By now you’ve heard the buzz about the Burgh. Riverfront renewal and sunny skies make its reclaimed waterfront sparkle, while a quirky arts scene is reviving hilly old residential neighborhoods. Though not a single steel mill operates in the city today, Pittsburgh proudly embraces its industrial history along with a new tech economy. It’s where 19th-century architecture, 20th-century grit and 21st-century style merge, with intriguing results.
Pittsburgh’s growing districts
Highlighted by the Point, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River, downtown Pittsburgh is also the city’s fastest growing residential neighborhood. It’s the latest in a collection of 89 official neighborhoods whose unique charms define the city’s polyglot character. Carved into hilltops, ravines and riversides, each community has a distinct personality, but shares the same friendly vibe.
Sports, arts and recreation in Pittsburgh
Marquee names in both sports and the arts are a downtown draw. The busy Cultural District is home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Public Theater, the handsomely restored Benedum Center and dozens of smaller venues and galleries. The District is a five-minute stroll across the city’s iconic golden bridges from the homes of the Pirates (Major League Baseball) and Steelers (National Football League) on the city’s North Shore. The best way to see the sights: rent a kayak at downtown’s Kayak Pittsburgh and paddle the waterfront. Or borrow a two-wheeler from Pittsburgh Bike Share to pedal along 13 miles of shoreline trail or explore local neighborhoods.
Experience Pittsburgh’s East End
The city’s East End acts as Pittsburgh’s second downtown for two reasons: theUniversity of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. The concentration of 40,000 undergraduate and professional students, biomedical researchers and information technology giants like Google lends this district a cool, brainy vibe and an adventurous palette.
Take Lawrenceville: this red-brick Civil War–era neighborhood is now home to the city’s chicest cocktail spots, many of which are doubling down on their prime locations along Butler Street. The owners of Cure, one of the street’s most popular bistros, have added the exotic small-plates restaurant Morcilla nearby. Piccolo Forno is branching out with Grapparia, offering Italian-accented spirits and microbrews. A few blocks away in East Liberty, Spoon, Union Pig & Chicken and BRGR pull the late-night crowd.
The East End is also the traditional home of the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. Their grand Beaux-Arts facade faces Schenley Plaza, an inviting green lawn rimmed with cafes. But don’t miss other adventurous institutions. The Andy Warhol Museum (a.k.a. “The Warhol”), celebrating the hometown hero of Pop Art, and theMattress Factory, a collection of nervy installation art, are neighbors on the North Shore, along with the beloved Children’s Museum and Carnegie Science Center.
Pittsburgh from the sky
Want to take it all in from the top? A cable-car ride that climbs the 1,000-foot Mt. Washington—one of Pittsburgh’s famous inclines—is a must. Survey the skyline from the promenades along Grandview Avenue, then descend to the entertainment offerings at Station Square. This grand restoration of the old Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad headquarters honors the city’s hardworking past and its fun-loving present.
For your calendar
Thinking of visiting Pittsburgh this spring or summer? Here are some big events you may want to include in your trip.
The Pittsburgh Marathon (Sunday, May 3) attracts 30,000 participants to its citywide course each year, including elite runners, crazies in costumes, 5K joggers and pumped-up pets (who race on May 2).
In a town that loves fireworks—an integral part of every Pirates home stand—PyroFestis a must-see. Held at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Butler County, the two-day event starts May 22 and promises daytime and nighttime productions from around the world. The general admission price of $23 doesn’t include earplugs.
The ever-evolving Three Rivers Arts Festival is a free annual two-week celebration that dances through downtown. Held this year from June 5 to 14, its events include mash-ups of emerging artists, international guest performers, jazz, juried art shows and plenty of fun.
By Christine H. O’Toole