Seattle native loves Pittsburgh

Hi all,

Due to increasing traffic because of the STILLERS VICTORY we got off track and off our bandwidth for a few days. But we’re back with more juice! Thank you for your patience.

And on that note, check out the wonderful column below, which appeared in the Seattle Times. It speaks for itself! (Thanks to a friend and native Pittsburgher – now living in England! – for sending me the article.)

Editorials & Opinion: Friday, January 27, 2006
Guest columnist

Why this Seattle native is rooting for the Steelers

By Kathy M. Newman
Special to The Times

Don’t get me wrong. I love Seattle. And I grew up with the Seahawks.

Their franchise started in 1976 when I was 10 years old. Naturally, the peak year of my devotion to the Seahawks was 1983 � the season during which the Seahawks made it to the AFC Championship.

That fall I watched every game from a chair next to my father’s hospital bed. My father, Bill Newman, died of leukemia that December at the age of 40. A few weeks later, the Seahawks lost the AFC Championship to the Oakland Raiders. I abandoned the Seahawks for grief, for college, for graduate school, and, eventually, for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 1997, I got my Ph.D. in American Studies and was offered my first job as an English professor at Carnegie Mellon University. I was excited to be offered a job in a real city with hills, rivers, unions, history, bricks, brains and bridges. Pittsburgh, I thought, is what Seattle will be in 100 years if it’s lucky. Seattle, with its Microsoft billions, is like Pittsburgh 100 years ago, with its Carnegie/Fricke/Mellon/Scaife millions.

Today, after nine years in the ‘burgh, I’m a committed Pittsburgher and devoted Steelers fan. I watch every game with my husband â€â€? who is cool enough to have loved the Steelers even before he moved here from Alabama. We let our 2-year-old son watch, too. He can say “hut” and “a-ball” (football).

My mom called from Seattle last Sunday, just as the Seahawk fans were starting to celebrate their anticipation of the Super Bowl. “You have to root for Seattle,” she said. “It’s our first time.”

I sympathized with her plea. I was surprised by how choked up I felt when I saw a chiseled and slightly weathered Jim Zorn, the hero of my youth (in the 1970s, his license plate read “Zorn Again”), working as the quarterback coach for Matt Hasselbeck.

So why am I rooting for the Steelers? Team sports are the closest thing we have to a kind of regional nationalism. When we wear our Black and Gold, we say to each other: This city is our nation. These are our colors. We are each others’ people. And so here’s why Pittsburgh is my city, and the Steelers are my team:

• Because I can afford to live here. My house cost $60,000. It has three full bathrooms, four bedrooms and a finished basement. It is located four miles from where I work. It is located eight blocks from the caf� Tazzo d’Oro and Highland Park.

• Because I get to live in the city � and not the soulless suburbs of my youth � with the chance of sending my son to a good public school.

• Because Pennsylvania has an income tax. My mother had to sell my childhood home on Seattle’s Eastside because her property taxes were more than $1,000 per month.

• Because Pittsburgh is big enough to have museums/parks/symphonies/an underground music scene/good restaurants/fantastic universities, and small enough that last year I learned everything I needed to know about city politics by working on a few political campaigns.

• Because I’ve never been stuck in traffic for more than 30 minutes â€â€? and that happens about four times per year. (Seattleites spend 53 hours per year delayed in traffic.)

• Because we have Starbucks here now, too.

• Because we have an airport that is rated No. 1 in the country for its size. We’re still working on getting an airline to match, but, even still, if I have to leave Pittsburgh, I always look forward to getting to the airport. And, when I do get there, it only costs $6.25 per day to park for an extended stay. (At Sea-Tac, it’s $20 per day â€â€? or $85 per week.)

• Because I live in a multiracial, working/middle-class neighborhood where kids play basketball in the alley and ride their bikes on the street.

• Because Pittsburghers have a sense of history and respect for the working-class immigrants that built our nation.

• Because the Children’s Museum, the Zoo, the Carnegie Museums, the Phipps Conservatory, the Aviary and the Center for Creative Play are all fewer than 20 minutes from our house.

• Because Pittsburgh has one more clear day per year than Seattle! (Pittsburgh boasts 59 clear days per year, while Seattle gets 58.)

Kathy M. Newman, a Seattle area native, is an English professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and author of “Radio Active: Advertising and Consumer Activism.”

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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  • Suzi Muliolis

    Gee Kathy, reading your article REALLY makes me homesick for Pittsburgh! Unlike you, I never did adopt the team spirit for the teams here in Florida. I was raised in Pittsburgh suburbia and have been a Steelers fan FOREVER! My Uncle and my cousin both played football for the Detroit Lions, so they got a little testy when my brother and I wore our black and gold to their games! I really miss home: the friendships, the parties, the outings,the beauty. Thanks for reminding me of home. GO STEELERS!!!!!!

  • Evan James, North Sh

    I too am a Seattleite by birth. However, I haven't been there since 1983. My family moved us to PA, at age 11, and I've been in Pgh since coming here for college (Pitt) in 1991 – with the exception of a four-year stint in Minneapolis between '97 and '01. Being away from Pittsburgh for an extended period of time invariably leaves me feeling homesick, even though I am not a native "yinzer", and none of my family has ever called the 'Burgh home (they all live in Harrisburg and points east). Pittsburgh is an incredible city in countless ways, and at this point in my life I cannot fathom living anywhere else in America.
    In Pittsburgh, you get natural beauty, rich history, friendly people, a surprisingly low crime rate, and all the big-city amenities one could ever wish for, PLUS affordability. I cringe when I hear about the absurd cost-of-living figures from supposedly superior places like Seattle (no offense to Seattle!!) and count my blessings that my family hauled us clear across the country when I was too young to understand the ramifications of such a major move.
    I Heart Pittsburgh!