Thanks to a former Pittsburgh resident, who I met many years ago when I was working on the Kerry presidential campaign, I learned about Francesca’s in Mountain View, CA. I grabbed a ZipCar and headed south of San Francisco.
I was a few minutes late but my Pittsburgh friend Faisal had already ordered an Iron City for me. We had a lovely chat about the difference of living in Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley. Faisal mentioned that in Pittsburgh – he really had a chance to know his neighbors, and he has been in Mountain View for 5 years but doesn’t feel that sense of neighborhood community that Pittsburgh has.
Francesca’s isn’t owned by a Pittsburgher but this is the home of the Steeler Nation in the South Bay. Our bartender was from New Jersey but was a serious Steelers fan. It must have been clear that I was talking Pittsburgh – with in 30 minutes – Chris, the head of the South Bay Steeler Nation came over to talk Steelers.
Chris is from Connecticut but has been a lifelong Steelers fan. He started gathering with a few fans, who are now friends, at a bar called the Sports Page. The group has grown and moved to larger space at Francesca’s.
The South Bay Steelers can be found online at www.SouthBaySteelers.com which leads to their meet up page.
They now have over 100 members and gather for every game at Francesca’s. Before I left I spoke with some other Pittsburgh folks who were in the bar and Chris insisted I see their banner – the photo doesn’t due it justice – but this banner would cover the size of a small building.
An update from the plane portion of the trip. I’m going to do my best to post regular updates about this trip here on the blog. I started writing this post on my plane ride to California. I thought a good first post might be to explain why I want to participate in a cross-country train trip. I’ll be posting updates about the trip here on this blog and on the United States of Pittsburgh Facebook Page and on Twitter @USofPGH.
If you are a regular reader of the IheartPGH twitter feed you know that I often post about transit in Western PA.
I think my interest in train travel is two-fold:
- a fascination of the history of travel around this country before the car and
- the need to find ways to move around this country that don’t involve putting more cars on the road.
Here is what I’m going to be looking at during this trip:
- transit and trains – how do people get from here to there
- Pittsburgh People around the United States – I’ll be stopping in each of the cities and visiting businesses owned by Pittsbughers
- community places and spaces – in each of the cities where the train stops we will be working out of a hub.
A month ago I was driving back from Buffalo, NY to Pittsburgh. And I was thinking how nice it would be to be able to take a train from Pittsburgh to Erie, spend the day at the beach and take a train back later that evening.
Last week the Urban Hike group took a walking tour of West View. West View had a large amusement park and was located on a trolley line. The trolley line is gone and the amusement park is now a stripmall and a k-mart.
I think transit in the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny county is important and we need to spend more time talking about transit and sharing ideas. We have had some success and are seeing more transit oriented development. (we’ve still got to work on a better way to get to the Pittsburgh airport). I am also really interested in transit, both planes and trains, to and from Pittsburgh. I am interested in what can be learned from the past and what can we learn from other cities about transportation.