Hometown Nostalgia: Pittsburgh Edition
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwoggers are a nostalgic bunch. As much as we’ve adopted an Empire state of mind, we’re fiercely loyal to our hometowns. New York may be the greatest city in the world, but the snow here gets grimy way too quickly. So, until break comes crashing to a close, we’ll be taking trips down memory lane with a series of back-to-your-roots blurbs—some essays resurrected from the Blue and White and a few more current creations. Warm and fuzzies abound! In this first installment from the B&W feature that inspired all this hometown nostalgia, Lauren Glover defends Pittsburgh, PA. And of course, feel free to send in your own anecdotes and photos to [email protected]
In October, TIME magazine published an article saying that my hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was “in better position to withstand [an economic] downturn than many other places.” However, it was no brilliant bit of economic planning that was saving Pittsburgh from the recession. Pittsburgh’s economy has been floundering for the 20-odd years since the collapse of the local steel industry, so when the national economy began to plummet, Pittsburgh just had a relatively small distance to fall.
We Pittsburghers loved this, and not just because it meant we were doing OK in comparison to the rest of the country. The idea that the city’s middling status was ultimately beneficial sums up how we always have felt about our hometown. Our city is not a booming metropolis, but by God, we are fiercely proud of it.
“Why?” you East Coast metropolitans may ask. “Isn’t Pittsburgh another one of those generic middle-of-the-country cities, like Cleveland?” First of all, no, and never compare us to Cleveland again. Pittsburgh is the overcast urban oasis of the Ohio River Valley. It’s the kind of place where you can run into 11 friends in three blocks. We eat French fry sandwiches, and speak in a local dialect that foreigners find totally indecipherable. If you and your friends want to go to a football game, yinz need to go dahntahn t’see dem Stillers play at Heinz Fill’d. Get it?
The Steelers, unlike French fry sandwiches, are an incontrovertible point of pride. In a city that is eager to celebrate its insular idiosyncrasies, imagine the effect of resounding, national victories. In the run-up to the Steelers’ conference championship game against the Baltimore ravens, our mayor legally changed his last name from Ravenstahl to Steelerstahl. After the Super Bowl, as if to one-up the mayor, the City Council temporarily renamed the entire city Sixburgh—a reference to the Steelers’ six Super Bowl wins. How could I not go home?
That Sunday night, I ran through my slushy hometown, screaming and whipping a piece of yellow terry cloth above my head, and I was not alone. Thousands of my fellow Terr’ble Tahl-wielding citizens took to the streets, beaming with the knowledge that the rest of the country would understand how great we always knew our strung-out Steel town was—if only for one night.