Difference between revisions of "Pittsburgh"
Revision as of 12:16, 5 July 2013
Pittsburgh  is a city of about 350,000 in Allegheny County, at the center of the Pittsburgh Region in southwestern Pennsylvania; the population of its metropolitan area is about 2.4 million. It is situated at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, which meet to form the Ohio River. Pittsburgh's unique terrain has resulted in an unusual city design and a hodge-podge of unique neighborhood "pockets" with diverse ethnic and architectural heritage. Pittsburgh has a rich history and, for its size, an unusual array of cultural treasures, largely thanks to the wealth that was generated when Pittsburgh was a hub of industry.
The pleasure of Pittsburgh remains a well-kept secret. Though not built up by reputation, the city's unique combination of bridges, steep hills, and broad rivers make it one of the most naturally scenic cities in the country. Cheap food and beer abound in this true sports town and the locals are amazingly friendly.
This system of districts is based upon the Pittsburgh Wayfinder System, a series of 5-colored maps of the city you will see on directional signs throughout the city. Each color indicates a different region, while the blue lines represent the three rivers.
Each of these districts contains numerous distinct neighborhoods. The city has published a map  showing all neighborhoods, with printable maps of each.
The first European to "discover" the site of Pittsburgh was French discoverer/trader Sieur de La Salle in his 1669 expedition. The settlement of Pittsburgh began as a strategic point at the confluence of three rivers, with Britain, France, and the local Native American tribes all vying for control over this spot and thus, the region. On what is now referred to as The Point, where the rivers meet, several forts were constructed by competing French and British forces during the French and Indian War. In 1758, British general John Forbes ordered the construction of Fort Pitt, named after British Secretary of State William Pitt the Elder. He also named the settlement between the rivers "Pittsborough".
Manufacturing in Pittsburgh began in earnest in the early 19th century, and by the US Civil War the city was known as "the armory of the Union." This began a sharp escalation of industry, particularly steel and glass. By the late 19th century, Pittsburgh was known as the Steel City. Andrew Carnegie began the Carnegie Steel Company in 1892, which became United States Steel (USS) a decade later and grew to be the largest corporation of any kind in the world. Carnegie became the richest man on Earth and, along with other local magnates of industry, gave Pittsburgh cultural institutions such as the Carnegie Museums, Carnegie Library, and Carnegie-Mellon University. A number of other Fortune 100 companies have called Pittsburgh their headquarters, helping fund world-class museums, theaters, universities, and other attractions.
At the height of this industrialization Pittsburgh was notorious for its severe air pollution. One journalist, James Parton, descriptively dubbed it "hell with the lid off". White-collar workers came home in the evening as "brown-collar" workers. When asked what to do to fix Pittsburgh, the noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright famously replied with his characteristic frankness, "Raze it." Following World War II, the city launched a clean air and civic revitalization project known as the "Renaissance." This much-acclaimed effort was followed by the "Renaissance II" project, begun in 1977 and focusing more on cultural and neighborhood development than its predecessor. The industrial base continued to expand through the 1960s, but beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, the steel industry in the region imploded, with massive layoffs and mill closures.
Today Pittsburgh is a model of cleanliness due to the remediation of the polluting industrial plants in the late 1950s, as well as the gradual migration of the mills to other cities and countries. There is now only one operating steel mill in the region, Carnegie Steel's venerable Edgar Thompson Works, now a USS state-of-the-art integrated steel mill. With the implosion of the steel industry in the region, the city's population shrank dramatically, from 600,000 in 1950 to 330,000 in 2000. Remnants of the city's more prosperous past can be seen throughout the area. But while the region is still reeling from the economic collapse, Pittsburgh is now (for the most part) economically stable, as the city has shifted the economic base to services such as education, medicine, technology, and finance.
The people of Pittsburgh are indeed what make it such a unique place. The city has been shaped by its immigrants, whose specific traditions have left a lasting mark. Pittsburghers are generally welcoming, down-to-earth, and unpretentious. Pittsburgh has also recently gained attention as a burgeoning center for counter-culture.
