Demographics: Approximately 70% of the "under 50" population is comprised of pasty faced neo-wiggers, "fo real" thugs, and blue collar "hard asses" who all together think they're "Pittsburgh steel tough". Approximately 25% are the back biting corporate office drones, 4% comprise the decent folks who are just trying to make it through the day with as little conflict as possible, and the remaining 1% are like the 4%, except for the fact that knowing they're stuck in Pittsburgh adversely affects their well-being so much that simply meandering through a day without conflict becomes nearly impossible.
Attractions/Activities: nebulous notions that riding "the incline" (an escalator on a hillside) and going to the Carnegie museums, Mattress Factory and The Warhol are somehow fun activities to routinely engage in. And when available: taking in a Steelers, Pirates or Penguins game - to each their own. That's all I have to say about that.
Housing: Cheap, and that's exactly what you get. Utilities and taxes are by no means cheap. In fact, Pittsburgh is at the heart of the taxbelt. You want quality housing, it's going to cost - just like anywhere else. Pittsburgh is lauded for it's cheap housing simply because it has so many cheap (construction) homes.
Economy: Pittsburgh's a great place to get a job if you know somebody or if you're overqualified and willing to settle for work that pays less than what you deserve. The only fields where one can find a job: IT, Mechanical Engineering (as Westinghouse and Bechtel are the largest employers of engineers), Healthcare, and the corporate cubicle fields of Administration, Finance and Sales. Everyone with degrees/education outside of those fields has to contend with minimum wage blue collar, customer service or sales/customer service jobs.
Roads: Scatter brained, ill conceived construction and always under construction somewhere in the city and outlying suburbs. Getting from point A to point B is about as efficient and painless as having a root canal - in pieces.
Culture: aside from the opening statement and the aforementioned tourist and demographic info, their really is nothing else noteworthy about Pittsburgh (IMO). So what you have are Pittsburgh lovers who happen to be business owners that have ventured outside Pittsburgh (and liked what they saw) and try to cash in on it, by adopting, whatever it is they thought was "cool", to here in the form of a themed restaurant or a night club.
And speaking of night clubs, having visited a number of them in "the 'burgh" and other states as well, I can honestly say that Pittsburgh has, without a doubt, the largest population of wannabes and "me too!!" 's in the country. Looking at my posted "under 50 demographic" leaves little wonder as to why.
The only redeeming thing about Pittsburgh is the fact that UPMC has some world class research facilities and Children's Hospital is among the best in the country. However, neither of those factors necessarily translate as the "essence of Pittsburgh". They just happen to be in Pittsburgh.
So to all you Pittsburgh lovers: enjoy it, love it, bleed it - because you are the embodiment of the city. Just continue to stay where you are though, because you have no business spreading your "Pittsburghese" elsewhere.
A view of Downtown from the Duq Heights side of Mt. Washington, taken 9/11/02...don't hate on our 'burgh! I may have left, but I still got love.
A look at Mount Washington and the Duquesne Incline
A beautiful view of Pittsburgh skyline at night
The City from PNC Park
Downtown Pittsburgh (Golden Triangle)- and impressive skyline behind the confluence of 3 rivers. No, we're not the biggest city in the world, but who can have a skyline as cool as the 'burgh? cleveland? baltimore? philly? hell, no! Pittsburgh- the city of champions!
Also, there is so much water. Three rivers meet at an area Pittsburghers have come to call The Point, and there's a cool fountain and picnic area there. Pittsburgh is also notorious for flooding.
Finally, Pittsburgh's weather is off-the-wall. It's May as I'm writing this, and we had snow two weeks ago, warm-ish rain last week, and this week we're expecting it to be cold. Still.