CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 23, 2016

How Pittsburgh became America's most unlikely cultural capital

www.telegraph.co.uk: When Pittsburgh was ranked the best US city for foodies by the respected Zagat restaurant guide last year, many were surprised.

Not so in the USA, where the city in the heart of Pennsylvania once known as Steel City has become not just a culinary and micro brewery hub but a centre for the arts as well.

14 comments:

Kelly Simons said...

I was so excited to read this article! Since I’m new to Pittsburgh I still don’t know that much about it, I moved here for grad school, and that was about it. I didn’t have a lot of time to research Pittsburgh before I moved here. I moved from a small college town in Kansas and wasn’t sure how I was going to adapt to a larger city. I knew briefly that Pittsburgh was foodie town, but I didn’t know about all the breweries here, or how much of an art town my new home is. One of my favorite things to is visit museums, and I’m so glad there are a ton of museums here. Especially since CMU students get in for free to the four big ones! I’m very much looking forward to living here for three years and seeing all that this wonderful city has to offer.

Ruth Pace said...

In the words of my dearest Aunt Bobbie, "I ain't surprised." This article just reaffirms that which I've known since I moved here lat year. From the hip eateries littering every district from Lawrenceville to East Liberty, and the Broadway tours making hallowed pilgrimages through the culturally rich downtown, Pittsburgh is establishing its own unique brand of cultural significance. While this practically-midwest gem will never have the hippy-dippy vibe of my own Bay Area, or the sheer mass and velocity of New York nightlife, this article points out the numerous Pittsburgh-specific attractions that the city has going for it. From low costs of living and church bars to the Mattress factory and high-quality theater, Pittsburgh is a mixed bag of surprises that has been overlooked too long. It's also significant to point out not only that this article exists, to reaffirm that which we've suspected for a while now, but also that this article is found in a UK-based newspaper, meaning that the Steel City's fame has begun to spread.

Angel Zhou said...

I remember reading the Zagat restaurant guide article that named Pittsburgh as the best US city for foodies and finding it really odd. Was Pittsburgh, home of the main versions of the various Carnegie Mellon University dining restaurants, really the city that had the best dining in all of the United States? I actually recently went to Meat & Potatoes, a restaurant mentioned in this article, and I found it very special, quirky, and delicious. This makes me reconsider my original hesitation regarding Pittsburgh's 'fine dining' merit, but I am still not fully convinced.

With respect to culture, however, this article makes some fantastic points. The Mattress Factory, the Andy Warhol Museum, Falling Waters, and Carnegie Mellon's museums are all exhibits that I have heard only praise for and hope to one day find the time to visit.

I have been to Phipps Conservatory and I have explored a good amount of Panther Hollow, both of which I find absolutely beautiful, unique additions to the amount of nature present in Pittsburgh. Additionally, I agree with the compliments the article gave to The Point and Mount Washington, two locations I thoroughly enjoyed across multiple nighttime trips.

Whenever someone asks me what I think of Pittsburgh, I usually respond that going to school here is the reason why I love Boston (my home city) so much. But, maybe my view of Pittsburgh is skewed - I always view this city through the eyes of a CMU student confined to campus, Oakland, and Squirrel Hill. Perhaps it would be beneficial to try out some of the locations mentioned in this article (within financial reason) and see if these museums, restaurants, and scenic locations could change my opinion of this relatively dreary, CMU-food-filled city.

Michelle Li said...

I must say-- Pittsburgh is growing on me. Hailing for New York City, for another place to feel like home takes quite a lot! Although I'm not trying to say that Pittsburgh is rivaling NYC in any way, this Steel City really is carving out it's own little place in the list of cultural hubs of America. Like the article was mentioning, I really was quite surprised last year when Pittsburgh was crowned the new food city of the year by Zagat. And it may be because I'm much happier in my personal life or because I've moved off campus, but I like Pittsburgh now a lot more than I did last year. It felt colder and more gray last year but then again I feel like coming back as a sophomore I know what to expect more going into Carnegie Mellon. This program really does take a lot out of you but I promise, stick it out and it will be worth it! I'm feeling it already!