The British were the first to permanently settle Pittsburgh, and early settlers included the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish, as well as German, drawn by mining, shipping, and manufacturing. These people formed the foundation of Pittsburgh, still physically visible in the oldest parts of the city.
By the late 1800s, the demand for labor was so strong the new immigrants - the so-called "millhunks" - began flocking to Pittsburgh, chiefly from Central and Eastern Europe. They not only provided labor, but brought their families, their languages, their churches, and other traditions. Today Pittsburgh's identity has been strongly molded by the ethnic traditions of these immigrants from countries like Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Italy, Lithuania, Serbia, and Croatia. Steeples and the bright copper onion-dome churches of the Eastern Orthodox tradition dot the old parts of town, and grandmas wearing babushkas are a common sight. Pittsburgh is also home to a large Jewish community, centered in Squirrel Hill.
Pittsburgh's modern economy has brought new immigrants from places such as India and China, along with their traditions; the Pittsburgh region today is home to a number of Hindu temples, for example. Pittsburgh has truly been a great melting pot, and continues to be as a home to thousands of students from across the world that attend the many universities in the city, especially Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
In addition, Pittsburgh has an organized LGBT community. Anti-discrimination laws inclusive of LGBT people have been enacted at both the city and county levels.
The surrounding landscape has had a huge impact on Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh's characteristic rivers and hills have shaped the city physically, economically, and socially.
Like most older cities, it was the rivers that made the city. The rivers allowed for the transport of raw materials and provided water used for making steel, and allowed for easy shipping of finished products. Today, the rivers attract mostly recreational boaters, but still support extensive barge traffic. Pittsburgh claims to have more bridges than any city in the world (only counting bridges over 20 feet, 440 or so within Pittsburgh, and over 1700 in the county) .
The hilly landscape—arguably the most rugged of any city east of the Rockies—has created unique neighborhoods; flat lands near the rivers were used for mills, while workers' houses cling precariously to the hillsides above. In many places "pockets" of neighborhoods, divided by rivers and valleys, have developed distinctly different characteristics from each other, despite being very close together. Much of the landscape, with its many unbuildable slopes, remains lush and green, and provides for amazing views.
Pittsburgh's visitor information centers offer maps, brochures and other information for tourists. The VisitPittsburgh website  offers more guides and lists of things to do.
Pittsburgh International Airport (IATA: PIT)  is the normal way in, although the area is also served by the smaller Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, primarily used by private and corporate airplanes. The airport is located near Robinson Township in Findlay, about 20 miles west of downtown, translating to about a $35 cab ride ($50 in rush hour traffic). Hotel shuttles and buses are also available, and can be cheaper. A city bus, route 28X , also connects the airport to Downtown and Oakland, taking a reasonably fast route mostly along freeways and dedicated busways, and costing much less than a taxi.
The airport terminal is relatively new, yet you will find it is quite empty in terms of passenger traffic, even after closing one of the main concourses. This is mainly due to the relocation of many USAir (now US Airways) flights to/and from Pittsburgh. When it was built it was the first "airport mall" in the country, which contains many shops and restaurants. It has been much copied since it was completed.
From your plane, you will arrive in the Airside Terminal. If you are transiting to another destination you don't have to leave this building, and this is where most of the Airmall shops are which makes window shopping a pleasant way of passing the time. Free Wi-Fi is also available (Pittsburgh's was the first "international" airport to provide such service). If you are coming to the Pittsburgh area though, you will take a light-rail shuttle a short distance underground to the Landside Terminal where you will find the baggage claim and the various transportation modes to the city and other regional locations. A Hyatt Hotel is connected to the landside terminal complex and there are several hotels (Embassy Suites and Sheraton among them) within 5 miles of the airport.
The airport is served by United, Delta, Midwest, Myrtle Beach Direct, Airtran, American, jetBlue, Air Canada and USA 3000, but US Airways and Southwest Airlines are predominant. There are non-stop flights to/from most of the major airports around the country, as well as some service to Canada and the Caribbean and limited service to Paris.
