Editorial: New nicknames for the ‘Burgh

By Staff Editorial

Pittsburgh just isn’t content to settle with “the ’Burgh” for its nickname. While concise, it’s too plain a label. Never mind the genial, warmhearted city nicknames “Queen City” and “Charm City.” Pittsburgh likes its monikers straight-to-the-point.

We have a plethora of bridges. Thus, “City of Bridges.” The familiar skyline image showcasing the Point appears on every Pittsburgh postcard. This view also shows the connection of the three rivers. Hence, the nickname “Three Rivers.” So Pittsburgh has a pretty extensive list of nicknames, but we’d like to add a few more to the mix.

City of not-Philadelphia

It’s a de facto Pittsburgher paradigm: Pittsburghers don’t like Philadelphia. Call it an entrenched inferiority complex. Pittsburgh loves to berate its big brother, and Pittsburgh’s unflagging affection for its sports teams is paralleled only by its disdain for those of Philadelphia. But all this contempt feels a bit like the antiquated contempt of the Civil War era in which Philly is the North and Pittsburgh is the South. To the North, the Civil War is ancient history. But in the South, subtle resentment lingers. It’s true that you can still find a Philly fanatic with a steadfast scorn for the ’Burgh. But on the whole, it’s a one-sided fight. Maybe it’s the City of Brotherly Love living up to its nickname, but Pittsburgh fans in Philly seem more accepted.

The intrastate location seems the only real common ground. When it comes to population, a cornerstone of comparison between cities, Philadelphia obviously trumps Pittsburgh. Philadelphia’s population in 2006 was an estimated 1,448,394, while Pittsburgh’s estimated at 312,819, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

City of Champions — for now

No, this self-congratulatory nickname didn’t originate after this past year’s Super Bowl and Stanley Cup sweep. It was used largely when the Panthers, Steelers and Pirates each won championships in the 1970s. Now, the title has made a resurfacing. Save the abysmal shipwreck the Pirates have become, the Penguins, Steelers and Panthers are still on their game. So soak up the glory now. Your die-hard black-and-gold jersey bearer won’t believe it, but teams can’t reign forever. There’s a reason for salary caps and draft lotteries.

Greener City

Pittsburgh was chosen to host the G-20 Summit because it’s an emblem of restoration from a polluted, steel town to a progressive, greener city. In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked Pittsburgh the 10th cleanest city in the world. Considering the sordid state of the Steel City a few decades ago, this is one remarkable feat. At the same time, it’s not hard to look greener, considering that in the steel production days of the 20th century, Pittsburgh’s air and cityscape were black with soot. But Pittsburgh still has obstacles to overcome.

This year, Pittsburgh was ranked worst in the nation for daily fine particle soot pollution for the second consecutive year, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In 2007, the American Lung Association State of the Air report listed Pittsburgh as the second most-polluted metropolitan area in the United States, behind the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Now, we’re greener and cleaner, but not quite pristine.

No, our list of nicknames aren’t the catchiest, and it’s dubious they’ll catch on. Then again, the Burgh is notably progressive right? Could be time for a name change.