The life and death of Pittsburgh
Bob O'Connor could do a lot worse than to heed the advice Dennis Roddy dispenses in this column. To wit:
Let a thousand pushcarts bloom: This will drive some of the merchants nuts, but just now you need population in the Downtown. Fifth and Forbes, mistaken as an eyesore by Tom Murphy, is an ideal spot for the kind of open-air market that enlivens the Strip District on Saturdays. Forget "upscale" developers and let the little guy have a shot at creating the critical mass for busy weekdays. Encourage pushcart vendors -- make it easy, with nominal licensing fees -- and let them ply Fifth and Forbes selling hotdogs, magazines, maps, whatever. It will displace the current open-air commerce you're worried about. Where will these vendors come from? Read on.
If memory serves--and I'm much too tired and lazy to look this up--Pittsburgh's licensing fees for pushcart vendors are about five times what they are in New York City, and their locations are tightly controlled. This is indicative of the contempt with which this city's old guard of political and corporate leaders hold cities. As I've said a thousand times, the people who run Pittsburgh claim to love cities, but they hate what makes them unique. Tom Murphy is the living, breathing incarnation of this. All I can say, Mr. Mayor, is that Butler County awaits.