The History and Greening of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh native discusses the history and greening of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


| August/September 2002



Statistics for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Statistics for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Learn about the history and greening of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I am a younser, a colloquial tag for a Pittsburgh native. My family's three generations have witnessed three different Pittsburghs: Its meteoric rise as an industrial steel brute, its dramatic downfall and now its rebirth as a town known for intellectual industry and newly green neighborhoods.

In a city once so polluted and smoky streetlights had to be lit during the day, it's hard for some people to imagine a verdant Pittsburgh. But in the last few decades, the iron City has morphed into more of an ecological metropolis and we now see the greening of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Looking down onto the Golden Triangle from Mount Washington, formerly dubbed Coal Hill, a growing number of green neighborhoods, high-performance green buildings and extensive riverfront development is sprouting up. Other burgeoning green businesses are beginning to grow. The East End Food Co-op, a natural and whole foods grocery with an award-winning vegetarian cafe, enjoys a brisk business. More than 32 neighborhood farmer's markets are open during the growing season. Community-supported agriculture programs are cropping up around the city's edges. Businesspeople Like David Shiller, proprietor of the green retail store E House in Southside, and Lou Tamler of Construction junction, a used building materials supply center have found the city receptive to their eco-entrepreneurial spirit. Pittsburgh's active, online green-mapping system (www.greenpittsburgh.net) keeps track of Pittsburgh's green scene. (See "Mapping a Greener Future," June/July 2002.)

Like most of the thousands of immigrants who followed the smoke trail to Pittsburgh in the late 1800s, my grandparents settled in ethnic neighborhoods nestled into the steep hillsides and valleys shaped by Pittsburgh's three rivers: the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela. These folks were the blue-collar workforce, an indispensable part of the industrial force that powered Pittsburgh.

In the late 1800s, partially because of the Civil War and the appetite for goods needed to expand the nation, Pittsburgh erupted into an industrial giant. Rich deposits of coal and timber, petroleum, clay and other natural resources fueled this revolution.





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