Pittsburgh, PA is the bomb! Pittsburgh is the second most popular city in the state of Pennsylvania (first goes to Philadelphia). It hosts major sports leagues like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh was once considered the steel capital of the world as well as the city with the most bridges. Ingenious Pittsburghers created the ambulance systems and the local radio systems that we know and love today. Amazing and famous artists (Andy Warhol), singers (Lena Horne and Christina Aguilera), playwrights (August Wilson), renown businessmen (Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon), athletes, musicians (The Pittsburgh Symphony), actors and actresses, and even the creator of the Big Mac (Jim Delligatti) have come from this place.
Over 300,000 people live within the city limit of Pittsburgh, but if you live in Allegheny County (which houses Pittsburgh) you’re considered a Pittsburgher. There are two million residents in all of Allegheny County. One of the reasons all the residents of Allegheny County are considered Pittsburghers is because they all share the same water source, which is the Allegheny River.
The Allegheny River is honestly disgusting, by most standards, but for Pittsburgh it is the key to its success. This river cocktail is so potent that it almost guarantees that only the strong will survive it. And the ones that do survive, will be undoubtedly placed on the map as the amazing talents and geniuses that they are. Pittsburgh has always been known for its creativity and beauty, but now we understand the source of its excellence. Pittsburgh’s brilliance comes from its special brew of river water that Pittsburgh consumes.
The Allegheny River is one part of the Three River’s trio that Pittsburgh is famously known for. The other two rivers are the Ohio River and the Monongahela River. The Allegheny River and the Monongahela River create the Ohio River. They meet and form in the center of Downtown Pittsburgh at a place called "the Point”. The Allegheny River serves as the main water source for all of Allegheny County. These rivers have had all kinds of highly-cancerous and highly-toxic chemicals dumped into them.
In the 1700’s, it was the “extractive industries such as coal mining” that added special seasonings in the water. In the 1800’s, Pittsburgh’s “rivers became contaminated due to them being a popular transportation route and [a] disposal for sewage”. (Yum!) They even suffered with the “highest typhoid fever mortality rate of any city in the nation between 1872 and 1908”.
In the 1900’s, “the war effort exhausted many of the industries [steel] that were the source of the pollution problem” . The late 1900’s and early 2000’s brought on continued pollution from shale gas drilling, natural gas hydraulic fracturing, the numerous steel mills, and the pharmaceutical companies.
Andrew Carnegie hit pay dirt when they must have recognized how much money and pollution they could bring to Pittsburgh in the early 1900’s. Especially since Pittsburgh’s population was dropping. The coal mining, that was going on at the time, was doing a good job, but it wasn’t enough to harm the residents at the rates that was needed for the river watchers.
They say you couldn’t even see in front of your face from all the pollution that was going on at the time. This mixture caused the city to boom without the residents even knowing it. And alcohol was considered a sin (sorry ethanol-run cars), so Carnegie got busy being a solid fixture in the building of the steel and iron rods for the railroad industry. Industry waste in the rivers was a key element to effect the change that was needed to encourage a city to buy into a war they didn’t belong in.
Those chemicals from steel mixed with the heroin you could buy from Bayer and the cocaine you could get from Coca Cola was an amazing cocktail. Thomas Scott founded the City of Pittsburgh Department of Water in 1907 and thus began the invaluable plumbing system put in place to activate the innovators. More hospitals were being opened to keep the weak in check.
Andrew Carnegie must have recognized the agony, yet brilliance of people being slowly poisoned because he opened the Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art to capture the stories that they were able to tell. (And having all that money must have helped a lot, too!) By the time Pittsburgh turned around universities, radio stations, generations of athletes and athletic elites, and two wars had come and gone. Pittsburgh had made a name for itself and people were clamoring to get there.
It played out again in the 1970’s and 80’s, when the steel and iron industry collapsed and the city of Pittsburgh was once again losing its population. It wanted to be in the limelight once again. They needed a dangerous metal to go alongside the heroin and crack cocaine that was so popular, thus beginning the new technology of piping natural gas to the residents.
The explosions it caused must have made the river watchers very happy. The gas leaks were immeasurable. This process causes methane and radiation to pour into the water. (Yes!) The lead paint was working wonders during that time as well, especially in the poorest parts of Pittsburgh. Bayer was making a name for itself because people were coming back from the Vietnam War and people were being laid off and were definitely in need of drugs.
Crime was at an all-time high and another war was brewing. But to prove again that this river cocktail works, by the time the 1980’s were over the Steelers were Superbowl champions four times, the Stanley Cup was earned twice by the Penguins, the residents of the Hill District developed the first ambulance system and service and the University of Pittsburgh-Presbyterian Hospital became the center for innovation because they were the first hospital to do a heart, liver and kidney transplant. Billy Eckstine and Andy Warhol were also making names for themselves and Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is now home to the corporate offices of the steel industry, several major health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and over a dozen private universities like US Steel, Humana, Duquesne University, Glaxo-SmithKline, Bayer, University of Pittsburgh, Highmark and Carnegie Mellon University.
