10 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Owned 2012
From the food truck boom to Wiz's reign to the enduring wisdom of Pittsburgh Dad, our city shined bright this year.
Photo by Dave DiCello
It has been a year to remember, for better or worse. 2012 will go down in history as a year filled with the literal highest of highs (Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic jump from space) to the lowest of lows (strife in Syria, Hurricane Sandy, the events in Newtown). It will hopefully not go down in history as the year that proved those calendar-killing Mayans right, but just in case, I’m eating all of the Nutella. Doomsday doesn’t care if your butt jiggles.
One thing is certain: Pittsburgh is going into 2013 with 365 days of pure awesomeness under its proverbial belt. Here are the people, places and things that made this city an amazing place to be in 2012.
1. Wiz Khalifa tops the charts and “makes it rain” in the ’Burgh
Allderdice-proud Wiz Khalifa's fourth studio album O.N.I.F.C. debuts at no. 1 on iTunes and no. 2 on the Billboard charts, selling over 148,000 copies in the first week alone. Despite that crazy success, Khalifa drops almost $1 million on a 3,900-square-foot, eco-friendly house located on almost three acres … right here in the ’Burgh. You’ll know it by the cloud of questionable-smelling smoke hovering over it.
2. A new Hollywood star is born
Pittsburgh-filmed The Dark Knight Rises and The Perks of Being a Wallflower flicks are released, giving the city’s unique skyline and neighborhoods highly-visible supporting roles, showing the world once again just how brightly this gem of a city can shine. Even CNN.com agreed, calling us the “Hollywood of the East.” Suck it, Portland.
3. The world’s movers and shakers say, “Hey, Pittsburgh!”
Designed to give the youth of the world a chance to address the very same problems that world leaders face every day, the One Young World Summit is held in Pittsburgh over a four-day period of celebrations, meetings and events. A staggering 1,300 young leaders from more than 180 countries descend on Pittsburgh. Who else showed up to take part? Bill Clinton, Jamie Oliver and Kofi Annan, just to name a few.
4. Keeping up with the Dresdens
Fresh off of our 2011 designation by National Geographic Travel as one of the world’s must-see cities, Pittsburgh is one of only two US cities to make Departure Magazine's 10 Under the Radar Cultural Destinations, joining the likes of Dresden, Germany; Le Mans, France; and Galway, Ireland. How do you say “Suck it, Portland” in French?
5. “Aww. Yinz’r makin’ me blush, n’at. Go redd up your rooms.”
The hilarious Pittsburgh Dad video series becomes a viral smash-hit, welcoming its nine-millionth view on YouTube. That success was further cemented with Pittsburgh Dad being featured on the big screen at Steelers games and the release of a DVD chock full of Curt Wootton’s spot-on portrayal of the quintessential ’Burgh father who begs his rambunctious kids NOT TO RUN WITH THE DAMN SCISSORS. “Yinz’ll put yer eye aht, n’at!”
6. A football town with a fútbol problem?
Long relegated to playing their professional soccer matches at Chartiers Valley High School, where they competed for field time with the high school team and probably some aggressive Tiny Kickers coaches and van-wielding moms, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds broke ground on the 3,500-seat soccer-specific Highmark Stadium this year. Located right on the river at Station Square, this might be just the proverbial ticket needed for us ’Burghers to open up a little corner in our hockey-football-and baseball-(!)-loving hearts for the world’s favorite sport — NASCAR. I mean, soccer!
7. The “Tunnel to Nowhere” actually goes somewhere
Has there ever been a Pittsburgh infrastructure development more widely mocked than the North Shore Connector? Since its initial planning, we laughed about the city building a tunnel under the river when there’s already several perfectly good bridges running over it. We questioned (with humor) if perhaps we were trying to win a contest to see which city could waste the biggest sum of federal dollars. Besides, who was going to use it? And why? And then in 2012 it finally opened, giving us an easy, relatively quick and let’s not forget FREE (for a time) way to get to Heinz Field and PNC Park. Somewhere, Jim Roddey is screaming at the top of his lungs, “I TOLD YOU SO.”
8. Wouldst thou desire a spot of national recognition, sir?
Pittsburgh restaurants aren’t just sandwiches and salads piled high with french fries — although those things are certainly a delicious part of our culinary offerings. Pittsburgh’s restaurants have evolved into blue-ribbon eateries with menus of eclectic and delectable creations from world-class chefs. Proof? Lawrenceville's Cure restaurant makes Bon Appetit magazine's Top 50 New Restaurants list.
9. Dippy the Dinosaur says “Cheese!”
Not satisfied with the Internet’s obsession with simply posting overly-filtered photos of their boring meals to Instagram, Deeplocal’s Matthew Pegula one-upped Instagram to create the ’Burgh-flavored-with-french-fries-on-top Yinztagram. A free app for the iPhone, Yinztagram allows users to insert any number of ’Burghy-flavored elements into their photos. Sally Wiggin photobombs a wedding. Dippy the Dinosaur scares a puppy. Rick Sebak smiles over PNC Park. A hugely terrifying Primanti Bros. sandwich hovers over a house like an alien spaceship about to wreak havoc, which in this case is a rancid sauerkraut-flavored burp.
10. And the food trucks go boom
Pittsburgh is a lot of things — a football town, a french fry town, a town that’s better than Portland (sorry!), but one thing we haven’t traditionally been is a food truck town. But that all changed in 2012 when the food trucks started rolling in and fighting Pittsburgh’s strict food truck regulations. Now we’ve got BRGR, Franktuary, Pierogie Truck and Dozen Bake Shop rolling around town offering their delicious noms. Here’s hoping relaxed regulations will come in 2013, the Pittsburgh Taco Truck will finally open, and this little boom will become a great big KABLOOEY! Then Portland can really suck it.