Fullington Trailways also serves Pittsburgh out of the Greyhound station. Twice daily direct Service to DuBois PA, along with one daily (5AM departure) connecting service to Buffalo, NY, and Wilkes-Barre, PA. As a Greyhound alternative, you can travel to New York City by taking the 5AM Fullington departure and connecting in Wilkes-Barre with the Martz Trailways bus to NYC, for a less-crowded bus (but longer trip).
Megabus  serves Pittsburgh with service from various cities in the Northeast and Midwest. The bus stop is located under the David L. Lawrence Convention Center just north of the intersection of 10th Street and Penn Avenue. Fares from $1 and up.
Metropolitan Shuttle  11141 Georgia Ave., Ste. 218, Wheaton, MD 20902, +1 866 556 3545 . Metropolitanshuttle offer charter buses and rental bus services.
The city proper is served by three interstate routes that spur from the triangular-shaped beltway formed by I-76 (PA Turnpike) to the north and east, I-79 to the west and I-70 to the far south. These three spurs form what locals often refer to as "parkways". As of November 2009, the Parkways West and East are signed as I-376, and the Parkway North is signed as I-279. Prior to 2009, the Parkway West's interstate highway designation terminated at I-79; however, this odd route numbering scheme has been fully corrected.
The interstate system links Pittsburgh with many cities. If coming from the east or west, your best bet into the city is I-76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. From the west, take exit 10 (New Castle) and follow I-376 east to downtown. If coming from the east, take exit 57 (Pittsburgh) and follow I-376 west to downtown. From the north, use I-79 and take the exit to I-279 south. From the south, use I-79 and take the exit to I-376 east.
Within the metro area several limited-access turnpike spur routes have been partially or fully completed recently including the Mon-Fayette Expressway linking the historic "Steel Valley" area to State Route 51 in Jefferson Hills (and eventually to Monroeville). PA Route 66 in nearby Greensburg offers a quick jump on the eastern side of the metro from I-70/I-76 (Turnpike mainline) junction area to the Kiski Valley in the northeast, and the newly completed Findlay connector offers quick access from the airport terminal to points west and south of the airport such as Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton and Wheeling, West Virginia. PA 65 along the northern section of the city of Pittsburgh, PA 28 along the Allegheny Valley from downtown through the Oakmont and 76/Turnpike area to beyond Kittaning in Armstrong County and PA 60 from the I-279/79 junction through the airport area and up through Beaver to New Castle and I-80 are all toll-free state limited access highways in the region. US 22 from Robinson through to the Findlay airport connector and on to the West Virigina panhandle and east-central Ohio offers toll free interstate like travel as well.
Amtrak, +1 800 872-7245,  services Pittsburgh with a station Downtown at Grant and Liberty, just across the street from the Greyhound depot. Two Amtrak routes serve Pittsburgh: the Capitol Limited , which runs daily between Chicago and Washington, DC, and the Pennsylvanian , which runs daily between Pittsburgh and New York City through Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh is often difficult for strangers to navigate because the roads go every which way, constrained by the rivers and hills. Many are one-way and nearly all are narrow, as they were laid out in the days of horse-and-buggy transportation. Those with a GPS navigation device should get around fine. For those without, a taxi is an option until you get used to the roads, but the public transit, operated by the Port Authority (see below), works quite well for travel within the City. If you do find yourself lost or unsure, however, do not be afraid to ask for help. Most locals are so friendly - and giving directions can be so confusing - that they might just show you to your destination themselves.
By public transit
Port Authority, (+1 412 442-2000, ) (or PAT as some residents refer to it) operates bus, light rail, and incline service.
Bus service covers much of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and, for the most part, is reliable and clean. Light rail (commonly referred to as "The T") connects the south side of the city to downtown and the stadiums, but doesn't connect to many other points of interest.
Routes can be confusing, but both the Port Authority  and Google Maps (which is perhaps better) offer trip planners. Google Maps also shows bus and trolley stops. Bus stops are typically marked with a simple blue sign reading "Bus Stop" and listing route numbers and names.
