Where I'm At

Livin' in Da Burgh (with an H)

Kaufmann's Clock
Then and Now
What city do you live in? What neighborhood?

I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Strip District (which has nothing to do with the "Clothing Removal Business") is the neighborhood in which I spend the majority of my time, since I live just outside of it.

What are some adjectives that describe your neighborhood?

Busy! Take the Strip, for example. It is a stretch of road, crammed full of shops, open air market stalls, and masses upon masses of people fighting their way to the best deals, or towards a Primanti Brother's sandwich, a classic in this town.

Quirky is another good word. If it's getting somewhat late, and you can't decide where you want to go for a bit of fun, head on over to Carson Street. There's over 100 bars and restaurants within about a 6 block radius. That isn't counting the odd shops you'll find (like a bead shop surrounded on all sides by bars) and the best coffee in town, The Beehive. Down the street from all the action is the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, which is currently holding weekly church services in what used to be a Mafia bar, if you want a bit of irony with your gospel.

How long have you lived there, and what brought you there?

I have lived here for 2 years. I moved here to be closer to my family. My stepfather is originally from Pittsburgh, and when his health started to go downhill, he and my mother decided it would be best if they moved closer to his family.

A year later, when my lease was up at my then current apartment, I packed what things I wanted to keep, shipped them via UPS, and hopped on a plane out here. I've had no regrets since.

What is your favorite thing about this place? Your least favorite?

My favorite thing is the languages. No matter where you go, you might stumble into someone talking in Polish, Romanian, German, Russian, Italian, Hebrew.. You name it, we've got it, especially if it's from the eastern half of Europe. Their families might have immigrated here generations ago, but they always keep a bit of their homeland alive here.

My least favorite is some of the slang people use here, like y'inz, which is the Pittsburgh equivalent to y'all. While y'all has rules (used for groups of people, etc), y'inz has no rules. It can be used for one person, a group of people, animals, inanimate objects.. The uses know no bounds. And for an outsider, it can take some getting used to.

Do you feel that you belong there?

I do. Pittsburgh is such a melding of different cultures and people, it is hard to not find a niche for yourself here. There are shops and clubs for everything under the sun, and festivals year round. Where as in some of the cities I've lived in, it took time and effort to make friends and find a great place to hang out in, this city just opens it's arms to new comers. I found fast friends within weeks of moving here, and a few places where I frequent I was quickly relegated to "regular customer" status, and greeted warmly by staff and other customers.

What is the most common misconception about where you live?

That it's dirty. It's been years since the last steel mill closed in town, but yet it's still known for being a smoggy, sooty mess. In contrast, it's a beautiful city. Some of the older buildings have been getting all the years of grime scrubbed off of their sides, and there are trees and parks all over the place.

What is a special fact about your city that you have to live there to know?

Pittsburgh was the neighborhood in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. And Mr. McFeely still does his rounds for Speedy Delivery. I recently spotted him in the St. Patrick's Day parade, but he's been everywhere in town where a package can be delivered.

What aspect of your city do you secretly love?

How busy it is. I'm originally from the "Middle of nowhere", Indiana, and I never thought I'd like the noise and bustle of a large city. But now, I don't know if I could go back to the quiet of the country after living here, even for just the short time I've called Pittsburgh home.

Anything else you'd like to add?

If you visit, you have to visit Mt. Washington. You can see almost all of Pittsburgh from up there. And the greatest thing about it? If you're here for a holiday where they set off fireworks (such as the Fourth of July), you can look Down on the fireworks, instead of up at them. No neck strain! Not to mention the difference height makes in photos.

You also, despite your misgivings about it, have to try a classic Primanti Brother's Sandwich. I get their version of a cheeseburger. Grilled bread, patty, cheese, french fries, cole slaw, and topped with the other part of the "bun". Yes, your sides are on the sandwich. But trust me, despite how odd or gross it sounds/looks, it is great! It is a Pittsburgh must!

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—The JPG team

2 responses

  • Dawn Derbyshire

    Dawn Derbyshire (Deleted) said (21 Mar 2009):

    Great story.
    Yinz is by far one of the worst words I've ever heard in my life. lol

  • Jessica Wells

    Jessica Wells said (23 Mar 2009):

    Sad thing is, because I hear it all the time, I find myself sometimes replacing my usual y'all with a y'inz.. And you just see me shudder a little when I realize it. :P

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