There’s something phonetic about “Pittsburgh” that makes us draw unfair conclusions. It sounds like a dank hole filled with aluminum and misery, maybe a decaying town where the only store is going out of business, but I’m here to say that’s not true! Here are just a few reasons not to underestimate the ‘Burgh, and move it up on your list of vacation destinations.
Pittsburgh is greener than you may think. Frick Park is the city’s largest green space at 644 acres—hilly, thickly wooded, and larger than Brooklyn’s Prospect Park—and Schenley Park also has many miles of walking trails and bike paths. On a sunny summer day, you’d be hard pressed to imagine Pittsburgh as the giant steel mill it once was. There are also three rivers that converge in Pittsburgh: the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio. All that waterfront just makes the city even prettier and closer to nature, and you can take a cable car up Mount Washington for views over the rivers and downtown.
Pittsburgh has tons of art. The prestigious Carnegie Museums are a huge draw, and this group includes the Carnegie Museum of Art and The Andy Warhol Museum (he was a Pittsburgh native). Then there’s adventurous contemporary art and very cool, large-scale installations at the Mattress Factory, which has been going strong since 1977. And if you’re in town in April, check out Art All Night, a huge, uncensored, free art exhibition that lasts a full 24 hours. Pittsburgh is also home to hundreds of striking murals—move over Philly!—check www.pghmurals.com to find them by neighborhood.
Pittsburgh has gotten younger. The city has attracted (and retained) more young people through its steady revitalization—moving forward from its dependence on steel, fostering its art scene, and valuing institutions of higher learning like Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, and the Art Institute. During the 2000’s alone, the city’s median age dropped several years to 33.2 (that’s still young!). And who doesn’t like young people? They’re exciting and they know where the good restaurants are.
Worst case scenario, if Pittsburgh doesn’t impress you, you’re within easy driving distance of other attractions. You could drive 90 minutes down to beautiful Ohiopyle State Park (near the Frank Lloyd Wright house Fallingwater), visit Amish country in Volant an hour away, or head northwest a couple of hours to Cleveland. If you didn’t like Pittsburgh, you probably won’t dig Cleveland, but we think you should give them both a fair chance.
What is your impression of Pittsburgh?