I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, in a town called Beaver. For the record, I never saw one there.
To me, the most fantastic city in the world- the only city I ever knew until I was a teenager, was Pittsburgh. It had skyscrapers (some). It had an opera house. It had universities (many). It had the greatest football team, ever. I called it the Emerald City, as in the Wizard of Oz. I was awed, but I was a child.
For my younger readers, The Wizard of Oz is a beloved classic that has captured the hearts and imaginations of audiences for over a century. The Emerald City is the capital city of Oz, and it is described as being made entirely of emeralds. It is a breathtaking sight, with tall buildings and grand architecture that reflect the wealth and power of its ruler, the Wizard of Oz. However, as Dorothy and her friends soon discover, the city is not all that it seems.
Firstly, the Emerald City represents the illusion of power and wealth. The Wizard of Oz is revered and feared by the citizens of Oz, who believe that he possesses great magical abilities and can grant their every wish. However, when Dorothy and her friends finally meet the Wizard, they discover that he is just a regular man who has been using smoke and mirrors to deceive the people of Oz into thinking he has magical powers. This is a commentary on how people in positions of power can manipulate others through deception, and how easily people can be blinded by the illusion of wealth and status.
Secondly, the Emerald City represents conformity and uniformity. The citizens of Oz all wear green-tinted glasses, which give everything a green hue and make everything appear to be emerald. This creates a sense of sameness and conformity, as everyone sees the world through the same lens. It also serves as a metaphor for how society often encourages conformity and discourages individuality, as people are expected to fit into predetermined roles and follow established norms.
Lastly, the Emerald City represents the pursuit of happiness. Dorothy and her friends believe that the Wizard of Oz can grant their every wish and make them happy. However, when they finally meet the Wizard and he is revealed to be a fraud, they realize that true happiness comes from within and cannot be granted by an external source. This is a powerful message about the importance of self-discovery and personal growth, and how true happiness can only be achieved through inner reflection and acceptance.
Since seeing Pittsburgh for the first time, I have seen emerald cities in nearly in every corner of the world. But these were not kid’s eyes that saw them. Pittsburgh wasn’t all it seemed, enduring a spectacular bust (Steel)…but then having an inspiring rebirth (powered by Tech, Education, Medical, Art, and Football). I appreciate them all, in fact I love to explore them, but I am no longer awed by the shiny towers.
I do, however, still sing Somewhere over the Rainbow to my kids almost every night at bedtime.