Have you ever been in one of those conversations where people start asking questions like, “What’s Your Sign”? No matter how old that question gets, it’s still fun to talk about astrology.
Because of those questions, plus the horoscopes we read online and elsewhere, we’re all vaguely familiar with the signs of the zodiac. Bet you know what your sign is! If you’re honest, you have to admit that the description of your sign fits your personality, at least a little bit.
Given that there seems to be something going on with this astrology stuff, have you ever wondered if places, particularly cities, can have zodiac signs? The answer is a big “yes”! Cities are “born” when their charters are granted by the state. This official date is the city’s “birthday,” and it can tell us a lot about a town, its characteristics, the kinds of people that live in it, and what activities and industries might thrive there.
Astrology for Cities
Astrology can also tell us something about the cycles cities go through, and map out the ups and downs that come with shifts in the economy and the makeup of the population.
If you’ve read this far, and you realize this site is all about “Popular Pittsburgh,” maybe you’re wondering about our city. Hey, Pittsburgh, what’s your sign?
The answer is TAURUS. Pittsburgh’s charter dates back to April 22,1794. On that date, the sun was in the section of the sky that has a pattern of stars we know as “Taurus the Bull,” so that is our city’s sign. Taurus is known for its desire to keep things the same, to use resources to create wealth, and to protect what it has. Just like a bull, people and places affected by Taurus are known for being steadfast, loyal to a fault and yes… just a wee bit stubborn!
Could there be a better symbol for the City of Pittsburgh? Probably not. Who could be more persistent and unyielding than the Steelers, the Pens or the Pirates–not to mention their fans? Where could there be a place where more resources were literally transformed into tangible goods, than in Pittsburgh, where the first steam engine was built and the steel industry took one durable metal–iron–and used it to manufacture the even harder and more tempered material known as steel?
The nature of Taurus is earthy, and so are Pittsburgh’s people. Visitors from all over the world might marvel at the view from Mt. Washington and the beautiful bridges, but they often remark that their biggest and most memorable impression comes from their experience with the open-hearted, friendly souls who live here. People who have lived here all their lives don’t find it uncommon to run into friends, neighbors and old teachers in crowds of tens of thousands of people. You can’t get more “down to earth” than that!
Pittsburgh, A Livable City
From all corners of the planet, Pittsburgh attracts people to buy, sell, work, study and live here. The traditions, the dialect we call “Pittsburghese,” and all the friendly folk make Pittsburgh a stable, warm and comfortable place to live. That Taurus quality of resisting too drastic change has made Pittsburgh a place that always feels like home, even to those who have moved on to other places to seek their fortunes.
Let’s face it, though. Pittsburgh has not always been one of the world’s most livable cities! There have been times, most notably the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Pittsburgh seemed like a better place to “be from” than it was to live in. That’s when the steel industry was dying, and the Steel City was trying to hold on to it with all its strength much like Taurus the Bull might. During that tough time period, astrology lets us see how the planets were not treating our fair city very nicely. As it turns out, Pittsburgh was going through a major shift in its nature because the planet Saturn, often known as the “grim reaper” (or, if that freaks you out, “the stern teacher,”) came into the sign of Scorpio. Because Scorpio is on the opposite side of the sky from Pittsburgh’s sun, it dragged down the spirit of the city.
In 1983, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh’s economy officially bottomed out. Unemployment in Allegheny County hit 12.9 percent, while the rate in outlying areas was as high as 17.1 percent. What was going on with the planets at this time? Saturn was in a position where it desperately affected Pittsburgh’s sense of vitality and purpose. It was definitely a moment when the city’s strength was at its ebb, and much of what our proud Taurus metropolis came to mean to us was taken away.
Obviously, this story had a very happy ending. Through the 1990s and the first years of the new millennium, Pittsburgh found ways of transforming its economy. Using the Taurus tendency to capitalize on resources and amass wealth, the city has become as diverse economically as it has always been ethnically. Prosperous citizens enjoy the resources of a world-class, cosmopolitan city, yet we can still enjoy Pittsburgh’s smaller scale and hometown charm.
The Future of the City of Pittsburgh
What does the future hold for our city? Strangely enough, it seems we are in store for some big changes. Saturn has just passed over the same position it was in during 1983!¹ While we haven’t experienced the same kind of economic downturn we had back then, some uncertainties might indeed affect Pittsburgh’s future.
The national economic picture is rather unstable, and at any moment this volatility could affect our city. Some of the current core industries, particularly health care and insurance, could be in for changes as new laws take effect.
Although there could be some changes we don’t like, one truth stands out. No matter what the future holds, Pittsburgh’s Taurus nature will keep us hanging on, and the strong and faithful bull, Pittsburgh’s sign, is sure to prevail!