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March 18th, 2009
05:45 PM ET

Can Pittsburgh save Detroit?

Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

Detroit, Michigan is teetering on the brink of collapse but it might be able to save itself by taking a good look at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Back in the '70s and '80s, Pittsburgh’s steel industry collapsed and hundreds of thousands of people left town. This is similar to what we’re seeing now in Detroit with the auto industry.

Pittsburgh, in effect, died. It had to find a way to reinvent itself after it had been relying on just one industry for economic growth for so long. So Pittsburgh turned to what residents and local economists might call "recession-resistant" industries, like health care and education.

Many locals call it the "Meds and Eds” economic approach. It seems to be working.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is now the biggest employer in town with 26,000 people. Carnegie Mellon University is well known for an innovative Robotics program, and biotech is hot here.

Even the first office tower in downtown in 20 years is under construction. Guess who’s building it? PNC Financial Services ... a bank! Call it luck, but PNC pretty much got out of the mortgage business before the whole subprime mess and never wrote bad loans so they are actually growing without any stimulus money! Their conservative style paid off.

These reasons are why experts say Pittsburgh might make a good model for Detroit. Both cities long relied on one industry, have strong research universities and have seen their populations shrink.

And it’s not just that Pittsburgh is surviving, it’s thriving. Foreclosures are down, while in the rest of the country they’re up. Unemployment has crept up to 6.5 percent, but it’s still well below the national unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.

Home prices in the Pittsburgh region increased, on average, by nearly 1 percent in 2008, while nationally, home prices declined 8.2 percent, the steepest annual amount on record. Moody’s says Pittsburgh will be the only city out of the top 100 U.S. metropolitan regions to post a gain in housing prices one year from now.

Detroit should take notice. There may be a life-saving lesson here. Sure, Pittsburgh isn’t perfect. It will lose jobs this year and condo sales downtown have slowed, but TIME Magazine calls Pittsburgh, “One of the Bright Spots on Main Street.” That’s a pretty big compliment when the economy is in the tank, don’t you think?


Filed under: Randi Kaye • Road to Rescue
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Mel

    I grew up north of Detroit; my dad grew up in Warren, my grandfather, Detroit. None of my generation of the family has remained in Detroit. My dad and grandparents are migrating further and further from the city. The only things I miss are Buddy's Pizza, a good greek salad, middle eastern food and coney islands.

    On the other hand, I moved to Pittsburgh exactly 10 years ago for college, I loved the city so much that I stayed after graduation. In the 10 years since I've been here, it's gotten even more appealing. I've lived in many different parts of Pittsburgh during my time here, and have had few bad experiences. I travel to other cities frequently for church and ministry and, quite frankly, couldn't imagine myself being happier living in another city.

    I have several friends and acquaintances in Pittsburgh that are my age - on the brink of 30, professionals. For what my two cents are worth, I'd say a new generation loves Pittsburgh.

    March 18, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  2. JIM FALLBROOK CA

    Pittsburgh cannot change Detroit. The demise of Detroit came with the 1967 riot. In 3 years, it was a combat zone. Homes were being burned down at an alarming rate. In order to save Detroit, they will have to eliminate the criminals, vandals and Drug trafficking. That is probably half the population of Detroit. Law enforcement is not doing a good job. The City, County and State government are also to blame. They have abandoned their buildings. An example is the abandoned Highland Park Police Station and Courthouse. They not only abandoned it, they left all the equipment and records in the buildings. Even new HUD affordable housing homes are being burned down. Do you hear me Jesse and Al. It is sad because both Detroit and Highland Park used to be nice cities prior to the 1967 riot. I noticed it has gotten worse when there are boarded up homes in the exclusive areas like the Edison district, Palmer woods and Indian village. That is not a good sign. It tells me there are not many safe places to live in Detroit.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  3. Alex

    I left Pittsburgh last year but only because of a job. I love the city and it is definitely turning the corner. I lived there for 24 years and have seen it change a lot and it gets better everyday.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  4. JB

    It's naive to think you can compare the two. Detroit is poorer now than Pittsburgh ever was. You can sense the neglect, abandonment, desperation when you walk Detroit streets-there are huge blocks of urban prairie separated only by burnt out buildings.

