The City in Brief
Founded: 1758 (incorporated, 1816)
Head Official: Mayor Tom Murphy (D) (since 1994)
2003 estimate: 325,337
Percent change, 1990-2000: – 9.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 30th
U.S. rank in 1990: 40th (State rank: 2nd)
U.S. rank in 2000: 54th (State rank: 2nd)
Metropolitan Area Population
Percent change, 1990-2000: – 1.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 13th
U.S. rank in 1990: 19th
U.S. rank in 2000: 20th
Area: 58.35 square miles (2000)
Elevation: Ranges from 696 feet to 1,223 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 50.3° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 36.85 inches of rain; 43 inches of snow
Major Economic Sectors: medical services, research and technology, government, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (April 2005)
Per Capita Income: $18,816 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 19,737
Major Colleges and Universities: University of Pittsburgh; Carnegie Mellon University; Duquesne University
Daily Newspaper: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, once referred to as ”the smoky city” and ”hell with the lid off” because of its sooty factories, is a modern success story. Air quality controls, stream purification laws, and the razing and redesign of congested areas since World War II have resulted in a city that surprises first-time visitors. Nestled among the forested hills of southwestern Pennsylvania at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers form the Ohio River, the new Pittsburgh is a city of skyscrapers, parks, fountains, more than 700 bridges, and close-knit neighborhoods with a vibrant cultural life. The city has over 70 miles of urban riverfront—more than any other inland port city in America. The transformation of Pittsburgh from an industrial center to a leader in science and technology and the success of its rehabilitation efforts have moved President George W. Bush to call it ”Knowledge Town,” and the Wall Street Journal to rank it as one of the top technology markets (going so far as to nickname it “Roboburgh”).
Geography and Climate
Pittsburgh is located in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, at the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio. The city’s humid climate is modified slightly by its relative proximity to the Atlantic Seaboard and the Great Lakes. The Pittsburgh area experiences extremes of all four seasons, with temperatures ranging from zero to 90° F or so. Precipitation is distributed well throughout the year, with a good bit of the precipitation occurring as snow during the winter months. From April through October, the sun shines more than 50 percent of the time.
Area: 58.35 square miles
Elevation: 696 feet above sea level at river base; 1,223 feet above sea level at highest point
Average Annual Temperatures: January, 28.4° F; July, 73.1° F; annual average, 50.3° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 36.85 inches of rain, 43 inches of snow
The first humans to live in what is now southwestern Pennsylvania were descendants of Asians who had crossed the Bering Straight and spread down through North America, hunting, gathering, and migrating, around 12 to 18 thousand years ago. About six thousand years ago, these Native Americans developed canoes and better tools for hunting and fishing; three thousand years ago, they learned to cultivate maize (corn), an agricultural revolution which led from a nomadic life to permanent villages. In another thousand years, agriculture was thriving and so was trade between villages and even tribes. Trade was carried out via either individuals carrying goods over a complex system of footpaths throughout densely forested Pennsylvania, or by canoes up and down rivers.
The coming of Europeans is what is likely to have wiped out the original native tribe of the Pittsburgh region, the Monongahela. Spread of European diseases to which the natives had no resistance, plus the fur trade resulting in depleted game supply, are theorized to have contributed to the disappearance of all humans from vast sections of western Pennsylvania in the 1600s. Soon, however, other displaced tribes from the south and east of Iroquois and Algonquian origins, especially the Shawnee, Seneca, Susquehannock, and the Lenni Lenape (Delaware), moved in to take their place.
French And British Vie For Strategic Location
Even in these early days, both British and French realized the strategic value of the wilderness location at the forks of the Ohio, a meeting place to trade for furs with the Indians. The French saw the Ohio River Valley as the only way to connect New France (Canada) with their Louisiana Territory. They claimed the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and any river that flowed into it. The British had colonized the East Coast and were now hungry to push westward. A young Colonel George Washington, sent on a surveying mission to the area in 1755, observed that it was ”extremely well situated for a fort, having command of both rivers.” Washington’s party left a tiny group of men to build Fort Prince George for the British, which the French easily outnumbered and captured without bloodshed later that same year. The French troops built a stronger Fort Duquesne there at ”the Point,” and held it for three years. Again without bloodshed, the English took back control in 1758 as the treaty ending the French and Indian War was signed in Europe. The French simply burnt down the fort and vacated the region. The English then built Fort Pitt, in honor of William Pitt, their Prime Minister; Fort Pitt was the largest and most elaborate fort in the colonies at that time. A small village that was first known as ”Pittsborough” sprouted up around the fort. A 1763 addition, the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, still stands as the oldest building in Pittsburgh today.
The Whiskey Rebellion
The Pittsburgh region’s economy was largely agricultural through most of the 1700s, growing from mere subsistence to having a surplus, especially in grains. Farmers found they could make better profits, especially in shipping, by turning their surplus grain into alcohol and bartering it. President George Washington, who had at age 23 noted the importance of Pittsburgh, had to face his first real challenge as President and the first challenge to the new country’s Constitution, in a conflict over that alcohol that became known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The fledgling Federal government had decided to levy its first tax against whiskey, but the farmers argued they didn’t have cash to pay taxes on bartered goods, and marched in protest. Washington had to send troops to squelch the protest and enforce the tax laws.
Gateway to the West
Because travel was quite difficult over the Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburghers learned it was better to produce goods themselves rather than pay and wait for items to be shipped from the east. The city’s population was only about 300 by the 1790s, but many were skilled craftsmen such as blacksmiths, weavers, shoemakers, saddlers, tanners, brewers, cabinet makers, tinsmiths, and other artisans who could transform the region’s agricultural products into goods that could be used or easily shipped and sold downriver. The first and largest industry emerging in the 1800s was boat building—both flatboats to transport waves of pioneers and goods downriver, and keelboats, which a strong crew could propel upstream as well.
In 1795 James O’Hara and Isaac Craig started a glass factory, an important development since glass was the hardest material to transport. Its success prompted other glass factories to crop up around the area, becoming its second biggest industry.
