Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. This claim is made by many cities that celebrate their traditional enclaves, but Pittburghers seem more attached to their places than other folks in other places. It is common for natives to define their home not by city boundaries, but by neighborhood boundaries, and many are reluctant to cross rivers or go through tunnels, of which the city has many.
The outside world’s image of Pittsburgh is in flux, as is the reality of the city. While many still perceive it as an industrial town, others claim it is a renewed and refreshed hip urban enclave. Take any marketing claims (and there are many) with as many grains of salt as you like, then learn about the real Pittsburgh--a beautiful city with a stunning skyline, lots of walkable neighborhoods to live in, river trails, a lively downtown, and affordable housing.
There are of course downsides. It would be hard to call the city’s mindset “outside the box.” Public transportation is expensive and confusing, and the city and county are known for their high tax rates, their lack of immigrants, and a small working-age population.
Still, the some of its detractions can also breed attractions. The affordability factor makes new businesses and artistic ventures easy to initiate. Cultural and even independent artistic ventures are abundant, from the Pittsburgh Symphony to the Mattress Factory Art Museum, the Andy Warhol Museum, and the Garfield Glass Works.
Pittsburgh’s Southside bustles with street activity, the North Shore is a new city rising on the Allegheny, and the city boasts of a thriving downtown Cultural District.
In 2001, Pittsburgh city had a household population of 310,000, of which 157,000 (51 percent) were female and 152,000 (49 percent) were male. The median age was 37.0 years. Twenty-one percent of the population was under 18 years old and 15 percent was 65 and older. For people reporting one race, 67 percent were White alone; 29 percent were Black or African American; less than 0.5 percent were American Indian and Alaska Native; 4 percent were Asian; fewer than 0.5 percent were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 1 percent were Some other race. Two percent reported Two or more races. Fewer than 0.5 percent of the people in Pittsburgh city were Hispanic. Sixty-five percent of the people in Pittsburgh city were White Non-Hispanic. (People of Hispanic origin may be of any race.)
U.S. Census, 2001
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One of Pittsburgh's liveliest business strips, Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield is home to some of the most memorable restaurants and shops in Pittsburgh. Immerse yourself in Pittsburgh's history as a city of immigrants by stopping in at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern to enjoying real Polish food, or drop by Tessaro's or Alexander's for some Italian flavor. But don't stop there, keep the tradition going with Vietnamese and Chinese flavors. Convenient to the business district downtown or the universities in Oakland, Bloomfield is also a great place to live.
Compact and lively, Pittsburgh's downtown offers a true big-city ambience without being oppressive. Restaurants, shops, busy sidewalks, invigorating architecture, good public transport, and the occasional street fair, along with the fabled riverfront, make it a great place to be.
Within walking distance of both downtown and the North Shore, East Allegheny also contains a lively business district and an impressive number of new infill rowhouses. With an active and effective neighborhood group, East Allegheny is becoming one of Pittsburgh's favorite places to live. Don't miss a meal at Max's Allegheny Tavern.
A hideaway neighborhood above Pittsburgh's Northside, Fineview's views won't be found in too many tourist brochures. Still, they rank as some of the city's best. Get some exercise by trekking up Pittsburgh's steepest staircases and keep in mind you may just be training for the neighborhood's annual step-a-thon.
Rich in history and scarred by urban renewal, one of America' s great African-American neighborhoods is coming alive again. The Hill District is also within easy walking distance of downtown.
Mexican War Streets
This Northside neighbohood is known for its urban feel and collection of Victorian row houses. A solid gay community and lively African-American population give the War Streets a diverse feel. Visit one of the country's most unique museums, The Mattress Factory.
These are the views remembered by people the world over. Perhaps in no other city can you get a mid-view of skyscrapers from a few hundred feet. Ride up one of the city's historic inclines and return on Independence Day for one of the most dramatic fireworks displays in the world.
A collection of neighborhoods that comprise nearly a third of the city, they are generically and perhaps unfairly referred to as the Northside. Take a stroll in a unique urban park, visit the Andy Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory Museum, walk some of the cities most New York-like streets, or move in just a short distance from downtown.
Home to two of the world's great universities, Oakland's large student population makes it the most diverse neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Spend an afternoon at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and return after dark for some of the great nightlife.
One of the city's forgotten neighborhoods, Polish Hill is rich with views and affordable housing. Plus it's midway between downtown and Oakland.
Surrounded by Frick Park, it is a quiet yet energetic neighborhood. Oakland Universities and Hospitals, the Pittsburgh Zoo, and the Frick are all only 15 minutes away. The heart of Regent Square on South Braddock includes an area of village-like shops and a beautiful park with the all new "dog park," bike and hiking trails, tennis courts, playground, and soccer fields, as well as tree-lined red brick streets and unique architecture.
If you're looking for fashionable chain stores and hip restaurants, Shadyside is the place for you. A walkable neighborhood with great Victorian architecture, Shadyside is diverse, down home, and just a few steps removed from Oakland.
The Strip District
It's no secret, the Strip is the best thing about Pittsburgh. A lively produce market by day, a busy club scene at night...a visit to the strip is not to be missed. A short walk from downtown, the Strip is also pedestrian accessible to the Northside via the 16th Street Bridge.
Looking for slightly off beat culture and maybe the most coffee shops per capita anywhere outside of New York, San Francisco and Seattle? Spend an afternoon on the South Side--and don't miss a stop at the Gertrude Stein Bookstore or the John Brashear museum. See also Pittsburgh's South Side.
Home to one of the largest Jewish populations outside of New York, Squirrel Hill retains more of its immigrant flavor than perhaps any other district This busy neighborhood on the East Side opens early and remains wide awake long after other parts of Pittsburgh have nodded off.
Pittsburgh Homepage: www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us
Student Guide to Pittsburgh: www.studentguidetopittsburgh.com
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A Neighborhood Retreat on the Park
The Park House has been a part of Pittsburgh as long as most any other place has. The receipts bill the place as “Pittsburgh’s oldest tavern.” The charm of age is there certainly, but there’s more than antiqity to make the place attractive for a drink, meal or destination for neighborhood socializing. [More]
Breakfast At Dari-Villa
In some ways it’s a perfect picture of Americana. Inside the Dari-Villa restaurant it could be 1958 or 1970 or 2002--you can’t really tell. There are lots of those square plastic jelly containers offering the time-honored varieties of grape, strawberry, orange, and mixed fruit. This alone is something truly American, as I understand grape jelly is simply not available in merry old England or many other places. [More]
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