Capitalistic spirit of Pittsburgh influences citizen culture


“The Pittsburgh-endorsed Heinz Stadium recently turned its ownership to Michigan-based company Acrisure. Since Heinz was a corporation that originated in the Pittsburgh area, the sudden change in ownership to a company not native to Pittsburgh left many people feeling outraged. The outrage from the general public draws forward the question, what is the reason behind the anger? 

Pittsburgh is a city that found purpose through economical opportunities. When the city was founded in  1764 – six years after the resolution of a scrimmage between the British and French for territorial claims over Fort Duquesne – people began to realize that the area was convenient for business and trading. Almost a century later, around the time of the Industrial Revolution, Pittsburgh was seen as a location with a surplus of iron, limestone, coal, timber, and other natural resources.

With an abundance of various natural resources, as well as navigable waterways and generally suitable transportation, many entrepreneurs began to take advantage of Pittsburgh. Well known businessmen such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry John Heinz, Andrew William Mellon and George Westinghouse established their businesses in Pittsburgh, all of which became wildly successful. People across the continent began to focus their eyes on the “Gateway to the West” (a nickname for Pittsburgh during the Late 19th century), following these great entrepreneurs to the city in hopes to find remarkable success themselves. Some individuals who moved to the city of Pittsburgh came to work under the business giants, with no intentions of seeking higher success. According to Point Park University, from 1870 to 1910, “the city’s population grew from about 86,000 to almost 534,000.” 

Unfortunately, since the Pittsburgh area was responsible for producing a significantly large amount of steel, pollution became more of an adamant issue. In 1866, a few decades before Pittsburgh’s success deflated, an outside reporter from Atlanta came to the city due to the economic boom. During his visit, he took note that the black smoke swarming the air made Pittsburgh, “like looking over into hell with the lid taken off.”

The Golden Age of Pittsburgh wilted coming into the middle of the 20th century. In 1959, a 116 day steel strike, also known as a labor union strike, became one of the largest work stoppages in United States history. Organized by the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), the steel strike impacted almost 2,000,000 steel workers across the country. When this strike came to end, shortly after President Dwight Eisenhower met privately with USWA leader David McDonald, the steel industry in Pittsburgh suffered a great loss. When it approached the 1970s, 75% of steel headquarters in the city filed for bankruptcy.

Although the liveliness of business failed to thrive coming into the 21st century, much of Pittsburgh’s culture remains rooted in the capitalistic success that the city once was. Since Pittsburgh went from an economic powerhouse to a modest, weaker center of business, people may tend to struggle to accept economic change in the city.