2012 – Now That Was the Year That Was
A nostalgic look back at Cranberry’s future.
Someday in the future, perhaps 50 years from now, historians will take a new look at the way Cranberry was in the pivotal year of 2012.
They may struggle to put in perspective the gravity of all the changes that took place in that year—the ones that catapulted the township into its position as the economic, political and cultural center of southwestern Pennsylvania.
I can sympathize with their plight. That’s a lot to get your arms around. For the benefit of those here today, here's my take on what historians will see when they look back on Cranberry in 2012—and the accomplishments that followed.
2012 and the Future that Followed
First, there was what became known as the "Commercial Magnet Effect." It’s hard to say exactly when the gravitation of major corporations toward Cranberry began.
After all, Westinghouse Electric announced its relocation to Cranberry way back in 2006. By that time, companies such as McKesson and Verizon already called the area home. There also were all the energy companies and high-tech startups with roots tethered to the previous century that started populating the landscape like kudzu.
Pretty soon, Cranberry’s suburban office parks started to look more urban, with ever-taller buildings competing for lucrative leases from all the high-tech business tenants streaming into the township.
Paid parking garages were introduced for the first time. On-street parking, long a township no-no, morphed from an illegal form of behavior to one that initially was tolerated. Finally, it became a revenue-raising activity for the township.
Fortunately for motorists, traffic followed a strategic network of newly-constructed parallel roads built to spare the community from the ever-present threat of gridlock at the Route 19/Route 228 underpass/interchange.
Then there were the ripple effect. Support-type organizations moved into the area to provide such specialized services as viral marketing immunization, horizontal drill optimization, reverse-engineering consultation, admiralty-law extension and hedge-fund augmentation. Hotels, restaurants, clubs and other types of hospitality services followed.
It wasn’t long before each Cranberry resident who wanted a job was flooded with offers. It wasn’t too much later that Cranberry became so crowded with commuters from places like Pittsburgh that it had to issue special visas for its "guest" workers.
Life in Post-2012 Cranberry
Politically, 2012 also was a pivotal year for the township. The quadrennial presidential election pitted those who believed government was a valuable institution against those who insisted government was a thinly-disguised form of evil.
Cranberry’s cultural scene also was extremely active in 2012. The Cranberry Arts Society traces its start to that year. So does Cranberry's opera, cinema and dance ensembles. Representatives of different backgrounds and nationalities—many whom actually had been in Cranberry for years—surfaced in 2012. These residents became visible parts of a far more diverse constituency than previously realized in the township.
With all the changes that have taken place since 2012, Cranberry residents who lived back in those simpler, more innocent times might be forgiven for not recognizing their community after 50 years of ongoing development.
But they can derive some comfort from the fact that, at the end of the day, their township emerged as the undisputed leader of a region.