Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Size Matters

The City of Toledo may have pulled ahead of the City of Pittsburgh in the 2007 Census Bureau estimate, as the P-G reported this morning, but can anyone doubt that Pittsburgh's historical, cultural, and economic footprint is more significant than that of the Glass Capital of the World, aka "Frog Town." (The city's unofficial website reports: "The city sits along the banks of the Maumee River, just north of what was once the Great Black Swamp, giving way to its other nickname, 'Frog Town.'"

Someone needs to put his foot down. (Dramatic pause follows; you know what's coming.) That foot is me.

If, as the paper reports, population numbers influence federal funds for certain local programs, then by all means the City should get aggressive about ensuring that Pittsburgh's numbers are as large as possible. (Remember the phrase "lies, damned lies, and statistics," attributed to Disraeli and Twain. Now is a time for statistics.) This is also as good an argument for bringing back Border Guard Bob as I've seen in a long time.

But should the City push the panic button because we're beaten (for the moment) by the city that lies just north of what was once the Great Black Swamp?

Toledo is home to exactly one professional sports team of any note, the minor league Mud Hens. Mud Hens? Frog Town? Great Black Swamp? Toledoans either have enormous courage or an irremediable self-image problem.

Pittsburgh is the source of five Super Bowl champions (soon to be six; I'll get on that bandwagon), Lemieux, Clemente, Wagner, the 20th century steel industry and the 19th century iron industry and is today the focal point of the Pittsburgh Diaspora -- as celebrated again in Bill Toland's column this morning.

Rather than focus on total population numbers -- which is game that Pittsburgh is not likely to win any time soon, even if it negotiates with the Census Bureau -- let Pittsburgh focus on numbers of jobs, on job creation, on numbers of people employed, on the quality of schools and other public services, and on pollution, crime, and poverty levels.

I'm sure that folks in Toledo are proud of their city, and no doubt rightly so. I also know folks formerly based in Toledo, who moved to Pittsburgh recently and are happy they did so. If size matters, Pittsburgh is a bigger place. A bigger pond, as it were, if you happen to be a frog.


Anonymous said...

Its worth noting that the city of Toledo has 84.1 sq miles of land where Pittsburgh has 58.3 sq miles of land. That's a big difference. Standard density models have Pittsburgh's population at around 5600/ sq mile versus Toledo's 3800/ sq mile.

Schultz said...

The sq. mileage thing sounds like an excuse to me. The big deal, to me at least, of this story is that the mayor of Pittsburgh is more concerned about catching Toledo of all cities, in the population rankings. How about not vetoing campaign finance reform legislation Mr. Mayor? How about making more business friendly so companies move to the city instead of Cranberry Township. How talking about something that matters instead of announcing that you are changing your name, like an idiot, because of the Steelers game. This guy is pathetic and I hope someone legitimate decides to take him on in the primary this spring. Giving this clown another 4 years is pretty much ensuring Pittsburgh will remain a mid-tier city who worries about keeping up with the Toledos instead of doing things that makes it a world class city and leader.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can trade the Pirates for the Mud Hens?

Anonymous said...

the only number that matters is that the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area is 4X as large as Metro Toledo. Comparing municipalities is not very meaningful due to dramatic differences in incorporated areas and other factors.

Schultz said...

Good point, so again, why is our mayor and public officials uttering the words "Toledo" ?

Then again, maybe it is becuause Toledo is kicking our butts in cleantech?

I'm one who thinks that we can do all the blogging and talking about these issues until we are blue in the face, but until change happens at the top we're going to continue talking about how Pittsburgh has so much untapped potential. I am hoping Patrick Dowd gets in the mayor race because if he does I know he will run a good campaign - and he will have a lot of people behind him. If you want change check out Councilman Dowd's web page, and even if you no longer live in the city you should get involved in some way.

Also notice how the paypal donate button has been moved to the top of his home page.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am irked and here's why:
*Sq miles will have no impact on federal allocation, flat count of people will
*Toledo has collectively and most effectively placed themselves as the hub of clean tech AND our region is clearly the next Saudi Arabia IF we align ourselves and support our existing and emerging businesses (support clean coal R & D efforts, as one example) We are brilliant companies working on solving our addiction to oil (Plextronics and Thar are two examples)
* Comparison to Toledo effects our collective self esteem (disclaimer, I did live in Toledo for 11 months once with husband number 1).We cannot afford any slippage in our perception of ourselves
* Superfluous ad and marketing campaigns are a waste of time and money
* Eradicating redundancies across our MSA will result in attractive conditions for businesses (have any of you tried to start a business around here? Complex, costly and non-intuitive).
* We will be the 8th largest region (density not sq miles) in the US, so let's be smart about this and use whatever leverage we can to accelerate our impact and voices
* Toledo is located less than one hour from Detroit. I imagine there will be a ton of sentimentality about the decimation of Detroit over this next year. And if Clean Tech is emerging in Toledo, it would be attractive to invest in a city which could be considered a bedroom community of Detroit. (think Obama's proclamation of high speed rail infrastructure investment paired with clean tech.. Toledo could be an intriguing place to invest in)
* Pittsburgh International Airport MUST truly become (return to) Pittsburgh International Airport. if there are any federal initiatives on aviation, we CANNOT miss this opportunity. largest region (density not sq miles) in the US, so let's be smart about this and use whatever leverage we can to accelerate our impact and voices