Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/439

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
435
THE WHITER PITTSBURGH

on the high hills adjacent. The total area of all of the parks is over nine hundred acres.

The city that leads the world in iron manufacture must inevitably be a smoky city. For a period, beginning in the early eighties, when natural gas was first applied to manufacturing on a considerable scale, the diminished use of coal led to brighter and clearer conditions. But the industrial growth of Pittsburgh has been such that the supply of gas soon came to be inadequate. Gas is still used as an auxiliary fuel, but the percentage of soft coal is growing relatively larger year by year. So far as the iron furnaces are concerned, it is hardly to be expected that much relief from smoke is likely to be had while coal remains as plentiful and cheap as now. (It has been estimated that the Pittsburgh deposits are likely to last two hundred years or more, according to the rate of increase in production.)

But the most of the furnaces are situated outside of the city proper, and the annoyance of smoke and soot from the steel and iron works is less than is generally supposed. Many visitors express surprise over the small amount of smoke, as compared with what was expected; and it is not unusual to hear it said that Pittsburgh is not perceptibly smokier than many other places.

But the Pittsburgher makes no such claim. The Iron City is blacker and more smoky than most towns; although it is certainly not so bad as its reputation. And it is going to be very much better. For years those of her citizens interested in civic improvement have been fighting for a smoke ordinance; and now one has been carried through—a good one, which will stand: it has been framed upon corrective and improved lines. The people have learned through hard experience how to do some things effectively. Establishments that have for years taken advantage of Pittsburgh's sooty reputation, and so allowed their chimneys to belch incontinently, are already being restrained.

Compared with many large manufacturing cities, the physical conditions in Pittsburgh do not render it an especially undesirable place of residence; and a little journey through the East End divisions of Oakland, East Liberty or Swissvale would convince almost any person who views the miles of handsome residences and well-kept grounds. And the surroundings and suburbs extending for miles down the Ohio River are quite unusually beautiful. Moreover, contrary to a supposition which prevails in other places, Pittsburgh is not unhealthful. According to the statistics, Allegheny County will bear comparison in healthfulness with almost any of the larger centers of population.

Architecturally, there is much that can be said for Pittsburgh, as compared with other cities of equal prominence; and a good deal has been written thereon. The Allegheny County Court House stands