Before boarding a bus or trolley, always check Port Authority's schedules (all of which are available on their website) and confirm its destination with the driver.
Paying: The fare system PAT utilizes can be confusing, especially to visitors. Most bus and all light-rail routes utilize a "pay enter/pay leave" system; If you are traveling INTO or TOWARD Downtown ("inbound"), you pay the fare as you board the bus. If you are travelling OUT OF or AWAY from Downtown ("outbound"), the fare is paid when you reach your destination. Further adding to the confusion, at night (7PM-4AM), ALL fares on all trips are paid upon boarding the bus, regardless of destination. PAT offers a "How to Pay" page on its website .
Taxis are a good (if expensive) way of dealing with Pittsburgh's spaghetti roads until you get used to them, at least within downtown and the inner areas of the city itself. However, they can be difficult to hail on the street except when Downtown and on the South Side and in Oakland. Plan to wait a while if you call one on a night or weekend. Taxis are usually widely available outside of major hotels.
With a multitude of hills, valleys, Pittsburgh is an eclectic town to travel by car for even the natives. Very little is straightforward about Pittsburgh travel via car, but some constants help road warriors get by.
Major highways include the Parkways East, West (both Interstate 376), and North (Interstate 279). The PA Turnpike (Interstate 76) connects Pittsburgh to Harrisburg and Philadelphia while Interstate 79 provides connections to Erie in the north and Morgantown, West Virginia in the south. Other major routes include Interstate 579 (Crosstown Blvd), PA 51, PA 28, PA 837, PA 885, PA Turnpike 43 (Mon-Fayette Expressway (partially completed)), US 19, US 22, and US 30.
A trick to not getting lost in Pittsburgh is the well-kept secret of the Belt System . The Belt System consists of 5 color-coded routes along main roads, forming a unique system of ring routes around the City and county. It provides a navigational aid for motorists in unfamiliar portions of the county. These belts are long, winding circular paths which allow travelers to freely explore the city with little fear of getting truly lost. If you are hopelessly lost and encounter a Belt sign (blue, red, yellow...), following these signs is a good way to locate a main travel artery and get back on track, as they cross most major highways. If nothing else, the belts tend to eventually circle back on themselves and, at the very least, you will get back to where you started if you keep following them. Routes are marked with signs showing a colored circle.
Visitors may want to be careful of the Pittsburgh left. At traffic lights, a driver wishing to turn left will do so as soon as the light turns green, regardless of whether another vehicle has the right-of-way. This may sound strange and even dangerous, but it actually has a useful purpose; at many intersections, there is only one lane of travel in each direction, so someone waiting to make a left turn will block the traffic behind them if they cannot make the turn. While waiting to make a left turn at an intersection, you may find cars traveling the other direction will wait in order for you to make the left turn and keep the traffic behind you moving. While not done as much by the younger generation, the Pittsburgh Left still has its adherents.
Gateway Clipper  and Pittsburgh Cruise Lines  offer shuttle services to sports events at Heinz Field and PNC Park. Gateway Clipper operates all cruises from Station Square in the South Side. Pittsburgh Cruise Lines operates all shuttles to Heinz Field from Downtown, and all shuttles to PNC Park from the Strip District. If you are traveling the rivers on your own boat, be sure to check out Boatpittsburgh.com .
Pittsburgh has some fine biking trails, most of which run along the rivers. However, Pittsburgh isn't so friendly to street cycling - the streets are narrow, are often very rough, and much of the city is very hilly, so unless you're an experienced urban cyclist, it's best to stick to the trails. BikePGH  offers information for bicyclists and hosts biking events.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
Pittsburgh is home to many wonderful museums, including some truly world-class institutions. The Carnegie Museums in Oakland are absolutely spectacular; enclosed in one massive building is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, with extensive exhibits on paleontology, geology, and biology, and the Carnegie Museum of Art, with classical and contemporary works by many fine artists. Nearby is the Frick Art and Historical Center, which is the home of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick's mansion, now open for tours. In the Strip District is the Senator John Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the largest history museum in Pennsylvania, with six floors of permanent and changing exhibitions on the history of Western Pennsylvania. The Toonseum in Downtown is one of only three museums in the country exclusively dedicated to the cartoon arts.
