Burgher Queen

My latest column is up at Pittsburgh Magazine, and in this one, I take exception to those people who think the only people that can be true Pittsburghers are those people who live in the actual city of Pittsburgh.

I beg to differ.

And I do it with lots of horror movie screams.

P.S. I WISH my arms were that skinny.


  1. Monty
    July 26, 2010 1:37 pm

    It must be pure agony for those poor bastards in Bethel Park and Cranberry knowing they’ve disappointed you.

  2. MadMadMad
    July 26, 2010 2:16 pm

    asl87, which Pittsburgh public schools do your children attend?

  3. Jen
    July 26, 2010 2:33 pm

    asl87, do you really think parents should make education choices based on what’s best for the city public schools, rather than what’s for their child? Even the President sends his kids to the best schools he can afford. For some people that means expensive private schools, for others it means moving to better suburban school districts.

    Call me crazy, but I believe schools are there for the kids, not the other way around.

  4. Pete
    July 26, 2010 2:45 pm

    Who can really say that any suburban school district is a better fit for some child that the city schools? My own PPS education served me just fine and was no better or worse than any of the suburbanite people I have encountered since then. Most of the “problems” people will quote for a particular school stem more from a lack of parenting than the schools inability to educate.

  5. Jen
    July 26, 2010 2:57 pm

    Pete, that’s great for you and your parents. My point is that it’s up to the parents to decide, and its perfectly OK for them to decide based on what they think is best for their children, not what is best for the city or the public schools.

    I went to high school in a public school in a suburb of Cleveland that was demonstrably better than the Cleveland public schools (more AP courses offered, more music programs offered, better graduation rates, better college attendance rates, lower crime rates, etc.). My dad worked downtown and drove over an hour each way daily in order for us to live where he and my mother felt was the best school district they could afford. My dad hated commuting that much, but did it because he thought that was the best he could do for his kids. Unlike asl87, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and my mother, and anyone else in a similar situation.

  6. Joe K.
    July 26, 2010 3:34 pm

    What Pete said in #53. Education starts at home no matter the school district.

  7. MrsWoy
    July 26, 2010 3:41 pm

    Because I loved my Regional Economics class in college, here you go:

    According to the Federal Office of Budget and Management, A Metropolitan Statistical Area is “that of an area containing a recognized population nucleus and adjacent communities that have a high degree of integration with that nucleus.”

    The Pittsburgh MSA is defined as an area that includes: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. I would even include Lawrence County because on a larger scale, the Pittsburgh MSA is part of the Pittsburgh-New Castle Consolidated Statistical Area.

    However, I don’t live on statistical definitions alone…so I say if you love the city and support it one way or another, you are a Yinzer.

  8. MadMadMad
    July 26, 2010 3:58 pm

    “Who can really say that any suburban school district is a better fit for some child that the city schools?”

    Well, I think that would be me – the parent of said child – who knows a heck of a lot more about the kid than some random person in a school office. And as said parent, I base my assessment on where my kid fits best upon my own due diligence. What curriculum is used? What programs and services are offered? What is the student-teacher ratio? How do they handle gifted kids? Special needs kids? What sports and extra-curricular activities are offered? How many AP classes are offered? Foreign languages? Right on down to does my kid have to use a clear backpack and walk through a metal detector every day.

    So, back to your statement, bully for you that the PPS system served *you* well. It’s up to me and my spouse to make the same determination for our kids – regardless of which side we came out on.

  9. red pen mama
    July 26, 2010 4:13 pm

    I love @madmadmad and @mrswoy right about now.

    I lived in the city for 15 years (after going to college in the city for 3.5 years — and yes, I graduated). And then when my daughter was 9 months old, I looked at the complete lack of yard at our rented house in the city and thought, “I want grass.” So my husband and I found grass and a house in a suburb of Pittsburgh for under $110K, and we moved. And even though I get homesick for the South Side every time I visit, I know I made the right choice for my children.

    @asl87 can suck it. Sorry.

    We take full advantage of everything our suburb and the city have to offer, and if the suburb gets my tax money, so be it. Grass was a lot more important to me than supporting Pittsburgh tax base. And you can pry my ‘burgher title out of my cold dead hands.

  10. empirechick
    July 26, 2010 5:01 pm

    Whatever, asl87. I love the city, I want it to do well, and I could never live there. Like red pen mama, I need grass. And space. And a place to park my car that doesn’t require a lawn chair and potential fist fight. If those things don’t matter to you, great. But they do matter to me, and I’m willing to pay a premium for them in the suburbs.

