Technically seven, but six months sound better.
I know that for someone who technically lives in Pittsburgh, I haven’t written much about it. I am still heavily attached to New York, and that manifests itself in what I choose to write about. This preoccupation probably prevents me from appreciating Pittsburgh more: despite knowing that this town has a lot to offer for those who seek it, I can’t help but think about everything I left behind and the perks of living in a larger city that I don’t seem to find here. My affliction isn’t specific to Pittsburgh, either. I’m sure that it would hold true for any place I would have moved to after having lived in New York.
I was excited to move out here. I wanted a change of pace, and Pittsburgh seemed to fit the bill. It’s a smaller town, but still has enough to be worthy of the label “city.” The hills and valleys have an endearing quality about them. The opportunity to see what an actual college campus is like–as opposed to a school with no campus to speak of and has to resort to saying that the city serves as the extended campus–was hard to pass up.
Pittsburgh is a very beautiful town in its own right. The views of downtown from Mt. Washington are impressive. It is even a joy to walk around many of the neighborhoods. Come fall, when the leaves, emblazoned in red and gold, put on a show for free, the streets are truly picturesque.
But the city has its share of problems, of course. Dave Copeland does a good job of critically analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of this town. Much better than I could, anyway. As far as I’m concerned, Pittsburgh could use more extensive public transit and it could stand to be more navigable–but that’s probably more a function of the area’s topography than anything else.
Do the strengths of Pittsburgh outweigh its weaknesses? Are they enough to compel me to stay (which I’m not, but not because of my feelings about this town)? Dave deconstructs this particular rant (rant #136) of two guys on their way out of here, and he’s right that a lot of those “reasons” are but flimsy excuses for their dislike of this town. A lot of them are pretty common to any city, prompting the suggestion that what they hate is not Pittsburgh but city living in general, which may be true. It seems to me that they ranted about these mostly superficial qualities because they couldn’t find anything good to rant about instead. I mean, New York has a lot of those characteristics in droves, but people still live there and love it–because New York has many things in its favor. On the other hand, I am honestly hard-pressed to name what I like about Pittsburgh.
(I will say, at the very least, I like the commute to and from work. It tops my old commute in terms of scenery, which admittedly isn’t hard to do: dark subway tunnels versus tree-lined streets. But I appreciate the beauty of Ellsworth Avenue in the fall. I can only imagine what it’ll look like this spring, when the leaves return. And chugging along the East Busway reminds me a lot of the express runs on the 4/5 or the F. Peaceful and relaxing.)
That’s what makes me say that I would probably appreciate Pittsburgh more if I were coming from someplace else. New York is a tough measure to compare against, and with the memories still fresh in my mind, there’s no room for Pittsburgh’s good side. Chicago–my next stop–at least has the advantage in my mind of it being my hometown. But it’s twice as far from Manhattan than Pittsburgh, making it much harder for pre-Thanksgiving McSorley’s runs…
Who knows? Give it another six months, and maybe I’ll miss this place just as much as I miss New York now.