North Side is home to quite a few museums - the Andy Warhol Museum is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world, with exhibits of the artist's life and work, recreations of portions of "The Factory", screening of films, and educational programs about the Pittsburgh-born artist as well as other contemporary and pop artists. The Carnegie Science Center, a major science museum which is another of the Carnegie Museums, and the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh are both very popular with kids. The Mattress Factory is contemporary art on the installation-scale, with several notable James Turrell works in their permanent collection. The National Aviary allows you to get up close with plenty of exotic birds.
Pittsburgh has more than its fair share of incredible architecture in many different styles, largely thanks to the wealth of its earlier industrialists and diverse influences of its many immigrants. Following the decline of the steel industry, the city has prioritized historic preservation and sustainable building as the city modernizes. Architecture buffs will find something interesting in every corner of the city, but there are some highlights:
Naturally, Downtown gets the lion's share of attention here. Walking some of the narrow downtown streets gives a very notable urban canyon effect, unusual for a midsized city. Pittsburgh has an impressive skyline for a city of its size, with the U.S. Steel Tower being the tallest building in the city. However, it's Phillip Johnson's shimmering PPG Place that captures much of the attention, with its glass pinnacles that make the building resemble a castle right out of a fairy tale. Beneath these towering structures are numerous historic buildings from the early 20th century, built by the biggest names in industry at the time. H.H. Richardson's Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail are gorgeous stone structures that still serves as a government building, while just across the street the Frick Building and the Union Trust Building are prime examples of commercial architecture from the time. Recent years have brought buildings like the David L Lawrence Convention Center, an impressive modern structure along the Allegheny River.
Heading east through Oakland, stately Victorians and large parks replace the bustle and height of downtown. This was, after all, where some of the wealthiest men of the early 20th century lived and played. Among them was Henry Clay Frick, whose house in Point Breeze is open for tours near the massive park that also bears his name. Within Oakland proper are the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and both campuses contain even more stunning architecture. Dominating the Oakland landscape is the Cathedral of Learning, the 42-story centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh campus and the second-tallest academic building in the world (the tallest is in Russia). The Cathedral is a magnificent example of Gothic Revival architecture and is also home to the Nationality Rooms, a series of rooms decorated in the themes of the various cultures that played a role in the city's development. Next door to the Cathedral is the much shorter (but still impressive) Heinz Chapel, which sports magnificent stained glass windows.
If you want to get closer to the industrial past of the city, both South Side and the area around the Strip District are home to numerous industrial buildings and old warehouses, most of them now converted into lofts, shops, restaurants, and other uses.
While many of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods may not have many stately and notable buildings (besides many churches), their urban design - how they were laid out and built, often with narrow, winding streets - can feel more like Europe than the US, and provide a great opportunity for exploring. It is sometimes easy to get lost, but with surprises around every corner, that can be half the fun. Most neighborhoods (especially those of greatest interest listed above) are very walkable and safe, and this activity is of course 100% free. Some of the most interesting neighborhoods for exploring are the South Side, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, and the North Side.
Parks and outdoors
For a city previously defined by industry, Pittsburgh has an impressive quantity of good parks to enjoy. Pittsburgh's four large city parks  are excellent places to bike, jog, walk, or play. The city parks department operates several swimming pools (including the unusual, industrial-era Oliver Bath House on the South Side, open year-round), an outdoor ice-skating rink in Schenley park, tennis courts, bocce courts, miles of biking and hiking trails, and a public golf course.