Pittsburgh increasingly became known as the ”Gateway to the West,” a jumping-off point for people to more easily continue down the river after the arduous crossing of the mountains. Travel both ways on the rivers became easier in 1811 when Robert Fulton, with Nicholas Roosevelt, launched his first steamboat on western waters, the Pittsburgh-built New Orleans. The 116-foot vessel reached its self-named destination safely, then continued to run regularly between New Orleans and Natchez. The amazing Pennsylvania Mainline Canal reached its terminus in Pittsburgh in 1830, further facilitating migration from Philadelphia westward by offering an easier alternative to crossing the daunting Allegheny Ridge. Plentiful natural resources of the region were constantly shipped in to the city, including enormous lumber rafts from northern forests, and barge after barge of coal pushed by steamboats up and down the Monongahela. In addition to being situated on one of the world’s biggest coal deposits, Pittsburgh was also surrounded with oil, clay, limestone, natural gas, and sand suitable for glass. To supply iron needs for the War of1812, foundries, rolling mills, machine shops, and forges sprang up on flat land along the rivers. With the growth of these factories and improved transportation, the population grew to allow Pittsburgh to incorporate as a city in 1816. Although Brownsville, Pennsylvania and Wheeling, West Virginia were early rivals to Pittsburgh’s ”Gateway to the West” title, Pittsburgh clinched it with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1852.
”Hell With The Lid Off”
As the 1800s wore on, Pittsburgh became known as the ”Smoky City” due to manufacturing, steamboats, and household heating, all fueled with coal. The continued growth of the railroads plus demands of the Civil War increased the need for manufacturing. Earlier, iron furnaces had been run by charcoal, and thus were mostly located in rural places where wood was plentiful. However, when the coke-fueled blast furnace was invented, factory owners could consolidate and move their operations right to the riversides where coal, of which coke is a purified byproduct, could be conveniently delivered. This consolidation allowed them to keep prices down and remain competetive, even though iron making was still a small business of master craftsmen and not yet the huge operations of later years. Near the end of the 1800s, Birmingham, now Pittsburgh’s South Side, had about 70 glass factories and was the world’s largest supplier of glass. With railroad and river transportation boosting industry, other types of factories flourished as well, including five large and several small textile mills which employed about 3,000 workers in the late 1850s. In the 1860′s, Pittsburgh was the world’s largest refiner of petroleum products. The oil lamp, which in pre-electricity days was standard wherever gas lighting was unavailable, had been powered by increasingly rare and expensive whale oil, until it was found that the petroleum in the ground in western Pennsylvania could be put to similar uses. The refinery boom was brief, ending when John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil attracted the business to Cleveland.
With the invention of the Bessemer Converter, the making of steel changed from an expensive, high quality metal worked by a skilled artisan to being mass produced by relatively unskilled labor. Andrew Carnegie opened the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock in 1875 and brought inexpensive, mass-produced steel to the Pittsburgh area. Carnegie had been an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad, but quit to take the opportunity to manufacture the stronger Bessemer steel rails he knew the railroad intended to use. He hired engineers to further streamline and mechanize the steel making process so as to maximize the profits of mass production.
Carnegie’s meeting and dealing with another major entrepreneur of the day, Henry Clay Frick, etched an important page in history. Frick was a self-made millionaire before he turned 30; he had formed a company to buy land rich in coal, which he processed into industrial coke, an essential steel making ingredient. Frick managed to buy out many of his competitors and became a major supplier to the burgeoning steel industry. The two formed a union that soured, ending in what is called the Homestead Strike, a lockout that ended in 10 deaths and many injuries, even necessitating intervention by the Pennsylvania National Guard. Carnegie and Frick became bitter enemies over the episode, a feud they took to their graves. Still, the Carnegie and Frick names are nearly synonymous with philanthropic causes in Pittsburgh today; their legacies bestowed priceless gifts to the city in the form of libraries, schools, parks, and museums, in addition to bridges, railroads, and factories. Somewhat less prominent but equally important, other local employers such as West-inghouse, Alcoa, and Heinz were also on the forefront of improving working conditions and of supporting cultural life in the community.
A Modern Pittsburgh Emerges
From the late 1800s, Pittsburgh’s population more than doubled to more than a million people in the metropolitan area by 1910, and the character of its downtown began to change from factories and residences to more office buildings. Banking activity increased so much to keep up with the booming economy that a section along Fourth Avenue became known as Pittsburgh’s Wall Street. This period also saw great progress in public works, as water filtration and sewer systems were completed and electric lines and pipes for natural gas installed. Because commuting was still a luxury most mill workers could not afford, people continued to live, shop, and worship in the same self-sufficient communities where they worked. Pittsburgh today remains a city of neighborhoods, many of which still strongly reflect varied ethnic roots.
The coming of the trolleys in the late 1890s and of the automobile soon after helped to connect neighborhoods a bit more, and allowed some of the white collar manager’s families to begin to populate the city’s first middle class suburbs such as Shadyside, Dormont, and West View. Some were concerned about this city that held such great wealth for some, yet squalid conditions for many others. A boom in social programs, instituting hospitals and other services and general cleaning up of the city began, but was hindered by local events such as a devastating flood in 1936, and national events including the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.
After World War II, Pittsburgh began to concentrate on giving itself a make-over, including river clean-up and air pollution controls, and new building projects under the umbrella heading Renaissance I. Democrats and Republicans, led by Mayor David Lawrence and banker Richard King Mellon, actually worked together on the face-lift. Some of the Renaissance projects were successful, such as Gateway Center, an office tower complex completed in the 1950s; and Point State Park at the end of Downtown’s ”Golden Triangle,” officially opened in 1974, with a fountain foaming high into the air at the very point where the rivers join. Others were considered less successful, such as the razing of the Lower Hill District in order to build the Civic Arena, which was highly criticized for breaking up a tightly knit and artistically thriving African American community and leaving the neighborhood far worse off than it had been. Throughout the 1960s many major construction projects continued to revamp the city in East Liberty and Allegheny Center neighborhoods as well as downtown. In 1970, the last game was played at the Pittsburgh Pirate’s Forbes Field, and Three Rivers Stadium, along with the U.S. Steel Building, (later changed to USX Tower) were the last buildings to be completed under Renaissance I.
