Is this the only Pittsburgh road map you’ll ever need? | Tuesday Morning Coffee

November 5, 2019 7:08 am

The Pittsburgh skyline, viewed from the Duquesne Incline. (Dllu/WikiMedia Commons)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Voters across Pennsylvania head to the polls this morning (and all day) to choose candidates for a plethora of offices ranging from statewide and county courts to county councils and township boards of supervisors. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. And if you’re registered to vote, we hope you’ll get out there and do that — no matter what party you belong to (or not).

And because we know that Election Day makes some of you get (as the saying goes) as jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs, we’re going to distract your attention away with a bit of ephemera that we stumbled across recently.

Trust us, you’ll love it.

(Image via “CityLab)

That, friends, is the only map of Greater Pittsburgh’s utterly incomprehensible highway system that you’re ever going to need.

It comes courtesy of former Tribune-Review reporter Vince Guerrieri, who put it together for the good folks at CityLab.

And, like us, he apparently tired of being one wrong turn away from West Virginia at all times.

“I grew up just across the state line in Youngstown, Ohio, but we rarely even made day trips to Pittsburgh, probably because my father hated driving there; he said it was the only place where he could see where he was going, but between the one-way streets, bridges, and rivers, couldn’t get there,” Guerrieri writes, echoing the frustration of anyone who’s every driven in one of Pennsylvania’s prettiest (and most illogically laid out) metros. “Driving back from a Pirates game once, he announced, ‘Well, we’re lost, but we’re making really good time.’”

As it turned out, an ancient Rand-McNally map of Allegheny County turned out to be the key to all of Guerreri’s problems when he moved to Pittsburgh to work in the late 1990s.

It contained a color-coded key to Allegheny County’s belt system. And if you’ve ever seen those mysterious signs around the Steel City hyping the red, yellow, or blue belt, then you know exactly what we’re talking about here.

“In the late 1940s, an engineer with the Allegheny County Department of Public Works named Joseph White devised this color-coded series of five routes that traversed, or, in some instances, made a complete circle throughout the county,” he wrote. “The routes used existing two-lane roads, not limited-access highways, and their concentric patterns offered drivers various means of getting around the area without having to go downtown. (A pedestrian-friendly sixth route—the two-mile Purple Belt in downtown Pittsburgh—was added in the mid-1990s.)”

For a day trip to Kennywood, for example, Guerreri continues, “I just had to turn out of my parking lot onto the Yellow Belt and it would guide me right there, past the beautiful Art Deco Allegheny County Airport.”

The Belt system, Guerreri concludes, turned him into “an accomplished Yinzer.”

And now you can be too.

We’ll see you all back here a bit later on for election news.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
You’ll be able to cast a ballot on the Marsy’s Law victims’ rights amendment today. But the state Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s order putting the brakes on tallying that vote until a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is litigated. Stephen Caruso has the details.

LG John Fetterman has hired two former lifers to assist in commutation applications.

President Donald Trump trails former Veep Joe Biden, leads Elizabeth Warren in new polls of Pa., key 2020 battleground states.

Stephen Caruso has the latest on an effort by House Dems to stop a push to privatize a state-run ride service for Medicaid recipients. 

Nick Field has another look at the prominent role that Pennsylvania lawmakers have played in past presidential impeachments.

On our Commentary Page, a senior official in the Pennsylvania branch of Moms Demand Action keeps our #PennForward project rolling by suggesting that, while gun violence is a uniquely American plague, Americans can still solve it.  And a University of South Carolina scholar offers her prescription to transition coal miners out of a shrinking industry.

(Image via Flickr Commons)

Nicole Westerman
, who ran Philadelphia’s soda tax-funded Rebuild program has resigned, the Inquirer reports.
The Post-Gazette has what you need to know if you’re voting in western Pennsylvania this Tuesday.
PennLive explains how a headbutt from a dog led to successful brain cancer surgery for one central Pa. pol.
The Morning Call has your procrastinator’s guide to the key Lehigh Valley races this Election Day.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

community meeting on a North Philly school plagued by asbestos problems devolved into anger and confusion on Monday, WHYY-FM reports.
HACC students aren’t happy at all about a decision by school officials to cut mental health services at the community college, the PA Post reports. explains how off-year contests are testing Democratic strength in the south.
With a year to go before the next federal election, Roll Call has four, potential scenarios for 2020.

What Goes On.
It’s Election Day. If you’re registered, Get out there and vote. If you don’t vote, you’re not allowed to complain. As we noted above, the polls are open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. no matter where you are in Pennsylvania. And unless you’re a first-time voter, you don’t need ID. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 casts his ballot at 9:30 a.m. at his hometown polling station at Eagle Fire Co. in Mount Wolf, York County.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our former PennLive colleague, Stephen Ibanez, and to Courtney Highfield at the Greater Harrisburg Chamber/CREDC, both of whom celebrate today. Congrats and enjoy the day, folks.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Tchami. It’s ‘Aurra.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
defeated Pittsburgh 6-4 on Monday, as the Bruins racked up their sixth straight victory.

And now you’re up to date. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.