I’ve always had a good time in Pittsburgh, and it’s a visually striking city in a way that I think impresses visitors. Pittsburgh has also typically had a lower murder rate than Pennsylvania’s other major city and comparable “rust belt” cities like Cleveland and Detroit.
That creates good vibes and tends to give you a sort of broadly positive reputation. But I’m always a bit mystified by the notion of Pittsburgh as a success story of urban change. Pittsburgh had 676,806 residents at the 1950 census. That fell steadily in the second half of the 20th century to just 334,563 residents according to the 2000 census. slower pace, and in the 2021 estimate, only 300,453 people remained. Admittedly, this is a smaller population loss than Cleveland, Detroit, or St. Louis. But it’s worse than Milwaukee or Baltimore and only slightly better than Buffalo.
I think the main lesson from Pittsburgh is that it underscores just how severe the headwinds are for core cities that have cold winters.
Those are from Matt Yglesias ($).