Pittsburgh has three rivers—the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio-- and five main districts—North Side, West End, South Side, East End and Downtown, all of which are comprised of many other smaller districts. Everything else, such as the
It's a short trip from the airport to Downtown. Here stand the old, classic parts of Pittsburgh, including
The North Side is dominated by two baseball and football stadiums. It's an old working-class neighborhood that is noteworthy for the interesting architecture of the many 19th-century homes that line the streets, such as the
This neighborhood is often overlooked for its busier counterparts, but West End holds its own treasures. It encompasses the Mount Washington district, and the best view from the 400-foot top of Mt. Washington. The whole city and the mighty, muddy Monongahela River are laid out below, like a postcard. Among its most interesting features are its inclined railways, or funiculars, that run up the Appalachian hills in and around the city, a remnant of the old mining industry. Still, there are many things to do in this district. The
This is the place to be on weekends, with plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance of each other. Once the crowded home to thousands of mill workers, this has become a trendy place to live and also a great place to scope out art.
This area is primarily known for its universities and ritzy neighborhoods. Both
Not originally viewed as a vacation destination, Pittsburgh was more of an industrial city in the 1800s. However, due to the quality of the arts and the beauty of the countryside, Pittsburgh began to appeal to casual visitors. Now Pittsburgh has more to offer than just big industry so both the casual visitor and the business traveler can benefit. With much to do during the day, year-round sports, late night dining, music and dancing every visitor needs a good place to sleep.
The Marriott is wired for 21st-century business needs, with an eye toward 20th-century comfort. The Westin Hotel is next to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, if you'd rather dash into town for business and stay focused on the job. Not all visitors to Pittsburgh are here on business, of course. Leisure travelers may want to have a quiet sit by the fireplace after a long day of shopping, eating or dancing at The Priory. Check out Walnut Street in Shadyside, where the Shadyside Inn is a good bargain.
If your destination is the Carnegie Museum of Art, or anything connected with the universities, you might prefer the Wyndham Garden Hotel in the Oakland neighborhood. About two miles from Downtown, Oakland has a collegiate, relaxed feel surrounded by the botanical Conservatory and museums. Another option when staying in the area is the Hampton Inn Pittsburgh University Center.
If you are on a budget and need an inexpensive place to stay try areas around the Pittsburgh International Airport or elsewhere in Allegheny County. Public transportation is rather good in this region, plus most hotels provide a shuttle and the price difference is certainly worth the additional drive. Try the Embassy Suites or the Hyatt Regency. Let the kids loose in the reliable Holiday Inn, the Marriott, AmeriSuites, Candlewood Suites, Airport Plaza Hotel, Super 8 or the Clubhouse Inn.
The earliest inhabitants of Pittsburgh were the Iroquois Indians, part of a larger nation of Native American tribes living in the region. The first European influence came from visiting British and French traders who began establishing trade routes along the nearby rivers. The first written record of the area is from 1749, when two French explorers visited the location, centered on the point at which the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River. In 1754 the French built Fort Duquesne at this critical junction, but the English overtook it in 1758 during the French Indian War. Seeing the strategic benefits of this location, the British built another fort at the same site and named it Fort Pitt after their Secretary of State, William Pitt the Elder. As it was the first of their forts not to be burned down by the French, the name stuck, and the surrounding region soon became known as Pittsborough. During this time, many farmers were drawn to the security of the fort and the area's fertile farmland, establishing strong roots in the region.
In 1770, farmers plowing the land discovered rich deposits of coal in an area near the fort. The great promise of wealth drew large numbers of people from cosmopolitan cities like Boston and New York. Minerals have been the prime industry here ever since: coal, glass, aluminum, and, of course, steel. By 1816, the booming manufacturing industry in the area prompted the incorporation of Pittsburgh as a city, and by 1840, it was one of the largest metropolitan areas in the region. A devastating fire destroyed large sections of the downtown five years later, but it was quickly rebuilt and continued to grow, modernizing its industries and cityscape accordingly. During the Civil War, the city's iron factories were major suppliers to the Union army, providing warships, armor plates and weaponry to troops. In the decades that followed, over 60 glass factories sprung up in what is now the South Side neighborhood, and in 1888, production began on a new material called aluminum, taking the manufacturing industry by storm.
