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At the G-20: Pittsburgh, the former 'Steel City,' has chance to shine

Pittsburgh will show a green, high-tech face to its G-20 guests.

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CLEAN AND GREEN: Boats pass under the 6th Street Bridge near the stadium where pro baseball’s Pirates play.

Ann Hermes/ The Christian Science Monitor

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When leaders from the Group of 20 nations meet here Thursday and Friday, they will find a city that has resurrected itself.

From the roof of the city's convention center – one of the G-20 venues – the dignitaries will look out on the Allegheny River and perhaps see kayakers on a waterway that used to be a dumping ground for industry. The leaders will enjoy canapés at the Phipps Conservatory, which was founded by a captain of industry but is now a green showplace. And if the visitors are able to walk the streets, they might hear jazz or Mozart – without a smoke-belching stack in sight.

Yes, even though the football team is called the Steelers, city officials want the world to know that steel is no longer Pittsburgh's raison d'être. The city with a sooty past is now exporting its medical technology. In rivers where waste used to abound, bass tournaments are now held.

Even as the United States struggles to exit the recession, the city boasts it has 25,000 unfilled jobs.

"People hear 'Pittsburgh,' and they think an older town; they think a dirty town," says Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who proudly calls himself the youngest mayor of a major US city. "And, of course, that's not the case."

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