I’m struck by how many locals are here. Like Boston, if you grew up in Pittsburgh, it seems like you never leave. Lots of natives.
The importance of the city seems so obvious, now that I know what I know.
For starters, it’s location is strategic. It’s literally sits at the point of land where two great rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela, come together to join the Ohio River. These are massive bodies of water.
Before rail and interstate highways, how does the growing economy move its steel, industrial products and consumer products?
And it now makes perfect sense to me… That, where the Three Rivers join, the leadership of this area decided that this point should be commemorated as a major park.
Point Park is just that. It’s a monument to this area, where everyone can come and see why the area exists in the first place. And as a monument inside of a monument, a massive fountain stands at the point of Point Park.
As I look to the Ohio River, to my left is the train tracks. I see a massive freight train passing, with hundreds of cars. I see an incline up to Mount Washington, which overlooks the city. The inclines are a vestige of a past when it was difficult to access the hill tops. They are everywhere.
Also to my left is the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the exit from the city to the east across the M river.
Heinz Park, the stadium, over looks Point Park to the right.
So this is where it all begins. Point Park.
The city seems to grow out of Point Park, in a gradual incline from there, with the Allegheny to the left and the M to the right.
The M River is made for walking and biking.
Three Rivers heritage Trail is the bike/walking path that goes from downtown all the way up west side of the M river
Great Appalachian Trail goes up the east side of M River.
Lots of hills. Lots of green (Schenley, Point, Highland and Frick Park are extra special).
They talk here about the “Pittsburgh Renaissance”.
They mean by that the transition of Pittsburgh from being at the center of the industrial economy, with all of its disgusting grit, to being at the center of the knowledge economy, with the University of Pittsburg, Carnegie Mellon, and Duquesne university leading the way.
Fifth Ave., Forbes Avenue, and Center Street, Penn, and Liberty all connect downtown to these outer neighborhoods.
The neighborhoods are Squirrel Hill, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, the Strip District, Bloomfield, Oakland, Shadyside, and Southside. Like Atlanta, they each have their own pride and style.
Oakland is the Univ. of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon and Schenley Park. Fifth Ave runs through it. The University of Pittsburgh is center stage. It’s a huge urban campus, with all of the hallmarks of classical architecture great libraries, chapels etc. But everyone knows that Carnegie-Mellon is the powerhouse – where you find the rocket fuel of the knowledge economy. It is every bit as much to Pittsburgh as MIT is to Boston.
Shadyside is a great little find. A real neighborhood, centered on Walnut Street (at Ivy). Only a mile walk to Oakland, East Liberty, and Squirrel Hill. Girasole is here – Italian upscale.
Bloomfield is “little Italy”. Not a very good little Italy, but maybe they will keep trying.
Squirrel Hill is awesome. Highly diverse. Walkable. On top of a hill. Close to everything. Great houses. A great find: Everyone Noodle, the home of soup dumplings in Pittsburgh. Place is always full. Big Jewish Community here too. Frick Park is here.
Strip District is warehouses, converted. 21st street and Penn is the center. My favorite: Wholey’s Seafood Market. It’s massive and very cool retail. Like Stew Leonard’s , only better.
Southside is bars, lots of them. The main drag is East Carson. It’s a wide, flat street that looks more like Texas than Pittsburgh. One place in particular, Hofbrahaus, is a raucous German beer hall, with steins, sausages, oom-pah-pah live music. In a section of Southside called Southside Works. At night, ask Uber to take you to the Bartram House Bakery at 2612 East Carson. Easy walk from Birmingham or Hot Metal Bridge.
Lawrenceville is restaurants, lots of them. It’s 48th – 40th. Past the Strip District near Penn. it’s a hike, but a good walk takes you from 48th to 21st.
Everyone here believes that Pittsburgh, a finalist, it’s going to land the second headquarters of Amazon.
Their attitude toward Amazon is a little bit like their attitude toward all sports, but particularly the Steelers: can do.