By the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Pittsburgh’s reign as one of the titans in the world of Big Steel had neared its end. The number of steel workers in the Pittsburgh area dropped from 90,000 in 1980 to 44,000 in just four years. U.S. Steel, formed when Elbert Gary and J.P. Morgan bought Carnegie Steel, lost $561 million in only one quarter in 1980. The city’s population, which had peaked in 1950 at over
676,000, dropped to about 423,000 by 1980. Unemployment rates soared as the city’s leaders scrambled to reinvent the local economy on a new base of service, health, and education fields; high tech industries; riverfront development; and regional tourism. Despite fluctuations in the economy, Renaissance II forged ahead through the 1980s, giving the city many of its signature skyline buildings such as Mellon Bank Center, One Oxford Center, PPG Plaza,Fifth Avenue Place, and the USX (U.S. Steel) Building.
Through the 1990s, the transition from heavy manufacturing to new, mostly high tech industries took place, as Pittsburgh today stands at the forefront of medical research and computer and robotics technologies, as well as a center for arts and culture.
Historical Information: Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15222; telephone (412)454-6000
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990-2000: -1.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 13th
U.S. rank in 1990: 19th
U.S. rank in 2000: 20th
2003 estimate: 325,337
Percent change, 1990-2000: – 9.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 30th
U.S. rank in 1990: 40th (State rank: 2nd)
U.S. rank in 2000: 54th (State rank: 2nd)
Density: 6,019 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics: (2000)
Black or African American: 90,750
American Indian and Alaska Native: 628
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 111
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 4,425
Percent of residents born in state: 78.1% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 17,607
Population 5 to 9 years old: 19,004
Population 10 to 14 years old: 18,907
Population 15 to 19 years old: 25,881
Population 20 to 24 years old: 34,570
Population 25 to 34 years old: 48,860
Population 35 to 44 years old: 46,870
Population 45 to 54 years old: 41,082
Population 55 to 59 years old: 14,142
Population 60 to 64 years old: 12,606
Population 65 to 74 years old: 26,483
Population 75 to 84 years old: 21,362
Population 85 years and older: 7,189
Median age: 35.5 years old
Births (2002, Allegheny County) Total number: 13,469
Deaths (2002, Allegheny County)
Total number: 15,100 (of which 106 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $18,816
Median household income: $28,588
Total households: 143,752
Number of households with income of. . .
Less than $10,000: 25,927
$10,000 to $14,999: 13,668
$15,000 to $24,999: 24,606
$25,000 to $34,999: 19,228
$35,000 to $49,999: 21,441
$50,000 to $74,999: 20,482
$75,000 to $99,999: 8,366
$100,000 to $149,999: 5,843
$150,000 to $199,999: 1,797
$200,000 or more: 2,394
Percent of families below poverty level: 15% (57.9% of which were female householder families with children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 19,737
The City of Pittsburgh operates under a mayor-council form of government, with the mayor elected by popular vote every four years and nine council members elected by district, also for four year terms. Because the city has recently been in financial trouble while Allegheny County has remained solvent, there has been a movement to consolidate the 130 municipalities and 43 school districts under one central county government, or at least to increase cooperation among them. The issue is being studied and debated, but most studies agree that some form of consolidation would benefit all the municipalities. Allegheny County is run by a County Chief Executive and 15 county council members, 13 of whom are elected by district, and two elected at large, all for staggered four-year terms. This is a fairly recent change in the county government, from the Home Rule Charter of 1998, when voters approved shifting from having three county commissioners to the present executive/council form of government.
Head Official: Mayor Tom Murphy (D) (since 1994; current term expires 2005)
Total Number of City Employees: 3,412 (2005)
City Information: Mayor’s Office, 414 Grant St., Room 512, City County Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone, (412)255-2626; fax (412)255-2687
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
The southwestern Pennsylvania region, especially the city of Pittsburgh, showed great resiliency and resourcefulness in shifting from an industrial economy to one based on health care, research, hospitality and tourism through the 1990s. Nevertheless, the local economy mirrored the national recession for various reasons following the events of September 11, 2001. U.S. Airways, a major employer, suffered serious losses from decreased travel due to fear or terrorism and the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic. Although U.S. Airways came out of bankruptcy in 2003, it cut more than 300 jobs and reduced service by about a third in 2004; Pittsburgh, which had once been the airline’s largest hub, was reduced in status and Pittsburgh International Airport lost jobs to U.S. Airway’s other hub cities such as Philadelphia and Charlotte. In January 2005, Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest discount carrier and sixth largest airline, announced it would start service at Pittsburgh International Airport in May, helping to fill the gap left by the loss of leases by U.S. Airways. Local officials are also trying to lure JetBlue, Frontier, and Spirit.
Losses in manufacturing jobs were not completely replaced by high tech jobs, as the latter account for only about six percent of jobs in the Pittsburgh MSA. Another reason for loss of jobs and the region’s general downward economic trend is that Pittsburgh has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the nation. Not only do high taxes increase the cost of production for companies, they also discourage new businesses from locating in the area and may force established businesses to relocate to places with more favorable tax structures. The City of Pittsburgh was forced to file for financially distressed status under Pennsylvania’s Act 47 in December of 2004. In the wake of this alternative to bankruptcy, the state Department of Community and Economic Development appointed a recovery team to compile a five year plan for economic recovery for the city. Financial analysts are cautiously optimistic as the unemployment rate seems to have peaked at 6.8 percent in January of 2003 and has come back down to 4.8 percent in April of 2005.
By far, the largest employment sector for the Pittsburgh area is in health, educational, and social services. Though heavy manufacturing continues to play a part, it employs only 12.3 percent of the work force as of May 2005. Health care, construction, and education all added jobs in 2004. Financial analysts predict continued modest growth in 2005, with finance, business services, and health care again providing key support. Research is now the third largest industry; the Pittsburgh area is home to 150 laboratories and over 7,500 scientists and engineers. Service, hospitality, and tourism jobs are growing fast as well, adding more than 10,000 jobs in these sectors since 1994, and 5,400 jobs in May 2005 alone. Education and state government employment declined slightly during that same month.
Film making is another emerging industry. Major motion pictures made in Pittsburgh include the original Angels in the Outfield, Night of the Living Dead, The Deer Hunter, Flash dance, Gung Ho, The Silence of the Lambs, Lorenzo’s Oil, Hoffa, Groundhog Day, The Wonder Boys, and The Mothman Prophecies. Overall, the size of the labor force and the number of jobs, as defined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have both increased during the first half of 2005 resulting in a slightly lowered unemployment rate.
