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ainulindale

East Coast or Midwest?

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I hear some people refer to Pittsburgh as an east coast city while I hear others say we're much more of a midwest city. This is something I've wondered about for a while now--is Pittsburgh more east coast or midwestern? I figure most people on this forum would know more about this issue than I do and what constitutes being east coast in character as opposed to midwestern. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this issue.

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Growing up in the Pittsburgh metro, if anyone ever told me I was in a midwestern city I would have laughed. I had never heard the suggestion before my whole life until forums like this started debating it. Without further going into the debate and citing more appropriate regional subcategories, if you are from here, you associate Northeast. While some may nitpick and find that improper or disagree, nothing can be said to change my mind on that.

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Having grown up on the actual east coast, New Jersey, I would say that Pittsburgh is very much a midwestern city. It has a very small town feel (in both good and bad ways) that you don't get in places like Philly or Boston. People drive slowly here and wave you on at intersections and say good morning when you pass them on the street even if you don't know them. The general pace of life here seems a couple of notches below the east coast. Sometimes that makes me happy, sometimes it drives me nuts.

Plus we say 'pop' here instead of soda. :)

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Pittsburgh is right on boundary where midwest meets northeast. When I used to teach university level geography, I loved the exercise of having students outline the midwest region on a map. The students then get into groups and debate the limits of the region. The point is to teach students about the difference between subjectivity and objectivity in geography. The student maps are highly subjective, but most claim objectivity or some sort of authority. However, as a class, the maps are remarkably consistent and I would argue quite objective.

There is a bias problem, namely the political boundaries of states. Students are loathe to break with that convention. I figure that most people will mind the lines. Because of that bias, the midwest region stops at the eastern Ohio border. My experience is that few would disagree with labelling Cleveland as a midwestern city. Pittsburgh has much in common with Cleveland. But the Burgh also has much in common with Buffalo and Rochester, cities that rarely find their way on the midwestern side of the regional border.

Thanks to Pittsburgh straddling this cultural transition zone, the city enjoys a creole-like identity. When discussing what region Pittsburgh is in, I think we should also include the South and Appalachia. Thus you have Northeast, Midwest, East Coast, South, and Appalachia. I wouldn't be surprised if some posters here could offer up some other regions that might fit Pittsburgh. This is a big part of what makes Pittsburgh unique.

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[quote name='globalburgh' date='May 19 2007, 12:04 PM' post='777198'

Thanks to Pittsburgh straddling this cultural transition zone, the city enjoys a creole-like identity. When discussing what region Pittsburgh is in, I think we should also include the South and Appalachia. Thus you have Northeast, Midwest, East Coast, South, and Appalachia. I wouldn't be surprised if some posters here could offer up some other regions that might fit Pittsburgh. This is a big part of what makes Pittsburgh unique.

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Having grown up on the actual east coast, New Jersey, I would say that Pittsburgh is very much a midwestern city. It has a very small town feel (in both good and bad ways) that you don't get in places like Philly or Boston. People drive slowly here and wave you on at intersections and say good morning when you pass them on the street even if you don't know them. The general pace of life here seems a couple of notches below the east coast. Sometimes that makes me happy, sometimes it drives me nuts.

Plus we say 'pop' here instead of soda. :)

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AGAIN?

WHY does this come up? Pittsburgh is Northeastern city. Every region has broders and Pittsburgh so happen to be the one that borders the Midwest as DC borders the South.

Characterizing a city as Midwestern because it's not as big as Philly or NYC, would make the rest of the Northeast, Midwestern then.

Pittsburghers don't think of themselves as Midwestern at all. Midwesterners I know, don't think of Pittsburgh being like their cities.

If the term of a Coke defines a city, then I suppose so.

There are difference within regions. Why should Buffalo and Pittsburgh be the same exactly as Philly? why should Hartford be the same as Pittsburgh or Harrisburg (which is not that big so is that Midwestern by some strange standard...?)

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Architecturaly, I would compare Pittsburgh to east-coast cities for sure. Housing here is mostly pretty dense, and there are a fair number of row-houses. Not to mention the wide range of architectural types.

I think of it as east-coast, but obviously it's not actually on the coast. I doubt anyone in New York or Boston would say Pittsburgh is east-coast. But I doubt anyone in Kansas City would say it's midwestern either.

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Architecturaly, I would compare Pittsburgh to east-coast cities for sure. Housing here is mostly pretty dense, and there are a fair number of row-houses. Not to mention the wide range of architectural types.

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It's just another thing that's unique about Pittsburgh. It's the transition city from East coast to Midwest. It usually gets lumped in with East coast becasue it is still in Pennsylvania, which technically has an East coast shore via the Delaware River, but that's a stretch. The dividing line has to be somewhere, so Pittsburgh is the Western most East coast city in my mind. Even though real estate prices and the friendlier people reflect the Midwest.

