Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University.
Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University.
Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University.

Whether you cry listicle or clickbait, it’s impossible to not take note of Pittsburgh’s prominent placement in MONEY magazine’s latest annual list of “America’s Best Places to Live.”

Published on August 16th, MONEY‘s “Best Places to Live in 2015” names Pittsburgh to its list of “The 5 Best Big Cities in the US.”

In his piece for MONEY, which is published by Time Inc., writer Ian Salisbury profiles what the magazine calls “5 urban gems” that “offer an abundance of amenities at livable prices.”

This year, in addition to publishing its annual list of top towns, MONEY crunched the numbers on 63 urban centers with more than 300,000 residents.

What’s behind the rankings?

Money’s city rankings put a premium on a robust job market, affordable housing and ­factors such as accessibility to health care, culture and open space. Extra points are given to places with low crime and strong public schools, and top cities were chose for the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and West.

Bestowing on Pittsburgh its Best in the Northeast ranking, MONEY calls our fair town a “rust-belt city transforming itself with homegrown, high-tech talent.”

Introducing Pittsburgh, Salisbury writes: “It reads like a plotline from HBO’s hit show Silicon Valley: Billion-dollar tech startup Uber, itching to build the first driverless car, swoops into a university robotics department and hires 40 staffers en masse. It really happened this spring. Except the drama didn’t take place in California. It was in Pittsburgh.”

Kentucky Avenue in Shadyside. Photo by Jeff Greenberg/First Light.

The profile goes on to recognize search work taking place at hubs such as the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s robotics lab, Google, Apple and Intel.

“Between academia, innovative companies, and lots of startup activity, [the tech world] loves it here,” says Kamal Nigam, head of Google’s Pittsburgh office.

MONEY reports that work in computer-related fields has grown at twice the rate of the national average in recent years, and that the city’s overall unemployment rate is slightly above the national average, but well below the rate in industrial cities such as Cleveland (8%), Buffalo (6.9%) and Philadelphia (7.5%).

Housing is a key criteria considered by the list makers at MONEY: “Pittsburgh is different from many tech hubs in one key way, however: You can still afford a house there. Home prices are just 2.7 times the median income. In another regional tech hub, ­Austin, they are 3.9 times; in Portland, Ore., they’re 4.8. Pittsburgh’s Shady­side neighborhood boasts tree-lined streets and Gilded Age mansions, like the one built by Henry Clay Frick’s lawyer. Just down the road are spacious apartments and three-bedroom houses that can be had for less than $350,000. You’ll also find affordable gems in Bloomfield, a more urban area with Italian and German roots.”

In its “At a Glance” section, MONEY reports data on Pittsburgh including its population ($305,000), median home price ($115,000), average property tax ($2,000) and unemployment rare (5.6%).

Along with Pittsburgh’s tech resurgence, the rankings also looked at the city’s street life, redevelopment projects, pedestrian- and bike-friendly shopping districts, with mentions of Bakery Square, Trader Joe’s and the upcoming Thrival Festival.

“The energy in Pittsburgh is magnetic,” says Dan Law, the festival’s executive producer. “Our city is back.”

Read MONEY’s Best Places to Live in 2015 list here.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...