Pittsburgh Story Ideas
Here are just a few of the things you will find within a short drive of Pittsburgh. For more information, contact VisitPittsburgh's Marketing + Communications staff to plan your itinerary.
One-of-a-Kind Nationality Rooms
The University of Pittsburgh’s 29 Nationality Rooms are the only ones like it in the world! These classrooms located in the 42-story Cathedral of Learning represent the countries whose citizens had immigrated to Pittsburgh. The rooms were paid for by ethnic committees and designed by native architects using indigenous materials – and there’s nothing else like them! The 29 classrooms created to date are: African Heritage, Armenian, Austrian, Chinese, Czechoslovak, Early American, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indian, Irish, Israel Heritage, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Scottish, Swedish, Swiss, Syrian-Lebanon, Turkish, Ukrainian, Welsh and Yugolslav. Rooms in planning include: Danish, Finnish, Latin American, Philippine and Thai. Since 1944, members of Quo Vadis, a Pitt student organization, study the rooms in great detail and conduct guided tours for nearly 30,000 visitors each year.
Move over San Francisco, Pittsburgh’s streets are the steepest in the world. Each year, a bike race called “The Dirty Dozen” showcases Pittsburgh’s steepest and toughest hills in one ride – never getting more than a few miles away from the center of the city. The annual ride takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and features one hill – Canton Avenue – with its 38 degree grade is proclaimed to be the Steepest Street in the United States. Over the past 25 years, 479 different people have ridden the Dirty Dozen. Last year, more than 200 riders participated – and the ride is gaining in popularity.
Fairmont in a Lather
Fairmont Pittsburgh recently unveiled its signature house-made soap. The soap is made, as part of Fairmont Pittsburgh’s environmental stewardship program, using reclaimed and all natural ingredients in the hotel’s kitchen. The team creates the soap using a simple recipe of tallow, water, coconut oil, blended vegetable The tallow, or rendered beef fat, comes from a half cow that the chef purchases each week from a local farm. The culinary team uses every part of the cow. The entire process takes about two weeks and is completed entirely in the hotel’s kitchen. The soap, available in a variety of scents, is used as Fairmont Pittsburgh’s signature gift.
Urban Renewal + The Arts
Full of vibrant colors and deep meaning, the Moving the Lives of Kids for Community Mural Project – otherwise known as the "MLK Mural Project" – transforms urban blight in Pittsburgh neighborhoods into beautiful, artistic and creative murals. And, in an unusual display of courtesy even graffiti artists stay away from these breathtaking works of art that tell unique stories that uplift Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods. The nonprofit thrives on community involvement and aims to inspire inner city youth in the arts. Each of these murals is done with a staff member, an artist/designer of the piece and a group of inner-city students. To date they have succeeded in creating over 200 of these magnificent murals throughout Pittsburgh.
Art + Technology
Walking down Strawberry Way (between Grant Street and William Penn Way) is a unique experience in Downtown Pittsburgh. Artistic lighting displays and illuminated signage greet pedestrians, embedding light in walkways and paved surfaces of the historic alleyway. Listen closely and you'll hear a composition loosely based on Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, which is transmitted by a solar powered audio amplifier and computer. The music shifts slowly throughout the day and changes with each season-how cool is that? Being a core connector of Downtown's retail, financial and Cultural Districts, Strawberry Way is one of the many public art installations Downtown bringing value to and enlivening our urban neighborhood.
Art Transforms Downtown
25 years ago the Convention Center – where the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit took place – stood among a series of rundown buildings overrun with prostitutes, porn shops and XXX-movie theaters. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust was formed in 1984 to transform Downtown and turn this "adults-only" neighborhood into an example of true urban renewal that other cities strive to emulate. By holistically creating a Cultural District with restored grand theaters, contemporary art galleries, public art spaces and riverfront parks, the Trust has reinvented Downtown Pittsburgh with authenticity, innovation and creativity.
Wood Street Galleries
Where can you see the works by future masters who-rather than working in oil paints or sculpting marble-are participating in an art-and-technology renaissance so ahead of the curve and in left field that it's completely under the radar? The answer is Wood Street Galleries (WSG). Located on the second and third floors above a subway station, WSG is a project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, featuring multi-disciplinary artists from around the world. Many of the WSG artists present world premieres or North American debuts that often blend digital technologies, audio/visual innovations and interactive elements that challenge and thrill visitors.
As a business in the Strip District of Pittsburgh for the past 16 years, Enrico Biscotti has seen both growth and revitalization. The business went from being a small storefront bakery, to a unique European cafe that offers cultural cooking classes, to the City of Pittsburgh's first urban winery. Today, Enrico Biscotti is recognized as "One of America's Top Ten Bakeries."
Located in the heart of Pittsburgh's Strip District, Parma Sausage, family owned and operated for five generations, has been making traditional quality Italian meats since its establishment in 1954. Parma began production in a small aging room which housed approximately 150 pieces of dry cured products, such as salami and prosciutto. Over the years, Parma expanded and grew, utilizing its five custom built aging rooms, currently filled with tens of thousands of pieces of dry cured product. Parma attributes its growth and success to location (the great city of Pittsburgh), loyalty (generations of customers), and love (passion and commitment to making a quality product).
Pittsburgh is undergoing a green renaissance that continues to surprise outsiders. Pittsburgh is no longer the sooty city of yesteryear but a thriving metropolis offering outdoor adventures in the heart of downtown and beyond. An ever-expanding riverfront trail system and organizations offering bike and kayak rentals are helping to change the face of downtown. Kayak Pittsburgh offers kayaking excursions on the three rivers and Golden Triangle Bike Rental rents bikes to people wanting to traverse the various trails leading around and out of the city.
Yellow Kayaks are the New Green
Over 15,000 people annually use the services of Kayak Pittsburgh, a social enterprise of Venture Outdoors. Kayak rentals started in the steel city in 2004 and this mission-oriented revenue generator helps transform perceptions of what Pittsburgh is becoming and what the mighty rivers mean for the quality of life to people in the metro area. Kayak rentals are available seven days a week and beginner programs take place every Monday. The yellow boats have become iconic for the city's next renaissance, taking the foreground shot in front of the gorgeous skyline. And in a sports-crazy town, it doesn't hurt that the boats mirror the black and gold color scheme of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins and Pirates!
Growing a Park from Bad Land
The Grand View Scenic Byway Park, Pittsburgh's fifth (and newest) regional park, is being developed on 235 acres of steep hillsides and existing park space on land that was once heavily mined and denuded of plants. The Park and its phenomenal transition speaks loudly to the City's vision and rebirth as a green core, to the power of grassroots endeavors, and to the creativity and innovation of Pittsburgh's people. Already visited by more than 1 million people every year, the u-shaped Park wraps around Mount Washington's green peninsula as it rises over downtown Pittsburgh, providing a crucial tool for economic development, improved recreational opportunities and steep hillside protection.