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Unread 08-01-2009, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Yeah
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Default So who are Pittsburgh's rich?

So of course I've mentioned I work in the Bethel/Upper St Clair area, and of course see all the wealthy folks out that way, and I see my share of them in our neighborhood (Point Breeze/Squirrel Hill) and we hang out quite often in Fox Chapel. So of course Pittsburgh is one of the major metro areas in PA, but definitely not the biggest out of the big cities in the US. So it begs the question, who are all of Pittsburgh rich and what do they do?
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Unread 08-01-2009, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Great White North Hills
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They live in Sewickley, Sewickley Hills, and Sewickley Hgts boros. My guess is they hang at the country club.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 10:39 AM
 
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Well, it depends on how you define "rich". Some people consider the professional-class/upper-middle-class rich, and in that case you are just talking about your standard doctors, law firm partners, executives in major companies, successful small business owners, and so on.

But I think of the truly rich as people who don't actually have to work to sustain their high-income lifestyle thanks to the income from investments (not including retirees who had to work for their retirement savings). We don't have as many of those people as one might expect given Pittsburgh's industrial past, in part because a lot of the major families moved east at some point (e.g., to Boston or New York). Still, if you poke around the boards and donor lists of the major charities and foundations you will still spot some familiar last names.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COPANUT View Post
They live in Sewickley, Sewickley Hills, and Sewickley Hgts boros. My guess is they hang at the country club.
Yep. Pittsburgh's truly wealthy elite roughly moved around as a group over time. So, in one period they were in the former city of Allegheny, and then a little later in the Shadyside/East End area. When the Allegheny Country Club moved to Sewickely Heights in 1902, it set off a new wave of estate building. But that was sort of the end of an era--by the 1940s the diaspora of many of Pittsburgh's top families that I mentioned above had occurred, and in the 1950s and 1960s a lot of those Sewickley Heights estates were actually torn down. But I think Sewickley Heights remains Pittsburgh's last true "old money" area.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Yeah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COPANUT View Post
They live in Sewickley, Sewickley Hills, and Sewickley Hgts boros. My guess is they hang at the country club.
Maybe I asked incorrectly. What I was getting at was considering the size or lack of size of Pittsburgh, I feel there are above average numbers in those living in upper middle class to upper class. I'm trying to get an idea of what these people do or have done for their to be so many wealthy areas.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Yeah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
Well, it depends on how you define "rich". Some people consider the professional-class/upper-middle-class rich, and in that case you are just talking about your standard doctors, law firm partners, executives in major companies, successful small business owners, and so on.

But I think of the truly rich as people who don't actually have to work to sustain their high-income lifestyle thanks to the income from investments (not including retirees who had to work for their retirement savings). We don't have as many of those people as one might expect given Pittsburgh's industrial past, in part because a lot of the major families moved east at some point (e.g., to Boston or New York). Still, if you poke around the boards and donor lists of the major charities and foundations you will still spot some familiar last names.
I figured doctors and law firms, but how many does this area really have. The small business owner sector intruiges me, wondering what kind of businesses these people have to live so well.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 02:37 PM
 
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Who are they and what do they do? Most are from old money. Although from old money, many still enjoy having careers, and some simply enjoy their old money.

btw, Fox Chapel has the largest concentration of wealth in the metropolitan area. If you don't believe me, go find an old thread of mine where I posted the statistical proof.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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They do all kinds of things. Not just small businesses either; some of them started businesses that are no longer small but may still operate here, or sold them at the peak. (Example: I pass by a strange modern house on the way to work, I think it would be still considered to be in Marshall Township, Allegheny Co., that turns out to be the residence of one of the founders of Fore Systems. That was a computer networking company that sold to a larger company right at the top of the market in 1999 or 2000. Those guys cashed out big.) Law firms I know about because they are customers of my employer. Two of the largest law firms in the country, indeed the world, are headquartered in Pittsburgh. Reed Smith and K&L Gates each employ a couple hundred lawyers here and hundreds more around the world. While they have top partners scattered all around in these days of being able to work anywhere, plenty of their top people do operate out of Pittsburgh. Both are moving their offices into different buildings downtown this year or next. Hundreds more lawyers are employed here.

And I'd like to throw another thing out there about there being "so many wealthy areas". I think this is stretching it a bit. There may be a lot of areas that people consider wealthy, and some others that used to be so. But in all these areas there are plenty of non-wealthy residents as well. The geography and various preferences of these folks (some urban, some large estates, some in between) means there aren't just a few areas where they might settle but instead many. So I would venture that there are not a disproportionate amount of wealthy residents in the area, just a disproportionate number of so-called wealthy areas, which are all only partially wealthy areas. :-)
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Unread 08-01-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottrpriester View Post
I figured doctors and law firms, but how many does this area really have. The small business owner sector intruiges me, wondering what kind of businesses these people have to live so well.
People know about the "eds and meds" story, but I think a lot of people are unaware of how Pittsburgh has been growing as a professional and business service center as well (so that includes your corporate lawyers, consulting, marketing, and so on). We also have a growing number of people in corporate management--I think people get thrown off looking at just the big (say, Fortune 500) companies, and forget that lots of business activity gets done at medium-sized companies.

As for small businesses--people tend to think of things like restaurants and shops, where the margins can be low in the best of times and many businesses simply fail. But you have small businesses in all sorts fields, like dentists, accountants, small law offices, design, small health offices of all sorts, insurance brokerages, labs, specialty manufacturing, and on and on. Those can sometimes be quite lucrative.

Now of course there is overlap here with some of the other professional jobs we have been listing, but you can make quite a bit more money owning one of these businesses instead of merely working in one. Or not--that risk/reward relationship is inherent to the small business world.
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Unread 08-01-2009, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Yeah
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I guess a lot of it is me. I of course moved down from Erie, and there are really only three areas you see wealth (South Shore area in the city, Milcreek and Fairview Townships).
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