“Hell with the lid off”

The steel city of Pittsburgh, where G20 leaders are meeting, ironically, to talk climate change, has a Past:

Its air heavy with smoke and smog from hundreds of factories, Pittsburgh used to be once described by a local writer as “hell with the lid off”. And that was in 1860. Eighty years later, the situation had actually become worse. The local university library has an excellent archive of photographs of the city the way it was in 1940, its economic heyday. Consider the following exhibit, a street level photograph of the corner of Liberty and Fifth Avenues in downtown, not far from the David Lawrence Convention Center where world leaders will meet on September 25 to discuss the world financial crisis and the need to fight climate change. A street clock tells us the time is 10:55 a.m. but the image reminds us of night time film noir, the city’s smoky darkness punctuated by bright lights from the street and its surrounding buildings.

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