- The Two-Day Best of Pittsburgh
- Fun and Cheap: Pittsburgh on a Budget
- Pittsburgh’s Hidden Dining Gems
- Bar Hop Like a Local
- Pittsburgh with the Parents
- Tour Andy Warhol’s Pittsburgh
- A Rainy Day in Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh Performs
- Pittsburgh’s 16:62 Design Zone
- Vegging Out in Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh’s Holiest Houses of Sin
- Pittsburgh Recreation for the Anti-Jock
- Explore the Penn Avenue Corridor
Although the Steel City is still famous for its industrial past, almost no vestiges of that era remain. Instead, at the beginning of the 21st century, Pittsburgh is nothing less than a remarkable model of what might be called Rustbelt Renewal. Formerly known as the Smoky City because of the pollution produced by its steel and coal mills, visitors today are often astonished to discover not only acres of green parkland and miles of biking and jogging trails, but also perfectly breathable air.
But the renewed and revitalized Pittsburgh is about much more than just greener flora and healthier fauna. During your exploration of the city’s 91 distinct neighborhoods, you can expect to encounter contemporary art galleries, high-end eateries, and million-dollar sports stadiums. You’ll experience all the same things you’d expect to in any middle-size American metropolis.
Pittsburghers are once again holding their heads high with an obvious sense of civic dignity. After all, in the early 20th century, thanks to its wildly successful steel-producing and banking industries, this relatively small region of the United States was among the nation’s most wealthy. It wasn’t until the late 1970s, when America’s steel industry began its eventual shift toward cheaper production in Asia, that the terminally depressed and unemployed Pittsburgh of modern popular lore was born.
And although decades have since passed, and Pittsburgh in the interim has managed to grow successful new industries, that hopelessly outdated image of the city somehow continues to thrive. It’s unfortunate that this newly revitalized modern city, with its world-class institutions of higher learning, a thriving arts scene, and its astonishingly affordable real estate, continues to be judged by a reputation that hasn’t been accurate for two decades.
But it simply wouldn’t be correct to claim that no one outside the reach of the Golden Triangle has taken notice of the uniqueness of Pittsburgh. Some of the most storied and respected news organizations in the United States have been attempting to give up Pittsburgh’s secret for years. In the New Yorker in 1989, the late Brendan Gill claimed that, “If Pittsburgh were situated somewhere in the heart of Europe, tourists would eagerly journey hundreds of miles out of their way to visit it. Its setting is spectacular, between high bluffs where the Monongahela River and the Allegheny River meet the Ohio.”
But perhaps even more impressive are the ways in which Pittsburgh is making itself known today. The newly redesigned David L. Lawrence Convention Center has won wide acclaim as the world’s largest LEED-certified green building. Pittsburgh is also now home to the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, which proudly proclaims its affiliation with Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution. On the North Side of the city sits the Andy Warhol Museum, a fascinating tribute to one of the city’s most famous sons and the largest single-artist museum in the United States.
Even the most dedicated and loyal Pittsburgher, though, will admit that the city has made its fair share of mistakes along the road to reinvention. In 2004, Pittsburgh found itself in such poor economic shape that its civic leaders were forced to declare bankruptcy. Yet it’s also true that because of the city’s extraordinarily low cost of living, Pittsburgh is now gradually becoming known as an ideal place in which to reinvent a career or to launch a lifestyle that would be prohibitively more expensive in a trendier locale.
But no matter how impressive its story of rebirth and renewal, Pittsburgh hasn’t exactly managed to conquer the world just yet. And maybe that’s why the city today is such a fascinating place. It’s a region that clearly doesn’t care to let go of the reins of its blue-collar history, and yet continues to be one of America’s most tenacious and unusual urban landscapes.
Dive into Pittsburgh’s Best…
© Dan Eldridge from Moon Pittsburgh, 1st Edition