Pittsburgh technology Blast Off Apps

Mr. President, meet Pittsburgh…

A man that dies thus rich, dies disgraced

-Andrew Carnegie

As an owner of a Pittsburgh based company, Blast Off Apps, I have seen first hand that Mr. Trump choosing Pittsburgh to be his “support” was misled and he unknowingly (it seems) made the perfect case AGAINST his out of touch decision to move away from all but 2 countries and not endorse the Paris Climate Agreement. Pittsburgh, full of history and a metaphor for the country as a whole, was at best a poor choice for this declaration and at worst shows his complete inability to understand what Pittsburgh was, is and always will be, a place that everyone is welcome, fights hard for what they believe in, and always keeps society as the first benefactor of any success had.

From Ft. Duquesne & the British occupation, to Andrew Carnegie, through the newest tech-savvy Pittsburgh, progression and protecting what is right has been the backbone of this city since its inception.

The Paris Climate agreement was agreed to in late 2015 and calls on each agreeing nation to lower carbon emissions, making energy and other advancements be resilient and sustainable in the future with an ultimate target to reduce the Earth’s temperature to 1.5 degrees above Celsius (34F). This is a progressive move, Pittsburgh is progressive and always adapts to protect the future for future Yinzers.

In February or 1754, the British army set up the first fort in what is today known as Pittsburgh, Fort Prince George. In July of the following year, British General Braddock was sent to oust the French from their post at Fort Duquesne, which was born from French resistance to Fort Prince George being founded in area the French were occupying during the French & Indian war. General Braddock was defeated in this July fight and the British Empire was dealt a severe blow in the war effort.

Fresh from their defense, the French and Native American forces defended Fort Duquesne again 3 years later in September 1755. However, by November of 1755, they were outnumbered by their British foes and set fire to the base in a last act of defiance before Fort Duquesne fell to General Forbes’ forces. Pittsburgh was a name bestowed upon the area as General Forbes’ salute to William Pitt as he stood in the smoldering ash of the arson with another young, soon to be very influential person, George Washington.

The father of America and first President was amongst the group that gave Pittsburgh its name and the city’s influence over the entire country was ignited, just as the flames ignited the defiant French army’s Fort.

Being at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers which form the Ohio River, the British realize the importance of keeping Pittsburgh as a stronghold for their forces to defend the strategically important Ohio River and its tributaries. Fort Pitt, the “most state-of-the-art fort in North America”, was constructed for this purpose and was only abandoned to private ownership in 1772 in the fog of pre-revolutionary war. British governor Lord Dunmore decided to defend this Ohio River genesis again in 1774. The colonial uprising of 1776 ousted them and Fort Pitt was used as a Western headquarters for the resistance to British rule by 1777 (source).

Progression was favored and the new country was forming with Pittsburgh being essential to its formation. The first peace treaty with the Native Americans was even signed at Fort Pitt in 1778 and progressive ideas, forward thinking and action have since been the norm for a city placed at the edge of the colonial west and housing radically important features no other city could offer to stay on the edge of tomorrow.

Iron ore was being mined in the region, as was coal and other pieces of antebellum era iron industry requirements which were very important to Union forces. This iron was used to supply ammunition, artillery and many other important pieces to the Union’s eventual victory. With iconic places such as Fort Pitt Foundry and Allegheny Arsenal helping realize that victory, Pittsburgh soon became a world leader in the Iron industry.

A young man, born in Scotland to a poor mother seems an unlikely place to turn to, but it is where the Pittsburgh story continues and with this young man lies the ideals that still guide Pittsburgh to this day. 

During childhood Andrew Carnegie grew up loving the library and learning. After coming to America aboard a crowded, disease ridden ship halfway through the 19th century and during the Civil War, he began his trek to riches, but with a quintessential Pittsburghers tenacity & empathy.

With all of the good Andrew Carnegie did with his foundations, philanthropy, and corporations, one of the stains on his career with Carnegie Steel was a strike he wasn’t even present to attend to. 

Though he grew the corporation to the largest in the world on his own using his “vertical integration”, whereby he owns the whole supply chain, from mining the ore to making the steel and beyond. This is something that is a buzz word today, “what vertical are you in” is a common Venture Capital question, for example” but has its roots in Carnegie & Pittsburgh.

