A beginner’s guide to this welcoming city

Dive below the surface to explore dozens of diverse neighborhoods in “City of Bridges”

Pittsburgh had the first cable suspension bridge, the Monongahela Bridge (1846) — Photo credited by Dave DiCello

There’s a pride that circulates among Pittsburgh residents — welcoming people willing to share their favorite parts of what makes this place tick. It doesn’t take long to learn that ‘The City of Bridges’, famous for its 446 bridges and three mighty rivers, is also having a real boomerang effect, constantly attracting locals who have left and returned to this very livable west. City of Pennsylvania.

Of course, first-timers will want to visit famous finds such as the famous red sofa at the Andy Warhol Museum and the nostalgic “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” exhibit at the Heinzau Pente Duquesne History Center (for a panoramic view of the city) and a Boutique Primati Bros. (for a hearty sandwich stuffed with fries and coleslaw). But it turns out there are many more layers in this town, waiting to be peeled away by visitors curious enough and patient enough to do so.

Explore urban green spaces

Phipps Conservatory is a quiet green oasis in the Oakland neighborhood that hosts seasonal must-sees — Photo credited to Phil Johnson II

Those who arrive with preconceptions about the past of the industrial powerhouse “Steel City” will be impressed to learn of a remarkable environmental renaissance that has taken place over the past few decades. Among other feats that have made Pittsburgh a model for cities around the world, it is home to the first green dormitory, in addition to the exquisite Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which has received an energy and clean water designation. zero as “living building”. »

In the summer of 2021, Pittsburgh International Airport became the first in the world fully powered by an independent microgrid. (It’s only fitting that this is the birthplace of famed environmentalist Rachel Carson, after whom one of downtown’s yellow Three Sisters bridges — spanning the Allegheny River — is named.)

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy strolling through sprawling city parks — from Frick to Highland — and immersing themselves in Pittsburgh’s verdant hills and distinctive skyline along its many riverside trails, perhaps with visits offered by Cycling in the village. Among hundreds of miles of rail-to-trail conversion projects in western Pennsylvania, the Great Allegheny Passage connects Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

Located approximately 70 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Waterfall is an architectural masterpiece nestled in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania. Nearby Ohiopyle State Park, ideal for hiking and white-water adventures, encompasses approximately 20,500 acres of rugged natural beauty, including the Youghiogheny River.

And just outside of town, Kennywood lures youngsters and children to a beloved amusement park that was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Today it still features three roller coasters dating back to the 1920s .

Soak up the culture of the city

The Andy Warhol Museum hosts special events, from gallery talks to intimate concertsThe Andy Warhol Museum hosts special events, from gallery talks to intimate concerts — Photo courtesy of Jin Wu

Downtown hotels make great bases for enjoying live music and theater in venues that are both grand (Heinz Hall, The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts) and intimate, like Avec Alma, a jazz bar cozy serving soulful cuisine that changes with the seasons. Loyal sports fans also appreciate the easy access to nearby stadiums on match days when the whole city is buzzing with excitement and pride.

While the Omni William Penn Hotel pampers those looking for more grandeur on a downtown stay, the Kimpton Monaco Pittsburgh Hotel brings hip, modern perks to an iconic James H. Reed Beaux-Arts style building. Guests and locals enjoy Monaco’s dog-friendly facilities, as well as the seasonal rooftop Biergarten, perched nine stories above William Penn Place. There’s also a year-round gathering space called The Commoner, which is known for its tasty tavern fare with a twist, as well as beers from popular hangouts like Cinderlands and Arsenal Cider House.

The Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, whose ultra-comfortable rooms on the upper floors offer some of the best skyscraper views, is an ideal address for visiting highlights of Pittsburgh’s cultural district like the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center, a 3,600 square foot exhibit that pays homage to the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. Consider starting the day with French toast or a breakfast croissant sandwich at Chez Sally Ann; Then, be sure to check out the seasonal pop-ups – like a winter ice rink – that liven up the Market Square.

The Heinz History Center in the Historic Strip District shares inspiring stories of people who helped shape Western Pennsylvania's past and presentThe Heinz History Center in the historic Strip district shares the inspiring stories of the people who helped shape Western Pennsylvania’s past and present — Photo courtesy of Rachelle Shoen

Besides its vast and varied artistic offering, Pittsburgh is also a world leader in the field of robotics; in 1988, Carnegie Mellon University launched the world’s first doctoral program in robotics. And on the north side, visitors can see how the city’s burgeoning space ecosystem has made exciting leaps with the opening of the Moonshot Museum, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of America’s first lander since Apollo.