    There's also the elephant in the room: race. Detroit is 85% black; Pittsburgh is a racially mixed city. In Metro Detroit, there's huge stigma against the city. It's hard to see business and people moving into a city that they think is filled with poor, dangerous, African-Americans.

    To "fix" Detroit, there probably needs to bigger changes than what happened in Pittsburgh. New political leadership, more investment in education, and redeveloping blighted neighborhoods (to name a few) are just some things that needed to be done before Detroit becomes a real, functioning city that can attract people and businesses.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  5. Michael

    As a twenty-seven year old entrepreneur running a technology company in Pittsburgh, I can tell you first-hand that this is the place to be right now. The cost of living in Pittsburgh is extremely low, the quality of life is extremely high, and the local economy is doing relatively well, as Anderson described.

    Housing is so affordable and stable in Pittsburgh, that it's not terribly uncommon for students to buy a house while they're still in college. I began the search for my first house when I was nineteen years old, and within a year I purchased a 3,400 square foot duplex in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood for $164,000. With cash flowing in from the upstairs unit, it only cost me about $200/month to own a house that was walking distance from Carnegie Mellon University.

    My team of software developers works out of a 1,900 square foot NY-style artist's loft in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh on 1st Avenue. It features exposed brick, high ceilings, and an elevator that opens right to the kitchen. This office would cost millions if I moved it to Manhattan, but in 2004 I purchased it for only $174,000.

    For these low prices, we Pittsburghers get to enjoy three major sports teams, world class museums such as the Andy Warhol, plenty of outdoor activities in our parks and along our rivers, a relatively low crime rate, and a healthy variety of career opportunities. Pittsburgh is well deserving of the "most livable city" status it received in 2007.

    Pittsburgh's also a great place to start a business. The low cost of living translates into a low cost of doing business for entrepreneurs, and Pittsburgh has a good selection of knowledgeable talent streaming out of our many universities, including Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, and Duquesne to name a few.

    Of course, Pittsburgh's not perfect. The fiscally conservative attitude that's so deeply engrained in our culture can make it difficult to seek venture capital, and the local government is sometimes too stuck in tradition to improve the status quo.

    That said, I really think that Pittsburgh is one of the best kept secrets in this country, and I'm proud to see that it's getting the positive attention it deserves.

    – A Proud Guy From Pittsburgh

    March 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm |
  6. DRB

    I went to college in Detroit and grad school in Pittsburgh. Those cities are different animals. For one thing, lets not deny it, Detroit has a much greater feeling of racial separation than Pittsburgh. Which is sad, because carrying a Student ID in both places (with the access to steep discounts at cultural events), I have to say that Detroit is more fun (unless you're a big football fan).

    For another, I could never figure out is why Detroit always felt like a Union town and Pittsburgh never did (They had Unions in the steel mills, didn't they?). One could argue (and many in Detroit do) that the Unions built the middle class, but I'd argue that the unions have management that is as bad as the car companies. When the money was easy, management and the unions fought over who gets to waste it. (they both lost). I now work on the west coast for a company that would never consider building in Michigan because of Unions.

    Southwestern Michigan could learn from Pittsburgh, But ntil they can figure out how to integrate the region, I'm afraid the benifits would stay outside 8-mile road.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  7. DH

    Great story and very true. I am one of those thousands that left Pittsburgh, not because I wanted to but because all that was sure was suddendly not. The steel mills and the surrounding factories that thrived and employed my uncles, older cousins and neighbors seemed to close their doors overnight. The opportunties for employment were sparse, especially for the young. It's been thirty years now, I didn't want to leave and i still wish i hadn't but I am fornutate that much of my family stayed behind and I visit Pittsburgh often and am always impressed withe the spirit and hard working culture of Pittsburghers. They have spent their 'down time' well, learned new skills, furthered their education, and although they live consevatively, they are happy and do not share the same stresses we in the flashier cities (like my present home – Chicago) deal with each day. They are good people with great pride in themselves and are confident , fully realizing that the success and demise of the steel industry in their city is not their legacy or identity. The best resource in the Burg lies within the people that love their city so much they stayed and rebuilt. Detroit, if you love your city, take pride in where you live, who you are, and realize you have much to offer regardless if it has anything to do with the car industry.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  8. Steven