    But your notion that I don’t contribute to the tax base or well being of the city is ludicrous. Every drink I buy subsidizes public transportation that I don’t use. Every Pens game, concert, or circus I attend results in RAD tax and income tax paid to the city from the price of my ticket. When I come to town, I eat there – more income tax for the city from the proprietor of the restaurant. The new parking lot proposal would mean that I also contribute toward the city’s failing pension fund.

    Please note, I’m not complaining. I love the benefits of living near a big city, and I’m willing to pay for them.

    As far as I can tell, this post was about the spirit of being a ‘burgher, which I am. If you want to have a post about the merits of the title ‘City of Pittsburgh resident’, have at it.

  11. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    July 26, 2010 5:31 pm

    Um, I’m not taking sides here (you can live where you want for whatever reasons you want and consider yourself a Burgher), BUT I do want to point out that you can live in the city, have a nice sized house, off street parking AND a huge yard. I grew up in Brighton Heights (family still lives there) and we had a huge back yard, as did pretty much all of my friends. Grass does grow in the city, and not just in Shadyside, Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill.

  12. empirechick
    July 26, 2010 6:26 pm

    Ex-Pat Pgh Girl –

    There are many reasons I choose to not live in the city, that was just my effort to cherry pick the big and/or silly ones. I apologize for generalizing ALL of the city to be the more compact neighborhoods – I know that’s not the case. I have a friend on Morrell St., and his place is wonderful.

  13. KJ
    July 26, 2010 7:10 pm

    >Every drink I buy subsidizes public transportation that I don’t use.

    The proper name of the public transportation provider is Port Authority of Allegheny County. The tax was levied on the county level by the county executive and county council. It certainly isn’t a “city” thing.

  14. asl87
    July 26, 2010 8:12 pm

    Oh goodness gracious. To all suburban dwellers: Fantastic! Enjoy all that grass. I’m not saying you’re evil. What I am saying is that people that are passionate about Pittsburgh and its survival need to admit to themselves the importance of living in the city. What happens to this place when the population dwindles to 250,000 or 150,000? It certainly won’t stay on top of any “most-liveable” lists.

  15. red pen mama
    July 27, 2010 8:25 am

    My brother and his wife have a smallish house with a lovely yard in Squirrel Hill (grass, parking, etc.), and they pay three or four times as much as I do. They can afford it; I can’t. But thanks for letting me know grass grows in the city. Trees grow in Brooklyn too!

    I agree with you, @asl87, that a dwindling population spells trouble, but hasn’t Pittsburgh been making a comeback? I’d have to do some research, but I think the fact that the ‘burgh finds itself on a lot of lists again is a GOOD sign.

  16. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    July 27, 2010 9:50 am

    There are great neighborhoods in the city with large houses and large yards that are much less expensive than the eastern neighborhoods. Also, I was simply trying making a point (without the implied nasty sarcasm).

  17. lovesthenorthside
    July 27, 2010 10:13 am

    wow. now we’re acting like our politicians…the city is better, the suburbs are better. get a grip, people. not everyone fits into, or even likes, size medium white t-shirts. that’s why there’s a variety of t-shirts to choose from. me, i like the city, thank you, but i also pay for private schools. it’s a trade-off, and i can understand why people choose not to live in the city.

    what i said earlier is the best solution: take the county of allegheny and make it pittsburgh.


  18. red pen mama
    July 27, 2010 11:35 am

    I don’t live in an eastern neighborhood. I mean, I think I’m taking these comments too personally. Because now, because I live in the suburbs I only like medium-sized white t-shirts? That’s just silly. I always felt like I lived the best of both worlds and I don’t think I need to defend my choices.

    And yet, here I am. Sigh.

  19. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    July 27, 2010 11:56 am

    Never said or implied that you lived in an eastern neighborhood. You wrote “My brother and his wife have a smallish house with a lovely yard in Squirrel Hill (grass, parking, etc.), and they pay three or four times as much as I do.”

    I wrote “There are great neighborhoods in the city with large houses and large yards that are much less expensive than the eastern neighborhoods.”

    Squirrel Hill is one of the eastern neighborhoods of the city.

    Plus, I originally stated that you can live where you want for whatever reasons you want and consider yourself a Burgher.

  20. lovesthenorthside
    July 27, 2010 12:56 pm

    @red pen mama: i don’t know how you could take offense to my comment nor imply that i said you only like medium-sized white t-shirts.

    jeez. lighten up.

  21. red pen mama
    July 27, 2010 1:42 pm


    We’re all taking it personally!

    She said with a big, wry grin on her face.

    We’re all good.

  22. Al Lambrini
    July 27, 2010 2:11 pm

    after 20 some years I mved out of the city from Polish Hill to Mt.Lebanon and even though I live less than a quarter mile from the city border I do not feel like I am a Pittsburgher any more actually all the green lawns peace and quiet is kind of bringing me down I want to move back abd be pittsburgher again :-(