East End-South has many of the city's finer park spaces. Next door to Oakland is Schenley Park, a 456-acre park which is a haven for exercisers, sunbathers, and anyone who appreciates beautiful green space. Schenley Plaza, next to the Cathedral of Learning and Carnegie Museums, features snack stands, a carousel, and sometimes festivals. Nearby is Phipps Conservatory, which boasts stunning indoor and outdoor gardens with beautiful floral displays. On the eastern limits of the city is Frick Park, the largest of Pittsburgh's parks and the perfect escape from the city, with its naturalistic setting and beautiful woodlands.
In East End-North is Highland Park, a large park with some beautiful gardens and a couple of lovely lakes situated among the hills of the area. Within Highland Park is the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, a large zoo/aquarium complex with animals from all over the world. Point State Park in Downtown has a large fountain which marks the spot where the three rivers of Pittsburgh meet. In addition to being a favorite spot for office workers to take breaks, many festivals and special events are held in this park. Finally, the North Side is home to Riverview Park and the Allegheny Observatory.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
With tons of die-hard fans, three major league sports teams, and a long history of sports dedication, Pittsburgh is truly a great sports town. And few things define Pittsburgh like the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team, who go down in history as one of the greatest NFL franchises of all time and have one of the largest fan bases in all of American football. The Steelers play all their home games at Heinz Field in the North Side. Also in the North Side is PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB team. While the Pirates have fallen on hard times for quite a while now, they manage to keep a sizable fan base and their ballpark is considered one of the most beautiful in the major leagues. Pittsburgh is also home to the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team, the 2009 Stanley Cup winners. The Penguins play Downtown at the newly constructed Consol Energy Center, next to the former Mellon Arena (or Civic Arena), or more informally "The Igloo" for its unique architectural design.
College sports are also very big in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Panthers of the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) are very popular in the region, with teams in a variety of sports. The men's and women's basketball teams have been very competitive lately, with the men's frequently ranking in the top 15 in the NCAA basketball playoffs. Both basketball teams play at the Petersen Events Center on the Pitt campus in Oakland. The Panthers football team is also quite popular; they share Heinz Field with the Steelers. Also in Pittsburgh are the Duquesne Dukes of Duquesne University near Downtown, whose basketball and football teams remain popular, and the Carnegie Mellon Tartans of Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. The Robert Morris Colonials of Robert Morris University are in the northwest suburb of Moon Township.
Arts and music
Pittsburgh holds a number of arts and cultural festivals. Some of the favorites include the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh Folk Festival, Greek Food Festival, Three Rivers Regatta, Pittburgh Vintage Grand Prix, and Little Italy Days.
Station Square Entertainment Complex. Many different restraunts such as The Hard Rock, Joes Crab Shack, Bar Louie etc. Save room for dessert, or spend the day enjoying the show next to "The Waltzing Waters Fountain Show" in "Bessemer Court," at The New York Original Italian ice & Fresh Cannoli. Have a Mango Gelati, or a delicious shaved ice while having fun chosing your newest favorite pair of "Designer Inspired Sunglasses , and Flip Flops in "The Courtyard." "Bessemer Court" is a favorite enjoted by locals , and tourists alike.
Several different tour companies are centered around Station Square in South Side, and most of them focus on giving river tours - indeed, one of the best ways to see Pittsburgh is from the three rivers themselves, taking in views of the downtown skyline, the hillsides, the bridges, and the stadiums.
The City of Pittsburgh is home to many colleges, universities and research facilities, the most well known of which are Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Duquesne University, and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). Also located in the city are Carlow University, Chatham University, Point Park University, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and a branch campus of the suburban Robert Morris University as well as the Community College of Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. Oakland is the hub of college activity, home to CMU, Pitt, Carlow, and Chatham Universities. The greater Pittsburgh region boasts even more colleges and universities.
The city also has an extensive library system, both public and university. Most notable are the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh's University Library System, which rank 9th largest (public) and 18th largest (academic) in the nation, respectively.
ImaginePittsburgh.com , a service of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, has compiled listings from various sources onto one website, and currently lists 20,000 openings in the Pittsburgh region.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
Pittsburgh's most popular shopping districts include:
There are many outlet stores and suburban malls located in the Pittsburgh region, but not within Pittsburgh itself. For info on these, see the Allegheny County article.
