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"A Booming, Crazy-Quilt City"

The following is exerpted from Ernie's America: The Best of Ernie Pyle's 1930s Travel Dispatches. This should prepare you for navigating Pittsburgh and console you when you get lost.

 

PITTSBURGH-- Pittsburgh is undoubtedly the cockeyedest city in the United States. Physically, it is absolutely irrational. It must have been laid out by a mountain goat.

It is the only city in this country in which I can't find my way around, the only one of which I can't get a mental bird's-eye picture. I've flown over it, and driven all around it, and studied maps of it, and I hardly know one end of Pittsburgh from the other. It's worse than irregular--it's chaotic.

There's just one balm -- people who live here can't find their way around, either. One friend of mine who was born and raised here says she could drive to almost anyplace in the city but probably couldn't find the shortest way.

Another friend of mine has lived here six years, and all he has ever figured out is how to get from his house to downtown. Every time he gets off this path he is lost, and although he has asked hundreds of people how to get somewhere, nobody ever knew.

The reason for all this is the topography of Pittsburgh. It's up and down, and around and around, and in betwixt. Pittsburgh is hills, mountains, cliffs, valleys, and rivers. Some streets are narrow; some are wide. None runs more than a few blocks in a straight line.

You may have a friend who lives half a mile away. But to get there you circle three miles around a mountain ridge, cross two bridges, go through a tunnel, follow a valley, skirt the edge of a cliff, and wind up at your friend's back door an hour after dark.