Thursday, April 26, 2007

How's your city? It's livable.

We remember 1985, when we first won the honor of America's Most Livable City. We were like, really? No way. Really? Cool!

Of course, we were ten. But it was a great feeling, and it lasted years.

This time around, it doesn't come as a shock. Yes, we know this is a great place to live. It's utterly obvious. That's not the problem.

Unfortunately, many of the things that distinguish us -- low cost of living, light traffic -- don't exactly dazzle. It's like we have a "great personality." Not exactly what the young professionals are looking for.

Also, we won by being above-average in all their little metrics, yielding a high composite score. In a game of "Fantasy Country," we'd be everyone's capitol and first-round draft pick. Even though our defense is lousy, and we always choke in the playoffs.

Yes, yes. Low crime is great. A high score in "recreation" is great, too.

The real problem is: NO ONE ELSE KNOWS IT. And when they find out, no one ever believes it.

Some light Googling suggests this little Rand study didn't get covered anywhere outside of Pittsburgh. And why should it? Who died and made them Judge Judy?

And even if we wind up on Good Morning America again, we're still Pittsburgh. Smokestacks. Grime. Bessemer converters. We know that reporters will dig up archival footage of live steel mills, if that's what it takes to "get the story."

Years ago, the Comet had an inspiration that what we really need is a name change. Pittsburgh has the word "Pits" in it, for heavens sake! That blows it for the children even before they learn about heavy industry.

The best we could come up with was "Hydropolis." Not great. But you get the idea.

Our reputation is so bad, that being a great place to live is entirely beside the point of getting people to live here.

1 comment:

  1. Bram,

    I think you are right about Pittsburgh not being well known. Most people I meet don't have a bad impression of the city, they just don't know anything about the current Pittsburgh. Of course, you could say that this is the kind of news that the city could build a marketing campaign around. The first thing that tends to attract the young people are the jobs, but many people quickly realize that they do care about things like neighborhoods, parks, and schools. Ultimately, the 30 somethings all decide that community is what matters.

    Hell, I am going to DC in a couple of months b/c of work. And even though living in DC will be great - I know that my wife and I will move out of the city if we have kids. Pittsburgh doesn't force that choice on people. But, it does seem like the job part is tough.

    Anyway, at least there is one more thing I can point people to when I tell them about Pittsburgh.