A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Early Thursday, I tweeted a story from Salon that asked: “Is Pittsburgh the Next Portland?”
The piece by longtime Pittsburgh fan Jim Russell originally appeared on the website Pacific Standard and opened with this provocative lead paragraph:
“What does a dying city look like? Brains are draining. The population is shrinking or aging, or both. Vibrant, creative class cool Portland is the antithesis of dying. Yesterday, journalist Annalyn Kurtz tweets: ‘See! The Portland labor force lost 25,000 workers in the last year.’ ”
The next sentence was the real killer: “What in the name of Richard Florida is going on here?” Pittsburghers of a certain age will remember when Richard Florida was just a local phenomenon. The Carnegie Mellon professor from 1987 to 2004 literally wrote the book on what constitutes a livable city.
Pittsburgh has become an example of reverse brain drain. The City of Pittsburgh is attracting more and more people in their 20’s and 30’s. The median age of city residents fell from 35.5 to 33.2 in the last ten years. (By comparison, the median age of Pennsylvania’s 12.7 million residents in 2010 was 40.1, up from 38.0 in 2000.) This phenomenon is rarely seen outside the Sun Belt and never in the Rust Belt. But then again, this isn’t you’re parent’s Pittsburgh, anymore.
The smokey steel city of the 40’s and 50’s is long gone. Heavy industry has been replaced with education, health-care, robotics, computer technology and other high-tech and green industry. Pittsburgh is building itself a more diversified economy and consistently ranks high on the list of America’s Most Livable Cities. The cost of living in Pittsburgh makes it very attractive to young people.
Because of all these factors, and more, Pittsburgh will be hosting the One Young World Summit in 2012. 2,000 young leaders from 160 countries will be coming to Pittsburgh to discuss topics like global health, climate change and micro-economics. Most of these delegates will be in their 20’s. This will be the third year for One Young World. Last year the event was held in London and this year it was held in Zurich.
Pittsburgh beat out Johannesburg, South Africa to host One Young World in 2012. Other countries that bid for the conference besides South Africa were China, Australia, Peru and Dubai. Pittsburgh was the only American city bidding to host this event.