Thursday, November 02, 2006

Adventures in (Lovely) Pittsburgh- Day 2

Pittsburgh rocks! Seriously, I totally shouldn't have judged this city without ever visiting. It looks like a mixture of NYC and San Fran. I'm staying off Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh at the glorious Omni William Penn. I feel like I'm in a manageable version of Union Square San Francisco.

Last night, we had our Opening Plenary at the stunning Benedum Center... a historic theater that is now home to the Pittsburgh Opera, Ballet, and traveling Broadway performances. The detail and preservation was perfection.

One of the speakers was a charismatic modern day Saint who was probably the best salesman I've ever seen. William E. Strickland, Jr grew up poor in Pittsburgh's worst neighborhood. After a teacher took an interest in him, he graduated college and began a career as a ceramics artist. Seeing children in his neighborhood not be treated as they should ("Children are a product of their environment. I'm not in the business of teaching. I'm in the business of attitudes," he said), he hired Frank Lloyd Wright's student to design a building in this neighborhood in Pittsburgh. There he set up a vocational school- The Bidwell Training Center. From gardening to chef training to art and design to pharmaceutical training, the center is a "cure for the Cancer that is spreading throughout our country with 50% of African American and Hispanic children dropping out of high school," he said. He remarked on the fresh flowers and interesting art work in the building as creating the best for students to rise to the challenge. The building has never had vandalism, theft, or drug and alcohol issues. He still lives in that neighborhood. Funding has come from Dizzy Gillespie, eBay, HP, Heinz, and more. Such a hero...

After the Plenary, we headed to Sonoma Grille on Penn Ave. Absolutely delicious tapas style meal that could by far compete with any restaurant in New York. Who knew Pittsburgh was so wonderful?

I've learned much about Pittsburgh already. Did you know the David L. Lawrence Conference Center here is the largest "Green" structure in the nation?

Here's some more info on Pittsburgh from my Omni hotel room book-

-Pittsburgh ranks as the least expensive US city to live in. (Mercer Human Resources Consulting, June 2004).
-Pittsburgh rated the 46th best place to locate a business by Forbes Magazine.
-Pittsburgh's skyline rates #2 in America for beauty (USA Weekend, May 2003)
-Ranked as America's "Greenest" City based on number of Leadership in Energy and Enviornmental Design-rated buildings by Green Building Alliance.
-Pittsburgh was ranked among the cleanest US cities and the 17th in the world. (William M. Mercer)
-Pittsburgh was ranked America's sixth "most literate" among 64 metro areas with populations of more than 250,000.
- Ladies' Home Journal rated it the 11th-best city for women in cities with more than 300,000 people.
-Pittsburgh is tied for 6th place with Charlotte, Cincinnati, Dallas, Milwaukee, Philly, and St. Louis for the number of Fortune 500 companies, with seven headquarters (Fortune magazine).
-Pittsburgh is rated 19th overall in a study that analyzed business climates in US cities.
-Pittsburgh beat Boston, New York, and 154 other cities to be named the "country's best location for successful inner-city companies." (Inc. Magazine and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City).
-Ranked 10th by Expansion Magazine as places European companies target for capital investment.
-Pittsburgh is among the 25 top art destinations in the country according to American Style magazine.
-Bike Magazine ranked Pittsburgh 5th in the country as the best place to live and ride based on it's 152 miles of rails-to-trails paths.

Damn! I'm definitely a Pittsburgh lover.


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