Pittsburgh has recast itself into a pleasing blend of turn-of-the-20th-century architectural masterpieces and modern skyscrapers, consistently ranked among the nation’s most livable cities. Visitors will find that Pittsburgh has a real sense of fun, with outdoor activities on its rivers and parks, unique shopping downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods, and excellent dining in some of the state’s most interesting locales.
Pittsburgh—which was called Fort Duquesne when it was an 18th-century French fortress and trading post, and then renamed Fort Pitt under British control—lies where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River, in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania. The peninsula formed at the confluence of the three rivers grew into the downtown area, often referred to as the Golden Triangle. The city chose to put a park at its very tip, fittingly referred to as the Point; the stadium that once stood across the Allegheny from here (it was imploded in early 2001) bore the geographical imprint in its name—Three Rivers Stadium.
The city emerged as an industrial powerhouse in the 1800s, mostly due to iron and steel production. Today, the days of steel manufacturing are mostly gone, and with them the industrial pollution that earned the city the nickname “Smoky City.”
For the best view of Pittsburgh, take one of the city’s two 19th-century cable cars and travel up Mt. Washington—the views are breathtaking from up here. You can see the rivers flowing together, appreciate the city’s unique skyline, and take in the two new stadiums, which flank the site of the former Three Rivers Stadium and are home to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers. You can also drive or walk through the South Side Slopes, a unique neighborhood where houses cling to a steep hillside overlooking the Monongahela River.
Built where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River, this city on seven hills is filled with the warmth of its residents, many of whom have roots here spanning generations. There is plenty of life on the streets of Pittsburgh, where former warehouses have been turned into restaurants and many street fairs are held in trendy neighborhoods like the South Side, Shadyside, and the Strip. Rising above it all is the Duquesne Incline, a restored cable car that carries passengers up Mt. Washington for some fabulous views. And sports fans will especially enjoy the city’s rich tradition of football, baseball, and hockey.
As for getting around, the Port Authority operates daily bus and trolley service. The T, the subway that runs within the central business district, is always free. Downtown bus service is free during the day.
Pittsburgh Restaurant Reviews
You can expect an enormous variety of cuisines in Pittsburgh, a reflection of the town’s ethnic diversity. Most of these restaurants are surprisingly affordable. Many restaurants allow you to bring your own wine or beer. Higher-end dining establishments are in the downtown area.
Pittsburgh Hotel Reviews
A recent hotel building boom has given travelers more choices near Pittsburgh’s city center. More moderate accommodations can be found near the interstates, outside of town.
The Strip District, between Liberty Avenue and Smallman Street and 16th and 22nd streets, has become Pittsburgh’s nightlife center, with many bars and nightclubs. Another active nightlife district is along East Carson Street, across the Monongahela on the revitalized South Side.
In recent years Pittsburgh has seen an infusion of new stores, including some of the higher-end fashion houses.
Downtown is the place to be if you want to buy clothing or fine housewares and furniture. If you’re looking for antiques—and there are many antique stores throughout the city—check Oakland or Lawrenceville first. Pittsburgh also has plenty of interesting used-book stores.