Comparison Between Pittsburgh and Copenhagen

This past weekend I returned from New York City, a unique city often referred to as the “concrete jungle”. Despite the fact that this nickname often refers to the endless blocks of manmade skyscrapers, the word jungle is an interesting choice – as one of the most defining features of New York City is Central Park, a unique expanse of vast green space in the middle of the city. I feel that, contrary to Pittsburgh, this inclusion of greenery as an integral part of the city serves to make New York have the same camaraderie as Copenhagen, despite the fact that it is one of the most hectic and least laid back cities in America. Because the buildings take up the majority of the square footage of the city, the space within the city limits is made to be multipurpose. There are small areas in between two city streets filled with tables and chairs for people to sit and talk among the cars and skyscrapers. The city itself is beautiful and its landscape has a personality, giving the people within its streets a sense of fulfillment. Sure, it’s a different fulfillment than that the city of Copenhagen provides, but it contributes something to the conversation all the same.
Meanwhile, there might be more differences than there are similarities between Pittsburgh and Copenhagen. Pittsburgh is undoubtedly a beautiful city – but its beauty can be more appreciated by looking at the sum of its parts. For example, the skyline of Pittsburgh, while iconic, is best viewed from across the river from the city limits, overlooking the peninsula from atop a mountain. Meanwhile, Copenhagen’s beauty is constant and enveloping: each building has a historic dignity to it, so that from every angle its beauty can be seen and valued.
Pittsburgh is filled with commuters. This practice affects the ability for its people to connect with each other. Copenhagen encourages biking and walking to help the environment; in New York walking is commonplace because all of the cabs, cars, and tourists clog the city streets and make traveling by foot the fastest way to get to a destination. Despite the different reasons, the outcomes are the same: there are more people out and about in the city streets, giving it life, than there are in Pittsburgh. Truly, I think that connecting with others and with the place in which you live is what leads to happiness. So, I think that the happiness levels in Copenhagen are directly related to how the city works with the natural landscape and light instead of, like Pittsburgh, in spite of it.


  1. evillavicencio says:

    I really appreciated your insightful, and detailed descriptions of each city– Pittsburgh the dark, industrial jungle, and Copenhagen the light, breezy garden. I think that this was an excellent way to compare not only two different cities, but two separate ways of life. The unique research style helped put the mental image of each city into my minds’ eye. The only question I really have is about the artistic representation of each city. I know it was mentioned in the abstract, and I would love to see each city visualized by someone who specifically researched light in these cities.

  2. Your project is specifically interesting to me because I also visited Copenhagen this summer! I think your focus on the cityscape and its role in the culture is often overlooked in the discussion of why the Danes are so happy. The conversation is usually so heavily based on social programs and the openness of the culture. Copenhagen is so unique, but I also noticed a similar feel between Copenhagen and NYC. In addition to your observation of both cities and their integration of nature, I also feel like Copenhagen and NYC have a greater reputation of color. Copenhagen’s notorious Nyhavn and NYC’s Times Square are both known for color (though in very different ways), while your description of Pittsburgh is almost monochromatic. I have never been to Pittsburgh, but your descriptions make it seem like almost a complete opposite of Copenhagen. Of course, there are surely multiple and varying reasons why Copenhagen is called the happiest city, but I think its focus on natural landscape and light surely helps, as you mentioned. I think your original post about the watercolor versus the charcoal really highlights the differences between Pittsburgh and Copenhagen, and I would love to see the final product!

Speak Your Mind