Items and goods produced: fabricated metal products, primary metals, glass products, machinery, food and related products, medical equipment, chemicals, plastics, electronics, software, robotics
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
In keeping with the style of having many small municipal governments and school districts, Pittsburgh metro area’s economic development groups number at least 27 different agencies. Typically, local incentives are used to augment traditional funding sources, federal and state assistance for which companies may be eligible. For example, the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority administers the Pittsburgh Business Growth Fund, which is designed to provide ”gap financing” for small businesses that create and keep jobs in the City of Pittsburgh, providing loans at competitive rates for leasehold renovations, equipment, and working capital.
Local programs—Among the many programs offering business incentives in the Pittsburgh area are the Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Inc., a $16 million fund that offers capital to manufacturing firms and businesses, job training, and early funding to chosen entrepreneurs; Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, which attempts to unite a network of community development corporations with public and private investors; the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, which is concerned with a 10 county, 200 mile network of waterways and the promotion of travel and industrial development along them; the Regional Development Funding Corporation, which acts on behalf of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Pittsburgh District Office in various economic development activities; and the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a private, not-for-profit corporation that coordinates local, state and federal funding programs for environmental assessment and renovations, working capital, infrastructure and new building construction and equipment, and administrates the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s funding for land and building acquisition and improvements.
The Allegheny County Department of Economic Development’s Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County runs four programs: the $50 million Economic Development Fund, which assists local companies; redevelopment assistance; the Tax Increment Financing program; and the Housing Division, which administers the Home Improvement Program of Allegheny County and the Vacant Property Recovery Program.
State programs—The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the Department of Community and Economic Development to implement its Economic Stimulus Package, with 18 components or programs that assist in everything from site selection to loans for equipment, Enterprise Zone grants, tax credits, brown field development financing, and more.
Job training programs—Carnegie Library’s Job Training and Workforce Development catalogue lists 22 job training and related services in Pittsburgh, six given by Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. Several of the regional services are associated with Pittsburgh’s colleges and universities. The Greater Pittsburgh Supported Employment Association helps those with severe disabilities get vocational rehabilitation and supported jobs. The Allegheny County Department of Human Services helps determine if individuals are qualified for federal funding. Some programs focus on minority youth, some on military veterans, some on displaced factory workers. Many help dropouts get a GED (high school equivalency diploma). Some agencies of note are Pittsburgh Job Corps, Youth Works, the Urban League of Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Infolink.
Of the many development projects of recent years, the largest and those with the biggest economical impact have been the completion of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown; and the two new stadiums on the North Side, the stunningly beautiful PNC Park for MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, and Heinz Field for NFL legends Pittsburgh Steelers. Then-governor Tom Ridge broke ground for the Convention Center in April 2000, and its 1.5 million square feet was opened in three stages even as construction continued. Phase I was completed in February 2002; May 2002 saw Phase II completed with four exhibition halls and 18 meeting rooms; and in March 2003 the grand opening ceremony was held with all 5 exhibition halls, 51 meeting rooms, and the huge Grand Ballroom. PNC Park opened March 31, 2001 with an exhibition game with the New York Mets. Although it is the next to smallest ballpark in Major League Baseball with 38,127 seats, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful, designed to offer amazing views of the city skyline and intimate views on the field. Heinz Field opened August 25, 2001; it is a 65,000 seat, horseshoe shaped stadium with the open end at the south end zone facing the fountain at Point State Park. New hotels, restaurants and retail outlets have sprung up near the new stadiums and convention center.
Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority handles many projects but there are six showcase projects of note. South Side Works involved riverside development and brown field renewal around Carson Street and the Hot Metal Bridge, resulting in a mixed use development with offices, a hotel, retail, and restaurants, a sports medicine complex and practice fields, and housing. Summerset at Frick Park, also known as Nine Mile Run, revived an environmentally ravaged slag heap into a 238 acre, 713 home community. Bedford Hill area housing developments were made possible when the Pittsburgh Housing authority received a $26.6 million HOPE VII grant. The Pittsburgh Technology Center is the result of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh joining forces with the business community to create an interdisciplinary research center to advance studies in biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, bioengineering, and computer applications. Washington’s Landing is a development on a small island in the Allegheny River about two miles upstream from the downtown Golden Triangle. Herr’s Island was transformed from garbage heap into an exclusive community with townhouses on the west end, businesses, a rowing center, and tennis courts in the middle, with a portion of the 17 mile Heritage Trail skirting the trees and fields along the perimeter. Crawford Square is an 18 acre residential development on the eastern edge of downtown Pittsburgh, bordering the mostly African American Hill District neighborhood.
In the southern end of Oakland and extending eastward to the Hazelwood neighborhood, an abandoned factory and brown field area is being recovered as the Pittsburgh Technology Center Office and Research Park takes over the old LTV Coke plant. When complete, the LTV Coke Works Redevelopment Project will result in 700,000 square feet of office and research and development space, accompanied by around 1,000 residential units of various types. The city hopes the project will encourage businesses to locate near the universities in Oakland. Another research center is under construction in south Oakland on the edge of Carnegie Mellon’s campus, the Junction Hollow Research and Development Technology Center, which will create 300,000 square feet for high technology companies that spin off from interaction with CMU. Both the Junction Hollow and the LTV Coke Works projects hope to qualify for funding from the Keystone Innovation Zone Program, which funds joint ventures of universities and corporations.
In the heart of Pittsburgh’s downtown, the ”Golden Triangle,” the African-American Cultural Center Project is scheduled to be completed in 2007. A performing arts and exhibition center, the project will include a hotel and parking, and will add a sixth theater to the downtown ”Cultural District.” The Pittsburgh Riverfront Trail Connections Projects is an ongoing effort to improve, maintain, lengthen, and add connections to the 17-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail System, which is used both recreationally and for commuting on foot, by bike, or by rollerblade. Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Heritage Trail System is acknowledged to be a national model for urban trail design and economic benefits thereof. North Shore Transportation Improvements Project has evolved with the new stadiums to include a new riverfront park, a 900 space parking garage, and a revamp of the pre-colonial street grid to improve traffic flow. Future developments on the North Shore will be new office buildings for Del Monte Foods and Equitable Gas, an expansion of Carnegie Science Center, a 6,000 seat public amphitheater, more retail and residential developments, another parking garage of 1,000 spaces, and an extension of the light transit rail. In Lawrenceville, another East End neighborhood, St. Francis Hospital has been bought out by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has a new pediatric research center under construction and plans to move its Children’s Hospital facility there. It is expected to be completed in 2007, with the current Children’s hospital in Oakland remaining open until that time.
