Difference between revisions of "Pittsburgh/Oakland"
Revision as of 20:53, 12 July 2008
Oakland  is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh's East End. Once the edge of the city, Andrew Carnegie set it up to be a cultural center with the founding of the Carnegie museums and libraries. The neighborhood continued to grow as Pittsburgh's cultural center with the growth of universities in the area, most notably the University of Pittsburgh and some parts of Carnegie Mellon. Today, the area is full of ethnic diversity, students, and others seeking out culture.
Oakland is directly accessible via the Parkway East (I-376). From downtown, important routes are to take the Boulevard of the Allies, Forbes Avenue, or Bigelow Boulevard.
Several buses heading east from downtown pass through Oakland. Of note is the EBO, which takes the East Busway directly to Oakland and back, as well as the Airport Flyer 28X. For full travel information, visit Port Authority's website .
Oakland is heavily congested, especially during school hours, as many are traveling here to either attend class or work at one of the many universities in the area. This is only complicated by the number of one-way streets. 5th Avenue is a westbound only street through most of Oakland, whereas Forbes only allows eastbound traffic.
Parking can also be fairly difficult to find, unless you're willing to park in a garage. Most of the attractions and restaurants in the area are within walking distance of each other, so this is certainly the easiest way to get around.
Although Oakland is essentially a location for schools and hospitals, there are many things to see and do there. Perhaps the most interesting for visitors is The Carnegie Library and Museums. There are three major sections in a single large building along Forbes Avenue:
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh . This is the major Carnegie library in Pittsburgh. Andrew Carnegie funded 2,507 libraries all over the world between 1881 and 1917. Most (1,681) are in the United States, but there are Carnegie libraries from Fiji to United Kingdom. This library is very large with an entire floor for fiction, another for non-fiction and a third devoted to works on technology.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History . This museum has a number of interesting collections from ancient armor, to gems and minerals, furniture and, especially dinosaurs which through funding by Carnegie were removed from tarpits in the western United States.
The Carnegie Museum of Art . A world-class exhibit space with a permanent collection of paintings that include Rembrandts, Van Goghs, Cezannes, Picassos and many more. In addition it hosts temporary exhibits from other museums all over the world and funds the Carnegie International, a biennial staging of "the most important and prestigious international survey of contemporary art in North America."
The Cathedral of Learning. A 42 story building of the University of Pittsburgh. It is gothic in style and the anchor of the university's campus. Construction was begun in 1926 and took ten years to complete. It is the tallest school building in the western hemisphere and is visible almost anywhere in Pittsburgh. Surrounding its immense commons room are the unique nationality rooms  designed by 17 different architects and constructed and decorated in the characteristic style of the 17 different nations which at the time made up the diverse population of Pittsburgh. Above this level are classrooms accessed, of course, by elevators.
Forbes Field, though it no longer stands you can visit what remains of the former home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Inside Pitt's Posvar Hall on the ground floor you can see the old home plate in a glass case on the ground. Outside, south of the building, you can see what remains of the left field wall, including where Bill Mazeroski hit the 1960 World Series winning home run against the Yankees. Every year in October, Pirates faithful will come out to the wall to listen to a recording of the game.
Heinz Memorial Chapel  located opposite the Cathedral of Learning, was built with funds left to the school by H.J. Heinz (of ketchup fame). The small Gothic chapel features amazing stained-glass windows, free tours to sample the acoustics, and concerts and recitals, typically on Sundays. See the website for calender.
Soldiers and Sailors Military Museum  is located across the street from Pitt campus, on 5th Ave.
Oakland once was home to many of Pittsburgh's sports teams. Most of their stadia have been demolished, but one can still cheer on the University of Pittsburgh Panther's Basketball team at the Peterson Events Center.
There is a concentration of different colleges and universities in Oakland that is perhaps only rivaled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The two largest and best known are the University of Pittsburgh  and Carnegie Mellon University  (called CMU for short).
Used Books Oakland is a book lover's dream. Sample any of the many used book stores to see what treasure you can find.
Pitt Paraphernalia as with any college or university, check out the school Book Center  for t-shirts, hoodies, magnets, and other souvenirs.
Put some twenty thousand college students in a small urban area and you can be sure you won't go hungry. Or thirsty. If you've outgrown college food and college bars there are also a number of very good restaurants in the area.
There is always The O. The place for some of the best fries in Pittsburgh. All along Craig St. and Forbes are restaurants ranging from Chinese and middle eastern to Subway. Here is a small sample of what's there.
Essie's Original Hot Dog Shop 3901 Forbes Ave (412) 621-7388 Better known as "the O" or "the Dirty O". Originally opened across the street from Forbes Field. Cheap food. Extremely greasy. You can get giant piles of greasy french fries for cheap. It is a good place to go after drinking. Late hours. The place is filthy. You don't want to use the bathroom. It has a reputation for being dangerous, but there is always at least one cop there at all times. Most people go for the hot dogs, french fries, or pizza. If you are in Oakland, you should at least try the fries to say you have been there.
There is also a Five Guys Burgers and Primanti Brothers near campus, and of course larger chains like McDonald's, Wendys, and Panera Bread.
Bars and Pubs
Hemingway's 3911 Forbes Ave (412) 621-4100 Excellent food. $1 Beers, and food is half off from 9pm to 1 a.m. A good variety of items. Around $10 for a meal. The crowd is mostly frat boys.
Taiwan Cafe on Forbes has excellent, cheap Chinese food and there always seems to be a group of Chinese students inside enjoying a meal. They also have a huge selection of beer.
India Garden  on Atwood is often considered one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. Good atmosphere and food. They feature a lunch buffet and half off meals from 4-5pm and 10pm to midnight.
Star of India on Craig St., near the Carnegie Museums. It is across the street from an Indian grocery store.
Tamarind located at 257 N Craig St, further away from the campuses in an old Victorian house.
Mad Mex - Atwood Street = Great food. Food is half off from 11pm-1am. Mexican food. www.madmex.com The employees are mostly punk types while the crowd is usually yuppie.
Veracruz on Forbes is frequented by students for its inexpensive Mexican food, with a focus on beans.
The chains Chipotle and Q'Doba also have locations on Forbes.
Fuel & Fuddle Oakland Avenue = [] Good food. Vegetarian friendly. It has a hipster crowd. The prices are about $10 for a meal.
Hemingways - Forbes Avenue = $1 Miller Lites, microbrew selection, combined with the food, great place to drink. A lot of girls.
Gene's Place - Louisa Street = Really cheep drinks ($2.50 mixed, $2-3 22oz beers, $5.50 pitchers). No food. Some microbrews. Mostly guys looking to drink. If you are looking to drink cheap, here is the place.
Mad Mex - Atwood & Bates = Excellent beer selection (9 or so microbrews on tap, extensive bottle selection). The frozen margarita's are great. Expensive unless you come during a drink special (430-630 for happy hour, 9-11 for evening special). Great food if you like to eat while you drink.
Fuel & Fuddle - Oakland Avenue = http://www.fuelandfuddle.com/ The crowd is hipster. They have a large microbrew draft selection (12 or so) and an extremely extensive bottle selection.
Since this is a "college town", as well as a center of research and technology, there are numerous accommodations including most of the bigname chain hotels. In addition the area has very frequent bus connections to Downtown which is only a ten or fifteen minute ride to all the large downtown hotels.