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Old 07-06-2007, 12:13 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,691 posts, read 84,988,138 times
Reputation: 29273

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I want to start out by saying I'm a big fan of Pittsburgh myself. But here's Pittsburgh's problem: its infrastructure and amenities were built to accommodate a city-proper population of nearly 700,000 people and a metro population of about 2.7 million, with the respective tax and philanthropic bases to support them. Today, the city population is about 300,000 and the metro population about 2.1 million. Furthermore the philanthropic fortunes that gave birth to and continue to support Pittsburgh's world-class institutions were made about a century ago.

There's still some old money floating around in Pittsburgh -- Theresa Heinz Kerry being the most visible example -- but a lot of that old money has already been invested in the arts and other projects and it is not being replaced; and some of it has fled for greener pastures where the return on the investment is better than what you'll get in Pittsburgh these days. Pittsburgh's cultural institutions are still very respectable, but as time passes they are having a harder and harder time shaking the money tree for foundation grants. The well is drying up.

Meanwhile, the tax-supported basic infrastructure is straining under a lethal combination age, cash-strapped coffers and a shrinking tax base. You may not know this, but the City of Pittsburgh essentially declared bankruptcy and its financial affairs are now managed by the state. That's how bad the fiscal situation is there, because there are only 300,000 people left to support an infrastructure designed to support over twice that population. City services are a mess. The schools are a mess. City departments are chronically overwhelmed and understaffed. Many streets have been reduced to strips of moon craters with almost no budget to repave them. The city's response to the loss of tax base has been to raise taxes on those who remain, further increasing the incentive to flee for the 'burbs, or leave the area altogether.

And that's exactly what is happening: When I lived there just 10 years ago, the city population was estimated at 350,000. Before that it was 500K, 600K, nearly 700K as far back as the 60s. Today, it's 300K and shrinking. Tomorrow it may be 275K, then 250K. I have to believe the city won't completely hollow out; eventually the population bleeding has to stop. But right now there appears to be no end in sight, and some day there may be nobody left to support that massive infrastructure and those erstwhile top-notch cultural institutions.

As surprisingly nice a city as Pittsburgh is, especially given its general reputation around the country, it's not always easy to tell on first impressions that the place is seriously white-knuckling it for survival. It won't take much more than a hard shove for Pittsburgh to become the next Detroit. What's truly disheartening is that a lot of its own residents have essentially given up and adopted a fatalistic attitude that the plunge is inevitable. Fortunately, they are currently being offset by other residents who have tremendous civic pride of an intensity that I have never witnessed anywhere else I've lived, and they are doing everything in their power to keep the city vital. The two sides are currently waged in an epic battle, and right now it's not entirely clear who is going to win. As for me, I'm cheering on the civic-pride crowd, but from a safe distance for now.

On a final note... again, as someone who likes Pittsburgh, take it from someone who has lived both in Pittsburgh and Chicago: there is not ANYTHING near the sheer diversity of people, places and things in Pittsburgh as there is in Chicago; not in terms of ethnic diversity, income diversity, ideological diversity, and sheer volume of cultural, dining, nightlife, and entertainment options. Pittsburgh is not a boring city by any stretch, but it's got absolutely nothing on Chicago.

Last edited by Drover; 07-06-2007 at 12:40 AM..

 
Old 07-06-2007, 12:14 AM
 
Location: Henderson NV
1,134 posts, read 805,830 times
Reputation: 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
Indy isnt that horrible, there are many unique things about Indy that make it great.

Worst city over 500K? LOTS! lol Detroit is pretty nasty, but also unique. My vote would probably go to LA (minus the weather). Uninspiring, over sprawled, gangbanger and illegalville, overpriced and overcrowded. Not to mention the pollution and crime...
Such L. A. hate! Well, I have hate too. We all seem to have hatred for a great city that just happened to hit its stride about the time automobiles were coming into their own. That's why Los Angeles is the biggest thing you will see on a map. That's why it's so spread out, and where was everyone in L. A. when the power went out in pedestrian N.Y. two weeks ago. Driving around in the freedom of their own transportation. Shiny little New York foreheads clumsily dragging themselves out from beneath the street for all the world to see. Chicago laughing at the site of this, until it was their turn this week! The elevated shut down and all you could see were shadows of little people, trapped in their previously mobile cages for hours. Enjoying the view of the bombed out neighborhood below and breaking open the doors and windows for a better look - and some AIR! People in L. A., still driving along, listening to music. Eating, reading, drinking, driving! The American way!
 
