Subscribe

Pittsburgh’s Dark History

Pittsburgh, the “Smoky City”

Pittsburgh was once known as the “Smoky City” or “Hell With the Lid Off” due to the overwhelming befouled conditions that plagued it for over a century. Its geographic location and natural resource endowments made it an ideal home for the industries that inevitably created the pollution problem. The city’s dark past has been described as a cautionary tale for cities lacking environmental control.

Pittsburgh has an extremely long history of pollution and the struggle to alleviate it. Extractive industries such as coal mining resulted in some of the biggest and longest lasting impacts on the environment. It began in 1762 when a coal seam was discovered along the south bank of the Monongahela River. Coal was an important energy source that fueled the industrialization of most of the country, but Pittsburgh’s environment paid the price for it. Smoke pollution was the most noticeable effect of coal consumption and gave the city its identity as the “City of Smoke”.

The rivers also became contaminated due to them being a popular transportation route and disposal location for sewage. In 1880, Pittsburgh had hundreds of boats struggling to navigate the crowded rivers. The city had the highest typhoid fever mortality rate of any city in the nation between 1872 and 1908. An individual in Pittsburgh was three times more likely to die of typhoid fever than any other American at that time. Sewage discharge into the rivers was one of the contributing factors to the problem as this was also where the city drew its water supply.

There were efforts made in the 1800’s to reduce air pollution, but they were rarely enforced. Smoke control ordinances and the Bureau of Smoke Control were introduced, but not very successfully due to lack of proper regulations, enforcement, and control technologies. It was also very difficult to convince residents that the smoke was a problem. Many people felt the smoke was a sign of productivity and prosperity. They believed the smoke was good for their lungs and helped crops grow. Pittsburgh’s dark haze inspired many poems and was an important part of the city’s identity.

David Lawrence and His Vision of the City

By the 1940’s, Pittsburgh was dark at all hours of the day. Photographs of the past show dark downtown streets lined with bright streetlamps at ten in the morning. The city was reaching a breaking point. David L. Lawrence became mayor in 1946 and promised he’d beautify and clean up the city. In his first inaugural speech, Lawrence said, “I am convinced that our people want clean air. There is no other single thing which will so dramatically improve the appearance, the health, the pride, the spirit of the city.”

Lawrence felt passionate about cleaning up the city since he had grown up in a tough working-class Irish neighborhood in the Point by Fort Pitt. The neighborhood consisted of many run-down and abandoned steel mills and other old industrial buildings. He had lived among some of the worst impurities in the city and saw the need to improve conditions. After becoming mayor, he began what has been referred to as “Renaissance I” to clean up the city. The 20-year
redevelopment effort included sandblasting the smoky grime off the city’s iconic skyscrapers and making transportation improvements. The city began enforcing smoke ordinances. The war effort exhausted many of the industries that were the source of the pollution problem, forcing them to be reassessed. The city began to improve dramatically as it found new sources of energy and other ways to provide jobs.

Smoke pollution had seen a 90% decrease by 1954. A new sewage treatment plant, the area’s first two expressways, and an airport were constructed. Pittsburgh’s transformation during this time was unique because other cities were experiencing deterioration in their downtown areas as families moved away from cities and into the suburbs. Pittsburgh’s downtown was expanding and finding a new way to attract residents to the Golden Triangle.

The collapse of the iron and steel industry during the 1980’s had a significant impact on the air quality in Pittsburgh. During this time, the city was already going through an urban renewal with Renaissance II. This time around, the service industries were seeing significant growth. The city began to redevelop land previously used as industrial sites and saw a rise in commercial, retail, and residential districts. This also helped clear the skies to reveal the city’s beautiful skyline.

Pittsburgh Today, a Hub of Technology and Research

Pittsburgh has changed over the past century like no other American city has. There are no longer any steel mills within city limits. It has emerged from the darkness of the steel industry and moved into the bright future of healthcare, education, technology, and financial services. The industries of the past have been replaced with technology and research companies like Google and RAND as well as global financial institutions like PNC and Highmark Insurance.

Modern day Pittsburgh continues to make environmental improvements as it reshapes its identity from a dark and gloomy city of industry to a bright city on the cutting edge of technology and business. These changes in the economy have aided in the environmental transformation of the city and surrounding area. Pittsburgh ranks among the most livable cities in the world and often tops the list for the United States. The vision and promises of David Lawrence will continue to have positive and lasting effects on the city for years to come.

