Pittsburgh grew up on a combination of gears (heavy industry), gumption and gobs of wealth: The families that helped shape the city included the Carnegies, Fricks, Mellons and Heinz. The result? A city anchored by its strong working-class core and graced with abundant highbrow culture.
Pittsburghers have long been united by their sports franchises, especially the NFL Steelers. When the Steelers win, all is well in Steel Town. When they lose, a collective groan echoes up and down the Allegheny Valley. There are other games in town: The NHL Penguins have won three Stanley Cups since 1991, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers are a basketball powerhouse and the MLB Pirates provide, well, let's call it summertime comic relief. Locals tend to be hearty and athletic, resulting in a city that loves to watch, talk and play sports.
These days in Pittsburgh, you can enjoy a fine meal of locally sourced ingredients at Douglass Dick's Bona Terra restaurant, drink award-winning craft beer at the Church Brew Works and take in the ballet at the Benedum Center or an art-house movie at the Harris Theater. Or you could have a Primanti Brothers sandwich topped with fries before hitting Jack's Bar on the Southside for $1.25 beer specials — and possible off-the-ice sightings of Penguins hockey players.
Pittsburgh's economy has successfully diversified to include biotechnology, health care and software. The new Pittsburgh is smarter and cleaner. Indeed, you can once again catch fish in the Monongahela River.
Unemployment is much lower than the national average; likewise, the foreclosure rate is among the lowest in the country. Pennsylvania is also a prime place to live on a pension: All money withdrawn from pensions is exempt from state taxes.
An extremely high share of the population is age 65 or older. Whereas much of Pittsburgh's ethnic diversity stems from its contributing European cultures — Italian, Polish, German, Irish — it has not seen much immigration from Latin America or Asia.
Several large research universities have helped drive Pittsburgh forward. Chief among these are Carnegie Mellon (enrollment 9,700) and Duquesne (9,700), which — along with the University of Pittsburgh's main campus (27,000) — have spun off businesses from their research contracts.
Pittsburgh also claims a rich tradition of philanthropy: Andrew Carnegie lived (and gave) here, and today the Heinz family maintains a $1.7 billion foundation focused exclusively on southwest Pennsylvania. Allegheny County's libraries function as crucial community centers. Those libraries, represented by the Allegheny County Library Association, recently joined with AARP and the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield PALS (People Able to Lend Support) Program to organize walking groups for adults age 50-plus.
The region has above-average outdoor recreation — mountains, rivers and trails abound — and below-average rates of cancer, heart disease and other chronic health problems. Those numbers are subject to change, of course, if the Steelers suffer a losing streak.
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