Susan Rademacher doesn't spare the details in describing soot-blackened, smog-ridden Pittsburgh in the years just before and after World War II.
In 1930, she reminds us, Harper's Magazine ran an article that shockingly asked, “Is Pittsburgh Civilized?” In 1944, the Wall Street Journal rated Pittsburgh a “Class D” city.
After the war, property values Downtown were dropping, retailers were fleeing and some of our major corporations were planning to simply pull up stakes and move to New York. There were virtually no new public or private amenities built here in those years. And American Sign Language, she writes, even had a specific gesture to signify our city — flicking imaginary soot from one's shoulder. Read full article