Welcome to Pittsburgh! What do you want to do first? Not sure yet? Well what about plans for tomorrow? …Well you still have time to decide… Where are you staying? You haven't booked a hotel yet?!?!
Historically, Pittsburgh has always contributed to the fostering of Black cultural excellence.
From being the inspiration for the works of August Wilson and the home of the National Opera House, the first prominent African American opera company in the country, to hosting well-known entertainment that included Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and so many more at the Granada Theater and Crawford Grill. Plus, one cannot forget Pittsburgh’s beloved Negro League teams, the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
Today, that tradition continues through the city’s many cultural gems. For visitors looking to immerse themselves in Pittsburgh’s Black travel experience, here are just a few of the many sites that the city has to offer.
To many in the Black community, art, no matter the form, has always been a way for individuals to express themselves, inspire others, stimulate thoughts and emotions and confront social issues. Simply put, art is a window to a person’s soul. Visitors looking to get their “art on” must put BlaQk House Collections, located Downtown, and MOKA Art Gallery & House of Culture, only minutes away, in the Hill District, at the top of their lists. These galleries exhibit art of all kinds - paintings, sculpture, carvings and more - from local artists. Additionally, those looking to take in a visual art show through a live performance must visit the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. The experience, whether it’s through dance, song, spoken word, etc., mixed with the beautiful architecture of the façade, is sure to be an exhilarating one.
While the Crawford Grill, known as the epicenter of Jazz music in Pittsburgh, is no longer around, Con Alma, located in Shadyside and Downtown, along with MCG Jazz in Manchester, offer toe-tapping experiences for Jazz-enthusiasts.
For sports fans looking to experience everything that is ‘The Great One,’ the late Roberto Clemente, a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates who made an impact on and off the field, a trip to Lawrenceville’s The Clemente Museum for a guided tour is a must. From the displays of thousands of Clemente memorabilia to the captivating stories of Clemente and how the collection was acquired, this one-of-a-kind experience will leave visitors in awe. Plus, the building’s many fascinating connections to Clemente will give visitors chills. For instance, the building - which currently houses the museum, a photography studio and Engine House 25 Wines - was once a fire station. According to the museum’s curator and executive director, the story is that the firefighters marched out of the dilapidated firehouse (so that they could start 1973 in their new location) on the evening of Dec. 31, 1972, around the same time that Clemente’s plane had crashed.
While some express themselves through art, dance or song, some do so by cooking. Food has always been a part of Black culture - whether in the church, after a service or program, or at home as part of a celebration. When it comes to good food, Pittsburgh has no shortage of top-notch eateries. Plus, taking in all that the city has to offer is sure to make any visitor hungry.
No trip to Pittsburgh is complete without visiting some of Pittsburgh’s best “soulful” restaurants and bakeries for mouthwatering treats. There’s Carmi Soul Food, in the South Side, for shrimp and grits, catfish or smothered chicken; Wings & A Prayer, in Shadyside, for prayer wings, gospel dogs, Jonah’s fresh fish and sanctified sides; Munhall’s Hilda’s Soul Food Kitchen for smothered pork chops, meatloaf or ribs; and Ms. Jean’s Southern Cuisine, in Wilkinsburg, just to name a few. And one must leave room for a visit to CobblerWorld, Downtown, for Poppin’ Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Mamie Lou’s Peach Cobbler, sweet potato pie and so much more; it’s definitely a treat for the eyes and stomach.
Pittsburgh Soul Food Festival (recently tabbed as an event Because of Them We Can would like to visit in their Black festivals you have to attend article) honors the rich history of culinary, butchery and Black food businesses in Pittsburgh since 1795 with food vendors from across Western Pennsylvania selling specialized foods along with a BBQ contest, speakers, local and national entertainment and kids activities.
Lastly, if visitors are looking for hotels not too far from all this action, the Hotel Indigo East Liberty, with its elegant décor and unique themes, which varies from room-to-room, is a great choice. It’s minutes from all the action and a great space for guests to relax and rest while enjoying the city.