a Pittsburgher.)

Pittsburgh faces a tight bind, between the argument that nostalgia is the best way to move us forward, and the argument that (as Timon once said) "You got to put your past behind you."

$75 million for a Steel Industry National Historic Site? Eventually, nostalgia stops being romantic, and it gets expensive. $75 million is a lot of hot metal.

Is there any other city in the world that wallows in its past the way that Pittsburgh sometimes does -- and not as a way of promoting tourism, but as a way of envisioning the future?


4 Responses to "Out with the Pittsburgh Old?"

Anonymous said... 3/01/2007 11:25 AM

What a waste of money and potentially valuable real estate. Who, outside of Pittsburgh, is really going to want to tour a steel mill. This isn't historic architecture that should be preserved and reused.

So much energy and money is spent trying to change the image of Pittsburgh to be new economy and here we have $75M going to remind the world, hey we're old economy.

Anonymous said... 3/01/2007 3:55 PM

Historic preservationists would disagree with you there. Not all value is monetary. Some areas are worth preserving, even if they can't be turned in to shopping malls and nightclubs. This town was built on steel, and it would be a shame if in 50 years there was no trace of that heritage.

And I say that as someone who's lived here for only 5 years.

Schultz said... 3/01/2007 11:33 PM

I agree with whoever sent you the note, the whole yinzer pride thing is just "ridiculous."

Is there any chance we can include the census figures for those in the "yinzer" category next time around? Also, maybe a google map applications that shows the yinzer population density of Western PA so I can avoid those eras. (areas).

Anonymous said... 3/04/2007 9:12 PM

I don't live in Pittsburgh anymore, but what you don't see is that most of the population in the U.S. really doesn't have any opinion of Pittsburgh.

If they do visit, it would be great to add to all of the other historic elements of the city a piece of the industrial revolution.

Enshrining the steel industry in this way doesn't mean "we want it back", it's simply being proud of what once was.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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