Old 07-06-2007, 12:37 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,691 posts, read 84,988,138 times
Reputation: 29273
Quote:
Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
Such L. A. hate! Well, I have hate too. We all seem to have hatred for a great city that just happened to hit its stride about the time automobiles were coming into their own. That's why Los Angeles is the biggest thing you will see on a map.
A little OT trivia here, but actually the largest city in America, geographically, is Sitka AK; population 9,000, land area 2,900 square miles. That is not a typo: this city of 9,000 has nearly twenty times the land area as L.A. Population density: three people per square mile. Gotta wonder: what's the point?
 
Old 07-06-2007, 12:52 AM
 
Location: Henderson NV
1,134 posts, read 805,830 times
Reputation: 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drover View Post
A little OT trivia here, but actually the largest city in America, geographically, is Sitka AK; population 9,000, land area 2,900 square miles. That is not a typo: this city of 9,000 has nearly twenty times the land area as L.A. Population density: three people per square mile. Gotta wonder: what's the point?
Try Google Maps! Zoom up on L. A. and you'll find it full, it's mode of transportation responsible for its current and growing dimensions. Zoom up on Sitka, if you can get that close. Is there a face I can use for duh? How bout some math? What's 20 times 467 square miles? 9340 square miles. Look, another smiley face!
 
Old 07-06-2007, 01:11 AM
 
Location: NW suburbs
94 posts, read 419,558 times
Reputation: 41
LA being the worst city in america is probably wrong. Detriot wins for me hands down. There really is NOTHING going for that place.
 
Old 07-06-2007, 01:18 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,691 posts, read 84,988,138 times
Reputation: 29273
Quote:
Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
Try Google Maps! Zoom up on L. A. and you'll find it full, it's mode of transportation responsible for its current and growing dimensions. Zoom up on Sitka, if you can get that close. Is there a face I can use for duh? How bout some math? What's 20 times 467 square miles? 9340 square miles. Look, another smiley face!
Gimme a break dude, it's late.
 
Old 07-06-2007, 07:59 AM
 
332 posts, read 1,294,679 times
Reputation: 87
to me, l.a. isn't the worst city in america. how can a place that looks like a suburb of any city even get ranked on such a list?
 
Old 07-06-2007, 08:57 AM
 
Location: VA
784 posts, read 4,152,431 times
Reputation: 1069
Default NYC outside of Manhattan

Outside of Manhattan New York City is pretty terrible. Especially the Bronx and Brooklyn.
 
Old 07-06-2007, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 66,811,441 times
Reputation: 9991
Quote:
Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
Such L. A. hate! Well, I have hate too. We all seem to have hatred for a great city that just happened to hit its stride about the time automobiles were coming into their own. That's why Los Angeles is the biggest thing you will see on a map. That's why it's so spread out, and where was everyone in L. A. when the power went out in pedestrian N.Y. two weeks ago. Driving around in the freedom of their own transportation. Shiny little New York foreheads clumsily dragging themselves out from beneath the street for all the world to see. Chicago laughing at the site of this, until it was their turn this week! The elevated shut down and all you could see were shadows of little people, trapped in their previously mobile cages for hours. Enjoying the view of the bombed out neighborhood below and breaking open the doors and windows for a better look - and some AIR! People in L. A., still driving along, listening to music. Eating, reading, drinking, driving! The American way!
Bah. Thats a lie and you know it. We all know traffic in LA doesnt move. You can walk faster than the traffic moves in LA. So even with a break down on the El, youll still probably make better time than you would driving in LA.

Im also curious why this makes LA better than Chicago or NY? Because people have to drive everywhere, waste gas, and pollute the skies and roadways because there are not many options other than to drive? Sounds more like a nightmare to me...
 
Old 07-06-2007, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Metro Detroit, MI
3,490 posts, read 2,251,443 times
Reputation: 466
Quote:
Originally Posted by pandabear View Post
LA being the worst city in america is probably wrong. Detriot wins for me hands down. There really is NOTHING going for that place.
Well, NOTHING is a bit harsh. I'm not from Michigan, I just moved here from So Cal last year. I've moved around quite a bit...I've experienced Detroit, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Alberquerque, L.A., San Diego, Sacramento, Denver, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Waterloo, Omaha, Lincoln, Indianapolis...on and on. Of course some of these are well under 500k, but still...

The worst, IMHO, is L.A. And I live in Metro Detroit! If your simply gonna say gangs, crime, blight, ect, then Detroit is obviously the worst. But the D also has a very vibrant arts and music scene, and a gritty and surreal sub-culture of sorts. Most of the town is bad, but parts of it are full of breath-takingly beautiful architechture, old mansions and skyscrapers...it's awsome. Plus, it does have parts that are safe and fun to visit, like Greektown in downtown, the new Riverfront, the WSU area...on and on.

Basically, Detroit has a personality. L.A., to me, is just one great big sprawling mess. Like anywhere, there are some good parts, but overall, the traffic, the dirtiness, the people...ugh. You can keep it.

My favorite city? San Diego baby!
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