Carnegie was pained by a decision made by his long-time companion, Henry Frick. There was a strike at the Homestead plant. Unionization was starting to happen to help make work safer & less unfair to the working class. Children were often working long hours, quitting schooling to help the family and earn a living and losing limbs in the dangerous machinery. Factories paid their employees in money that only could be used at the company store, effectively setting up some of the same conditions their Union forefathers fought to destroy in the Confederacy during the Civil War with Carnegie overseas, Frick was given the duty of oversight. By 1890, the richest 9 percent of Americans held nearly three-quarters of all wealth in the United States. But by 1900, one American in eight (nearly 10 million people) lived below the poverty line & three severe depressions — 1873–1879, 1882–1885, and 1893–1897 (the worst of the three) — rocked the economy in the last third of the century. With hard times came fierce competition as managers searched frantically for ways to cut costs and the workers paid the price (source).

During this strike at the Homestead plant, Frick eventually came to make the decision to call in a notorious group of “security” forces, the Pinkertons. Late one night, with union flames keeping vigil at the Homestead plant, a rumor began to swirl about the impending carnage that always followed the Pinkertons. In an effort to use the cloak of darkness, the Pinkerton Security team was gliding down the Monongahela River to take care of things and end this strike by force.

As this rumor spread, men, women, and children all woke up and were waiting for them as they tried to pull into shore. A violent struggle began that ended with 2 Pittsburgh natives being killed and a dozen wounded (source) by an overzealous Pinkerton henchman which eventually led to the vessel carrying these security forces being engulfed with flames. As the citizens brought their new “captives” to the shore, they were led through a gauntlet of those men, women, and children. Some brandishing weapons, others only their fists, the captives would never forget the furry and resistance Pittsburghers can summon when you forget to take care of those that got you where you are. Thus was born the blue-collar, community-minded Pittsburgh we know today. Evidenced by the very boroughs that make up present-day Pittsburgh (130), community is a top priority for Yinzers young and old, n’at. (That story is much more involved, I barely do it justice here to show the might Pittsburgh showed at the time).

By the 1980s the world-wide availability of steel and other economic matters left Pittsburgh at a turning point & broke. In 1983, the Pittsburgh Technology Council was founded. It is one of the oldest such institutions in America. Pittsburgh then used Andrew Carnegie’s legacy, Carnegie Mellon University, to grow to what it is today being called names such as The Silicon Strip.

Carnegie Mellon was the birthplace of the Emoticon :-), but before that it was a technical school with a vision. Funded by Carnegie and others. The first expansion from its engineering roots was transformed from 2 buildings into an artistic expression of their commitment to the cutting edge and being a part of future technological revolutions.

Keeping with the blue-collar, society-first Carnegie ideals, the college soon offered many degrees and required the students of engineering to take courses in the humanities and other liberal arts to keep their perspective grounded in the reality they called present day (source). This high-tech, big picture mindset endured and by the early 1990’s Randy Pausch (singled out because of his amazing last lecture) among many others helped shape virtual reality and sewed the seeds that have become a major player in the industry today.

Today, Pittsburgh has offices from such tech giants as Uber, Oculus, Google, Amazon and many others. The city’s entrepreneurial and big picture thinking that made it a pivotal city during the formation of the country and continues until now have left Pittsburgh with bright skies ahead. Pittsburgh based companies are becoming large players themselves with names such as Duolingo (I’m currently using this to learn French, in fact) and NoWait (Recently purchased by Yelp!) being among the more notable names. Suffice to say, Pittsburgh is continuing the tradition laid out by its forefathers and founders.

With the President’s declaration that Pittsburgh was his focus, he ironically showed how ignorant he is to the very ideals the Paris Climate agreement seeks to implement for the betterment of the whole earth & the city he cited. As the history books show, Pittsburgh is born out of putting the betterment of society ahead of your own desires. Pittsburgh also embraces the new before it is known to the masses. From democracy to steel through today and tomorrow’s technology, we all do better and leave a better world for our children and our children’s children.

We are possibly on the verge of another mass extinction currently and this agreement would go a long way to showing exactly why the most Pittsburgh thing to do is agree to make Earth Great Again by following this agreement’s recommendations and have the ability to pass it on to future generations, not line individual pockets with ignorance & greed.

A man that dies thus rich, dies disgraced

-Andrew Carnegie