Pittsburgh also hosts a huge hospital and healthcare conglomerate named the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and it is taking over Pittsburgh, which is a good thing. How else could they be able to assess and determine who’s too weak to survive Pittsburgh’s special cocktail? Can you imagine all the parties and gatherings they must have each day knowing that they are once again passing up the nation in mortality rates?
Between the years 2007 and 2012, the rivers were ranked number one and number nine on the American Rivers Endangered List as America’s most toxic rivers. (What an honor!) Bromide, high levels of ultra-salty compounds, over 1,000 pounds of cancer-causing chemicals, more than 400 pounds of developmental toxicants, over 1,000 pounds of reproductive toxicants and raw sewage have been mixed into the rivers by oil and shale gas drilling, industrial brine companies, US Steel, and the AK Steel plant.
The Pittsburgh river watchers really know what they are doing because do you know what just happened a couple years ago? To add more punch to the Allegheny river flavor, in April of 2014, Pittsburgh allowed lead to leach from the perfect (rolling my eyes), but ancient, plumbing infrastructure of Pittsburgh’s municipal water. You know what that means right? Bonus points!
Pittsburgh just couldn’t be overshadowed by another city like Michigan again, so the power hitters made some moves to almost guarantee a victory in maintaining its place. This happened when the Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority (PWSA) decided to use caustic soda, instead of the usual soda ash, in the water system, which has since deteriorated the city’s ancient plumbing infrastructure and caused lead to leach into the water. They blamed some mysterious foreigners, but now we know the real reason.
The state and federal limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. According to CBS Pittsburgh, 18 cities, including Pittsburgh, have higher lead exposure than Flint, MI, which only had 27 ppb. In one neighborhood in Pittsburgh, they found lead levels at 160ppb. Pittsburgh is setting the precedence out here!! The influx of lead caused a surge of new cancer patients, violence, civil unrest and mental instability in adults and children residents of Allegheny County. More points ya’ll!
Using regular, old lead was ingenious. They knew that it causes brain issues, abdominal pain, headaches, irritability, memory issues, infertility, anemia, seizures, comas, behavior problems, cancers and death. They also knew that lead affects both men and women’s reproductive systems. I guess they felt they had to get to them babies early!
Lead reduces men’s sperm count and their sperm’s mobility and causes miscarriage, low birth weight developmental problems in childbirth. In children, lead exposure has been linked to learning disabilities, a decrease in intelligence, and lower IQ’s. Children with lead exposure also suffer with behavior problems like aggression. “High levels of lead found in adults have been associated with decreases in cognitive performance and with psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety” (lead.com). They didn’t have to use crack like they did in the 1980’s. This was way quicker and more efficient.
The University of Pittsburgh researcher, Dr. Herbert Needleman, has been doing lead exposure studies on young male adolescence since 1979. He has quietly researched the effects of early lead exposure and how it may be the cause of juvenile delinquency throughout the years and has determined that “children exposed to lead have significantly greater odds of developing delinquent behavior”.
In 2014, there were “more people murdered in Pittsburgh than any of the previous years”. In December of 2014, there was a huge brawl of hundreds of teens inside of Pittsburgh’s favorite mall (Monroeville Mall) which at that time, was the first of its kind. The crime rate of Pittsburgh was at an all-time high from 2013 through 2015, peaking in 2014. The cancer rate was rising in 2014 as well. Even two prominent fathers (me and my husbands father) who reside in neighboring communities of Pittsburgh, were both diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. According to Megha Satyanarayana, in 2014, she states that “Pennsylvania has the highest rate of thyroid cancer in the nation and its growth is outpacing the rest of the nation”.
And we should take the time to praise and recognize the real soldiers of Pittsburgh, the men and women of Pittsburgh and their wonderful corporations and businesses, who keep the seasoning of the Three Rivers so full of high quality spirits and drugs. We should also honor the men and women on the sidelines who maintain and enforce the purging that’s needed.
If it were not for them and their magnificent foresight, Pittsburgh may have missed the opportunity to step into the limelight again. Understanding the key ingredients to kill the weak to bring forth super talented people and industries is an art in and of itself. Knowing just the right poisons to choose must have been hard, but it’s a triumph to know they succeeded in their endeavor. We should applaud their efforts. Pittsburgh is now primed and ready for the big time.
All the key players are in position. There’s enough poison in the water to make Pittsburgh great again. The fights, addiction, illness, pollution, war talk and heroin are back! The University of Pittsburgh has medical centers all over Pittsburgh ready to go. Crack is still there and so are all the lovely pharmaceutical pills. And with the lead leaching in the pipes, the recipe has to be almost complete. They have everything in place so that the new innovators will rise again.
Be on the look out for the new sound and look of Pittsburgh. From out of this, there will be new starlets, artists, medical advances, life-altering innovations, and amazing athletic boundaries being broken. Let’s give it up to the taste-makers of Pittsburgh. Google is there this time, so hopefully they'll get involved and do something great with communities on the east side and the people that live there. They may even call it the Renaissance III this time.