Pittsburgh struggles, but also thrives

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    Pittsburgh celebrated its 250th birthday Saturday in Point State Park, at the confluence of the city's three rivers. The festivities included live performances, historical reenactments, and an extravagant fireworks display after dark. We asked some folks to show us what's been on their minds lately, as they've been considering the current economy. Above, Lynn Kaye.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Karl Thomas at Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Lynda Van Bueren in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Melissa Pust in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Janice Demblowski in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    John McNulty in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Crystal Inscho in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Maureen, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Sakina Redy in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    David Pust in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Dakota King in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Keiji Tajiri in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Jim DiNucci in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Hari Kumar in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Jim in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    Steffanie and Michael Jasper with their daughters in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner

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    The Son of Jared Leinbach in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    - Alexander Heilner


Stacey Vanek-Smith: Our special coverage of the financial crisis continues this morning with our next stop in Road to Ruin. We've sent Marketplace's New York Bureau Chief Amy Scott on a cross-country trip to see how the financial crisis is affecting different parts of the country. Thought we'd check in with her this morning. Hey, Amy, how you doing?

Amy Scott: I'm doing well Stacey, how are you?

Vanek-Smith: Fine thank you. And where'd you spend the weekend?

Scott: Well, I spent a lot of it in Pittsburgh. I visited the city's famous Strip District, where small businesses and vendors sell everything from Steelers' T-shirts to fine cheeses. And I met Anthony Freeman, who was buying some rainbow trout at Wholey's Fish Market. Freeman is a retired social worker. He's on dialysis, which he pays for with Social Security benefits. And he told me the financial crisis has already hit Pittsburgh hard:

Anthony Freeman: Everybody's losing their homes. People can't get car loans anymore. Parents are having a harder time trying to get student loans for their kids. And it's . . . I think it hit here a long time ago.

Vanek-Smith: Hmmm. How are the businesses along the strip doing? Did you have the chance to talk to any business owners?

Scott: I did, and that was one surprise. I talked to the owner of that fish market, who says business is great. A few doors down is a fancy spice store called Pensy's Spices. Its a chain based in Wisconsin, and you can buy things like extra-fancy Vietnamese cinnamon and about a dozen different kinds of pepper. Julia Locante told me the spice business is thriving as well:

Julia Locante: Our kind of theory is that since people are eating out less because of the price of gasoline, they're more inclined to want to cook at home. So it's actually kind of been a little bit of a boost for our business, because people are more interested in learning ways to jazz up their home cooking.

Scott: So Stacey, believe it or not I am finding some bright spots out there.

Vanek-Smith: Well that's good to hear, we can't have it be all gloom and doom.

Scott: Exactly.

Vanek-Smith: And where are you headed now?

Scott: Well I'm in Cleveland now, and I'll be driving into Michigan later today, which economists say has been in a recession for several years. So I'll be talking to families and business owners about how they're feeling it and what their experience might teach us about what the rest of the country might be in for.

Vanek-Smith: That's Marketplace's New York Bureau Chief, Amy Scott. Amy, have safe travels.

Scott: Thanks, Stacey.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.
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It's actually spelled "Wholey's".

"On the road to ruin"? How about "Amy and Stacy's Amazing Road Trip", where Amy learns there are actual people outside of New York City, some of whom are financially OK and some not,(all were OK in this story) and they are still buying fresh fish and gourmet pepper. Whew! I was relieved to hear it, but I'm still worried. But wait, let's just ask some more random people how they FEEL about what's happening, even if they don't actually KNOW what's happening. Marketplace has been consistently and sadly vapid in their reporting of the financial crisis. Laura Conaway, a non-business journalist at NPR's Planet Money, is far more informed and articulate than any reporters I've heard on Marketplace, a dedicated business/financial reporting entity.

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