From safer streets to Third Renaissance excitement, it’s been a fantastic year for Pittsburgh. Let’s take a look back at 2011’s top accomplishments. With positive momentum, leadership and residents engaged in helping our City’s resurgence reach more neighborhoods, we will see a more prosperous 2012.
My staff and I put together this top ten list. I hope you enjoy reflecting on the year’s accomplishments and I wish you a joyous New Year.
Top 10 list
9. Hollywood falls in love with Pittsburgh. Russell Crowe. Taylor Lautner. Anne Hathaway. What do they all have in common? They were welcomed as Pittsburgh residents, at least for a short time, while filming in our City this year. Pittsburgh has been labeled the “Hollywood of the East,” adding thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development as a result. Nothing exemplifies that more than when we were chosen as the filming location for the much-anticipated “Dark Knight Rises.” For a few weeks, Pittsburgh was transformed into the Gotham City, and this coming summer we’ll get to see our hometown shine on the big screen. This year’s Light Up Night was visited by Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and daughter Suri - who knows what big names will be found visiting our City next year!
8. Hello, “brain gain”! For the first time in a long time, U.S. Census data shows more 24-29 year olds living in Pittsburgh and that our City's median age is declining. Yes, our City is getting younger. With a new Pittsburgh economy, a lower than average unemployment rate, an affordable lifestyle and The Promise, young people are finally flocking to - not from - Pittsburgh. Leading demographists such as William Frey from the Brookings Institution explain that Pittsburgh’s stable economy is attracting more and more “migrants.”
7. Safer streets – again. We are one of America's safest cities and we are getting safer. According to statistics released by the FBI, Pittsburgh’s crime rate has dropped for four years in a row. While crime rates are trending low nationally, Pittsburgh’s crime rate continues to drop at a much higher rate. We believe safer streets are a result of a strong Pittsburgh economy, the hard work of police officers and our work with residents to bring blight-reduction programs to neighborhoods. Nearly 200 vacant lots have been transformed into community green spaces – with residents as their stewards. My Nuisance Property Task Force has told absentee landlords to either take care of their investment or hit the bricks. And the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime is working to reduce our homicide rate.
6. Golden Triangle to expand. Yes, the Civic Arena is coming down. We are working collaboratively with neighborhood and civic leaders to transform 28 acres in the Hill District and Uptown neighborhoods. What was once an unused arena and parking lots will soon be exciting destination retail and restaurant establishments, and yes – new jobs and addresses.
4. The Pittsburgh Promise celebrates first graduates. I have been eagerly waiting for this day since I co-founded The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program in 2007 - the day that we can congratulate the first graduating Promise scholars. To date, four public school grads completed their four-year college programs early. That’s four inspirational young people that have pursued their dreams thanks to The Promise. About 3,000 young students are currently pursuing higher education – many of whom never had the confidence to reach for the stars before this unique opportunity. I look forward to welcoming each and every one of them into Pittsburgh’s growing new economy. If you're interested in donating to this worthy cause, please visit the Promise website.
3. National Geographic puts Pittsburgh on travelers’ “bucket list.” We’re thrilled with the national and international praise that Pittsburgh continues to receive. One of the highlights this year was when National Geographic Traveler named our City as one of 20 best places in the world to visit in 2012 – one of only two U.S. cities mentioned. We all already know how great our City is, but it’s nice to see that everyone else is catching on.
2. City's 2012 Budget passes unanimously. It’s a shame what is happening in our nation’s capital. Instead of putting political differences aside and working on compromises for the good of the nation, many politicians are creating gridlock instead of solutions. That’s not happening here in Pittsburgh. In September, the state ruled that Pittsburgh’s pension can remain in local control. With that news, we are even closer to completing our financial recovery. I am very pleased that City Council unanimously passed my 2012 capital budget and five year plan . For four years in a row, our budgets have been balanced without any new tax increases or cuts in service. I look forward to working with Council Members in the New Year and I welcome incoming City Councilman Corey O’Connor.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2012
Friday, December 30, 2011
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Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687