Pittsburgh: An Unparalleled City

Special Libraries, Spring 1990 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh: An Unparalleled City


Pittsburgh: An Unparalleled City

June 9-14 marks the 81st Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association, to take place in Pittsburgh, PA. Over 5,000 information professionals--like you--are expected to attend the hundreds of workshops, education sessions, business meetings, division programs, committee meetings, special events, and--of course--the exhibit hall with over 250 exhibitors. With all those activities, you may never get a chance to see the city or to experience its unique culture.

Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania with a regional population of more than two million people, offers much more than you may think. The city boasts a number of first including:

* The First Radio Station: KDKA

* The First Ferris Wheel

* The First All-Aluminum Skyscraper: the Alcoa Building

* The First McDonald's Big Mac burger

In 1985, Pittsburgh was ranked the country's most livable city by Rand McNally. The city combines a number of features few American cities can, including history, recreation, and a revitalized business community.

Getting to Pittsburgh

The Greater Pittsburgh International Airport is served by 13 commercial airlines and is a hub for USAir airlines. Cab fair to downtown averages about $27, airport limousine service is available to major downtown hotels for about $10 (rates provided by AAA). Railroad service is also available through Amtrack, with its historic Penn Station, conveniently located downtown adjacent to the convention center and hotels. Greyhound also provides a centrally located terminal next to the convention center. For those of you who will be driving into the city, you will find the fastest route to be along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

A Brief History

Tracing its roots to the mid-1700s and the French and Indian War, Pittsburgh is perhaps the only American city seleted personally by George Washington for trade and settlement. Both French and English envisioned the area where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the headwaters of the Ohio as a key trading and access point to the western and northern settlements. In 1758, the British emerged as victors in the struggle for the region and built Ft. Pitt, the largest and most elaborate outpost in North America at the time.

A town soon began to grow around the fort and it was incorporated in 1816. In the mid-1800s industry began to develop rapidly, particularly glassmaking and ironworks. By 1870, Pittsburgh produced half of the world's glass and iron; and almost all of the world's soil.

The city's prosperity had been a boon to the regional economy, but its industrialization took a toll on the local environment. In the late 1940s, Mayor David Lawrence began the nation's first urban renewal projects. Flood control, air pollution, highway development, and elimination of downtown industrial blight were his goals. A similar project started in the late 1970s, bringing urban renewal that has made Pittsburgh the model city it is today.

After nearly two centuries as a leader in mining and manufacturing, Pittsburgh has been transformed into a major high-technology center which includes a leading role in the fields of education and health care. As the perception of its industrial past fades, the city is cultivating its new image of a sophisticated metropolitan area, housing the third largest concentration of corporate headquarters in the country.

What to Do

Pittsburgh offers a variety of attractions that you may want to explore while in the area. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes, because the city is ideal for walking tours. In addition to a compact downtown area, just 10 blocks, the shops and restaurants at Station Square, as well as the educational attractions in Allegheny Square, are only a bridge crossing away. …

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