I believe in Pittsburgh the powerful--the progressive. I believe in the past of Pittsburgh and in the future founded on the heritage of that past; of clean living, frugal, industrious men and women of poise, power, purity, genius and courage. I believe that her dominant spirit is, has been and always will be for uplift and betterment. I believe that my neighbor stands for the same faith in Pittsburgh, although his expression may vary from mine. I believe in Pittsburgh of the present and her people--possessing the virtues of all nations--fused through the melting pot to a greater potency for good. I believe in taking pride in our city, its institutions, its people, its habits."I believe that her dominant spirit is, has been and always will be for uplift and betterment."
I believe in the great plans born of initiative, foresight and civic patriotism in the minds of the great men of to-day; here--now. I believe that the Pittsburghers who truly represent her are those of God-fearing lives, scorning ostentation and the seats of the ungodly, building surely, quietly and permanently.
I believe that those who know Pittsburgh love her, "her rocks and rills, templed hills." I believe that Pittsburgh's mighty forces are reproduced in a mighty people, staunch like the hills--true like steel. [See note at end for attribution.]
One might contest such a statement now by pointing to the many whom we hear despair and disparage our fair city. I am, however, more inclined to agree with Mr. Connell. This City built the world. This City was one of the mightiest industrial capitals on earth. From those towering heights, we crashed with an equally resounding bust. Pittsburgh has been abandoned, kicked, and left for dead. Many who left did so with heavy hearts and empty wallets. Those who have stayed, come back, or ventured in for the first time, saw the diamond under the soot, and have set about cutting and polishing it.
Despite it all, still we rise, the phoenix out of the ashes (but unlike Phoenix, we have water).
I believe that my neighbor stands for the same faith in Pittsburgh, although his expression may vary from mine. I believe in Pittsburgh of the present and her people--possessing the virtues of all nations--fused through the melting pot to a greater potency for good.
Pittsburgh is not well-known as a town of cosmopolitan, avant-garde living (though those elements are certainly here, and have been so historically). We are, in fact, reputed to be a bit xenophobic, content to remain nestled in our hollers and on our hilltops, unwilling to pass over a bridge or through a tunnel to see the other side of town. I can speak personally of the Pittsburgh Gene that renders natives constitutionally incapable of living more than 3 miles from the house in which they grew up.
This tendency to hole up in one's own part of town has made Pittsburgh a profoundly racist and segregated town. But this manifests itself, or, I guess more accurately, fails to manifest itself in some odd ways. Pittsburghers are notoriously nice people. Of course, this is not universally true--we have plenty of jagoffs and racists running around these parts, but often you'll see bigoted bluster contradicted by compassionate action. A neighbor in need is a neighbor in need, even if you are someone who falls into an abstract category of people they allegedly dislike. This in no way excuses myopic and misinformed bigotry against people of color, immigrants, foreigners, or people of different religions or sexual orientations. As one on the receiving end of such confusing treatment, I do not enjoy the cognitive dissonance to which the experience gives rise. I only mention it because the phenomenon reveals a Pittsburgh tendency to dislike "them," but erase the dividing lines if you are one of "us."
Despite these more unfortunate tendencies, many Pittsburghers can and do come together as one under the black and gold flag, and not just the one with the yellow, red, and blue stars. As parochial as we may be, we actually do love the ethnic flavors of this town. I consider myself part Italian, Jew, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern by association. I don't care that "my" people didn't make pirohi, polkas, accordians, latkes, or baklava--the ethnic foods, music, dancing, and celebrations that have woven the beautiful tapestry of this town, are also a thread in the tapestry of me. And yes, I believe that the fusion of all of our ancestries have come together to create something better and stronger. There are pieces of the originals throughout, but together they have woven a new story, a Pittsburgh story, of which we are all a part.
I believe that those who know Pittsburgh love her, "her rocks and rills, templed hills." I believe that Pittsburgh's mighty forces are reproduced in a mighty people, staunch like the hills--true like steel.
Let us hope that this is true. We've got some vexing problems to deal with, and it's going to take a lot of love for this place and a lot of "mighty people, staunch like the hills--true like steel" to have the fortitude to right the ship.
From Pittsburgh "Promotes Progress": Presenting a Brief Story of the Country's Greatest Industrial Center, a City Powerful and Progressive; Emphasizing Its Unique Position in Reference to the Nation's Population; An Omen of a Mighty Future, Dominant Like Steel. Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk & Company, , 62.
Mr. Connell was the son of Dr. James G. Connell, an East Liberty physician. In 1905 James Jr. was a "clerk" at Penn Paper Box Co. at 302 Ross St. Within five years he had risen to manager. In 1913 he became manager and vice-president of West Penn Paper Co. at 300-304 Penn Ave. He died 9 October 1914. His grave is in Chartier's Cemetery.
-- Sources: The Pittsburgh Press, no date; and, George T. Fleming. Pittsburgh: How To See It.
n.p.: William G. Johnston Company, 1916. p. 5.
updated May 23, 2013