Saturday, January 09, 2010

More Pittsburgh Envy

With more and more people aware of Pittsburgh's relative (not absolute) economic strength, more and more are casting envious eyes at our cities deep stock of assets. Yes, we had slums and relatively poor neighborhoods and towns, but we also had a deep middle to wealthy housing stock and an array of majestic parks, museums, libraries, theaters and assets rare for a city of it's size. Pittsburgh in many ways was built to last.

Null Space has a link to an article in Arizona bemoaning the small number college choices in the Phoenix area and in the state as a whole. While, the state grew and grew and grew, few noticed or cared but now some (like me) wonder just how hollow that growth was. It's a slight exaggeration to say Florida, Arizona and Nevada have shell economies but the number of people in those states who built houses, or sold lumber, or made loans, or built stores or paved new roads based on the needs of new residents is pretty staggering. That's the nature of a bubble--no one thinks it will stop. Why look for alternative investments or different businesses to be in when it's so easy to concentrate on what's booming? Why build communities and wonder if your area is "sustainable'? It must be cause people keep comming.

"That doesn't sit well with Mayor Scott Smith, who is working to lure a major medical school or other college to the nation's 38th-largest city.

"We could put five colleges in here and we wouldn't even begin to match what cities our size in other areas of the country have," Smith said.

He cited Pittsburgh, which boasts a population of slightly more than 300,000 - 160,000 fewer than Mesa - but which is home to prestigious schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as several smaller schools."

This is the comment I left on Null Space.

"I think shows that our much maligned "robber barons" and early Pittsburgh leaders made some pretty sound investments in Pittsburgh's colleges, museums, parks and other city assets. (They also left us some very profitable companies)

Say what you will about Carnegie, He didn't skimp on leading edge technology and efficiency upgrades in his plants and he left a flawed but fairly
wise legacy."

What's happened since is very much another story.

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