    GET RID OF THE UNIONS!!! Everybody wants to pretend it's something else. Nope, it's the unions. Look at South Bend, Akron, Cincinnati, Scranton, and so on. All of these cities HAD factories, all HAVE unions, and all are destroyed. The mindset for Ohio, Michigan, western Pennsylvania is anti-company and pro-union. I'm sure someone will have the mindless rhetoric that these unions have helped industry and that's fine. Continue drinking from the obamanomics socialist koolaid.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  9. Brenda, Ann Arbor

    Ray B, you're mostly right, except in the fact that it's not just MI. All the surrounding Great Lakes region, as well, particularly OH. Marcia, even those parts of MI that aren't directly tied to the auto industry are affected by the layoffs, paycuts, ect, even here in Ann Arbor (fortunately we have U of M, but we still definitely feel it!) And anywhere on the MI coastline, which relies heavily on tourism from the Metro Detroit area, is affected, because when people don't have money, they don't go on vacation.

    Personally, I'd rather be in a crummy part of Detroit than in Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, or Grand Rapids any day. I like Detroit, I went to school there. But every major city in MI has been affected for years by the auto decline.

    ps-I doubt much will change until the behind-the-scenes Matty Maroun gives up his grip on his crumbling Detroit real estate empire, but that's just my opinion.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  10. John

    Article is factually wrong in saying PNC is "actually growing without any stimulus money! " PNC received money and used it to buy National City.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:53 pm |
  11. Brenda, Ann Arbor

    Ray B, you're mostly right, except in the fact that it's not just MI. All the surrounding Great Lakes region, as well, particularly OH. Marcia, even those parts of MI that aren't directly tied to the auto industry are affected by the layoffs, paycuts, ect, even here in Ann Arbor (fortunately we have U of M, but we still definitely feel it!) And anywhere on the MI coastline, which relies heavily on tourism from the Metro Detroit area, is affected, because when people don't have money, they don't go on vacation.

    Personally, I'd rather be in a crummy part of Detroit than in Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, or Grand Rapids any day. I like Detroit, I went to school there. But every major city in MI has been affected for years by the auto decline.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  12. RF

    It should be mentioned that while the greater Pittsburgh area is doing reasonably well in the areas noted, there are some significant issues. The City of Pittsburgh is trying to work its way out of very serious financial trouble. It has been under the supervision of an Act 47 (Pennsylvania Municipalities Financial Recovery Act) committee for 5 years.

    The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, CMU, Pitt, etc. are all not-for-profit organizations whose status shields them from the taxes a commercial enterprise would pay. This is one of the big financial challenges the city faces.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  13. Jim in Livonia

    I am a lifelong Michigan resident and resident of the Detroit suburbs for two years now. I have to agree with Liz above. Detroit was disintegrating long before the credit crunch/recession/auto industry flailings. This whole idea of 'do what Pittsburgh did' looks geat on paper, but would require buy-in and focused action from the leadership in Detroit. I have no hope for this. All you need to do is lookup "Detroit City Council" on YouTube and watch a few clips. The city is being run by people who better belong on Jerry Springer or standing in the front yard of the trailer park on Cops. Scary...

    March 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm |
  14. Alex

    I do agree that there needs to be a big change in Detroit. I have lived just outside of the city my entire life and have seen it slipping year after year. The problem that Detroit faces in not limited to a declining auto industry but a "Detroit" stigma. Detroit is not the "black eye" of the nation but it seems to continually be perceived in that manner. I admit that some of this criticism is warranted.

    Those that run the city are no more qualified to run a parking lot, let alone a major city. That is where the problem starts. We do have problems, as any city does, from the corruption of our former major who just got out of jail, to a city console that seems to use race as a justification to hold the city back.

    The city does have the viability to get back on track. We have great winning sports (not including the lions) and we, the people of Detroit have pride. Pride in the work we do and the image that we give to the rest of the country. We were after all one of the leading industries for almost 100 years. It seems that, however, if you say you are from Detroit people already have a preconceived notion of you. The city does need help, we need our politicians to do the right things, we need companies to invest their time and energy in the city like that once did in the old days and most of all we need people to stop looking at the bad and start looking at all the good the city and the area have offered the nation. We have the ability and talent that will lead us to better days. The City of Detroit will not go off quietly and die. That is not the sprit of Detroit!

