“It really is interesting when you compare one city to another!”

Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaWhat you see at right is NOT a Virginia city, for a change. This is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I went over Fall Break. And Pittsburgh is very much not the cities in Virginia which I have made myself familiar with. For one thing, most of the tallest skyscrapers in Virginia are in the upper-20s range as floors go. The tallest building in Virginia is 29 stories. In Pittsburgh, they have buildings that are MUCH taller! The tallest building in Pittsburgh is the US Steel Tower, ringing in at 64 stories. How about them apples? Additionally, Pittsburgh is different in public transportation than most of the cities I’ve made myself familiar with. DC, as you know, has Metro, a full subway. Richmond and others use buses. Pittsburgh’s is somewhat of a hybrid. Pittsburgh has what is known as light rail. The trains can run directly in the street, and they also have subway tunnels. Power is not provided by a third rail like Metro, but rather by overhead wires. Pittsburgh also has a whole lot of different kinds of buses, with as many different kinds of paint designs. And one thing that Pittsburgh has that I have never seen before in my experience is inclines. These are trains that travel up the side of a hill, pulled by cables. They afford a great view of the city. Additionally, the street signs in Pittsburgh are more helpful than most in telling whereabouts you are. In Pittsburgh, the street signs are blue with white lettering. However, above the street name is some directional indication. In the center is the neighborhood that you are in, like “East Liberty” (where we stayed). To either side is the block numbers. Very handy. So often I’ve driven somewhere to find I’m going the wrong direction. Here, just consult and go! Very handy, indeed. I think for me at least, looking at other cities and how they look and are laid out puts the cities you’re familiar with in perspective with the rest of the world. Because it’s really easy to look at what you’re familiar with and see it as “right” and everyone else “wrong”. But it’s not as much a matter of right or wrong, but rather simply different methods for different places…

Date posted: October 21, 2003

Notes: Thanks to my friend Patrick Jarrett, who's from Pittsburgh, for taking me, as well as fellow LPCMers, on a tour of Pittsburgh, which is where this photo came from.