Pittsburgh Adds Moniker: ‘The City of Many Mennonites’
Pittsburgh is the home of the Klondike Bar, indoor ice hockey, radio and Heinz Ketchup.
And for the first time, Pittsburgh is home to Mennonite USA’s national convention.
Although most days and evenings will be spent in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, if there is time, the city beckons.
Pittsburgh is built around the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. To accommodate these watery conditions, 446 bridges are scattered across the city, a world record.
It’s no wonder that Pittsburgh is commonly known as “the City of Bridges,” which helped inspire this year’s convention theme, “Bridges to (the) Cross.”
The city is also referred to as “The Steel City,” given the longstanding presence of the steel industry. Pittsburgh’s population soared with the arrival of the United States Steel Cooperation in 1901; however, in the early 1980s the industry took a downturn. The steel mills laid off 153,000 workers, which caused a ripple effect, as railways, mining industries and factories closed. Pittsburgh was forced to recreate itself.
“‘Inventive is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear ‘Pittsburgh,’” said John Stahl-Wert, the chief executive of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation. “I think of engineering, medicine, banking and technology. And now, most improbably, I think of ‘Green.’”
Pittsburgh revived itself into service-based economy that is not only thriving, but becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center epitomizes this effort. Stahl-Wert continued: “This city has again invented itself, putting its old brown self at the front line of the green revolution.”
Today, just over 300,000 people live in Pittsburgh. Despite its modest size, Pittsburgh is home to three professional sports teams, the Steelers (football), Penguins (hockey) and Pirates (baseball), which have collaboratively won 14 world titles, generating the third nickname for the city, “The City of Champions.”
The recent success of the Steelers, the city’s football team, has brought more than pride to their city; they have also brought hope.
“Steelers Nation had its roots in a time when Pittsburgh’s economy was at its lowest, said Phil Cynar, a senior communications specialist at Allegheny Conference. “It rallied those who refused to put aside their Pittsburgh pride, even when times were tough.”
“In fact, there are some 20,000 available jobs and careers across our region. Pittsburgh’s pride and spirit never died, and now the jobs are back.”
Last year Forbes named Pittsburgh “the most livable place in the United States,” edging out Ogden, Utah, and Omaha, Nebraska. This list is based on crime rate, cost of living and job opportunities.
Cynar described Pittsburgh as “a place with a quality of life that’s affordable and accessible, a place with not only professional sports to enjoy, but world class arts and culture, a clean, green environment and exceptional outdoor recreation.”
In addition to this, the city does not have to contend with natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.
The city of Pittsburgh is known as many things, but during this week it will be known by nearly 9,000 Mennonites as a place to worship, learn and unite.
As a fellow Mennonite and a longtime Pittsburgher, Stahl-Wert is excited about the positive effects of the convention on both Mennonites and the city of Pittsburgh.
“I brag to my Mennonite friends about Pittsburgh,” he said. “I brag to my Pittsburgh friends about Mennonites. When convention is over, I hope to be extremely proud of the people that we Mennonites are.”