So the Post-Gazette is summing up its 30 year retrospective of change in Pittsburgh
What I find most
interesting is a very esoteric point, but it is remarkable how the 1980s
continues to be a touchstone for Pittsburgh. While the last piece of the PG
series looks a bit into the future
, the bulk of
whole series has been about how Pittsburgh has changed since the seminal
changes of three decades ago. In fact the foil for the series was nominally
another PG series from 1983 which the PG was good enough to reprint in large part
All well and good, but w
hat did we learn about how Pittsburgh has changed?
A button was pushed somewhere and the region
was transformed from the dirty manufacturing town of the past to the 'Knowledge
Town' of today.
Was not such an easy
path I assure you, if you really accept that is what happened in the first place. If you are looking for a more long form version of the story, a good
starting point might be Mike Madison's: Contrasts in Agglomeration, then and now
. You might get a very different perspective on this Pittsburgh story.
Still, what fascinates me is how for Pittsburgh everything still revolves around the 1980s. The series just concluded really keys off of what Pittsburgh was like in the 1980s. In fact the series was inspired by a similar series the PG ran back in the 80s. That past series was very much about Pittsburgh present, or how the region was dealing with changes at the time, it was not really looking into the future. If you go back and look at 1961 you will find what I think is
the most fascinating version of this type of meta-analysis ever done in the
region. Back then the Post-Gazette had a
far more extensive look at what Pittsburgh would look like 25 years into the
future. Lots of amazing guest writers
pondered the future for city, region, nation and world.
So for Pittsburgh in 1961, the question was what would it be
like here in the 80s. In the 80s we
reflected on what changes were ongoing and now decades later we look back on
how we have changed since then. It is like That 80s Show meets Ebenezer's ghosts. But just to give you a shortcut to all the great prognostications of 1961.Here are just some of the articles the Post-Gazette compiled for
their 25 year look into the future
Look Ahead 25 years
, by Mel
Seidenberg. In a sidebar note the comment on an Aerial Tramway from Mount Washington to Gateway Center Downtown. That idea keeps popping up in various forms even to this day. Old is new again, eh? But lots of great stuff there in the lead-off piece of the whole section.
"Redevelopment of at least one section - that containing and surrounding the historic and now-cleared Diamond Market Square - into a center of interest and night-life, including: Sidewalk cafes, supper clubs, theaters, playgrounds, art exhibits, outdoor and indoor markets for small enterprise. "
.... so we are a little slow on some things. Also note the plan for 6-8,000 residential dwellings in the Golden Triangle proper.
The Sleeping Beauty
, (subtitled: Pittsburgh comes of age in
for those who think all the work was done in just the last few decades)
If you get through all that, even better than the articles themselves are some of the advertisements that ran at the time alongside all of these.