Other ongoing projects include Magee-Women’s Hospital Research Center, a seven story addition to the hospital of the same name. A much needed upgrade of Schenley Plaza at the juncture of the Oakland neighborhood’s University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon campuses, as well as upgrades to Schenley Park, is underway.
One of the major projects outside Pittsburgh city limits but within the greater metropolitan area is The Waterfront, another renewed brownfield area where the infamous Homestead Steel Works once flourished. It is a $300 million mix of commercial, retail, and residential use that the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development convinced three municipalities to share the financing and tax revenues. The Airside Business Park and Airport Cargo Center are two very important economic developments, the business park being a 273,000 square foot multi-use office space/warehouse facility in Moon Township near Pittsburgh International Airport. The newest completed development in the area is the Pittsburgh Mills mall in east suburb Frazer Township, which held a grand opening in July 2005. The Galleria section of the mall features more than a million square feet of space including a 165,000 square foot Kauf-mann’s, a 98,000 square foot JCPenney, an entertainment and sports wing with bowling lanes, and a state of the art 16 screen theater.
Finally, a more controversial means of developing revenue in Pittsburgh is coming: gambling. In 2004, Governor Ed Rendell persuaded the state to pass the slots law, which approves 14 casinos to be built around Pennsylvania, 7 at horse racing tracks (one of which is The Meadows in nearby Washington County), 5 ”stand-alone” locations, and 2 in resort areas. Pittsburgh is allotted one of the stand-alone casinos, and in mid-2005 several groups were vying for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to grant them the license for their proposed sites. The 23-member Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force was appointed by Mayor Tom Murphy to study the social and economic impact of a casino, provide input on the aesthetic look it should have, and determine how it should interact with its neighbors. The licenses are expected to be given out some time in 2006, with casinos opening in 2007.
Economic Development Information: Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, 425 Sixth Avenue, Eighth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone (412)350-1010; toll-free (800)766-6888; fax (412)612-2217. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, 200 Ross Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone (412)255-6600; fax (412)255-6617; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, 400 North Street, Fourth Floor, Commonwealth Keystone Building,Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225; toll-fee (866)466-3972
The Port of Pittsburgh is the country’s largest inland port in terms of tonnage originating and passing through it. More than 50 million tons of cargo, primarily coal, are shipped annually on its three-river system. The port offers convenient access to the nation’s inland waterway system on 8,000 miles of navigable rivers flowing through 24 states. The port system affects almost a half million water-dependent jobs. There are two Class I railroads and five Class II, with several connecting rails near industrial sites. Pittsburgh is served by more than 100 trucking firms with access to four major interstate highways. Air freight services are available at Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Factors such as a low crime rate, high quality public education, and a skilled labor force with a strong work ethic continue to attract new employers to Pittsburgh. However some workers are struggling with the economic shift from heavy industry to more high tech occupations, as many lower-paying service jobs have replaced the higher-paying factory jobs of yesterday. Even in the fall of 2002, a time of recession for the nation and the region, Pittsburgh area employers had a hard time filling positions for more skilled workers, managerial and professional posts. However, overall, the unemployment rate has come down steadily in the past couple years so economic prognosticators are somewhat optimistic.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Pittsburgh metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,134,700
Number of workers employed in . . . construction and mining: 58,900 manufacturing: 103,300 trade, transportation and utilities: 233,700 information: 24,100 financial activities: 69,600 professional and business services: 138,900 educational and health services: 213,500 leisure and hospitality: 105,100 other services: 59,500 government: 128,100
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.37
Unemployment rate: 4.8% (April 2005)
Largest county employers Number of employees
UPMC Health Systems 26,700
U.S. Government 20,400
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 15,900
West Penn Allegheny Health Systems 10,200
University of Pittsburgh 10,100
Mellon Financial Corp. 8,404
PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. 6,959
Allegheny County 6,695
USX Corp. 6,300
Giant Eagle, Inc. 5,700
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield 5,600
Eat’n’ Park Hospitality Group 4,600
Verizon Communications 4,400
US Airways Group, Inc. 4,000
Cost of Living
Pittsburgh’s cost of living is slightly lower than the national average as is the price of housing. The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Pittsburgh area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $226,663
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 94.9 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: 2.8%
State sales tax rate: 6%
Local income tax rate: 3%
Local sales tax rate: 1%
Property tax rate: $24.72 per $1,000 assessed value (2005)
Economic Information: Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, 425 Sixth Avenue, Eighth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; telephone (412)350-1010; toll-free (800)766-6888; fax (412)612-2217. Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1100, Pittsburgh PA 15219
Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Pittsburgh Public School System’s nine-member Board of Public Education underwent recent upheaval, seeking a new superintendent in 2005. Despite the temporary disruption of the change in leadership, Pittsburgh Public Schools remains dedicated to enabling its veteran, well-trained staff to give each individual child whatever is needed to help him or her grow into not only a successful student, but a socially adjusted adult who will contribute to society. In addition to the excellent mainstream education, the district offers a variety of support programs for special education needs, including speech/language support, visually impaired support, deaf or hard-of-hearing support, autistic support, multiple disabilities support, emotional and life skills support, learning support, physical support, and programs for the gifted and for early intervention. Creatively and scholastically gifted students have the Pittsburgh Gifted Center for kindergarten through eighth grade levels, then in high school the Center for Advanced Studies program is available. All gifted students get a custom-made Gifted Individualized Education Program (GEIP) designed for them in coordination with the school and the student’s family. Magnet school options include the structured atmosphere of traditional academies, international studies, Montessori method schools, a baccalaureate program, vocational-technical training in computer sciences and such fields, and the CAPA program for Creative and Performing Arts. About 78 percent of teachers hold advanced degrees.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Pittsburgh Public School District as of the 2003-2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 34,167
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 53
junior high/middle schools: 17
senior high schools: 10
Student/teacher ratio: 11.4:1
Teacher salaries minimum: $35,500
Funding per pupil: $15,514
The Diocese of Pittsburgh administers a large network of grade schools and high schools; there are more than 250 private schools and more than 85 vocational and trade schools in the region.