Iron was a large industry here even before the Civil War, and by the time Andrew Carnegie built his mills in the 1870's, steel had developed into the giant industry of legend. Trains, suspension bridges, railways, and skyscraper girders were important exports of the factories, and by the beginning of the 20th century, new inventions like the electric toasters, light fixtures, and automobiles were keeping the city moving. Consequently, with the rise of commerce, came the birth of the labor movement- the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded here in 1881.
Pittsburgh was a major supplier of military equipment during the two World Wars, and consequently this dramatically worsened the already large pollution problem that had developed in the area. Following WWII, the city began a campaign called the "Renaissance" that was meant to promote efforts to clean the air and revitalize the cultural life of the city. These labors were not in vain, and a vibrant art world began to flourish in what was previously considered solely an industrial city.
The donations of many nonprofit organizations and wealthy benefactors helped create a strong artistic and cultural base in Pittsburgh. Dance, theater, film, and radio all have an important place in the country's entertainment industry. The city is home to many “firsts” in these sectors: in 1905 The Nickelodeon opened as the first theater in the world that only showed movies, while the world's first commercial radio station, "networked" television station, and non-commercial television station all have their roots here. This rich cultural tradition produced several well-known media figures as well. Perhaps the most famous is the late Andy Warhol, who popularized the style of Pop Art and was honored in 1994 by a museum celebrating his work. Another icon is Fred Rogers, the beloved figure of “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood” who spent much of his life living and working in the Pittsburgh area.
Sports have a long history in Pittsburgh, both on the professional and collegiate levels. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the first team in Major League Baseball to field an entirely African-American team in 1971, while the Steelers have been five-time National Football League champions. With a number of coaching legends, Olympic winners, and all-star players, Pittsburgh has gained the appellation of the "City of Champions".
Despite the infamous dip in the American steel industry during the 1970's, the economic health of the region has generally been good. Though Pittsburgh initially suffered a great deal of job losses, it rebounded and has become an example of how cities can economically diversify following a major industry shake-up. It is still home to many large corporate headquarters, and has developed strong banking, technology, and health care industries. There are hundreds of research labs on the forefront of scientific discovery, and the city boasts one of the highest populations of scientists and engineers holding doctoral degrees. Academics have always been an important part of the life of the city as well. With nearly 30 universities in the region and 10 within the city itself, a great deal of focus is placed upon higher learning. Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh have a long history of important scientific discoveries and are among the top rated establishments in the country.
In 1977, the "Renaissance II" project was launched, concentrating on the development of a stronger cultural base and promotion of neighborhood health. In fact, the city usually rates as one of the most livable metropolitan areas in the country. The FBI named Pittsburgh as the safest metropolitan area with a population of 1,000,000 or more. With a variety of parks, restaurants, museums, artistic venues, it is no wonder that Pittsburgh continues to grow.
Pittsburgh may not be as cosmopolitan as New York City or Chicago, but the sheer volume and variety of its dining and drinking options easily rival that of either of those aforementioned metropolises. An eclectic immigrant population accounts for streets dotted with restaurants serving French, Italian, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, and even some of the country's most beloved takes on traditional American fare; both the Big Mac and Heinz Ketchup originated here in Pittsburgh.
First thing in the morning, Downtown is a bustling farmer's market. The same energy flows through the lunch hour, with hordes of locals and tourists alike devouring Rubens and matzo ball soup at the Smallman Street Deli. Once night falls, the neighborhood takes on a decidedly different vibe. Converted warehouses and factories house dance clubs like Rosebud Cafe and cutting-edge restaurants like Roland's. Start your evening off right with Happy Hour at Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle. For dinner, stop by Lidia's, the Pittsburgh outpost of a world-famous Italian-food empire. Once full, take in some rock 'n' roll (and a few more drinks) at the 31st Street Pub, a factory-workers' watering hole turned hipster hangout. When the time comes, slake your late-night munchies with one of Primanti Bros.' infamous Primanti Sandwiches (meat, cheese, coleslaw and fries piled high and packed between two thick slices of Italian bread).
