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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is my adopted hometown. It is at the heart of Steelers country with many wonderful people, a reasonable cost of living, beautiful scenery and it was voted most livable city, and top 5 most livable city, several times.
Pittsburgh is a fascinating city and definitely worth a visit. Since I live here since 2003, I have put together a fairly extensive list of the best things to see and do so that you can make memorable moments in Steel City.
Pittsburgh is the largest city in southwestern Pennsylvania with a population of approx. 300,000. The City of Pittsburgh is surrounded by numerous boroughs and townships and the combined population of the metropolitan areas is 2.3 million.
Pittsburgh is known as the “Steel City” and the “City of Bridges”.
Pittsburgh is the “Steel City”, because at one point, in 1911, Pittsburgh produced more than half of all the steel in the United States. During World War 2, it was one third and the steel mills were running 24h a day.
Pollution of the environment was unbelievable and in 1868, James Parton called Pittsburgh being "hell with the lid off”.
University of Pittsburgh / Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection, 1901-2002, AIS.1971.05
University of Pittsburgh / Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection, ca. 1940s-1950s
These times are long gone. Pittsburghers realized that the steel industry was failing and reinvented the city in what it is today: a modern high tech city with lots of parks and comparably low unemployment and crime rates.
Pittsburgh is the “City of Bridges”, because Pittsburgh has 446 bridges - more than Venice. Allegheny country, in which Pittsburgh is located, has more than 1,600 bridges. This is because Pittsburgh lies at the confluence where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River form the Ohio River. There are many more rivers in the region and they all have bridges.
The downtown area is called the “Golden Triangle” and the point where the 3 rivers meet is called “The Point”.
The rivers, hills, forests and the region’s rich history make Pittsburgh a unique destination with lots of beautiful vistas, natural and architectural attractions and indoor & outdoor activities.
Historically, Pittsburgh has developed with two distinct centers: the downtown area where heavy manufacturing was and the Shadyside/Oakland area outside the smog of downtown where the rich people lived and where the universities are located.
Many Pittsburgh neighborhoods along the rivers have steep slopes and often their names incorporate the word "hills" or "heights". The steep slopes necessitated building of stairs to get around and today there are 712 public stairways with 44,645 treads bridging 24,090 vertical feet. Some streets are composed entirely of stairs and others have stairs as sidewalks. Some provide beautiful vistas of the city skyline.
Starting in the 1970s, Pittsburgh’s “Renaissance” developed the city from heavy manufacturing to a diversified mix of education, healthcare, finance, and high tech like robotics. During recession in 2008/2009, Pittsburgh remained economically strong and even added jobs. Pittsburgh's story of economic metamorphosis inspired President Barack Obama to host the 2009 G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh has attracted many immigrants, who often settled in distinct areas and developed characteristic neighborhoods. Some of this is still visible today.
Pittsburgh often ranks high on most livable cities lists:
1985 and 2007: Places Rated Almanac: “Most Livable City in the US” and #2 in 1989, #5 in 1993
2005, 2009, and 2011: The Economist: “most livable city in the United States”
2007: Forbes: “the world's 10th cleanest city”
2010: Forbes and Yahoo!: “most livable city in the United States”
2010: Forbes: “4th-best city for working mothers” and “7th best place to raise a family”
2011: Economist Intelligence Unit: “top place to live in the United States” and #2 in 2012 and 2014
2012: CBS Money Watch and U.S. News: “10 best U.S. places to retire”
2013: Forbes: “10 most unexpectedly romantic cities in the world”
Adding to the livability of Pittsburgh is the climate and the low risk for natural disasters. In 2009, Forbes ranked Pittsburgh as the 2nd lowest natural disaster risk in the nation.
Here is the Pittsburgh weather that you can expect during your trip to Pittsburgh:
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