News

Old US Manufacturing Town Prepares for Coming-Out Party With G20 Summit

Multimedia

For the third time in less than one year, international leaders will gather to discuss the global economic crisis. The first G20 summit was in Washington. The second was in London. But this time, the leaders are taking a different route, forgoing the glamour of a world capital to meet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an old American manufacturing town that has changed to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is preparing to welcome the world.

When White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced the site for the G20 summit, there was laughter from the press corps.

"The United States will host the next G20 summit, September 24th through the 25th, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania," he said.

REPORTER ONE: "Where?"
REPORTER TWO: "What?"

Lifelong residents of Pittsburgh, like Joe Sabino Mistick, just shrugged it off.

"We get some chuckles and we get used to it," he said. "My response generally is, 'Well, what do they know?'"

Pittsburghers say they are ready to prove the doubters wrong and show off their city.

Dan Onorato is the Allegheny County Executive, the highest elected official in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. He says the G20 is a big opportunity.

"It is amazing the number of calls I get on a daily basis from CEOs to schoolchildren who are offering to volunteer, to do whatever they can to sell this region, to tell their story," he said.

There is, of course, a downside to hosting a big summit. Traffic will be a mess. Schools will close.

But Pittsburghers are taking it in stride.

"I know they are planning on closing down all of those roads," said Joe Valentri, who works near the summit site. "I personally will not be here those days at work. I will work from home on those days they are here."

He sits with his morning eggs and coffee at Pamela's Diner in a part of town known simply as "The Strip."

It is an old produce warehouse district that has grown into an international bazaar.

Local resident Lyn Parkinson says the G20 leaders should come for a stroll.

"I hope they come down to the Strip District and see how we work together, how we enjoy each others' cultures and how everything can work together," she said.

It is a place where Pittsburgh's ethnic diversity is on display. An Italian grocery store sits next to a shop selling delicacies from Greece. Shoppers buy Korean kimchee near a spice merchant from the Middle East.

An old man sells raffle tickets for a Polish Church in front of a vendor filling tortillas at a taco stand.    


But if there is a heart of the Strip, it is Primanti's - a sandwich shop with working class roots where everything - including the French fries - is packed between slices of bread.

A man named Pete pushes away the paper wrapping a sandwich, and surveys the crowd.

"There are always people in the restaurant," he said. "And they come from all over town and all over the area around town, just to come down, get a bite to eat, and you never know who you are going to run into. It is just part of the soul of the city."

Primanti's is a microcosm of Pittsburgh - boisterous and welcoming.

Jacob Roman, 15, says the spirit is contagious.

"No matter where you come from, people just, they get excited - like when the prime ministers and the kings are going to come, they are going to feel like they are at home," he said.

It is a home decorated in black and gold - the colors of the local sports teams. And if Jacob had his way, the first stop for the G20 guests would be Heinz Field, where the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers play.

The Steelers are a metaphor for the city - a team with 40 losing seasons that would not give in and began to win.

Rocky Bleier played on the Steelers first championship team.

"It is kind of what this city is about," he said. "The city is about hope. The city is more about perseverance."

Pittsburgh is known around the globe as a city of champions. But Bleier says the world's leaders may find they are meeting in a city of resilience.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs