Not Dante's Pittsburgh
But it reminds me of something I've been thinking of. This article and a lot of the other Pittsburgh transformation stories that are being written harken back to the apocryphal quote that Pittsburgh was once Hell with the lid off. By almost universal belief it describes an image of a dystopian Pittsburgh past. In the LAT article the quote is used explicitly to say Pittsburgh is "No longer called "hell with the lid off," as an early critic put it".
Critic? ........... Old Navy saying: Never assume.... This being a family friendly blog I won't complete the phrase.
What I learned once via Sam M. (where is Sam by the way?) who learned from an unnamed reader of his…. The quote was not meant as an insult! It was actually describing how amazing the view was on
Since it is said so well I will now quote a quote whose authorship I do not know, but the actual context for “Hell with the lid off” which was penned by one James Parton in a 1866 travelogue on Pittsburg(h) is not what it may appear. Again via one of Sam's past readers on Antirust:
In the oft-cited passage, he was talking about the view from what was then Coal Hill, and is now known as Mt. Washington:
"There is one evening scene in Pittsburg which no visitor should miss. Owing to the abruptness of the hill behind the town, there is a street along the edge of the bluff, from which you can look directly down upon the part of the city which lies low, near the level of the rivers. On the evening of this dark day, we were conducted to the edge of the abyss, and looked over the iron railing upon the most striking spectacle we ever beheld ... It is an unprofitable business, view-hunting; but if any one would enjoy a spectacle as striking as Niagara, he may do so by simply walking up a long hill to Cliff Street in Pittsburg, and looking over into -- hell with the lid taken off."
He's describing the view, molten wreaths of fire, as far as the eye can see; not the livability of the city, the cuisine, the people, or anything else. "Here," he wrote, "all is curious and wonderful; site, environs, history, geology, business, aspect, atmosphere, customs, everything ... To know Pittsburg thoroughly is a liberal education in the kind of culture demanded by modern times." It was practically a love letter to the city, yet that damned "hell with the lid taken off" line is all that survives.
So most of the positive press of late is a bit Back to the future-ish? Ironically not really including this recent piece, but we'll give the author a few more days in town to see if we can win him over a bit more.
and if anyone wants to take public credit for the expostion above just let me know... honor code rules.