William Lowe said...

I don't know how to feel about this article. On one hand, it talks about all of the amazing aspects of this wonderful city which I now get to call one of my homes, Pittsburgh. On the flip side, it’s showing me how much of Pittsburgh I’m missing. The art museums provide an inspiration to the city which honestly expands beyond the two mentioned in the article, but that feeds wonderfully to all of the inspired food around the area. Now, I am impressed with the detail that the article went into for the food scene around the city with some of their favourites for every cuisine; however, I missed them talking about the performing arts. Beyond the theatrical productions from the Civic Light Opera to Squonk, there is Opera and the orchestra. Pittsburgh is also a city with three major professional sports teams and two very large and prominent universities who have pushed the city into the forefront of American technology. I also have an issue with how the article chooses to mention how all of this is “rising from the molten remains” when Pittsburgh had one of the quickest and most successful revitalizations of any of the major steel cities across the country.

Rebecca Meckler said...

As a freshman, it’s so amazing to hear about all the wonderful things to do in Pittsburgh. It’s also really cool to read this article because most of the places mentioned were places that my classmates and I explored for our first basic design project. However, as interesting as the article was, I wish it had focused more on why Pittsburgh being a cultural capital is unlikely. I think adding some of the history about Pittsburgh, especially about the each of the different neighborhoods would have made the article more interesting and helped the article live up to its name. Though it does mention that the neighborhoods are closely connected, the article doesn't elaborate further. I got to hear about all of these amazing places, but I didn’t get to discover why it was unexpected. Nevertheless, the article did make me interested in learning more about the history of the city and interested in going to all of the places that the city has to offer.

Zak Biggins said...

YES. Pittsburgh is such a cool place to live! I'm so glad that i get to spend my freshman year in such a unique town. The city provides me with sports and arts! Before moving here, i never realized how different this experience is from any other. We have plenty of museums, art and science! This article does a great job at depicting how unique this place truly is. I look forward to having my friends visit and being able to show them the mattress factory or the warhol. This city is rich with history as well as modernism

Sophie Chen said...

If I were to read this article this time last year when I'm still new to Pittsburgh, I would not have believed it. I went to school in Shanghai, which is a big city so I actually didn't like Pittsburgh as a city for a good while before I started to recognize the good things it offers. After being here for more than a year, I can completely see why Pittsburgh is rising to be one of America's cultural capitals. Unlike the other art museums that I've been to, which are often widely advertised and publicized, the artistic resources here are all very low-key and modest despite the amazing things they offer. I've seen so many different kinds of artwork here and I haven't even really explored downtown yet. Furthermore, I think the existence of Purnell is also a great addition to the artistic resources here given the wide range and number of different productions we put out each year. However, I'm not so sure about Pittsburgh being a culinary capital. Maybe I haven't explored enough of Pittsburgh to find all of the good food here.

Nick Waddington said...

I have never lived in a city, but i have always lived in the shadow of San Francisco, a thriving cultural hub of the west coast. moving to the city, i was unsure what to expect, and when i arrived everything seemed a bit abrasive or noisy, but the more time i spend here, it grows on me. I have been discovering more and more fantastic dining destinations, while getting my fair share of culture from the plethora of museums and different hotspots i find while exploring. I enjoyed the article because It really put Pittsburgh in the limelight, and i enjoyed the depth they went into about the food culture, however i think they could have actually focused more on why these cultures have developed in pittsburgh. Mainly, i think because CMU and Pitt have drawn the interest of the big tech companies, who come to Pittsburgh, and put down roots, which draws more food places, and promotes the improvement of the city. All in all, i will enjoy exploring this up and coming city over the next four years.

Amanda Courtney said...

