Sunday, November 08, 2009

Appalachia Burgh

I see a flood of hits from Rustwire that look to be Brian O'Neill's fault.  It was his Null Space mention in a question during an interview related to his recent book: The Paris of Appalachia.

Vannevar, btw, suggests the goal ought to be for Pittsburgh to become the Copenhagen of Appalachia.

So one of those factoids 5 of us talk about: As Brian mentions Pittsburgh is often said to be the largest city in Appalachia.  Could be, though it obviously depends on your definition of Appalpahia.   This is kind of wonkish oral history.... but a colleague of mine tells me that Pittsburgh was the place where the Appalachian Regional Commission actually decided it's own geographic scope decades ago.  Thus it would make sense that if you look at their maps, Pittsburgh may indeed be Appalachia's largest city... Looks like their defintion only gets to the exurban areas of Atlanta which would obviously be bigger than us.  But I wonder... is that factoid still true if "Pittsburgh" is defined as just the city proper?   I thought maybe the semi-consolidated city/county of Nashville/Davidson county would have displaced Pittsburgh.  That would have been an interesting angle to our own city/county consolidation debate, but they seem to be just outside the ARC's map as well.  Same for Cincinatti...  Birmingham, Alabama is in their geography, but the population there is closer to 200K while Pittsburgh is still only flirting with 300K. Am I missing some other obvious city or is Pittsburgh still tops in 'Appalachia'?

There has been a newfound interest in the definition of Appalachia.  Some of it is the political story...(also this).... Related is the sociology.  I was looking for the map that made the rounds showing counties in the US which had the highest percentage of people who identify themsleves as ethnically 'American', but can't find it.  Then there is the energy story of late since Pittsburgh Seam coal is a subset of the Northern Appalachian Coal Basin.


Blogger brotheroneill said...


What's missing on those Appalachian political maps is any reference to population. They're like all the other deep red maps of the U.S., which show the GOP always wins if you go by acreage and not by people. As I say in "The Paris of Appalachia,'' the rule of thumb in America is that the closer people live to each other, the more likely they are to vote Democratic. The reasons for that can be debated into the night, but I would be very interested to see the Democratic/Republican presidential vote in Appalachia by population and not by counties. My guess is the margin of victory for the GOP, while still large, would not be nearly as dramatic.
-- Brian O'Neill

Monday, November 09, 2009 7:26:00 AM  
Blogger smallstreams said...

Other cities outside the ARC's area could lay claim to the title, witness the saying "I'ma gonna Detroit," or Harlan Howard's song "Streets of Baltimore."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 6:28:00 PM  
Anonymous John Morris said...

Nashville is much more plantation South than a mountain city. It does play a big role as a border cultural hub that influences Appalachia.

It has about as much right to call itself an Appalachian city as Atlanta does.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous John Morris said...

Pittsburgh is Appalachian for sure and that ain't always an insult.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 4:31:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Russell said...

Indianapolis as Appalachia

As an aside, I've heard that some counties (e.g. Mahoning) have lobbied to be a part of the ARC territory.

Appalachia is as Appalachia suits.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 6:01:00 PM  
Anonymous John Morris said...

In other words they think they can get taxpayer loot by carrying the label.

How long can we go on like this?

Youngstown is turning a corner and doesn't need to go there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 7:01:00 PM  
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