    March 18, 2009 at 7:48 pm |
  15. Luke

    Having grown up in Detroit, but leaving after graduating from college to get to a more economically-rich region, the biggest issue Detroit faces is being engineered for a 20th century economy while in the midst of the 21st century.

    Transportation? Detroit relies exclusively on vehicles and has almost no (certainly no viable) mass transit options, much less bikeability.

    Social Safety Net? Detroit and the rest of the state got burned by Governor Engler's 12 years in office and the state has little to offer to support the unemployed or unwell.

    Jobs? Detroit lived on a single industry – the automobile – for its rise to glory and its subsequent fall from grace. The only automobile jobs left in Detroit are the execs. Detroit has tons of blue-collar workers but few blue-collar jobs to support them.

    Race? Detroit cannot be viewed exclusive of a racial lens, which colors – no pun intended – everything that happens in Detroit and its suburbs. Until people on both sides of 8-mile can get over their racially-motivated biases for and against each other, the city will continue to suffer.

    Schools? The disparity between public schools in Detroit and its adjacent suburbs is borderline criminal. When I lived there Detroit schools had about $4K/pupil and Troy schools (6 miles north of Detroit) had $8.5K/pupil. I doubt that's changed a bit.

    All this said, Detroit is ripe for a new growth industry, like green-collar jobs. With the sheer numbers of blue-collar workers, the (relatively) low cost of living and doing business in the city and the accessibility to shipping, Detroit has some interesting incentives to offer. And one hopes that the other glaring issues – like racial strife, school disparity, poor transportation – can be dealt with over the long-term.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:46 pm |
  16. Kevin C

    Pittsburgh is a tough city, it has had it share of hardships, pittsburghers know how to pull themselves up by their boot straps, and face each challenge with raw determination. I hope Detroit recovers, I'm sure you guys are just as tough, and you will get through this time.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:45 pm |
  17. Don Hershman

    When you lose almost 50% of your population over 20 years you are not an economic model. I was one of 10 grandsons born and raised in Pittsburgh. Only 2 remain. How sad.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  18. Andy Shyjan

    Sorry NO. Biotechnology is NOT big in Pittsburgh. The research institutes at Pittsburgh Medical Center are doing great research, but this has not translated into a biotechnology industry in the city of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a small token effort to build biotech in the city, but no one in the field thinks of Pittsburgh when they think of biotechnology.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm |
  19. Anthony

    Reading this article makes me happy that I live in Boston. This city's economy is based largely on higher education, health care and technology. Boston University is the city's largest employer. It is good to know that this city got it right and relies on relatively recession-proof industries.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  20. Evelyn - Pittsburgh

    I live, work and love Pittsburgh.

    Many of the industries mentioned were already in Pittsburgh when the steel industry collapsed. These industries managed to grow as the technology boom grew. Pittsburgh had two decades to adjust to the economic changes, it never had six months like Detroit is having now and Pittsburgh never had to do any of its re-structuring during an economy like this. With time hopefully Detroit will be stronger and better than ever. More steel jobs are being lost directly due to the automobile industry, so all of Pittsburgh is rooting for Detroit and a stronger automobile industry.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  21. Dave

    Pittsburgh has seen it share of tough times but the region is doing okay despite lossing thousands of USAIR employees when they pulled out. Westinghouse is located here and it is only a matter of time until they start to build Nuclear Power Plants in the US and China. When that happens we will be sitting pretty.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  22. Mike

    Maybe their football team will improve also!!

    March 18, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  23. John Conroy

    As a Pittsburgh ex-pat with family still living there, I'm pleased to see that my hometown is getting due recognition for its ability to weather the economic downturn by diversifying its economy.

    I'm still upset, however, at how workers like some family members and fellow Pittsburghers in the steel industry were tossed aside during the '80s, when the city became a shell of its former self.

