Monday, June 25, 2007

Pittsburgh immigration: Past. Present. Future?

Again the news confuses me with the blurb that was in the paper about 5 immigrants detailed out in Clarion County over the weekend. Again, it was just 5 people, it really wasn't close to Pittsburgh and they were stopped along Route 80.. which suggests they were just traveling through. Why is this local news?

Some perspective. Per the 1910 census 26% of the City of Pittsburgh was foreign born. If you include their immediate children born here you get a place where many neighborhoods were majority immigrants. It's a little hard to believe considering the consternation over current immigration levels. Not only that, but the immigrant population back then had mostly arrived recently, unlike today where the typical foreign born Pittsburgh resident has been here for decades. Back then it comes out to a flow of a lot more than 5 per hour just in Pittsburgh proper.

If you dig a little further: in 1910 the largest foreign group of immigrants then in Pittsburgh came from Germany, but where was the 2nd largest group from? Russia. (That classification would have included more countries that we currently define as Russia.) That is an influence here to this day. So the next book of the moment is on the topic of Russian immigration to Pittsburgh. Actually it isn't published just yet: a novel coming out later this year by and about Russian-Jewish immigrants trying to assimilate in Pittsburgh is:

I do not know what has me nostalgic for college.... I must be getting old. But this cries out for a plug for another friend from college who helped start a family business: Jewish Contemporary Classics which has been working to reprint classic Jewish literature.

... alas, Amazon tells me that I was unable to convince anyone to buy the bio of Gertrude Bell. I did contrive at least a symbolic Pittsburgh connection in her life.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Immigration is not an issue in Pittsburgh ... unless you're an immigrant, or, apparently, a Pittsburgh cop, according to Rich Lord's latest

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 2:17:00 AM  

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