Located just outside the Pittsburgh metro area exists a quaint old steel town, which has been revitalized into the “place to go” for people living in and around the city. The strip district is truly a unique place as it is seen by many as a microcosm of the Western PA region.
If you look beyond the delicious displays of food that can be found in every window of the Strip, there exists a very unique culture. Being from Western Pennsylvania means you share a strong sense of pride with your community. This dates back to the 1800s when the steel factories began to pop up. During this time, there wasn’t much to do in Pittsburgh; everything revolved around the steel industry. The men worked all day in the mills with one another then came home to their families or went to the bar after work every night. Then the next day, they would do the same thing.
A typical steel town crammed a lot of people into a little area. The houses were built on top of one another right along the river by the mills so it wasn’t exactly the cleanest lifestyle either. In addition, the people lived in these steel communities all worked together and that is how the close knit bond began to form.
In addition, it is not just like a small portion of the city worked like this, everyone did, solidifying the sense of pride that everyone shares. This hardworking culture stuck together as the course of time ran itself and if you take a visit down to the strip today, you will see that this sense of pride and togetherness still exists. You won’t see active steel mills or steel workers, but you will see people that were a part of it along with their children, who were taught the same qualities. This is what makes the strip district so special and appealing today; it is surrounded with hardworking people who are deeply attached to their city that want to provide their customers with the absolute best experience possible.
My Grandma used to own a flower shop on the corner of the 16th street bridge and Smallman street and she confirmed this ideology. Everyone from the area knew one another and everyone worked as hard as they could. While my Gram was working in the shop, my Pap was working in the mills performing back-breaking work with all his buddies. Something about working side by side and suffering through grueling work really brings people together and even though Western PA and the strip are 40 plus years removed from this era, the same mindset still exists. Pittsburghers stand together. It is a region filled with pride and I believe that is what makes towns like the strip so special.
Malady, Matthew J.X. “Where Yinz At.” Slate, 29 Apr. 2014,www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/ 2014/04/pennsylvania_dialects_from_pittsburghese_to_philadelphia_speak_the_keystone.html.
Walsh, Victor A. “Across ‘The Big Wather’: The Irish-Catholic Community of Mid-Nineteenth Century Pittsburgh.” The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 66, no. 1, Jan. 1983.