See the Districts articles for individual listings.
The Pittsburgh restaurant scene is a little different than most cities. In many neighborhoods, they can be difficult to find and are often patronized mainly by locals. The hills and rivers make the roads tricky. So, if you're from out of town your best bet is to pick up a local copy of the Pittsburgh magazine and do a quick search of the "Best Restaurants" section.
Each district has its unique restaurants, but the main districts for eating are the Strip District, South Side and, of course Downtown. Mt Washington, Lawrenceville, Shadyside, Oakland, Bloomfield, and Squirrel Hill also contain a wide variety of restaurants. If you're willing to go a little off the beaten path, you'll also find gems tucked away just slightly further out which are still accessible by PAT bus.
Unique Pittsburgh dishes to try include halushky, pierogies, kolbasi, stuffed cabbage, city chicken, and chipped ham.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
Pittsburgh is a city serious about its drinking. A popular anecdote tells of the priorities earlier Pittsburghers: It's said that for every church, there's a bar across the street (and there are a lot of churches!). A Slavic drink ethic has made the city largely "a shot and a beer town." Even today, trendy and pretentious bars are scarcer than elsewhere, but almost any taste in bars and clubs can be found. The highlights are listed below, but almost every neighborhood has a fair concentration of bars.
Beer is very dear to Pittsburgh, highlighted by Penn Brewery, in the North Side, a popular German beer hall and restaurant in a beautiful historic old brewery building, which also hosts an annual Oktoberfest. The new Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh on the South Side, modeled after the legendary 400+ year-old Hofbräuhaus in Munich, is perhaps the most authentic you can get without being in Germany. In addition, East End Brewing and the Church Brew Works are two local breweries whose beers can be found on tap all over the city.
Coffee is just as important to many Pittsburghers as beer. Some of the best can be found at: Enrico's Tazzo d'Oro in Highland Park (said to be the best); Coffee Tree in Squirrel Hill and Shadyside; Nicholas Coffee downtown; and Crazy Mocha, which has many locations around town. The Strip District also has three roasters, notably La Prima Espresso.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
Downtown has the greatest concentration of hotels. It is sometimes possible to get a room at some of the top downtown hotels (the Marriott, the Hilton, and the William Penn, for example) at bargain basement prices ($45-$70) from discount sites such as priceline and hotwire, so do a search before calling the hotel itself. For those visiting the universities or other attractions in the Oakland area, there are a number of convenient options. Airport accommodations, located near the airport outside of Pittsburgh itself, are mostly in Robinson Township and Moon Township, about 12 miles west of Pittsburgh. Bear in mind that hotels close to the city are booked solidly in advance and/or inflated in price around the time of Steelers home games, so plan ahead.
Pittsburgh is one of those cities where you must use an area code even when dialing locally. The City's main area code is 412, but the new 878 area code is also used. 724 is used in surrounding areas. Use of a "1" prefix when dialing these codes locally is optional.
The city has set up a 311 hotline which allows you to receive information and access to City government services.
Almost all of downtown and much of the surrounding areas have WiFi which can be accessed free for two hours daily .
The Hill District (located between Downtown Pittsburgh & Oakland)
Homewood (located on the far east side of the city)
Wilkinsburg (located outside of the far east of the city)
Lincoln-Larimer (located on the far east side of the city)
Central North Side
Hazelwood (located to the southwest of Squirrel Hill/Greenfield)
Upper Homestead (The Waterfront is still a viable attraction in lower Homestead)
If you are in need of urgent medical or dental care, Pittsburgh is home to a number of world-class hospitals and urgent care facilities. Here is a partial list:
About 50 miles to the southeast of Pittsburgh are the Laurel Highlands, a hilly area with the highest elevations in Pennsylvania (with Mount Davis in Somerset County the highest point in the state at 3,213 feet (979 m)). The Laurel Highlands is a popular area for hiking, mountain biking, hunting, trout fishing, wildlife viewing, leaf peeping, and downhill skiing.