Some people go to Florida for spring break. Some go on Caribbean cruises or to other warm and wild locations. So where did I go? Pittsburgh. Yes, of all places in the world, I somehow ended up in Pittsburgh with not a Cracker Barrel in sight anywhere, just 334,000 Yankees and me.
I’d like to go on record as saying Pittsburgh is a very big place. What I didn’t realize before is how many hills and mountains are there. I thought San Francisco was the city with all the hills, but Pittsburgh streets are straight up and straight down, like a roller coaster. All the houses lean to the left.
In addition to hills, the streets meet at strange angles instead of having crossroads with square corners. Often the intersections have five streets coming together instead of four. It’s hard to know where to go with so many choices and navigating the city is somewhat like working a jigsaw puzzle.
There are also a lot of bridges with two rivers meeting to form the Ohio River. It is impossible to go anywhere without crossing a bridge or going through a tunnel. With all these obstacles, traffic is very haphazard. Drivers have adapted to the adverse situation by becoming overly aggressive drivers. It is surprising anyone gets anywhere as zipping in and out of traffic is a favorite game.
So why go to Pittsburgh, you ask? I was wondering that myself, but my honey grew up there and wanted to visit family, so I was talked into it. He drove just like the rest of them, and I just hung on for dear life and tried not to look as cars pulled out in front of us, cabs cut us off, and city busses nearly sideswiped us on the narrow streets.
Cities do have a sort of beauty of their own, best observed from a distance in my opinion. In most cities, the best view is from the tallest building. But here, the best view is from the top of a nearby mountain where the skyline, rivers, bridges and odd angles are apparent. I must admit that it was impossible to take a bad picture, though, with a bird’s eye view.
Like most large cities, there are cultural areas, numerous museums, entertainment, shopping areas and other “advantages” that can be supported by a large population and a large tax base. Unfortunately, to see any of them you must first find a parking place.
The most amazing thing to me was to find that Pittsburgh is no longer a city of steel. All the steel mills have closed, unable to compete with foreign markets. The mill areas are now ghost towns and mills stand empty or have been turned into other things like shopping malls. I’m sure the city is much cleaner than when steel mills belched smoke and soot, but there is a certain sadness about the industry that gave Pittsburgh its life becoming extinct.
There is abundant evidence of the people drawn there to work in the mills, and Pittsburgh is a no nonsense sort of middle-classed place with many ethnic neighborhoods forming its roots. It seemed no matter where we went, we somehow ended up in the old neighborhood seeing the places where my honey used to hang out back in the good old days.
The strange thing is that the people who live there seem to like it and not to notice the traffic, weather, or inconveniences. I suppose that’s a good thing, because it means most of them will stay there instead of moving south to try and recreate us.
So much for spring break in Pittsburgh, but I think I’ve seen enough of Yankeeland to last for a while anyhow.