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I think the architecture and location are "east" but the culture of the city is more Midwestern than a lot of the east coast cities. This may be in part to the fact that Pittsburgh is smaller than all the comparable east coast cities (Philly/Boston/NYC/DC-Baltimore) or to the fact that most of Pittsburgh's competition is in the Midwest. It's definitely a transition city but in certain ways Pittsburgh is more Midwestern than east and in others it's more east coast than Midwest. I tend to think Pittsburghers are more genuine/friendly/less hyper as well, which lumps it in with the Midwest. If you have to choose one I think it's more "east coast" than Midwest simply because it's in an "east coast" state. One thing I don't understand is why Pittsburghers are so loathe to admit the Midwest influence in the city. In a lot of ways it's a good thing.

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Pittsburgh is not East Coast because it's not on or near the East Coast or part of that cultural and economic region. The mistake many people make, however, is equating the East Coast with the entirity of the Northeast. The Northeast extends far beyond the BosWash corridor. Pittsburgh inhabits an area I call the "Interior Northeast". It's detached from the coast and BosWash... but it's still Northeastern... just like Altoona or Elmira, NY. It's the region of the Northeast defined by the Appalachian mountains and plateaus. Buffalo, Rochester and Erie perhaps inhabit a Great Lakes Northeast. There are influences from the Midwest (or was it we who influenced the Midwest???)... economic and cultural ties and similarities. Our late industrial economy was quite similar to that of Cleveland... though East Coast cities like Baltimore, Philly and Bethlehem had heavy manufacturing economies and produced steel. The traditional urban structure of the city is more similar to that of East Coast cities... though this type of urban pedigree was carried west along the rivers to places like Cincinnati and St. Louis, which are heavy on brick. Cleveland has a much different urban environment dominated by Great Lakes style frame housing and wide boulevaurds.

And as for the "pop" thing... that developed from Faygo... which was based in Detroit and called its product "pop". Whatever markets Faygo dominated 100 years ago ended up using the word "pop" as opposed to "soda". Milwaukee and St. Louis, two thoroughly Midwestern cities... say "soda" because Faygo did not enter their markets at that time.

Pittsburgh: Northeastern but not East Coast... unquestionably Appalachian... and a true transition zone between Northeast, Midwest... and the Appalachian South. There is very little self-identification here as "Midwestern".

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I never knew that about Faygo being behind the word "pop." Interesting.

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I never knew that about Faygo being behind the word "pop." Interesting.

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It is interesting to see how everyone has a different take on whether Pittsburgh is midwest or east coast. As a whole, Pittsburgh is obviously not easily classified as anything but Pittsburgh. The only major area anyone didn't describe us as is West. In defining Pittsburgh, it was described as and contains influences from: east coast, midwest, northeast, south, appalachia, "interior northeast" and even creol. Thanks to everyone who offered their insight into this matter.

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Pittsburgh never struck me as even remotely Southern. I've lived in different parts of Georgia for 12 years now, and I remember the absolute culture shock I experienced in my first two years here. Also, when I've returned, I haven't noticed any aspect of Southern culture there.

To me, Pittsburgh is a Northeastern city with a slight Midwestern influence.

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Living in Michigan and now Illinois, I've always thought of Pittsburgh as a Northeastern city. Visiting there for the first time this past weekend, I still feel that way. It defiantly has the look and feel of a northeastern city, but would agree that the people have a friendly Midwestern charm about them too. What did I think of Pittsburgh overall? I think it's one of the best cities I have visited in the United States. No wonder it was recently identified as the "most livable city" in the USA!

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Living in Michigan and now Illinois, I've always thought of Pittsburgh as a Northeastern city. Visiting there for the first time this past weekend, I still feel that way. It defiantly has the look and feel of a northeastern city, but would agree that the people have a friendly Midwestern charm about them too. What did I think of Pittsburgh overall? I think it's one of the best cities I have visited in the United States. No wonder it was recently identified as the "most livable city" in the USA!

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I just got back from Chicago last night, and it put a new spin on my thinking of this argument. While there are a of of reasons why Pittsburgh could be called Midwestern when I look at the way Pittsburgh is laid out compared to Chicago I really think of Pittsburgh as Northeastern now.

Chicago is a city that benefited from the disasters of early urban planning on the east coast. The streets are so wide and the grids are so well laid out that it makes eastern cities (maybe Philly excluded) look like an organic growth disaster. The topography and the people are very different as well.

So, I think that'd my final vote. Pittsburgh is an eastern city with heavy Appalachian influences.

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Pittsburgh's designation often comes from the location of who you ask. People in the NE often consider it MidWest. People in the MidWest often say NE. It is definately NE but on the cusp of the MW. It is it's location west of the Alleghenies that confuse the people of the NE. It is a unique area, not really falling into either catagory in my opinion. I like to think of it as a linch pin. Not just between the NE and MW but also the South. Travel south of Pittsburgh and you will get a definate drawl. If you go as far as Fayette County, it is more like WV than Pa. If you drive west the hills flatten to the rolling hills like Ohio. To the east are the Alleghenies.

I've often felt that Pittsburgh should use this unique distinction as a positive and position it as an urban center that can be reached easily from all 3 regions with ties to all. I feel if they accented this it might attract more industry and headquarters.

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