Some of the things on this list will seem superficial. Let me quit being a PR person and just say some of these things ARE superficial. I'm ok with preferring what some would call superficial things. I'm comfortable with my preferences in life.
My manager, who is a grandmother of five from Michigan moved here 23 years ago and she said she felt like she'd stepped into a time warp. Fast forward to 2013 and it's the same situation. The recession didn't hit this city hard because they never modernized. They never had a real estate boom to fall off of. Except for the new sports stadiums, I'd say that this city is about 20 years behind every major metropolitan city in America.
And if you're looking for a theme, I'd say Pittsburgh is "different" because it's NOT a big city. I didn't think it WAS a big city, but I just had higher expectations for a "medium-sized" city that are not being met here.
Here are things that are different about Pittsburgh. So different, in fact, that I doubt I could ever call this place home. As you know I live in Pittsburgh, but Chicago is home.
- The shopping sucks. There is no Saks. No Neiman's. There is one Nordstrom and the pickings are slim. There is a Macy's downtown (walking distance from my home), but it closes at like 5 or 6 p.m. on weekdays. Also, the lack of boutiques. You either dress like everyone else or shop online. I actually like shopping and trying on clothes and piecing outfits together. Online shopping is nice to have, but in Pittsburgh, if you dress nice, you likely got your clothes out of town or online.
- The fashion SUCKS! I remember being in Chicago one time and having to really think about what I was going to wear to a happy hour because I knew my friends Paris and Katrina were going to be there and you know they're both super fly. I told them: "I knew I had to bring my A game because you guys were going to be here." I miss the fun, and I guess the pressure, of getting dressed. And it may sound a bit stressful, but it was a very big part of my life in Chicago. Getting dressed is a form of creativity. No one sees your brain or your heart walking down the street. They see your clothes, your style and that's what atracts them to you. Now I live in the worst-dressed city in America. I haven't fallen completely off, but if I don't look nice, no one notices. Don't just take my word for it. Google it.
- Beauty maintenance costs more. Because this is a blue-collar city, people have more do-it-yourself attitudes. Women do their own nails and arch their own brows and some people are just allergic to a cut and color. No one has a favorite stylist or manicurist or aestetician or eyebrow threading lady. I've asked. They have people that they sometimes go to, when they have a special occasion. Further, because there is no demand for these services, when you finally find someone good, it costs and arm and a leg. I ask, without reservation, every woman I see with well groomed brows where she got it done. It's usually out of town or it'll be a place where it costs $25... for eyebrow arching... in Pittsburgh? Insert mani/pedi. Insert blow dry and style. Insert bikini wax. There is no demand for maintenance and so the prices suck. (Sorry Brad, I know you don't like me talking about waxing, but it's a natural part of life. You will deal.)
- The grocery shopping sucks. I live downtown Pittsburgh, which is technically a food desert, which is ridiculous. So I have to drive far to get groceries. Target doesn't have a butcher. Trader Joe's doesn't sell liquor. Giant Eagle (which is akin to their Jewel or what used to be Dominick's) has everything, but their prices are bananas and nuts. I have to make like five stops to get a week's worth of groceries [and liquor]. Add that to the drive time and I can't grocery shop in less than three hours. That's a complete waste of a Saturday afternoon. I miss Peapod like you would not believe.
- You have to drive. Pittsburgh is not a walking city. To its credit most cities are not walking cities. I should have thought about that before moving. In Chicago, I took care of more errands on weekdays than I realized. Pick up a cardigan on Monday, a bottle of wine on Tuesday, a birthday present on Wednesday, a greeting card on Thursday and groceries on Friday - all on the way home from work. This cut down on my Saturday morning errand time, which in my opinion made my life better. You see, I could use Saturdays to relax or do cultural things or share meals with friends. It wasn't like my entire week would be rocked if I didn't do 3-4 hours of errands on Saturday because I would have already done them during the week. It may seem insignificant, but it's a big change in how I spend my weekends and therefore how I live my life. (Besides that between my car note, insurance, gas and maintenance, I'm basically throwing $400 out of the door every month. This would have been in my travel fund. So that sucks doubly.)
- The architechture bores me. I think row houses are skinny and unattractive. I have friends that live in rowhouses and I LIKE their homes, but I couldn't imagine myself living in one. I sometimes feel like I'm in Archie Bunker's neighborhood. As a black woman in America that is just as scary as it is unattractive. There are places to live that are not rowhouses, but the rowhouses are hideous eyesores that remind me daily that I don't live in what I would consider a major metropolitan area.
- The roads are narrow. Have you ever been on the Eisenhower (290) in Chicago during rush hour. It's pretty much like that on two and four-lane highways ALL! THE! TIME here. This city wasn't made for a lot of people and the traffic shows it. It also upsets me because with only 350,000 in a city, I can't understand why there would EVER be traffic EVER. So, again, it serves as a reminder that this is not a big city and I've determined that I'm better suited for big city life.
- The city's marketing is subpar and/or nonexistent. Disclaimer. I work in marketing and my company is amazing. We work on national brands and Pittsburgh, as a city, is not our client. My company's marketing does not suck. Because everyone is so lowkey and so humble, people will love this city to death, but not brag about it. They will tattoo Pittsburgh on their body, but not pay the money it would take to do a campaign to tell people about all of the good things (and 14,000 open professional jobs) here. This unnecessary humility shows up in practical everyday life. Kenny G was here. I didn't know about it. Frankie Beverly and Maze was here. I didn't know about it. Drake opened his concert here and I found out about it on a New York blog. I'm on ALL the mailing lists. All things considered, I'm pretty plugged in Pittsburgh. No one tells anyone anything because everyone assumes everyone else knows. Shows don't sell out here because the marketing SUCKS! I know about back alley concerts in Chicago before I find out about major artists coming to Pittsburgh. Here I have to damn near call ticket master and just ask what's going on. I'm on the ticket master emails for Pittsburgh too, with my preferences checked and nope, no Drake concert notification. The only thing I know about here before it happens is the Improv.
- Beyonce didn't tour here. I mean, do I need to say more.