A declaration of love to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dear Pittsburgh, ...


... you totally surprised me. I never thought you were that cool. You lie in the middle of the rust belt of the USA, deeply relaxed and lively at the same time. Where once the heart of American heavy industry struck. Until you had to witness from the end of the 70s their decline.

The US Rust Belt begins in the western part of the state of New York, continues west through your state of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois to Iowa and Wisconsin. Around you in November 2016, so to speak, the US election has decided. In the former manufacturing belt, the Republicans had the largest electoral roll and were able to break through the so-called "blue wall" of the Democrats. The campaign pledge to create new jobs in the erstwhile stronghold of US heavy industry has fueled the hopes of many unemployed industrial and mining workers. And indeed there was a small boom in hard coal mining after the election. But really big, the new government could not do coal and steel anymore. The dying of the mines continues inexorably. The fact that the promises made in view of the current climate crisis are incompatible with the need to drastically reduce CO 2 emissions worldwide and focus more on regenerative energy sources is another matter.

In any case, dear Pittsburgh, you are an excellent proof that change and progress can be different. You reinvented yourself after the collapse of the steel industry and developed in other directions. Tech companies like Google, Intel or Uber have invested in you and opened up new prospects for your city with its 300,000 people. Right in front of our hotel, we could watch every morning from breakfast an example of your innovation: the ride-on service Uber tested self-driving cars on your streets. The many bridges, tunnels and slopes make you an ideal test site. Despite successful structural change that has turned a proud steel city into a vibrant economic and cultural center, you have remained true to your roots. Relics of your once acclaimed industry and beautiful historic buildings are naturally in good neighborhood with modern architecture. Two historic cog railways are part of your public transport system and slowly crawl up your own mountain Mt. Washington with a lot of charm of the past. You are a pedestrian city. Three rivers share your urban area, your 440 bridges (a large part of steel, of course) connect your diverse neighborhoods and residents. We saw the manager in a suit rushing over your bridges as well as the mother with a pram.

If you want to be impressed by your art scene like we do, you can hike from Downtown via the Andy Warhol Bridge (Nomen est Omen) to the North Shore. Home of the museum "The Warhol". The Popart artist was born in 1928 in your lap. You saw him growing up until he moved to New York in 1949 after completing his art studies. His well-known works are shown in many modern art museums. The special feature of "The Warhol," the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist, is his early work and the many photographs and personal documents and objects that trace his life and artistic career. On seven floors, 900 paintings, nearly 2,000 works on paper, more than 1,000 prints, 4,000 photographs, as well as film and video material are on display in an old industrial warehouse. In the basement there is the "Factory", where visitors can make their own screen prints à la Warhol. A great creative end to a journey through the life of a special artist and son of your city.

A few blocks further on is the historic district "Mexican War Streets". Here, some beautifully restored Victorian terraced houses, communal gardens and tree-lined streets line the streets. The neighborhood is a melting pot of many nationalities. Signs like "Hate has no home here", "Black lives matter" and "One human family. We support refugees and our muslims neighbors "point out that everyone is welcome. "This is a liberal island," one of your residents tells me in the Neighborhood Café "Common Coffee" and asks me where we're from. "Ah, Ann Arbor, Michigan ... another island". He tells me about your fantastic "City of Asylum" program, which gives persecuted authors a new home so they can work in peace. A stone's throw away from the café lies the "Writers Lane", where some of the writers concerned live. The Chinese Huang Xiang celebrated his new freedom, without fear of reprisals, with the "House Poem". He wrote excerpts from his poems in calligraphy on the facade of the house in which he lived for several years.

Thankful for the strengthening with caffeine and cookies we want to continue. Your neighbor thanks us still, that we have found the way to his neighborhood. I love such spontaneous encounters with locals that go beyond a "how are you doing". Next stop is a museum that is anything but a typical museum. The Mattress Factory (in fact, mattresses were once made in the main building) is a field of experimentation that shows unusual installations created by local artists around the world for the existing space of the multi-story museum.

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has created two fantastic spaces for the Mattress Factory, including "Repetitive Vision".

Part of Rita Duffy's "Souvenir Shop"

"Palestinian" by Mohammed Mussalam

On the way back to your downtown we pass "Randyland". Local artist Randy Gilson transformed a demolished house into a colorful outdoor gallery. The courtyard of "Randyland" is replete with mirrors, painted doll heads, Tibetan prayer flags, plastic flamingos, bird cages, colorful parrots, signs and chairs and countless plants, all lovingly arranged. Randy calls it "house of junk and joy." He also welcomes everyone. His mission: to spread happiness, joy and positive energy. His credo is "It's all about what's in your heart". Guy like you.

No, dear Pittsburgh, we do not have enough of the art yet. At Market Square, we happen to be part of an art event ourselves. "Write a postcard to the President," is the title of the "hands-on campaign" by artist Sheryl Oring. Please for dictation. Here are women in the look of a 60s secretary in front of old-fashioned typewriters. Symbolism for the backward-looking activities of the current government. The postcards typed by the friendly ladies are given the address "White House, Washington DC" and sent. You give room for political dialogue as an art form. The same applies to the "Conflict Kitchen", a restaurant that serves only dishes from nations with which your country is in conflict. Since the beginning of the project delicacies from North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela , Iran, Afghanistan and Palestine have been served here. The idea of ​​the creators behind it: to bring people from different cultures and living conditions together through food into a dialogue. Location of the Conflict Kitchen is your university district, Oakland, home of the University of Pittsburgh. From here you have a fantastic view of the massive main building of the university, the "Cathedral of Learning". Again, cosmopolitanism, tolerance and diversity set the tone. The "Nationality Classrooms", which are well-known beyond your city limits, have been carefully designed and set up on a country-specific basis. A nice idea to appreciate the different ethnic groups that contributed to your development.

On the last day I would like to know where your old coal mines and coking plants are. The search for relics from another time leads us a little bit outside, to your east. Here rises above the Monongahela River the "Carrie Furnace". Blast Furnaces 6 and 7 are the last witnesses of the "Homestead Steel Works", the former flagship of the American steel industry. The plant is one of the few remnants of steel-producing America. It is the only abandoned blast furnace facility that has stayed with you. Built in 1907, it produced steel until 1978.

Yes I know. You are also a big sports city. But I have to make a point sometime. I'll definitely be back. Now I say goodbye to you and your cool charm, which I quickly succumbed. (Dear Detroit, please do not be jealous now ;-))
Former coach of your ice hockey team "Pittsburgh Penguins", Bob Johnson, coined the slogan "It's a great day for hockey". Every day is a great day in the Burgh! In that sense: See you, dear Pittsburgh!

  1. Mrs. Sanne

    Fantastically written! Exciting and fascinating at the same time seems to be this Pittsburgh.
    Please more stories.

  2. Dear Mrs. Sanne, that makes me very happy !! Thank you very much for the flowers. As is often the case, you will discover the most exciting places where you would not expect them. Pittsburgh is such a hidden gem. So long ... Britta

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