ShareThis Page
Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell: D.C. vs. Pittsburgh? We win, hands down

| Monday, July 30, 2018, 9:03 p.m.
The Pittsburgh skyline at sunset on Monday, June 22, 2015
Steven Adams | Tribune-Review
The Pittsburgh skyline at sunset on Monday, June 22, 2015

Washington, D.C., routinely ranks high in surveys on America’s most livable cities, but as somebody who’s been a resident of both areas, I can tell you that Pittsburgh’s a far better place to live.

Some in D.C. look down on us for living in “flyover country” — they think Washingtonians are smart and sophisticated while we are ill-informed — but I’ve found the opposite to be true.

Having lived in the D.C. region for nearly eight years, I’m telling you that Pittsburgh — where I was born and raised and have my home — is the better place to live.

First, Washington isn’t a real city. A giant metro parking lot of a region, it’s propped up by tax dollars and lobbying budgets, which fund its chief industry: blather and B.S.

In Pittsburgh, a real city where real people work real jobs, Pittsburghers’ brawn and sweat mined the coal that fueled our nation and forged the steel that built our country and won wars — a heritage that inspires a proud work ethic still.

Washington is filled with people with advanced college degrees. That’s fine. But common sense is in short supply. It takes but an inch of snow to panic drivers and shut the government down. Washington is America’s only city where fully grown adults still enjoy snow days.

Pittsburghers, much more resilient, are hearty and inventive. They shovel their own driveways when snow falls. They function in winter the way Washingtonians function only when it’s 80 degrees and sunny.

The truth is that D.C.’s white-collar folks are totally dependent on the blue-collar people who maintain their water supply, electricity, smartphone signal, etc. — the people who keep the world running like a well-oiled machine.

Unlike D.C., buckets of money aren’t pouring into Pittsburgh — one reason its housing is way more affordable. What would be a modest Pittsburgh starter home sells for $500,000 or more in D.C. Who can afford that?

Sure, Pittsburgh’s property taxes are awfully high, whereas those in Washington are reasonable. But that’s a good thing: I prefer my tax dollars be wasted at the local level rather than the federal level.

As for air and water quality, Washington excels in both. Some nights, the air is so clear, you can see D.C. gunfire from as far away as Alexandria, Va. But the air is clear because nobody makes anything there.

In Pittsburgh, a little pollution is the price we pay for actually making real products — such as steel for the chairs upon which rest so many paper-pushing Washingtonians’ posteriors.

Yes, Pittsburgh’s roads are bad. Some of our potholes are so large that after every thunderstorm, we need to staff them with lifeguards. But transportation is better in Pittsburgh.

Ever tried getting around in Washington? You can’t pick up milk without making a Mario Andretti foray onto a six-lane speedway or getting lost in a maze of one-way roads that always go the opposite way you want to go.

People are what sets Pittsburgh apart most, however. Friendly, compassionate and concerned for their neighbors, Pittsburghers really do want to solve our country’s many problems and prefer real results over rhetoric and promises.

D.C. has its charms. But take it from someone who’s lived in both places: Pittsburgh — and many other wonderful cities throughout America’s heartland — are filled with smart, sophisticated, wonderful people. And the livability surveys really ought to give us more credit for that.

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood!” Visit him on the web at TomPurcell.com .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me