The “Pittsburgh renaissance” is a celebrated portrayal of transformation from a “rust belt” economy into a dynamic “brain belt” success story. Pittsburgh has been proffered as an aspirational prototype for Adelaide as it addresses the decline of its own manufacturing economy. Aspects of the Pittsburgh story are indeed compelling, but Pittsburgh does not provide a wholly positive model for Adelaide’s future. Its renaissance has been overstated and romanticised. Its celebrants take insufficient account of the continuing social devastation and inequity prevailing across Pittsburgh’s metropolitan and hinterland economy. Adelaide is better placed to be manoeuvred towards a more equitable economic future.