Rust Belt Arts Mecca

"Pittsburgh reaps the benefits of its 20-year investment in a downtown cultural district - and in the vitality of its young people.

Cultural districts are popular ways for cities to reinvent themselves, especially older cities past their heyday as centers of industry. Nowhere has this been truer than in Pittsburgh, home of Big Steel. Now, the city is seeing impressive results from its 20-year experiment in designing such a district.

Unlike some cities that had to start from scratch, Pittsburgh already had a core of national-caliber institutions, and a philanthropic base laid by the Heinz and Carnegie families, among others. The 14-block Cultural District was spearheaded by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in 1984. By buying up derelict historic properties, the trust's first steps were to make the area viable. Now the goal is to nurture future audiences and young artists, and to do that, the trust will have to overcome some residents' resistance to the new.

'We're the town of Mr. Rogers and Andy Warhol, which speaks of what we are and what we're becoming,' says Bill Peduto, a city councilman."

Read the full article at Christian Science Mmonitor. PHOTO BY ANDY NELSON - STAFF