Public Schools Information: Pittsburgh Public Schools, 341 South Belle field Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; telephone (412)622-3870
Colleges and Universities
The University of Pittsburgh, or ”Pitt,” was founded in 1787 near Fort Pitt. Originally known as Pittsburgh Academy, it is one of the nation’s oldest universities. It is the area’s largest four year school with a total enrollment of 26,795 in 2004. Pitt offers 118 programs including liberal arts, law, business, engineering, information science, and international studies. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Medical Complex, located in Oakland in the northwest of Pitt’s campus, is foremost in the world in health administration, sports medicine, and bioresearch, and pioneered in organ transplants with the first combination heart, liver, and kidney transplant in 1989. The University of Pittsburgh spans a 132-acre urban campus with the majestic Cathedral of Learning as its centerpiece.
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) began as Carnegie Technical Schools in 1900 by local steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and became known as Carnegie Mellon University after a merger with Mellon Institute in 1967. CMU offers nearly 200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, specializing in robotics, computer sciences, a strong fine arts department with a famous drama school, and the Tepper School of Business, rated by the Wall Street Journal as the number two business school in the world. Carnegie Mellon University has a campus in Silicon Valley, California, and one in the nation of Qatar. CMU seeks to expand its global connections with educational partnerships around the world. Its roughly 2,000 international students make up almost a quarter of the student body.
Other institutions of higher learning in Pittsburgh are Duquesne University, a Catholic University founded in 1878; Carlow College, another Catholic school, primarily for women; Robert Morris University, which emphasizes business studies and whose interns work and study at prestigious firms; Chatham College, one of the country’s oldest women-only colleges having been founded in 1869; and Point Park University, a small, private, liberal arts school recently raised from college to university status. Community College of Allegheny County has four campuses and seven community centers, offers flexible scheduling and affordability, and allows thousands of students each year to transfer credits to a four-year college.
Libraries and Research Centers
The heart of Pittsburgh’s library systems is the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, another gift of Andrew Carnegie. It consists of the main branch in Oakland, 18 other neighborhood branches, a Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and three bookmobiles. The library has an extensive children’s department and is believed to have had the first children’s “story time” in a library in 1899. On October 3, 2004, the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library held a ribbon cutting celebration for its newly renovated first floor; the Bookmobile Center was also recently remodeled. The library holds more than two million topics and a plethora of computer terminals, all ”Free to the Public,” as Carnegie had enscribed above the doors to the Main Branch. Other features of Carnegie Libraries are a special Teens section in the new Main Branch first floor, which features a multimedia information desk, an indoor/outdoor reading deck, and a library shop and cafe. The library offers a Music Collection with more 12,000 topics, scores, and periodicals and 30,000 recordings, featuring nineteenth and twentieth century Pittsburgh musicians prominently in the collection; an Art Collection, with more than 72,000 topics, 200 periodicals, over 100,000 slides and pictures, and a growing video and DVD collection; and a Dance Collection of about 2,000 topics and videos.
Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh also maintain a Job and Career Education Center and a Business Foundation Center. Because Pennsylvania’s 2003-2004 budget reduced the library’s funding by 50 percent, a nominal fee is charged for some computer classes.
The Pittsburgh area is one of the most active research and development sites in the United States, in part due to its two biggest universities, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. A joint venture of the two plus Westinghouse Electric Corp. is the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, established in 1986 and still continuing to develop and provide innovative software for scientific researchers nationwide.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) operates most of the medical research centers in the region, including the Children’s Hospital General Clinical Research Center, the Cooperative Research Center for Muscular Dystrophy, the Center for Injury Research and Control, Magee-Women’s Research Center (for gynecology, obstetrics, and reproductive health studies), the Center for Neuroscience, a new Center For BioSecurity, and many others. Non-medical research involving the University of Pittsburgh includes a variety of centers, such as the Learning Research and Development Center, the Center for Urban and Social Research, the Chevron Science Center (for chemistry), the Small Business Development Center, and the Joseph M. Katz School of Business Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
Carnegie Mellon University has no less than 77 research centers of all disciplines under its umbrella, some of which are jointly operated with the University of Pittsburgh and/or local businesses. Some of note are its Robotics Engineering Consortium, Art Conservation Research Center, Bosch Institute for Applied Studies in International Management, the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems. A few of the most recent and most important research centers are CyLab, which has launched a security initiative to protect PC users from cyber terrorists and hackers; four separate Robotics research facilities, and the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), which was founded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Among other research institutes are Seagate, a computer and electronics company; the federal government’s Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Research and Development Center; the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory; the National Energy Technology Laboratory; and the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Pittsburgh today is home to more than 200 institutional and commercial research centers and laboratories.
Public Library Information: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080, telephone (412)622-3114
More than 50 hospitals in the Pittsburgh region, including 20 in the city, offer a full range of traditional health services. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is the premier health care system in the region and its largest employer. UPMC consists of 19 hospitals including Western Psychiatric Institute; two surgery centers, a diagnostic center, and 17 assisted living facilities; the system has been ranked as a top hospital system for six years by U.S. News and World Report. The medical school and its research affiliates attract more than $375 million a year in National Institute of Health grants. UPMC is committed to biotechnology and is concentrating on research fields such as minimally invasive robotic surgery, genetic therapy, cancer, muscular dystrophy, chronic pain, arthritis, heart disease, regenerative medicine, and pharmaceutical discovery. In a 29-county western Pennsylvania region, UPMC employs more than 40,000 workers, has an annual budget of over $5 billion, and contributes over $200 million each year in community and charitable services.
The West Penn Allegheny Health System consists of six hospitals, two of which are in Pittsburgh—the Western Pennsylvania Hospital in the Bloomfield neighborhood and Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side. Western Pennsylvania provides 524 beds and handled more than 30,000 emergency visits in 2004. Allegheny General has 625 beds and 3,876 employees, 817 of whom are medical staff. The system’s medical specialties include geriatric care, emergency trauma, children’s health, surgery and transplants, sports medicine, and heart, cancer, and diabetes care.
