The Prophecies of Yinztradamus
An ancient document discovered beneath the Original Hot Dog Shop predicts Pittsburgh's future.
In a stunning development, an archeological survey of the sub-basement beneath the shuttered Original Hot Dog Shop has uncovered an ancient document. On lines of vaguely ketchup-smelling parchment, the following list of prophecies — attributed only to a mysterious figure known as “Yinztradamus” — predicts Pittsburgh’s future.
Miraculously (and very conveniently for our publishing schedule), this ancient document specifically predicts what will happen in 2021. Below, find the full list of predictions, and what our best researchers believe they might mean.
Prediction: “Near foodstuffs, the people will gather anew. A great building, miles in length, will offer merriment. Their chariots will vie for position.”
Interpretation: As social life slowly gets back to normal, it’s a safe bet that some neighborhoods will come out of the pandemic busier (or, depending on which bars and restaurants close, less busy) than they were in 2019. A good bet for some increased traffic: The Strip District, particularly along Smallman Street. The transformation of the Terminal Building by real-estate developer McCaffery moved along at a steady clip throughout 2020; those of us who haven’t been exploring much this year would be surprised to see how the landmark looks today. “As a developer, we like to make these people places,” says McCaffery Vice President Dean Welch. “It’s not just a collection of shops.” Plans for the new year, when social distancing allows, include events — perhaps music, perhaps farmers’ markets, perhaps more — to show off the development, as well as the opening of stores including a second location of Lawrenceville-based City Grows. “That side of Smallman has been quiet for some time, and we’d really like to activate it,” Welch says. Reminiscent of the changes along the North Shore in the 2000s, it is a far cry from the industrial neighborhood of decades past.
Prediction: “Amid silence on the sporting grounds, fortunes will turn, but only a partial rotation. The Steel City Nine will falter more often than they thrive.”
Interpretation: It’ll be a better, if not great, year for the Pirates. Considering that they posted the worst record in the league during last year’s abbreviated season, it pretty much has to at least be a bit better. Sounds like Yinztradamus thinks the Bucs could climb to somewhere just south of .500 as Ke’Bryan Hayes continues to develop, but not really make a playoff run.
Prediction: “The great plague will continue, even as swords are forged against it. This disease will vanish, but not before the Hunter’s Moon.”
Interpretation: OK, let’s cut to the chase: What does Yinztradamus have to say about COVID-19? Judging from this prophecy, it looks like we’re not out of the woods yet. While the release of multiple vaccines provides a path to the pandemic’s end, we won’t truly be safe until nearly everyone is inoculated — and that could be a while. To stop the vaccine from spreading, we need to reach “herd immunity,” which means that enough people are vaccinated that the disease can no longer move through a population. And, unfortunately, we don’t yet know when we’ll reach that threshold. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.” Since we’re dealing with a brand-new virus, “Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.” Will things inch back to normal this year? Probably. But it likely won’t be as soon as we want to believe.
Prediction: “The newly appointed regent, on journeying through the land, will encounter tubers betwixt grain and be dazzled.”
Interpretation: This one’s a little hard to suss out, but we think it means that Joe Biden will eat, and enjoy, a Primanti’s sandwich.
Prediction: “Upon three waterways, great beasts will return and meet one another in sport. The spectacle will draw legions, who will mingle without fear.”
Interpretation: Sounds like the Regatta will return! While the long-running water event was felled by mismanagement in 2019, someone is bound to notice that there’s a good chance the aforementioned widespread vaccination could occur right around the time of year when, traditionally, we gotta Regatta. Perhaps some enterprising body will eye up the allure of speedy boats on the three rivers as an opportunity to welcome Pittsburgh back to large-scale events.
Prediction: “Great works will be brought to the masses, captured in time. The lessons of the prior year will be learned and adopted by wise creators.”
Interpretation: While the news has been uniformly bad for regional artists and arts organizations, pandemic-era performances have had one upside: Accessibility. Streaming performance and smoothly distributed recordings, many for free, have allowed organizations to reach people across geographic and financial boundaries — and provided more opportunities to patrons for whom live-event attendance is difficult due to medical or geographic reasons. While a return to communal performance is the goal, there’s been a great leap forward in bringing art to more people.
Prediction: “A season will pass without the feline trio being vanquished. No riches will be distributed.”
Interpretation: Again, this one is a stretch. But if we’re reading it correctly, it looks like Yinztradamus is telling us that no one will successfully win a prize at the Cat Rack game at Kennywood this year. It’s hard to believe — but then again, we got much less practice in 2020.
Prediction: “Upon the northern shore, where many have ventured for great gain, a plan will come to fruition where none has succeeded before.”
Interpretation: Oh, we know exactly what Yinztradamus is saying here. Every year, someone comes up with a big idea for a new tourist attraction on the North Shore — movie screenings from your boat, a zip line from Mount Washington, that lagoon/Ferris Wheel idea. Perhaps in 2021 — given the general shakeup in entertainment options created by the pandemic — someone will actually succeed in getting a big new thing somewhere between Rivers Casino and Washington’s Landing. What will it be? On that, apparently, Yinztradamus is in the dark.
Prediction: “Donnie Iris will win a Grammy.”
Interpretation: Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like Yinztradamus. We think that someone added this one to the parchment after the fact. (Actually, it’s written in crayon.) Still, here’s hoping!