Pittsburgh. The Steel City. That’s the place where they just make steel, right? Wrong. The birthplace of Andy Warhol, the origin of the Heinz Company and a passionate sports city, Pittsburgh has so much more to offer than just heavy industry.
The City of Bridges
Sitting at the confluence of two major rivers, it will come as no surprise that Pittsburgh has a few bridges. 446 of them – a world record, boasting even more than Venice. When the first European settlers arrived in the 1700s, they had to build a number of bridges to cross streams and climb the surrounding hills. From there, the trend just continued to grow. And grow. It’s also home to the only trio of identical bridges in the world, the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson suspension bridges, which carry traffic across the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh’s North Side.
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City of Sports
The reason I first came to Pittsburgh was to watch my team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, play. I caught the hockey bug at a young age and having no link to any American or Canadian city, the Penguins became my adopted team. What a great choice I made as Pittsburghers love their sport. The Penguins have won the Stanley Cup 5 times. The Steelers are 6 times Superbowl Champions and the Pirates are 5 times baseball World Series winners. Consequently, sports chat will always be welcome when meeting new people, be it in a cab or in a bar.
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City of Art
Probably one of Pittsburgh’s most noteworthy sons is the artist Andy Warhol. Born and brought up in the Oakland area of the city, he went on to study Commercial Art at Carnegie Mellon. In 1949 he moved to New York and established himself as one of the most influential artists of all time. As a result of his prowess, there is a fantastic museum dedicated to his art on the North Shore. The Andy Warhol Museum houses over 10,000 items of Warhol’s work so if you visit just one museum in Pittsburgh, it has to be this one.
As a result of the city’s arts heritage, there is now a thriving art scene, particularly on the North Shore. The Mattress Factory maybe the most bizarre art gallery you’ve ever been to but is well worth the visit. An ‘installation art’ gallery, let your mind be challenged by mirrored rooms and graphic drawings. Probably the most mind-bending of which is a pitch black room called ‘Pleiades’.
Another aspect worth checking out is the surrounding streets. Grab your camera and take a stroll around this quiet neighbourhood. Keeping an eye out for clever graffiti and street art like the houses below.
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City of Style
With a rich arts history, it will come as no surprise that Pittsburgh is fast becoming an incredibly stylish city. Away from the gritty bars on the South Side, Penn Avenue plays host to some trendy eating a drinking spots. Check out Meat & Potatoes for up market pub food and cocktails or Butcher and the Rye for a great collection of American whiskeys.
Another stylish aspect of this wonderful city is in the hotels. Taking inspiration from the city’s heritage, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is a refreshing change to the monotony of your usual hotel chains. The rooms are adorned with images of birds and the lights are literally caged in a bird cage. This is a nod to the National Aviary, another Pittsburgh institution worth a visit. There is also an inspiring lounge area on the mezzanine floor. If sitting in your room isn’t your thing, the hand-painted furniture and eye catching art work here provide a great place to relax.
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City of Food
As much as the City is embracing the new, it’s still fiercely proud of the old. Since this city is also the origin of the Heinz Company, this is no more apparent than in some of the best places to eat in the city. If, as a child, you used to love filling a sandwich with all kinds of random items, you’ll love Primanti Bros. A Pittsburgh tradition since the 1930s, the ‘Pitts-burger’ is one the the most popular items on the menu. A beef patty joined by chunky coleslaw and fries, served between 2 slabs of sweet white bread. Delicious.
While Primanti Bros. represents the old, Smallman Galley represents the new. A launchpad for the best new restaurant concepts in Pittsburgh, this open eating space is the brain-child of 2 U.S. Navy Lieutenants. Featuring 4 different eating establishments, a bar and an espresso bar, order your food from your chosen spot and grab a seat at the large communal tables. As much as this shared dining space is incredibly social, it does throw up a major problem. Food envy. As a result, don’t be too hard on yourself for going up and ordering a second lunch!