Pittsburgh Mercy Health System has two hospitals, a mental health personal care home named Outlook Manor, and an outpatient clinic run by Catholic Health East. Mercy was the first hospital in Pittsburgh, established in 1847 by seven Sisters of Mercy nuns. Mercy is dedicated to bringing health care to even the poorest patients, and provides a number of community minded charitable services, such as domestic violence and child abuse programs, a state of the art trauma and burn emergency center, programs that fight drug and alcohol addictions, the Carol Sue Rocker Health Education Center, and Operation Safety Net, an outreach program for the city’s homeless.
A logical starting place for a tour of Pittsburgh is downtown at Point State Park, where a 150-foot fountain symbolizes the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Located within the park is the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, the only remaining structure of Fort Pitt. Throughout the Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh’s downtown area, sightseers can observe turn-of-the-century skyscrapers and other architecturally interesting modern and historic buildings, such as Pennsylvania Station, the Frick Building, the Union Trust Building, and the Omni William Penn Hotel. Among the city’s most famous structures are the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail, completed in 1888 and connected by the ”Bridge of Sighs.” In Oakland, the architectural jewel of Pitt’s campus is the Cathedral of Learning, which looks like a cross between a French Gothic church and a sky-scraper. This 42-story building houses 24 Nationality Classrooms designed by artists and architects from the nations represented. The cathedral was designed by Charles Zeller Klauder, as was adjacent Heinz Chapel. A more recent attraction is the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, which houses a comprehensive archive of America’s early 20th century push to progress.
The Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh is the centerpiece of Pittsburgh’s Civic Center.
South of downtown Pittsburgh, across the Monongahela, is Mount Washington, formerly called Coal Hill, from which a spectacular view of the city is provided by means of cable car rides on the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines. The Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore offers many scientific curiosities including a planetarium, an Omni Max theater, and a claustrophobia-inducing tour of a World War II submarine. In Oakland at the entrance to Schenley Park, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens encloses more than two acres of floral exhibits, including a Butterfly Forest with 300 living chrysalises and butterflies at any given time. The conservatory opened a Welcome Center on March 31, 2005, a 10,885 square foot entrance with a shop and a cafe. Completion of the Welcome Center marked the completion of a $36.6 million expansion plan for Phipps.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium display more than 4,000 animals representing 475 species in naturalistic habitats over its 77 acres in hilly Highland Park. Part of the facility, Kids Kingdom is considered to be among the nation’s top three children’s zoos. The crown jewel is the $17.4 million PPG Aquarium that opened in June 2000. The 45,000 square foot aquarium houses a two-story Amazon Rainforest Exhibit around a 100,000 gallon tank with sharks, other fish, and simulated coral, recreating a diverse ecosystem.
The National Aviary on the North Side has about 600 birds in various simulated habitats. It offers close encounters with large birds of prey, and walk-through Wetlands of the Americas and Tropical Rain Forest exhibits, among many other activities. Kennywood Park, touted as ”America’s Favorite Traditional Amusement Park” and ”the Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” is in West Mifflin, 10 miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh. Kennywood was established in 1898 and offers a range of rides from vintage wooden roller coasters to the new Phantom’s Revenge, with a 230 foot drop and reaching speeds of about 85 miles per hour, one of the fastest coasters in the world. Sandcastle Waterpark is Kennywood’s sister park across the Monongahela in Homestead; same-day passes to use both parks are available.
The famous Frank Lloyd Wright house built over a waterfall, Falling water, is only about an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. An offbeat way to see Pittsburgh sights is to embark upon a World War II amphibious vehicle and take in a Just Ducky tour. For those who prefer a larger vessel, the Gateway Clipper Fleet is a collection of riverboats offering tourists a view of the city from the water while they enjoy fine dining, dancing, and entertainment. Once docked back in Station Square, visitors can enjoy more dining and shopping there in the old railroad station turned office building, mall, and nightlife center. Behind the new Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square’s latest extension, Bessemer Court, is the ”Dancing Waters” 130-foot high water jet display synchronized with lighting and music.
Arts and Culture
The Pittsburgh community is strongly supportive of the visual and performing arts. Heinz Hall, internationally acclaimed for its outstanding acoustics, is home to the renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and it also presents Broadway shows and other performances. One street over from Heinz Hall in the Golden Triangle’s Cultural District is the Benedum Center, a $42 million dollar renovation of the old Stanley Theater in response to demand on Heinz Hall for performing space and time. Benedum Center is now home for Pittsburgh Ballet, Opera, Dance Council, and Civic Light Opera. Also located in the Cultural District are the Byham, O’Reilly, and Harris theaters, the former two being rebuilt vaudeville venues and the latter being leased by Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. Near the theaters in the Cultural District is Wood Street Galleries, which promotes multi-disciplinary artists and provides space and equipment to smaller arts organizations; the galleries also share office space with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which oversees arts matters in the city.
The Post-Gazette Pavillion at Star Lake, about 40 miles southwest of the city; Hartwood Acres in the north suburbs; and the Chevrolet (formerly I.C. Light) outdoor amphitheater in Station Square are the main venues for rock concerts or other large outdoor events. Pittsburgh’s River City Brass Band performs at various locations from September through May. Pittsburgh Theater groups and acting companies include the Pittsburgh Playhouse, City Theatre, the Gemini Theater, Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater, Civic Light Opera, PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Theater, South Park Theatre, and Kuntu Repertory Theater. The universities have their own acting venues; Carnegie Mellon’s drama department produces musicals and dramas at its Purnell Center for the Arts while Pitt’s troupers perform at the Stephen Foster Memorial Theater. The Mattress Factory on the North Side is a unique combination of working and living space for artists, museum, gallery, and performance space.
To fulfill his dream of bringing together the disciplines of art, music, literature, and science, Andrew Carnegie gave the city The Carnegie, a building constructed in two styles— Italian Renaissance and Beaux Arts—with an elaborate foyer that Carnegie is said to have insisted cost more than a throne room. Another Oakland landmark, The Carnegie houses the Museum of Natural History on one side and the Museum of Art on the other, as well as the main branch of the Carnegie Library with a separate side street entrance around the corner at the other end of this vast edifice. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History boasts one of the best dinosaur collections of any museum in the world, with the first T. rex ever discovered and the third largest fossil collection. Its 10,000 or so items and specimens on display are not even one percent of its entire collections. The Carnegie Museum of Art’s permanent collections includes outstanding pieces of impressionist art such as Monet’s Water Lilies, as well as American paintings and artifacts and changing exhibitions of exciting new art from around the world. Also housed within The Carnegie is the Hall of Music, which regularly presents entertainment by locally and internationally known performers. On the North Side is the Andy Warhol Museum, the Children’s Museum, and Carnegie Science Center. In the east end is the Frick Art and Historical Center with a museum, shop, and cafe, and the Henry Clay Frick mansion, Clayton.
