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Pittsburgh/South Side

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Pittsburgh : South Side
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Pittsburgh/South Side

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South Side is a Pittsburgh neighborhood that contains more restaurants and bars than perhaps anywhere else in the city. It is bounded by Station Square on the west and extends 30 or more blocks to the east. On the north its boundary is the Monongahela river and it extends inland many blocks. The central artery is East Carson street on which most of the restaurants and bars are located.


Historically the area was home to the millworkers for the steel mills that once lined the Monongahela river. Since most of these workers came from eastern Europe there is a European feel to it: small homes built right next to each other, dozens of churches of various ethnic persuasions and even more neighborhood bars and small shops all mixed helter skelter together.

Today the mills are gone and shopping centers are springing up in their place. The older area is an interesting place to wander and people-watch because it is very dense and you can easily walk almost anywhere. It is one of the few places in Pittsburgh where, in the summer, people eat and drink at tables outside restaurants.

There are two main sections of Southside, the aptly named the "Flats" and the "Slopes". The flats of course are near the river while the slopes begin several blocks south of the river and extend farther south up a very steep hill. On the flats are shops, bars, restaurants as well as many interesting homes and apartments. On the slopes are houses, hundreds and hundreds of narrow, tall homes, cheek-to-jowl with one another, perched precariously on the hillside. One area of the slopes, suitable for goats, is called, appropriately, Billy Buck Hill! There are dozens of streets and pseudo-streets (steep concrete and wooden stairs maintained by the city) which residents use to get up and down. No need for a workout at the gym if you use these routes.

There is also a pretty walk right along the river that extends for miles where from the woodsy bank you can view the sleek downtown area right across river.

Getting There

From Downtown go south across the Monongahela river. There are four bridges you can use to cross the river. All intersect with East Carson Street after you cross the river. Beginning at the west end of Southside is the Smithfield Street bridge, which will take you directly to Station Square an interesting stop on its own -- see below). You may also cross a little further east using the 10th Street bridge, then turn left on East Carson street for the South Side Shops and Restaurants. Farther east, you may cross the 22nd Street bridge, also known as the Birmingham bridge. Then turn right for the South Side Shops and Restaurants. Still farther east you may use the Hot Metal bridge, so-named because it was formerly used to transport ladles of molten steel from the blast furnace on one side of the river to the rolling mill on the other. This will take you directly through the South Side Works.

On the flats you can sometimes find on-street parking on the side streets and there are also some metered parking lots.


  • Station Square at 10th and East Carson street was at one time a railroad station. The original station, fully renovated, is still there. Now housing the Gandy Dancer Saloon and the Grand Concourse restaurant, it is a beautiful example of the grand train stations of the past with a huge, beautiful colored glass skylight that seems to be a mile in the air, feaux marble columns and fine wooden appointments. You may still see a train passing on the tracks between the station and the river, but they are freight trains, not passenger trains.
In the many ancillary buildings that surround the station itself (some new, some original) is a unique entertainment and office complex. One is tempted to use the term "mall", but that really doesn't cover it. In the space between the buildings you will find several artifacts of the steel industry past on display: huge ladles and furnaces and other equipment.
  • The Gateway Clipper Fleet will give you the feel of the old days when paddle wheel boats plied the rivers in a never ending stream pushing barges and transporting passengers up and down the Ohio, Mississippi riverways. Today they will take you for a short tour of the nearby river system and point out many of the interesting sights to be seen along the water. There are also ethnic dinner and dance night cruises, where you can eat galumkies (Polish stuffed cabbage) and polka away the evening on the river. Its dock is immediately west of Station Square. Check the link out for directions, events and schedules.
  • South Side Shops and Restaurants are strung out along East Carson street from about 10th street to 27th street, an unbelievable melange of quirky shops, used book stores, tattoo parlors, mystic readers, and ... well you get the idea. Mixed in with all these are so many bars and restaurants that if you attempted to have one drink in each--people have (attempted)--you would not make it nearly from one end to the other before requiring assistance. There are fine restaurants mixed in too. The street traffic on a weekend night can be formidable, but fun if you have the right constitution.
  • South Side Works is the reconstituted site of the old Jones & Laughlin steel mill in Southside. Here's how it used to look. Today it has become a residential-commercial-industrial park, but it also has some bars and restaurants, the appropriately named, Hot Metal Grill, for example. It also contains a complete football field where the Pittsburgh Steelers practice and where, logically enough, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center maintains a center for the study of sports injuries. This is a work in progress and new facilities, including a ten theater film complex, are sprouting like mushrooms.