Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Water on fire

Some may have noticed the emerging marketing theme arguing that Pittsburgh is a place for investment because of...   water.  As in H2O.  The veracity of that is a topic unto itself. I always find it curious how the argument can be made when much of the region is subject to what could be a fairly draconian consent decree if there is not a massive new investment in our water infrastructure.  New investment that we have only made minimal preparations for as yet.  We won't even go into the sorry state of our locks and dams that are vital to our use of much of the local water supply.  It is like the Pirates advertising what great ownership and management they have.  Don't get me wrong, I think these are big real issues and I have long had on the book wheel on the right a great semi-recent book: The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin.   But hold all those thoughts.

What water wars are in the news of late?  Up in Milwaukee they also have a fair bit of water as well.  So much water that they also are arguing their water supply is a core part of their regional competitiveness... just like Pittsburgh.  But there is the problem for Milwaukee.  Pittsburgh: friend of foe؟  It turns out Milwaukee is renaming its "Pittsburgh Ave" to "Freshwater Way".  Really?  You could have paid a consultant to come up with that.  But why did they do it you ask?  Supposedly because they also want to lure water technology firms and "Pittsburgh" did not mesh with their vision of themselves.   OK then. 

Here is the thing.   I like Milwaukee.  I have to admit it has been a decade since I've been there, but it had a real Pittsburgh 'feel' to it when I was there.  A real cross-midwest civic sympatico.  Or so I thought.

Apparently they have been working on this some time and I am not the first to take issue with the whole idea.  What do we do now that they have gone through with it all?  So I say take the high road.  No need for a counterveiling campaign to rename our Milwaukee St.  Maybe we need some confidence building measures to prevent a cross-midwest cold water war. 

In a world of unlimited time I would write the book explaining all of our street names.  Why do we have  "Milwaukee St" anyway.  And if anyone has specific history on why Milwaukee has a "Pittsburgh Ave" I would love to hear it. 


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