Skyline of Toledo, Ohio

In an article for The Blade, Keith C. Burris echoes a sentiment we hear a lot lately: “I haven’t been to Pittsburgh for a long time…and boy, has it changed.”

His interest is in what his town of Toledo can learn from Pittsburgh. “Much of Pittsburgh’s renewal has been the opposite of what we once dubbed urban renewal in America. It has been human renewal — natural growth from the bottom rather than big plans from the top. But this is clear: If you make a town friendly to the young, the young will come, and stay. It will be a young town. And if you encourage the arts, all kinds of people will come,” says Burris. 

“Toledo can copy some of these things. Others are not under our control. We could use a few billionaires. (Ten would make a difference.) And our leaders could stand to think bigger.”

While in Pittsburgh, Burris spent a lot of time in both the Strip District, which he compares to Brooklyn or Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mt.  Washington, with a view he likens to the beauty of Paris or San Francisco.

Burris places a lot of the credit for Pittsburgh’s successful renaissance with our two large universities, and queries why Toledo, with two similarly impressive institutions, hasn’t seen the same type of growth. “Our universities are not on par with Pittsburgh’s. But, for a city our size, we are blessed with two up-and-coming institutions of higher learning, both of which happen to be physically impressive. I’m not sure why we have underutilized and, culturally, undercapitalized both,” he writes. 

But Burris also gives a shout-out to the familiar Pittsburgh grit and pride. With a nod to the city’s leadership history, he comments, “…when it was not good, it was at least honest.”

You can read the full article here.

Rebekah Zook is a Duquesne grad and all-around story-telling enthusiast. A former fellow at WESA, she worked as a production assistant for their daily talk show. Most recently, she taught in the Propel Charter School system as a visiting artist. When she isn’t writing, Rebekah is a trip leader for the local non-profit organization Venture Outdoors. You can usually find her in a bright yellow kayak.