Pittsburgh: Discovering a City of Neighborhoods
With 90 neighborhoods and districts, Pittsburgh is a city to be explored one delightful section at a time. What's most amazing about the city is the people that make up each of these neighborhoods. They are proud of the heritage reflected on their streets and willing to share their stories of strength, perseverance and triumph.
Pittsburgh's topography has paid a large part in how each neighborhood was developed. Start with a dynamic Downtown, then cross the famous three rivers — the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio — to find unique areas shaped by more than the region's distinctive and beautiful topography. Natural geographic boundaries such as sloping, wooded hillsides and rivers do their part to define, but Pittsburgh neighborhoods are also known for the clusters of attractions they offer.
Visitors can plan their itineraries by the points of the compass, focusing in turn on attractions Downtown, the Strip District, on the South Side and at Station Square, on the North Shore, and in the East End, including Oakland. Say hello to everyone you meet, and you'll be surprised at what you will learn.
Point State Park, where the three rivers meet, is the site of many of Pittsburgh's annual festivals and concerts, including the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Three Rivers Regatta and the Head of the Ohio rowing competition.
One of the most exciting developments Downtown is David L. Lawrence Convention Center. By world-renowned architect Rafael Vinoly, the stunning design features a sweeping roof that embraces the Allegheny River and open public spaces for visitors to enjoy. The Center is the first "green" or environmentally smart meeting place of its kind in the United States and one of the largest certified green building in the world.
Allegheny Riverfront Park — near the Convention Center and the "Three Sisters" bridges (the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol and Rachel Carson bridges) — is a paved walkway and green space along the Allegheny River. Visitors are be able to travel the riverfront trail from Point State Park to the Convention Center and beyond.
Located within an easy walk of the Allegheny riverfront, the Convention Center and all downtown hotels, Pittsburgh's Cultural District boasts seven theaters, which are home to film as well as as ballet, theater, opera, Broadway, symphony and contemporary dance performances. Art lovers also can enjoy visiting a number of contemporary art galleries, including Wood Street Galleries.
Architecture fans will delight in Downtown Pittsburgh's pleasing mixture of classic and modern styles. There are many gems to discover while wandering, but some must-sees include the H.H. Richardson's classic Romanesque Allegheny County Courthouse (on Grant Street) and the postmodern, glass-spired PPG Place (near Fourth Avenue).
The Strip District
Along the Allegheny River just northeast of Downtown is the mile-long stretch known as The Strip District. The Strip has become one of the city's most popular spots for great food and nightlife. Here, industrial and warehouse spaces have been reclaimed to support a bustling marketplace and provide the perfect architectural setting for the city's trendiest nightclubs, breweries and restaurants. During the day, this area serves as Pittsburgh's most popular market district, offering the freshest foodstuffs.
Located at the entrance to The Strip, the Senator John Heinz History Center profiles the people and events that shaped the region, from times of hardship to times of prosperity. There is no better place to grasp a sense of Pittsburgh's continued renaissance.
Just beyond the Strip District is the 16:62 Design Zone, which continues along Butler Street and Penn Avenue into the neighborhood of Lawrenceville. This distinctive 56-block area is the place to shop for one-of-a-kind home furnishings, antiques and objects d'art.
The South Side and Station Square
Just across the Monongahela River from Downtown (and an easy walk across the Smithfield Street Bridge), find Station Square, a shopping and entertainment complex on the site of a former railroad station and one of the city's most popular attractions. Riverboat and family sightseeing cruises on a WWII amphibious vehicle depart from Station Square. Don't miss a host of restaurants, clubs and shops — not to mention a lighted, musical fountain — in Station Square's Bessemer Court.
Leading from near Station Square to Mount Washington — a high perch that affords perhaps the best view of the city — are the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, the sole remaining examples of a once-prevalent mode of transportation in Pittsburgh. At the turn of the last century, at least 15 inclines served the working people of the city.
Along the Monongahela River on the South Side, visitors find another distinctive neighborhood on East Carson Street. Here, vintage clothing stores, bookstores, small galleries, unique shops, cozy night spots and coffee bars offer plenty of day and evening fun. In the evening, plays at City Theatre are a popular draw. The retail and entertainment complex, the South Side Works, includes everything from a movie theater, great restaurants to specialty shops.
Further down "the Mon" is The Waterfront in Homestead. This developed shopping and entertainment complex features more than 60 shops and restaurants on more than 300 acres. All are built on the site of a former steel mill. In fact, towering inert smoke stacks provide an appealing landmark for this attraction as well as a regal reminder of the region's steel heritage. Nearby, the Steel Industry Heritage Corporation has rehabilitated the old Bost Building to house exhibits on labor, steel and community heritage, as well as archives, a library, a restaurant and a gift shop.
Family fun abounds in this corner of the city. Sandcastle, a 100-acre water park, includes a boardwalk, wave pool and water rides. Nearby is Kennywood Park, where, despite the many modern rides, there remains a delightful turn-of-the-century feel complete with a connoisseur's choice of great wooden coasters.
The North Shore
The North Shore is the spot for the Pirates' and Steelers' homes. PNC Park is a 38,000-seat classic baseball park designed with a center field that opens to a dramatic view of Pittsburgh's skyline. Heinz Field is a 68,400-seat football stadium that provides another breathtaking view of the river and city.
Nearby is Rivers Casino and Carnegie Science Center, which offers SportsWorks, a World War II submarine, a planetarium and the OMNIMAX Theater. Families also enjoy the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and the nearby National Aviary, where more than 500 rare, endangered and exotic birds await guests. Other North Shore destinations include The Andy Warhol Museum, which exhibits a broad spectrum of pop art by the Pittsburgh native and The Mattress Factory, where visitors can explore the cutting edge of contemporary installation art.
Oakland and the East End
Pittsburgh's East End and Oakland are home to a number of outstanding attractions that owe their existence to philanthropists who made their fortunes in the city's early industry.
The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, founded in 1896 by Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie, are home to a fine collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and contemporary works, as well as one of the world's finest dinosaur collections, the Alcoa Hall of American Indians and much more.
Nearby, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, built more than 100 years ago by Henry Phipps, offers a feast for the senses. Tropical plants, a butterfly garden, Bonsai, miniature orchids and seasonal flower exhibits are just a few of the pleasures that await visitors in this charming glass palace. Phipps is home to one of the greenest buildings in the world, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). The CSL's innovative facility generates its own energy and earned LEED Platinum certification.
The Nationality Rooms, located in the 42-story Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus, provide a unique and memorable tribute to the city's ethnic heritage, while the adjacent Heinz Memorial Chapel boasts some of the tallest stained-glass windows in the world. Across Fifth Ave., Soldiers & Sailors National Military Museum & Memorial offers a vast collection of military memorabilia.
While in this corner of the city, don't miss Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, two walkable neighborhoods with an upscale flavor, and plenty of shopping and dining options.
Just a little further east in Point Breeze, the magnificent home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, Clayton, is the focal point of the Frick Art & Historical Center. The Frick also includes the Car & Carriage Museum, Art Museum, and an award-winning café.
More family fun is waiting on Pittsburgh's East End in Highland Park, home of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, one of only five zoos in the nation that include an aquarium. The stand-alone aquarium includes an indoor penguin exhibit and a rainforest exhibit.