Thursday, June 20, 2013

Still A Mess

The good news is someone posted "No Smoking" signs along the outer walls of the Wood Street subway station.

The bad news? The disgusting smokers pay no attention to the signs. They continue to light up and drop their disgusting litter on the sidewalk.

How about some enforcement of the no smoking regulations?

When we get a new mayor, I'm hoping he can address issues like these. It's certainly not the biggest crisis facing the city, but it all adds up to quality of life. Get people to stop thinking of the busiest downtown streets as their personal garbage can.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The G-20 debacle

Let's cut to the chase: There will be NO economic benefit to hosting the G-20 summit. In fact, it will be a drain on city resources. The people attending the summit will pay no attention to the location, and they will not circulate freely during their brief stay here. It's just another convention center and another hotel. Anyone who thinks it's more than that is dreaming.

Meanwhile, it's funny to see officials hustling to put up a false front by decorating empty storefronts and cleaning things up. Next: Round up the homeless and relocate them to Oakland for a few days.

What a waste.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Butting out

Back in town for the first time in a while, and I'm distressed by the amount of litter I'm seeing. In this case, the litter is specifically cigarette butts, the disgusting residue of a filthy and selfish bad habit.

They're everywhere, but I noticed a high concentration of them all around the perimeter of Mellon Square. Apparently people sit on the ledge and smoke, then just drop the butt on the ground when they're done. The city can't clean this up? People who stay at the William Penn Hotel must have a horrible impression of Pittsburgh when they step out of the building and see the filth on the sidewalk. Smokers can't do a better job of getting rid of their butts?

How about this: Make it a $50 littering fine to drop a butt on the sidewalk. It will cure the problem in no time, and for the first week or so, it will be a goldmine for the city.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fighting Back?

Looks some of the merchants in the Wood and Liberty area are fed up. As you may know, that's been a trouble spot because of people loitering in the area and creating an environment that some may consider intimidating.

The McDonald's location there now has posted signs in the windows advising customers to contact the Mayor's office about the situation. The signs list a phone number and e-mail address. You may be aware that Wendy's gave up a while back, abandoning their space on Wood Street. Arby's has had trouble, and so has the CVS store. McDonald's has probably gotten the worst of it. They've blocked off some sections to cut down on loitering, and they have a manager aggressively chasing people out.

No word yet on whether Mayor Ravenstahl's office has heard many complaints. The area could use some help before more merchants take Wendy's approach and just leave.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Where to go?

Tribune-Review columnist Mike Seate heads downtown looking for a good newsstand, and finds out there isn't one.

Points out what was lost when Barnes and Noble decided to close its doors on Smithfield Street. Smithfield News will be fine once the expansion/remodeling wraps up, but it's also in an inconvenient location for a lot of people who work downtown. There's still a book department at Macy's, I think, but the last time I looked it was a little ragged, heavy with remainders and other salvage material.

Maybe if a significant downtown housing component develops, a bookstore with a B & N-styled magazine section will follow. In the meantime, better fill out those subscription cards.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

They came and skated....but did they buy?

The holiday season is over, and downtown had its usual heavy traffic in a couple of hot spots. The skating rink at PPG Place is very popular. Another favorite destination is the creche on the plaza at the US Steel Building.

The rink has great atmosphere: A giant tree, the skating rink, wide open space, holiday music playing. It's like the Pittsburgh version of Rockefeller Center. The difference is there's no real retail presence of any consequence in the shadow of PPG Place. So we know that people come, rent skates and sip hot chocolate. But do they do anything else downtown? Ruth's Chris Steakhouse isn't the kind of place where you drop in for a snack with the kids after an afternoon of skating. I'm not sure that any business really benefits much from all the visitors.

The scene is largely the same at the creche. The Steel Building has always been an island unto itself in that part of town. No stores in the immediate area, no quick bite places within site of the plaza.

Downtown has two nice attractions in the holiday season that should bring people into the area. Too bad there isn't more near either to keep the visitors a little longer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This Letter Nails It

Published in the Post-Gazette, Tuesday Nov. 20, 2007:

Misguided glitz

Post-Gazette sportswriter Dejan Kovacevic usually ends his online Pirates Q&A with "Thing No. [X] That Makes Pittsburgh Great." Inspired by his example, and dismayed by the story about the purging of Candy-Rama from its longtime home Downtown ("Hanging Up Their Hats," Oct. 31), I present "Thing No. 87 That Makes Pittsburgh Lame and Degenerate":

A slavish adherence to yuppie-centric Reaganomics in Downtown drives small, local businesses out, in favor of high-rise condos, ritzy chains and fitness clubs.

These spawns of misguided supply-side development seem to sprout in our city daily like a twisted thicket on the shores of Acheron. Aside from the pandering to the upper crust antithetical to Pittsburgh's proletarian identity, the distressing element here is that Downtown is going to be loaded with high-end housing and gyms that will be completely empty.

And yet, the Urban Redevelopment Authority keeps making way for these establishments as if the problem were that they just haven't built the right one yet. They think that perhaps this will be the boutique-condo-fitness-martini-bar complex that will tap the yuppie geyser and have the Lincoln Navigators flowing through town on a river of wealth.

More likely, 15 years from now we'll still have an abandoned Downtown full of overpriced lofts nestled among shanties of uninspired art and bad theater, but we also will have wasted billions on a metropolitan-center-never-to-be.

Pittsburgh's charm and strength is in the personalities of its (now decaying) neighborhoods. Build on that. People don't visit New York to see office buildings, but Greenwich Village and Chinatown. People want personality and variety, not a pathetic attempt to fulfill a generic and unrealistic notion of "urban."

Squirrel Hill