    Although the stories of Pittsburgh and Detroit aren't exact parallels, I would be doubly pleased if Detroit and other strapped U.S. cities could learn from the example of my hometown, where, I'm proud to say, my maternal cousin, Richard Caliguiri, was a popular mayor for several years.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  24. Steve Winslow

    I find it funny that I moved to Florida from Pittsburgh for better opportunities just better opportunities just before the economy tanked...lol. Go figure...

    March 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  25. Leigh-Anne

    This article made me smile – there are many people who think of Pittsburgh as being backward and poor. It's nice to have some good publicity for my hometown. My friends thought I was nuts to start working at a car dealership at a time when all you hear are bad things about the economy; however, we've been very fortunate to have an outstanding start to the year. I think it's because Pittsburghers know that all things in moderation is a good way to live!

    March 18, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  26. Caroline, Los Angeles

    Change is difficult and requires inspired leadership. I'd like to know who is responsible for Pittsburg's renewal and will they give lessons to some of our leaders over here in the West?

    March 18, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  27. Jackie

    Pittsburgh is better off now, but Pittsburgh also suffered more than its fair share while the rest of the country prospered over the last 30 years.

    To say that Detroit– on any other single-industry city, like Charlotte, NC– needs to follow Pittsburgh's example is to ignore the reality of the painful industrial collapse and consequent diaspora, plus the decades of work invested in finding a new identity that did not necessarily improve everyone's lot.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  28. Katiewon

    A few years ago, while driving from Florida to Buffalo, my mother, daughter and I ended up lost in downtown Pittsburgh. We loved it. The people were awesome, the energy was terrific and businesses were thriving. To this day, we have a running joke when visiting other cities we look around and wistfully say "it sure ain't Pittsburgh."

    Detroit can make the same recovery. Maybe the answer is still with the auto industry, revamped, smaller with the emphasis on "green cars." This may encourage more businesses to make Detroit their home. Wouldn't it be funny if Detroit became the epicenter of the "go green" movement?

    This is America and anything is possible.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  29. Stephanie

    I live in Pittsburgh and I couldn't agree more with this article. The city is doing so well and the people, while still feeling the pinch from the economy, are probably doing better overall than the average American. The universities and health care companies in this area are great!

    There was recently an article comparing Pittsburgh to Youngstown, OH after the steel industry collapsed. Pittsburgh was able to quickly bounce back, stronger than ever, in the "meds and eds" industries, enabling the steel mill workers to obtain proper training and new jobs. Youngstown was the complete opposite. To this day Youngstown is a decaying city, suffering from corruption and poverty.

    Hopefully Detroit manages to rebuild itself on another (or multiple other) industry/ies like Pittsburgh did. There's a lot of potential in the city and plenty of opportunities to break into new markets.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  30. Usman Butt

    I thought people were leaving Detroit much earlier than the 2000s–like after the 60's there was a substantial drop in the population as people and businesses moved to the suburbs. I guess it did get a little better around the 90s with some new businesses but in what way are we talking about saving Detroit now?

    March 18, 2009 at 7:20 pm |
  31. Shaun

    I think Liz is correct...Detroit is a different anmial all together and have to get rid of the us vs them mentallity. Everything seems to be about race in Detroit...just reed comments from Mrs. Conyers about Cobo Hall.

    Detroit has been limping along because of the auto industry. companies have been leaving for over a decade now. I would like for Detroit to thrive again, but until the city can stop there petty squabbling and put the city and its people first, Detroit will continue to crumble.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm |
  32. Cindy

    Detroit doesn't have it in itself to do well. The leaders are crazy and the people keep voting them in. A state takeover is the only answer and maybe then, Detroit can look to other things to better itself.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  33. Jennifer, MI

    I personally think that for Detroit to bounce back we need to disband the current Detroit City Council. They are an embarassment to the many educated, hard working people of the city and surrounding suburbs. The Big 3's problems have definitely hurt the city but it has been in a downward spiral for years because of corruption and greed. We can mostly thank the very corrupt Coleman Young for the division between the suburbs and downtown. Kwame Kilpatrick and City Council were only following in his footsteps. I love this city and believe it can come back but we need politicians who tackle problems not create them like our city council. Jay Leno wanted to do something nice for the city and instead of thanking him Martha Reeves disrespects him. Monica Conyers is a complete joke and CRAZY who actually couldn't understand why leaks only showed up in Cobo after a few days of heavy rain! She couldn't understand why they wouldn't show up in January during the auto show when we had freezing temperatures. This is who is in charge and this is why Detroit is in the shape it's in. Get rid of that whole lot and the city just improved in my book.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  34. Cameron Young

