30 Years: Pittsburgh offers plenty of opportunity to show off one's inner geek

Part of the 30 Years, 30 Changes series on the Pittsburgh region

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If you accept actor Simon Pegg's definition of a geek as "being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection," then Pittsburgh is feeling a lot of love.

How Pittsburgh became cool

The dawn of Pittsburgh as Geek City USA might be traced to George Romero's 1968 "Night of the Living Dead." The film reinvented zombies as relentless carnivores, and in 2006 the invasion continued when 900 people gathered at Monroeville Mall, site of Romero's "Dawn of the Dead." That first zombie walk spawned Zombie Fest and Horror Realm, which hold conventions and year-round activities here.

Pittsburgh also has become the site of annual cons including Anthrocon, the world's largest gathering of furries, and Tekkoshocon, a showcase of anime and Japanese culture. And in July, the American Mustache Institute announced it is moving to the 'Burgh.

Putting its full-time stamp on the Geek City since 2007 is the ToonSeum, an ever-expanding treasure trove that celebrates the art of cartooning and this year attracted the meeting of the National Cartoonists Society.

Pittsburgh and Batman became entwined when Coraopolis native Michael Keaton played the DC Comics character in two films and was solidified when the city served as a filming site for "The Dark Knight Rises."

And remember that the nickelodeon was introduced here in 1905 and the future of geekdom is being created at places such as Pittsburgh Google, Disney Research Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. This is a full-service Geek City: Not only are robots being developed here, but Daniel H. Wilson, who earned a doctorate in robotics at CMU, has written "Robpacolypse" and "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," just in case.


First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM


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