Anti-Communism, The Growth Machine and the Remaking of Cold-War-Era Pittsburgh


This article develops a new perspective on urban growth machines through an analysis of the relationship between Pittsburgh’s Renaissance and cold-war-era anti-communism. In order to facilitate urban (re)development, growth machines foster a shared sense of metropolitan citizenship and a corresponding ideological belief that coalitions of business, government and other elite actors can renew regions for the collective good of their residents. During the early years of the cold war, anti-communism was a key means by which growth machines could create this shared sense of metropolitan belonging. The members of Pittsburgh’s widely celebrated growth coalition used anti-communism to advance their interests in four key ways: (1) by encouraging residents to see the Renaissance as part of the larger struggle against communism; (2) by eliminating a deeply rooted radical political culture; (3) by, in the process, curtailing opposition to their effort to remake the region into a post-industrial economy based on free capital mobility; and (4) by having it serve as a shared tactic and ideology that stitched together and legitimated capitalist development at all scales from the factory to the globe. Pittsburgh’s Renaissance provides an important example of how growth machines not only produce space, but also citizenship and the conditions of political possibility.