Towns and cities have a long history. In the ancient world cities were developed in a number of regions and for a variety of reasons and motivation from religious to political views. The first true cities are sometimes considered to be large settlements where the inhabitants were no longer simply farmers of the surrounding area, but began to take on specialized occupations, and where trade, food storage and power was centralized (Gracias, par.
1). An ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, has once said, “This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are”.
A city is a home for hundreds of people and is shaped by decisions, views and knowledge of those people. These days when we look up in the dictionary for the word city it is defined as a center of population, commerce, culture, and a town of significant size and importance. However, with each day cities worldwide grow, improve, and change simultaneously. Based on the technological globalization cities are moving toward becoming the centers of knowledge and learning. In fifty years from now, we will no longer view cities simply as an inhabited place of greater size, because 21st century is taking the meaning of a city to a whole new level.
We will face new intelligent cities, which use technology and communication to create more efficient ways in terms of competitiveness, innovation, environment, energy, utilities, governance, and delivery of services to the citizens. Each city within our country is competing to attract more population, build a remarkable reputation and become number one. This year Forbes Magazine, the online magazine for the latest business and financial news and analysis, recognized the city of Pittsburgh as America’s Most Livable Cities for the second time (Levy, 1/2).
However, as always there are many controversies about what it means to be the most livable city. Well, majority would think that livability would have to do with finding a good job. However, the word livable by itself means suitable for living. So the question is, what criteria does Forbes magazine establishes to define livable. According to the magazine it examined America’s 200 largest cities and used the following five points of data to determine the top cities: growth in income, unemployment rate, crime, cost of living, art and leisure (Levy 1/2).
If you have never been to Pittsburgh, you may wonder about why in the world it was named the most livable city? Maybe twenty years ago there was nothing significant about Pittsburgh, but now there are many thriving high-tech firms that continue to form and make their mark (Florida 13/14). There are signs of life in the social and cultural environment as well. The region’s immigrant population has begun to tick upward, fed by students and professors at the universities and employees in the medical and technology sectors (13/14).
There’s no doubt that Pittsburgh is one of the most livable and industrially advance cities in America. Each city possesses a unique historical and geographical background, which is what makes it significant and gives the city its sense of identity. Pittsburgh is a city known for its culture, history and accessibility. Named after William Penn the elder, the 18th century British Prime Minister, Pittsburgh was once the heart of America’s steel industry, its notorious smog earning it the nickname “hell with the lid off” (Owen, par. 1).
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the city was home to many of America’s most successful “robber baron” industrialists, including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Mellon brothers, as well as Henry John Heinz, the founder of the Heinz food company. In the 1970s and 80s, the city transformed its economy following the collapse of the steel industry with the healthcare and several respected universities now key employers (par. 1).
In the 19th and 20th centuries, wealthy businessmen and nonprofit organizations donated millions of dollars to create educational and cultural institutions (“Pittsburgh,” pars. -5). As a result in this rich legacy of community investment and involvement, the city has built the foundation of the rich cultural and artistic environment. The 14-block Cultural District is unique and is home to the world-renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Dance Council, PNC Broadway Series, Pittsburgh Public Theater and the new August Wilson Center for African American Culture (pars. 4-5). Few cities can compare to this vibrant Cultural District alive with live theater, art and numerous restaurants.
Its famous son is probably Andy Warhol, who is celebrated in an impressive museum on the city’s North Shore. The museum has achieved worldwide recognition for devoting large-scale installation art. Therefore, throughout the city and the region, galleries and museums offer everything from the cutting-edge to the classics (pars. 4-5). The entertainment is endless and the quality and variety are outstanding and fantastic. Pittsburgh has launched a multitude of programs to diversify the region’s economy away from heavy industry into high technology (Florida, 3/14).
It has rebuilt its downtown virtually from scratch, invested in a new airport, and developed a massive new sport complex for its professional sport teams because of its long sport history and dedication. Pittsburgh’s football team, the Steelers, who play to a packed stadium on the Ohio River, are another example of success, and were the winners of the 2009 Super Bowl, while the ice hockey team, the Penguins, won the 2009 Stanley Cup (3/14). Indeed, Pittsburgh’s art scene, job presence, safety, and affordability make it the most livable city in the country, according to measures studied.
Compared with many large cities, home prices in Pittsburgh are more affordable (Powell, par. 1). Recent surveys indicate an average home price in Pittsburgh of ranging from about $110,000 to $162,000 for a single family home, which is about 40% below the national average price (par. 1). The housing market is relatively stable despite a national subprime mortgage crisis, and Pittsburgh added jobs in 2008 even as the national economy entered a significant jobs recession.
This story of regeneration was the inspiration for President Barack Obama to personally select Pittsburgh as the host city for the 2009 G20 Summit (Owen, par. 1). Pittsburgh’s strong university presence with over a dozen colleges or campuses helps encourage its livability. Because Pittsburgh is one of the largest college cities it in general has a younger, more educated and consumer-oriented population. One of its famous universities is Carnegie Mellon, one of the world’s leading centers for research in information technology (Florida, 2/14).
Right down the street from Carnegie Mellon campus, is located the University of Pittsburgh, which has a world-class medical center. Pittsburgh attracts hundreds of millions of dollars per year in university research funding and is the sixth-largest center for college and university students on a per capita basis in the country (2/14). Another factor enhancing Pittsburgh’s livability is that area residents face very little risk of encountering a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane, wildfire, or tornado compared to other cities (“Improving,” 1/1).
Pittsburgh is also a great place to raise a family, based on income growth over the past five years and the current unemployment rate (“Pittsburgh,” par. 6). Therefore, the city is more livable if a family’s income goes further. Pittsburgh is as well ranked among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation for climates favorable to business expansion (“Pittsburgh Law,” pars. 4-5). The city is one of the most industrially advanced based on technology, retail, finance, and medicine (pars. 4-5).
What I mean by industrially advance is that the city is home and headquarters to major global financial institutions, including PNC Financial Services, PPG Industries, U. S. Steel, H. J. Heinz Company, CONSOL Energy, Google Corporation, and others (pars 4-5). “Our City has come a long way and I’m thrilled that Forbes. com has once again recognized Pittsburgh’s unique position as a City that truly has it all – entertainment and affordability, but most important, safety and jobs,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said (“Pittsburgh Ranked”, 1/1). It’s important that we look to these ratings as an opportunity to not only tell our good story and attract more people and businesses to Pittsburgh, but to roll up our sleeves and work on getting even safer, creating more jobs, and being more livable (1/1). ” The word “livable” carries the connotation of a place being suitable for a living. The Forbes magazine defines livable by establishing certain criteria that the city must satisfy to be recognized as America’s most livable city.
Pittsburgh has outranked all 200 cities nationwide and was honored to stand out as a powerful example of what is a livable city and how to create new jobs and industries while transforming to 21st century economy. No one is claiming that Pittsburgh is a perfect city. It’s simply livable and beautiful. There’s no doubt that Pittsburgh is on the map when it comes to arts and culture , income growth, stable unemployment rate, low crime rates and average costs of living . However, there’s more about Pittsburgh than just statistics and rankings. Some people may perhaps enjoy Pittsburgh simply for its marvelous fall season.
Where the nights get shorter, the wind blows brisker, and the trees shed their green, making way for coral, mustard, and flame. As you walk through dozens of neighborhoods of every stripe and character you discover that Pittsburgh feels like home. Rolling hills, wooded glens, dog walks, and unbelievable views of the sky can make you forget about all that reading you have to do for school or work. All the lists and web articles in the world can’t convince you that Pittsburgh is the most livable and perfect place, but a visit here just might.