After the Strip, pay a visit to Market Square's 1902 Landmark Tavern offers you a taste of the Pittsburgh of old (as well as tastes of booze, seafood and grilled steaks). Caffe Amante's got many similar offerings, albeit with a strong Italian foundation, though perhaps not as strong as that of F. Tambellini Ristorante. Christo, the chef at Christo's, made a name for himself as Jackie Kennedy Onassis' personal cook aboard her personal yacht. If, rather than dinner and history, you'd prefer dinner and jazz, head on into Dowe's on 9th for soul food and live bands.
It is clear at this point that beer enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to on a trip to Pittsburgh, but perhaps none as surreal as Lawrenceville's Church Brew Works, an enormous beer hall on the site of a former church. Just a ways down Liberty Avenue is Del's Bar & Ristorante DelPizzo, in Bloomfield. Here, you'll delight in freshly baked gourmet pizza pies, or perhaps a rich veal entrée if you're feeling hungry.
This neighborhood is home to sports meccas PNC Park and Heinz Field, so the dining options tend toward the pub and tavern variety. Penn Brewery is a keeper, featuring authentic German-style lagers and hearty German cuisine, all served in a historic industrial building. The Triangle Bar is classic Americana, famous for its huge hoagies (with names like "Destroyer" and "Battleship") and popular with locals for keeping special hours in accordance with Steelers games.
This is the place to be on weekends. Carson Street is packed with a striking variety of restaurants and bars that attract everyone from yuppies to bikers. During soccer season, spend an afternoon at Piper's Pub, a place so authentically British that soccer here is called "football" and games are "matches." If you're up for it, sample a handful of the wide variety of scotches Piper's offers. Mario's/Blue Lou's Southside Saloon were two bars that went so well together, the proprietors knocked down the wall dividing them, opening up one massive complex for patrons to enjoy; stop in at Happy Hour and see this anomaly for yourself. When hunger strikes, the options never end. Pop into Donnie's for a simple, hearty sandwich. Or try Fat Head's Saloon for a sandwich that is anything but simple. Their menu of colossal sandwiches (such as "The Artery Clogger") goes well with their startlingly global beer selection. For something more formal, enjoy drinks, jazz and dinner at Paparrazi. Or visit Dish for a contemporary yet traditional take on Italian. If steak is your fancy, go no further than the Pittsburgh Steak Company, and if you prefer surf to turf and you like your surf raw, step into Sushi Two. Finally, finish your night with a game of pool and perhaps some late-night snacks at Shootz Café.
Among other things, Oakland is home to some of Pittsburgh's most beloved Indian food. Star of India is famous for its wildly popular lunch buffet. India Garden is sitting pretty as well, having been continually chosen by Pittsburghers as their absolute favorite. If spice sounds good, but you crave something with a little more of a South-of-the-border kick, venture into Mad Mex, an esteemed regional chain that serves up lovingly made monster-sized burritos (alongside your choice of a number of interesting microbrews). For a mellower meal than all of that, slip into Oakland's Spice Island Tea House, a tranquil spot specializing in pan-Asian cuisine. Vegetarians love it here!
Here, we depart from tavern-centric dining and get decidedly more eclectic. Sandwiches, salads, soups and more, all featuring fresh seasonal ingredients are the stars of the show at Cafe Zinho. Girasole also traffics in fresh and seasonal fare, this time with an Italian flair. While Italy may be on the Mediterranean, its cuisine is by no means the only dining option there. Casbah presents a broad range of specialties from countries and cultures all around the storied sea. While Casbah celebrates a whole panoply of cultures, La Feria sets its sights on just one. It is a restaurant/craft gallery dedicated to preserving and honoring Peruvian culture. Enjoy some South American soul food and then peruse the gift shop. Finally, sometimes you just crave sushi. When the mood hits you, hit Sushi Too.