Pittsburgh was once known as a noisy, smoky city, famous for its hardworking people of various ethnic backgrounds who toiled in the mills and mines, and on the river fronts. They were tough, no-nonsense folks with big, muscular arms who wore hardhats and carried lunch buckets to work. They formed close-knit– sometimes exclusive– neighborhoods and labor unions.
Pittsburgh was also home to the capitalists and industrialists who some would say are the ones who truly made the city and region great. We would argue that the rich and powerful are also responsible for the needless early deaths of countless men, women and children over the last two centuries. Death by industrial accident, death at the hands of the bought police and militias, early death via disease contracted on the job and through the air and water, death from the Johnstown Flood . . . . One might succinctly say: death by poverty, injustice and inequality. After all, it was not for nothing that Carnegie, Mellon, Frick and rivals/cronies were called Robber Barons.
Pittsburgh has changed over the years. The regional cheerleaders trumpet the cleaner environment, the charming geography, the beautiful parks, the high-paying jobs in health care and higher education, and the relatively cheap housing. But we note the shrinking population of the city proper, the high poverty and infant mortality rates, the blatant discrimination against African Americans, the political cronyism, the gentrification of neighborhoods, the low-paying jobs in health care and the service industry, and the dominance of a new — as well as old — breed of robber baron.
At Pittsburgh With an ‘H’ we speak the truth to those powers, as we see it.
— Jim Collins and Greg Godels