RAMP's 2011 President R. Kevin Brown Jr. was featured in "Right Time Right Place," a Summer Home Buying Guide published in the Post-Gazette. In an article about Pittsburgh's rich history and bright future, he explains why Pittsburgh's The Right Choice to live, work and play.
Mention the words “three rivers” and American football fans think of Pittsburgh. From 1970 to 2000, Three Rivers Stadium was, of course, where the Pittsburgh Steelers showed the rest of the National Football League their spirit and toughness.
But “three rivers” is also the description where the Allegheny River from the northeast and the Monongahela River from the southeast form the Ohio River. The “Point” is the “only place in North America where three rivers come together,” according to R. Kevin Brown, Jr., president of The Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh (R.A.M.P.). From Downtown’s Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh spreads out across the slopes and ridges of the Monongahela River Valley and extends even farther, adding to the dynamic region.
Attempting to place Pittsburgh in a specific “official” cultural region has not really been successful, however. Located near the convergence of the boundaries of the Northeastern United States, the Midwestern United States and the Southern United States, Pittsburgh stands alone. But that unusual location has allowed the city to draw from many rich regional cultures and over the years add its own particular interpretation.
“Pittsburgh has always been strategically positioned,” said Brown. “Its unique geographical and topographical assets have given it advantages that many other cities don’t have.”
Brown, a local history enthusiast, can trace the city’s beginnings starting with the establishment of a fur-trading post in the 17th century. He knows of the area’s early roles in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The rivers, a canal and railroads connected Pittsburgh with points East and West and huge amounts of natural resources and manufactured products passed through the region.
It is also known that Pittsburgh and the surrounding region sits on the Marcellus Shale, a potential source of huge amounts of natural gas that could bring significant revenue to the area. Some natural gas experts estimate that the shale contains more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 10 percent which might be recovered.
Pittsburgh area property owners are being approached about the mineral rights on their land and Brown said the potential for economic benefit is extraordinary. The drilling and the actual total value of the wells are controversial, however, and the final ramifications won’t be known for years. But the shale will have an influence on southwest Pennsylvania.
“Pittsburgh’s history is tied to its unique location,” said Brown, “When its location and geography created work, people first moved in, and it is still that way.”
Brown’s historical look back on the development of commercial and residential Pittsburgh is especially relevant as R.A.M.P. celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Brown can trace the thread of home building in different parts of the city and beyond. He can point with pride at beautiful vintage and century single-family homes, repurposed urban building now functioning as sophisticated work-loft homes and comfortable suburban and exurban properties.
Realtors here have an advantage that many real estate professionals in other parts of the country don’t have. The Pittsburgh region has an extraordinary variety of housing at all price ranges. And it is an easy sell when buyers know the unemployment rate is relatively low compared to many other large cities, that local government is stable, and that the infrastructure is solid.
Add outstanding educational opportunities to the plus column. Local school systems are supported by interested parents and concerned city leaders. Also, library systems are extensive. Pittsburgh is also home to The University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University, to name just a few of the city’s fine institutions of higher learning.
Many of those research institutions and the city’s other incubator sites are driving an economic re-birth centered about computer sciences and robotics. More jobs and more people are being drawn to the city.
Cultural activities have been a part of the city for hundreds of years. Today, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera, The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Andy Warhol Museum are just a few of the city’s extraordinary and well-respected institutions.
And it all goes back to location. Those who live, work and create in Pittsburgh can drive to a number of major cities in a comparatively short time, according to Brown. New York City is five and a half hours away, Chicago is seven, Washington, D.C. is four and a half and Detroit is five. Those who enjoy an outdoor challenge can hike or bike a continuous, 245-mile trail from Pittsburgh to downtown Washington, D.C. The trail is called the Great Allegheny Passage and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath.
In addition, casinos, shopping, sports facilities and major ski and water resorts, as well as pristine natural areas, are only short drives away.
Brown tells the story about the historic Summit Inn Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. The Inn opened to the public as the Summit Hotel in 1907. Visitors can view the hotel’s original hotel register, which records the names of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison in 1917. The men invited other members of the American Science Wizards, including Harvey Firestone, to join them at the beautiful location.
“Pittsburgh was centrally located for some of the best minds in America then and now,” said Brown.
For Brown, R.A.M.P.’s 100th anniversary is a good reason to look back at Pittsburgh’s past, evaluate Pittsburgh’s current position and be optimistic about the future. He and other R.A.M.P. members are already planning the group’s 100th birthday bash this fall. On Friday, September 1, R.A.M.P. will hold its annual meeting, followed by a reception at the historic Penn Brewery. Saturday, October 1, will begin with an informal midday brunch. The group will celebrate its 100 years of being a vital part of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area with its Grand Evening Gala at the Heintz Historical Center.
As featured on Page 9 of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. To view the original article, click here.