Pittsburgh: The Story of a City

By Leland D. Baldwin | Go to book overview
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XXV Two Generations of Progress

DURING the two generations that have elapsed since the Civil War Pittsburgh has been reaping its share of an unparalleled era of industrial prosperity and has been aiding to bring about that prosperity by its inventions, its financial acumen, and its bold pioneering in new fields. The panics that swept the country at intervals halted only temporarily the march of progress; before long the factory chimneys were again belching forth the clouds of smoke that indicated that prosperity had turned another corner. The begrimed citizens at the forks of the Ohio looked as eagerly for smoke as the farmers looked for rain, and the mixture of smoke and fog--smog--became as characteristic of Pittsburgh as the dust storms of the and West or the hurricanes of Florida. The Pittsburgher accepted his lot with a sort of mystical pride and coined his own paraphrase of Riley's philosophy: "When God sorts out the weather and sends smog, why smog's my choice."

There have been attempts to abate the smoke nuisance by introducing more efficient means of burning the "volatile matter" in the soft coal almost universally used in the region. Factories have accomplished this most successfully, and it is the domestic furnaces that are today the greatest offenders. The name "Smoky City" sticks in the memories of visitors, however, and the na

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