32 Pittsburgh

PopulationMetro: 2,453,168
America’s city of industry is gearing up to supply the global economy all over again.

It’s the Gateway to the West (at least before air travel), Steel City, City of (440!) Bridges, Andy Warhol’s hometown, and birthplace of the NFL’s “Stillers,” (if you pronounce it in Pittsburghese).

The city ranks #38 for Household Income and #20 for the number of Fortune 500 companies in town. Overall it comes in at #34 among large U.S. cities in our Prosperity category, making it a rare place that’s held on to the industrial age standard of living that has eluded so many other (now) Rust Belt cities.

And the city knows how to kick back: it ranks #34 for great nightlife and #30 for its culinary scene, making it a place of work and play.

Speaking of play, sports tourism is huge in Pittsburgh, home of the Penguins, Steelers and Pirates. According to a study done by the three sports franchises, over the last five years sports tourism led to numerous jobs, $6 billion in direct/indirect spending, $73 million in state and local tax revenue for the City.

Place 43
Product 19
Programming 21
People 68
Prosperity 41
Promotion 12

Even when the teams are traveling, sports venues generate direct spending. In summer 2019, Heinz Field will host Garth Brooks and the largest crowd ever in that venue, according to Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of SportsPITTSBURGH. The city lands at #14 for Professional Sports Teams, a subcategory under the larger Product category.

It’s home to Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which helps explain its #12 University ranking and an overall sense of practicality and stewardship (and why urbanist and author Richard Florida launched his career here).

But perhaps the best part about Pittsburgh is that after it created the steel that built the last North American century, it’s now neck-deep in the industries of the next—the innovation and technology of education and medicine— along with a DIY determination and problem-solving.

PNC Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates

There’s also Uber, which tested its first driverless cars in the city’s infamously ungridded roads in 2015 and has some 500 employees here, and Google, a local since 2010, which is looking to Pittsburgh as a center of machine learning.

National Geographic recently listed Pittsburgh as one of the best cities in the United States based on Resonance metrics believed to lead to happiness, including green spaces, galleries, coffee shops, breweries, music venues, and Instagrammable moments.

Only in Pittsburgh can you get a massive smoked meat sandwich stuffed with cheese and French Fries for seven bucks and change. You can hang with an eccentric local like Randy Gilson, who turned his residence into a piece of public art that he described to the New York Times as a “house of junk and joy.” And then you can head off to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Past and future. They get along here.