We moved to Pittsburgh in 1996. I was just out of undergrad, and my now-husband was starting grad school after a few years working in California. I wish I could remember what ideas, if any, I had about the city before coming here. Had I heard of its hills, its rivers, its steel manufacturing past? How much the city and surrounding towns had struggled after the closure of those manufacturing plants? How friendly everyone was? How quickly the city was losing its young people?
Pittsburgh today is different from the city we moved to more than a quarter century ago. The riverfronts have been reclaimed for bike paths and marinas. Local foundations, religious institutions, universities and individual volunteers support countless nonprofits dedicated to improving community health and opportunity. The healthcare, education and technology industries lead the economy. Development and gentrification are making some neighborhoods unrecognizable and unaffordable, and pushing out people whose families have lived in those parts of the city for generations. The arts are thriving. Public school resources feel inequitably distributed. There are discussions and efforts at all levels to make Pittsburgh a livable city for everyone, but for many people, change is unacceptably slow.
This complicated, beautiful, imperfect, resilient landscape is where we live, where I’ve raised my family. Where I listen and engage and write my stories. Like so many people, Pittsburgh is one of my great loves.
We can’t wait for you to read Halfway Down the Stairs’ 60th issue: Cities! And thank you to our wonderful writers for their thoughtful, generous, joyful contributions!
Milena Nigam is a nonfiction editor at Halfway Down the Stairs.
© 2022, Milena Nigam