I took my first trip to Pittsburgh for work this week and I had a very clear image in my head of what to expect.
I thought I'd see boarded up houses, lots of homeless people, run down cars and trucks - generally a place I wouldn't like at all. Flying into Pittsburgh I was initially shocked by how mountainous it was. There were some pretty huge hills with some pretty big houses on the the top. Not something I thought I'd see.
The airport was easy to manage and it wasn't like a zombie town. My flights to and from the city were packed full of business men and women. I'm not sure I saw one family on either flight. When they called Zone 1 to board, basically the entire flight boarded because everyone was Business Elite status.
Drive from the airport to Downtown Pittsburgh is pretty boring, not helped by the overcast weather we had. Right before you get to Downtown you go through a tunnel, a pretty long one, and come out going over a bridge overlooking the city. It's a pretty breathtaking view. The city is in front of you in all it's glory, the football stadium is to the left and shortly after that you can see the baseball stadium. While not nearly as amazing as seeing Manhattan for the first time, seeing the city from a bridge was pretty similar to crossing the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, but knowing you're still in Pittsburgh.
Downtown was a pretty vibrant place. There were people walking everywhere. There was mass transit, department stores for shopping and business men and women walking too and from. To be honest, it was more of a destination than Downtown Atlanta which is full of empty store fronts and homeless people. I was impressed.
During our trip we were touring new Bottom Dollar Food stores which were opening that day in Pittsburgh, in the suburbs. Now, the burbs were what I expected them to be. You can tell some of these people and homes have been through some hard times, but I will say, everyone we met was extremely nice. There is definitely a sense of neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, more than I have seen here in Atlanta.
Will I ever jump at the chance to move to Pittsburgh, no thank you, but will I complain every time I have to board a plane back there, not at all. I'm actually heading back next week for a day trip and I know it could be far worse - I'm not going to Philadelphia!