To the joy of civic boosters, Pittsburgh has often been mentioned on flattering national lists, from the nation's most livable city to one of its must-see places. But the latest list singles out, surprisingly, a local roadway for greatness: Grant Street.
The venerable Downtown boulevard has been named one of America's 10 Great Streets by the American Planning Association. Cynics may suspect this is the end of the road when it comes to these lists of civic achievement. After all, Grant Street is synonymous with politicians and the creaking political machinery of city and county government. Some voters may think of it as a street of shame.
But then it's hard to appreciate a street when it's the one to visit to argue about your property assessments or to buy a dog licence. This is where outsiders appreciate the scene more than the locals and beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
If one sign of greatness is the presence of successful corporations, like BNY Mellon and UPMC, then Grant Street has as good a claim for recognition. If the criteria include architectural treasures, like the Allegheny County Courthouse and First Lutheran Church, they too make the selection of the street seem reasonable.
So let's give two cheers to Grant Street for the recognition of its businesses and buildings, but withhold the third cheer for Grant Street, the home of political favors and patronage. That street is not such a great joy.