 

 

299-01 4A0-101 70-332 70-689 820-422 98-365 98-367 AX0-100 C_TBIT44_731 C2010-571 C2020-180 C2020-612 C2040-407 C2090-610 C2180-317 C4040-109 C4040-123 C4040-129 GSEC MB6-872 MB7-700 OG0-091 070-413 070-459 070-496 1Z0-052 1Z0-053 1Z0-517 1Z0-803 640-461 640-722 642-832 648-375 74-344 74-409 A00-212 C_BOSUP_90 C2020-011 C2170-008 C4030-670 C4090-959 CCD-410 CV0-001 E20-390 E20-591 HP2-Z27 MB3-700 NS0-101 VCAD510 3001 3107 070-178 070-342 070-415 070-416 070-460 070-667 070-684 101-01 1D0-610 1Z0-027 1Z0-058 1Z0-117 1Z0-474 1Z0-507 1Z0-511 1Z0-516 1Z0-521 1Z0-804 1Z0-805 MB6-869 1Z0-144 1Z0-599 400-051 70-458 810-420 C_TBW45_70 C2090-540 C2180-276 C4090-452 EX0-001 HP2-E59 PEGACSSA_v6.2 1Z0-061 220-801 640-911 70-680 C_TSCM52_66 ICBB 070-331 312-50v8 820-421 MB7-701 070-414 070-489 070-687 1Z0-062 350-029 070-247 070-467 1Z0-485 640-864 70-465 70-687 74-325 74-343 98-372 C2180-278 C4040-221 C4040-225 300-207 70-467 70-485 70-489 PRINCE2 Practitioner SK0-003 VCP5-DCV 000-571 050-720 070-685 074-338 1Y0-400 200-101 299-01 4A0-101 70-332 70-689 820-422 98-365 98-367 AX0-100 C_TBIT44_731 C2010-571 C2020-180 C2020-612 C2040-407 C2090-610 C2180-317 C4040-109 C4040-123 C4040-129 GSEC MB6-872 MB7-700 OG0-091 070-413 070-459 070-496 1Z0-052 1Z0-053 1Z0-517 1Z0-803 640-461 640-722 642-832 648-375 74-344 74-409 A00-212 C_BOSUP_90 C2020-011 C2170-008 C4030-670 C4090-959 CCD-410 CV0-001 E20-390 E20-591 HP2-Z27 MB3-700 NS0-101 VCAD510 3001 3107 070-178 070-342 070-415 070-416 070-460 070-667 070-684 101-01 1D0-610 1Z0-027 1Z0-058 1Z0-117 1Z0-474 1Z0-507 1Z0-511 1Z0-516 1Z0-521 70-410 MB2-703 200-120 70-461 C_TADM51_731 350-001 70-411 MB2-700 050-SEPROAUTH-02 400-101 MB2-702 070-410 70-462 EX300 070-461 070-462 VCP-550 70-243 70-480 C_TAW12_731 JN0-102 70-483 70-488 700-505 70-347 070-347 070-411 70-486 MB2-701 070-346 100-101 70-346 70-463 700-501 70-412 C4090-958 EX200 070-463 70-331 70-457 HP0-J73 070-412 C_TFIN52_66 MB6-700 70-414 MB5-705 MB6-886 070-486 C4040-108 M70-101 OG0-093 117-102 1Z0-481 350-018 646-206 A00-240 NS0-504 PEGACLSA_6.2V2 VCP550 070-480 220-802 640-554 70-466 MB7-702 70-417 74-335 C_HANATEC131 C2090-303 070-243 070-417 1Z0-060 70-460 70-487 M70-301 MB6-869 1Z0-144 1Z0-599 400-051 70-458 810-420 C_TBW45_70 70-466 MB7-702 70-417 74-335 C_HANATEC131 C2090-303 070-243 070-417 1Z0-060 70-460 70-487 M70-301 MB6-869 1Z0-144 1Z0-599 400-051 70-458 810-420 C_TBW45_70 C2090-540 C2180-276 C4090-452 EX0-001 HP2-E59 PEGACSSA_v6.2 1Z0-061 220-801 640-911 70-680 C_TSCM52_66 ICBB 070-331 312-50v8 820-421 MB7-701 070-414 070-489 070-687 1Z0-062 350-029 070-247 070-467 1Z0-485 640-864 70-465 70-687 74-325 74-343 98-372 C2180-278 C4040-221 C4040-225 300-207 70-467 70-485 70-489 PRINCE2 Practitioner SK0-003 VCP5-DCV 000-571 050-720 070-685 074-338 1Y0-400 200-101 299-01 4A0-101 70-332 70-689 820-422 98-365 98-367 AX0-100 C_TBIT44_731 C2010-571 C2020-180 C2020-612 C2040-407 C2090-610 C2180-317 C4040-109 C4040-123 C4040-129 GSEC MB6-872 MB7-700 OG0-091 070-413 070-459 070-496 1Z0-052 1Z0-053 1Z0-517 1Z0-803 640-461 640-722 642-832 648-375 74-344 74-409 A00-212 C_BOSUP_90 C2020-011 C2170-008 C4030-670 C4090-959

Most Recent Article

Contact Us

1420 Termon Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Phone: TOLL FREE 800-231-4788
412-761-4789
Fax: 412-761-4706
http://www.popularpittsburgh.com
Email: Info@PopularPittsburgh.com

Advertise With Us

See our Advertising Opportunities. Visit our Advertising Page.