    I live in Pittsburgh, and things are not as great as this article makes it out to be. The city has a 2 billion dollar debt. Also, the article fails to mention how the city has not added any new jobs in over 8 years. Furthermore, the article doesn't mention how the population in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas continues to drop. Back in the 1970's there were over 2 million people in the Pittsburgh area. Currently it is hovering over just a million people. The city itself only has a population of 310,000 people. Thats almost the same population as Toledo Ohio. Also it has been reported that over 90 percent of the college students who attend the local universities in Pittsburgh leave Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania. Also, if things are so great in Pittsburgh, how come US Airways no longer operates a hub here, and how come half the airport has now been shut down? Are things better in Pittsburgh then in Detroit? Of Course, but Pittsburgh is not the ideal model of a city Detroit should follow.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  35. MLC

    I lived in both cities for many years, so I write from experience and great love and passion for both cities. What saved Pittsburgh was a great mayor, Mayor Richard Caliguiri, and caring wealthy Pittsburghers who did not desert the city, like the Heinz family and their foundation. The rich Pittsburghers continued to promote and to grow the city's cultural center along with the Pittsburgh's great sports teams. Detroit was not that lucky. Also, Pittsburgh and Detroit are geographically very different. The suburban sprawl ruined southeastern Michigan. Developers in Michigan were allowed free reign of the land to build and build in all directions away from the city, and the heads of the auto industry complied with more and more fuel inefficient cars. Leadership and the city's weathy families made those two cities what they are today.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  36. Kristy, Georgia

    Kudos to Pittsburgh. I am a former resident who moved to the Atlanta area and Pittsburgh has and will always hold a special place with me. I grew up in the suburbs and received a wonderful education. I always enjoyed "going downtown". Pittsburgh is rich in history and culture. The universities are some of the best in the nation and so is the healthcare. It's wonderful to see it thriving! I hope Detroit can do the same. We need jobs to stay in America.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  37. Adriane, Pittsburgh

    I moved to Pittsburgh seven years ago expecting a shell of a city. Instead, I found a vital, growing metropolitan area. Sure, the city shows signs of the global recession and can benefit from further improvements, but the successful plan for Pittsburgh has been slow and steady growth. The "slow" has been often criticized, but the pace has allowed a methodical and well-considered rebuilding of industry and infrastructure. It is a highly liveable city and I draw a comparison to my old hometown of Chicago – Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods with strong ethnic identies, a fervent civic pride, and a lot of cultural appeal – a world class symphony, three professional sports franchises, ballet, vibrant theater, etc. All at about half of the price of a typical big city. Detroit and other failing cities should take a very close look at this model. It works.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  38. Eric van dyke 7 mile

    I will say this when the white people of michigan allow blacks to cross freely back and forth across 8 mile alot of the crime and people being able to find jobs will ease up. I grew up in detroit my whole life and its no worse feeling than crossing 8 mile and seeing a police officer or a white person making you feel like your out of place. I have had the blessing to go to college in Ky live in italy and now san diego ca my children are mixed so there isnt any hate in my blood but we all from MI know the hidden truth and until we fix that issue we will never fully grow to what our state can become. Ill give u a perfect example. I went for a job interview in MI and all i could think when I was walking in was (are they hiring black folks today) sounds crazy i know but thats how MI works when u cross 8 mile. Detroit is the only major city where you can go your whole life and never interact with someone from another race or even attend a class with them. I love my city but after tasting the pie else where I could never live in MI again.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  39. Warren, Detroit

    I think you're all missing the point, including Anderson: Yes, Detroit needs to use the similar historical references to set the city straight, but tell me, HOW DO YOU EMPLOY A TACTIC SIMILAR TO PITTSBURG'S WHEN YOU HAVE A WORKFORCE OF PEOPLE WITHOUT HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMAS? It's impossible to implement a workforce similar to Pittsburg's if you don't have the personnel willing and able to fulfill those specialized positions. We can only employ so many street sweepers...