At the Carnegie Science Center, “Mars: The Next Giant Leap” aims to prove how space can be accessible to everyone. The all-new interactive exhibit was created with input from students and community members who pondered questions such as “Why explore other worlds when ours needs help?” and “Can living on Mars help us live better on Earth?” » »

Nearby, 40 Nord offers a tantalizing dining experience adjoining the bookstore associated with the City of Asylum, a nonprofit that hosts the world’s largest residency program for writers living in exile under threat of persecution. . Most weeks, three to four readings, concerts or movies take place on the Alphabet City Stage which is located in the adjoining space.

Honoring Pittsburgh’s Legacy

In the 1820s and 1830s, the Strip District was home to glassworks, forges, and foundries.In the 1820s and 1830s, the Strip District was home to glassworks, forges, and foundries — Photo courtesy of Jin Wu

Getting out into some of Pittsburgh’s 90 distinctive neighborhoods is a great way to immerse yourself even deeper in local culture, whether you’re heading to Polish Hill for pierogies or Bloomfield, where “Little Italy” nostalgia coexists. with newer spots like Aptéka coveted for its Eastern European vegan dishes.

Before your explorations, we recommend visiting the Nationality Rooms inside the magnificent 42-story Gothic-style Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh; these ornate spaces set the stage for a deeper understanding of the rich fabric of the city and diverse communities.

Discover quintessential Pittsburgh in the historic Strip district, a bustling shopping area of ​​kitsch sportswear retailers, international grocers, and local vendors selling delicacies from coffee to fresh biscotti. Have a casual Italian lunch at DiAnoia Restaurant (think paninis and meatball potato gnocchi); in the evening, Penn Avenue Fish Company is the perfect place to celebrate with friends with delicious sushi rolls and BYO wine.

Located 3 miles from downtown, Lawrenceville's Butler Street is home to trendy bars and restaurants, as well as art galleries, boutiques and a historic movie theater.Located 3 miles from downtown, Lawrenceville’s Butler Street is home to trendy bars and restaurants, as well as art galleries, shops and a historic movie theater — Photo courtesy of Jin Wu

Head to Lawrenceville for tasty Tuscan cuisine at Piccolo Forno (also a BYO restaurant), followed by live music at Thunderbird Café and the Music Room. The riverside community of Millvale is another magnet for spectators, thanks to the Mr. Smalls Room, housed in a former church, and nearby breweries like Grist House and Strange Roots.

To the east, Squirrel Hill attracts bagel lovers to a wildly popular kosher Pigeon bakery (well worth the line that often forms) and tropical cocktail lovers to the welcoming venues of Hidden Port. In Wilkinsburg’s Regent Square neighborhood, discover exceptional French specialties at Boulangerie & Bistro Madeleine, and quirky artwork and neighborhood banter at L’Escape cafe in Biddle.

At East Liberty, home to Duolingo, Inc. headquarters, have lunch at Duo Taqueria; customers who practice their language skills at the window with Duo’s Español Challenge can get discounts on their Mexican-style tacos. In the Friendship/Garfield neighborhoods, hands-on classes at the Pittsburgh Glass Center allow visitors to pass behind the torch in honoring an industry that once thrived here too. In fact, before Pittsburgh became famous for “Steel City,” it was known as “America’s Glass City,” with the region’s first two glassworks opening in 1797.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's second largest city, is home to three rivers ideal for kayaking in the warmer monthsPittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, is home to three rivers ideal for kayaking in the warmer months — Photo courtesy of Dustin McGrew

Pittsburgh is a city that seems to adapt as needed, constantly reinventing itself. When steel production plummeted in the 1970s and 1980s, the city rebounded and eventually became the powerful center of education, medicine, small manufacturing, and research that it is today.

Today’s residents are excited about what’s to come, while remaining proud of this city’s unique and defining past. They also seem thrilled that their sometimes under-the-radar hometown retains the power to surprise and delight visitors – and keep them eagerly coming back.

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A beginner’s guide to this welcoming city