I sincerely expected to hate Pittsburgh. In fact, I considered it a drawback when considering where I would like to attend college. I pictured myself stranded in some dirty, dusty factory town, surrounded by unforgiving mountains and squalid rivers. I was delighted to find this was not the case, and have - since that first day - continued to fall in love with this city that offers so much without overwhelming those who live there. College has definitely shaped my gratitude for this unique city in two ways: food, and the sense of art culture that pervades the city. Food is important. I'm a college kid, and good pad thai is somewhat of a religious pursuit of mine. Beyond staple comforts, this city has introduced me to more food, food types, and perceptions of food than I ever anticipated. I am a more adventurous eater because of living here.

More importantly to me - and pertinent to my education - is the vibrant arts life that thrives here. Receiving an education on the performing arts in a center of performing art is invaluable, providing immediate real world experience that I simply could not obtain elsewhere. This article title does not surprise me now, but Pittsburgh certainly did.

Alex Fasciolo said...

I’m from a Connecticut town about an hour outside New York, and so my frame of reference for a city is fairly skewed towards the ‘nothing can compare to New York’ end of the scale. However, despite the size, Pittsburgh not only has an incredibly rich and vibrant culture, it also has a lot to do. In fact, one of the biggest drawbacks of being a student of the school of drama, in my opinion, is that there’s rarely a large amount of free time to go and enjoy all the things there are to do in Pittsburgh. The article did the city some justice, particularly if you’re a fan of the many good places to eat around town, but it didn’t touch upon the fact that Pittsburgh is home to CMU, which made me wonder whether or not it was the culture of the city that has helped shaped Carnegie Mellon to what it is today, or if CMU has helped change the city in any significant way. I’m sure both have happened, but I’d be interested in seeing how the stories of Pittsburgh and CMU intertwine.

Antonio Ferron said...

I think this article is fantastic for the fact that it highlights Pittsburgh, a city I feel needs a bit more street credit, and all it's amazing attributes. Before looking into Carnegie Mellon I knew absolutely nothing about Pittsburgh. My initial thoughts were "How does Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama survive in such a dead industrial city?" Then I did a bit more research and discovered what a cultural hub the city is. Because of this, I appreciate this article so much.

With that said, I was slightly disappointed with the title. I thought it was a little misleading. I was prepared for an article outlining the cool and interesting history of how Pittsburgh became such a cultural hub. It would've been interesting to have heard a little bit more about the cities background, but nevertheless the article did an amazing job of promoting Pittsburgh and all the awesome things about the city.

Jamie Phanekham said...

So when I tell people that I go to school in Pittsburgh, the reaction is usually something slightly negative like, "Oh... Pittsburgh.." And from that I was definitely afraid to move here, thinking it was a city that got left in the past when the steel mills left. I think due to the rest of the rust belt it really gets that stigma. But upon arrival, I have come to love Pittsburgh. There's really no other city like it in the US, and I've been to a lot of them. The hills make Pittsburgh look a toy train town, with tiny perfect house littering their faces, and the rivers make it even more picturesque. Where you think it would be run down, its truly vibrant and surprisingly green (for 6 months of the year) and there's so many young people. There really is a lot of culture, and I'm sure a lot of both things have to do with the colleges here. But, it really is a city with a lot of character, and when its in movies, which it is a lot recently, you can instantly recognize it's hills and narrow streets. I found myself defending Pittsburgh to people when I was home this summer saying things like "It's actually very beautiful," to naysayers. It is an interesting place and it certainly has grown on me.

Megan Jones said...

I remember when I first told my parents I wanted to look at Carnegie Mellon they told me about how Pittsburgh was a grey, industrial city that was overall a bad place to live. When we got here for my first tour we all saw that their assumptions were completely wrong. The city is definitely on the rise with the boom of the STEM industry, but also still has a huge amount of parks and museums to explore. The article mentioned the Mattress Factory, which is one of my personal favorites, as well as the Carnegie Museum of Art. As a college student these places are very accessible as we get into so many places for free. One thing I would say that's not so great about the city is that it can be hard to navigate, especially without a car. The bus system is inconsistent and unreliable at times. When I first started driving around Pittsburgh I got lost so many times, as the infrastructure is very confusing. Hopefully as the city continues to improve we'll see this problem get resolved, as it's hard to have an up and coming city if people can't get around.