    March 18, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  40. Patrick

    Maybe those jobs wouldn't have gone anywhere if we stopped letting our government and the Federal Reserve debase our money every year. How can any person, industry, or city plan for the future when they have no idea what their money will be worth next year or in ten years? There is no such thing as inflation, just more and more printed paper money. Anderson hates Americans or he'd tell them the truth.

    There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  41. will

    As a life long Pittsburgher I can attest that it was done the way it was because there was simply no other choice. The steel industry left us high and dry. Because of long term planning and a willingness to see things through, Pittsburgh is healthy and doing well and along with the financial renaissance there has also been a cultural renaissance as well. The arts are alive and well in Pittsburgh and which feeds into the the medical, education and tech boom that has happened here. this is a well rounded city and although far from perfect it's a great place to call home.

    Detroit needs to find a new direction and a way to reinvent itself...trust me though...it's not going to happen over night. People have to change how they think and accept that the auto industry will never have a great resurgance there and that they simply have to move on to other things. It took people here in Pittsburgh a long time to accept that the steel industry was never going to be the main part of our economy again. Once we did that it was a well balanced plan that helped save the region. Medical, technical, education, industry, the arts, etc... they all play an integral part here and feed off one another.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  42. Scott in Arkansas

    Huge differences between the two cities.

    The most important one is demographics.

    Pittsburgh is still majority white, or European descended and has the culture of whites.

    Detroit is overwhelmingly African American, and their cultural norms are the norms of Detroit.

    Detroit is a violent, crime ridden place. Pittsburgh was never anywhere near as bad off as Detroit.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  43. Fred

    I'm a lifelong Pittsburgh resident. While this area has weathered the recent storm relatively well, it's worth noting that there are communities around here that still haven't recovered from the demise of the steel industry. Braddock, for example, is still in shambles when it once was a thriving, bustling community. (Some may have seen its mayor on "The Colbert Report" recently.) These sorts of communities are worth mentioning when it might sound as if everything here is perfect. There is still work to be done.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  44. Jodie, Royal Oak, Mi

    Ok, so this piece is a simplistic overview of Detroit's problems. I live and work in the Detroit area and find this kind of coverage detrimental to this area's economic recovery. It's true that Detroit leadership needs a major overhaul, but it is also true that us out in the suburbs need to spend more time and money supporting some of the great attributes left in the city. We can't expect outsiders to come spend money here if we aren't!!

    March 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm |
  45. Don

    Unfortunately Marcia is incorrect on one statement. A new research and development facility is not opening in Ann Arbor; Pfizer moved out of it, and the UofM purchased it and will be moving into it. A large corporation left town and sold its site and equiptment for pennies on the dollar to the university.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm |
  46. Steve

    If only the Pirates can engineer such a turnaround.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm |
  47. Bob

    I live here, and there are still issues. One that I like to call "Tax Creep" which I know everyone can relate to. And others like the inability to keep a large percentage of our talented young people from leaving town because wages are so low in some industries here.

    Overall it's still a nice place to live.

    March 18, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  48. DJ57

    one thing folks forget Detroit has tried to attract other industries and has made some head way. The problem in a one industry town is that industry pushes back against the incoming/competing industries. The autos wanted all the tax incentives and employee pool to themselves. They refused to use the local banks and went to New York and Chicago for their funds, at every turn Detroit was undermined by the Auto Cos.

    March 18, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  49. Diane

    I work in Detroit and have family in Pittsburgh, so I see both sides and largely agree with the article. But....did Pittsburgh have a crazy and/or corrupt city government to deal with before rebuilding - or have all the deep seated racial issues that Detroit and this region have? These are the problems that need to be solved before we can really move on and "be saved."

    March 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  50. The Alborgian Gauntlet

    I grew up in Pittsburgh and clearly it is one of the greatest places in the entire world to live. I have extensively traveled the globe, visiting every continent and almost every country, and I have yet not found a single place that compares with Pittsburgh.

    Kudos to CNN for letting the secret out!

    March 18, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
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