PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Steel City, once laid low by industrial collapse, is now seen as a “city that made it through.” Pittsburgh’s rapidly rising reputation as a city of the future has other nearby cities feeling a little inferior, as evidence by a recent article in Philly Magazine.
“One City in Pennsylvania is Poised to Crush the 21st Century…” wastes no time admitting that that city is not Philadelphia.
From Pittsburgh’s partnership with Uber to the so-called “eds and meds” complex made up of universities and hospitals, the city is praised for it’s initiative and forward-thinking.
Former Mayor Tom Murphy recalls 50,000 people a year leaving the Pittsburgh region after the collapse of the steel industry.
“It forced us to rethink ourselves and who we were in a very different way. When I was growing up, 60 percent of the workers here worked in heavy industry. It’s 10 percent today. There had to be a physical transformation, because we had to do something with the old steel mills. There had to be a cultural transformation. You didn’t even need a high-school education to work in a steel mill. Now the universities had to step up and say, ‘We can be the economic engines of the region.'”
Pittsburgh’s universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne, add up to the sixth largest concentration of students in the country. Academic research funding almost matches what is brought to Philadelphia, a city that is five times bigger.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is named a “behemoth” that is beginning to move toward Philadelphia.
John Fry, the president of Drexel University in Philadelphia, gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce where he spoke of a “crisis of opportunity.” He said that cities that thrive will need to be technology and innovation hubs and that there will only be room for two dozen of these around the globe.
Philadelphia, he said, lacked the “sense of urgency” that Pittsburgh displays.
“There are other cities as close as Pittsburgh,” he told the Chamber crowd, ” … and they do have a sense of urgency. And they don’t suffer from complacency. And as we sit down to breakfast, they’re planning to eat our lunch.”
The author of the piece eventually asks Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto: “Are you folks out there – are yinz – preparing to eat Philadelphia’s lunch?”
“After 50 years of being off the global stage,” Peduto replied. “Pittsburgh is ready for its reentry. We want to compete, not as a post-industrial city, but as a 21st-century city. And just like a great Pens-vs.-Flyers game, we always look for great competition with our neighbors to the east.”