In the Strip District bordering downtown is the Heinz Regional History Center, devoted to the heritage of western Pennsylvania. Other attractions of note in the area are the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington; the Western Pennsylvania Model railroad Museum in Gibsonia; and Old Economy Village, created in 1824 by the Harmony Society, a group similar to the Amish who settled here to escape religious persecution in Germany. Also of interest are the Allegheny Cemetery Historical Society, the Alle-Kiski Historical Society, the Center for American Music at the Stephen C. Foster Memorial at the University of Pittsburgh, Braddock’s Field Historical Society, the Depreciation Lands Museum, the George Westinghouse Museum, the Kerr Museum, the Rachel Carson Homestead, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the University Art Gallery at Pitt, and the circa 1785 Neville House.
Festivals and Holidays
Locals start the New Year off with a family-oriented First Night celebration. An eight dollar charge admits one to various buildings and theaters all over downtown to enjoy live drama, music, dance, comedy, puppets, and more, while outside there is a parade followed by fireworks at midnight. Come spring, even the non-Irish enjoy the St. Patrick’s day parade and subsequent Bourbon Street-like party in downtown Pittsburgh in March. In April is the Pittsburgh International Science and Technology festival. May brings the Pittsburgh Folk Festival and the International Children’s Festival.
The rivers, parks, entertainment centers, and neighborhoods of Pittsburgh are host to a wide variety of fairs and festivals throughout the year. The most ambitious of all of them is the 17-day extravaganza known as the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Held in June, it offers arts and crafts, free concerts, food, and children’s activities. Also in June is the Mellon Jazz Festival, the Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest, and in the neighboring county to the north one can visit the Butler County Rodeo and Big Butler Fair. From late May to mid-August the Stephen Foster Memorial Theater presents the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival. The Three Rivers Regatta, held in July in the waters around Point State Park, celebrates the industrial and recreational importance of the city’s rivers. The Pittsburgh Blues Festival is held every July to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. July also sees the Wings over Pittsburgh air show, which features the USAF Thunderbirds and showcases a Stealth bomber. Beginning in 2005, the Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament in late June will highlight how the area’s rivers have been cleaned up enough, allowing previously endangered species return. The Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is held in the Laurel Highlands resort area in August, as are two Shadyside Arts Festivals and the Three Rivers Storytelling Festival. Labor Day weekend is time for another breath-taking fireworks display. The holiday season starts in late November with Light Up Night and free parking, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating at PPG Plaza, hot apple cider and other old fashioned holiday experiences for the season.
Sports for the Spectator
Pittsburghers have long been ardent sports fans. The city is home to three major sports teams; black and gold is worn by its baseball, football, and ice hockey teams, making Pittsburgh the only city in the United States to have all their major sports teams in the same colors. The National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates play in the new PNC Park from April to October. The National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers, four-time Super Bowl champions, use Heinz Field as their battle ground. The National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins, owned by legendary center Mario Lemieux who led them to back-to-back Stanley Cups in the early 1990s, play from September to April at the Mellon Arena. Pro soccer offers the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, whose Falconi Field is actually in nearby Washington, Pennsylvania.
College sports are very much alive at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. The Pitt Panthers have men’s teams in football, basketball, wrestling, cross country, swimming and diving, soccer, baseball, and track and field, and women’s teams in basketball, cross country and track, gymnastics, volleyball, softball, swimming and diving, and tennis. The Panthers are a Big East team that has been a national contender in football and basketball of late. Panthers Football is played at Heinz Field, while other sports are played on the university campus at Petersen Events Center or the Fitzgerald Field House. The Duquesne Dukes teams compete at their uptown A.J. Palumbo facility. Harness track racing is offered at the Meadows in Washington County.
Sports for the Participant
Every season offers a variety of choices for the sports-minded in the Pittsburgh area. The rivers and many parks provide cycling and running paths, and water sports such as swimming, rowing, whitewater rafting, skiing, and fishing. The surrounding hilly country offers recreational opportunities to campers, hikers, and spelunkers, and within a two-hour drive of the city are 10 ski resorts and numerous cross country ski and snowmobile trails, as well as 800,000 acres of game land to entice hunters. Much work was done through the Rails to Trails program in the 1990s and today Pittsburgh enjoys a 17-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail system and other trails in the area such as the Montour Trail in Robinson Township. The Montour Trail is currently about 40 miles long and will eventually connect Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Although running is a popular activity in the area, the city has had trouble financing its Pittsburgh Marathon, a 26.2-mile race that attracted the top distance runners in the world, finally shutting down the race for good in 2003. Another popular event (also cancelled due to financial woes, but reinstated in 2003) is the Great Race, a ten kilometer foot race in late September that attracts world-class competition—Mayor Tom Murphy has run every Great Race since the first one in 1976.
Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation Department (CitiParks) operates many other educational and sports and fitness activities year-round, including aquatics, bicycling, tennis, senior games, lawn bowling, ice skating, and BIG League sports, a collection of baseball and softball leagues and tournaments. Another popular sport is golf; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette lists over 150 golf courses in the greater Pittsburgh area, and the PGA Senior Championships are held every June in nearby Verona. GolfDigest magazine ranked Pittsburgh the fourth best urban area for golfers.
Shopping and Dining
The Golden Triangle’s eleven square blocks house major department stores and a myriad of specialty stores and boutiques. PPG Place, a stunning multi-block structure rendered entirely in glass, contains 20 specialty stores and restaurants. One Oxford Center features five levels of restaurants and upscale shops. Fifth Avenue Place has a mix of specialty shops on its first floor and a fast food court with one fine dining restaurant, Caffe Amante, adjacent to it. A popular destination is across the Smithfield Street Bridge from downtown in Station Square, original site of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad headquarters, which has been restored and now has more than 50 shops; more than 25 restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, and nightclubs; a Sheraton hotel; Hard Rock Cafe; the dock for the Gateway Clipper Fleet; and access to the Monongahela Incline cable car up to Mt. Washington, where several fine dining establishments take advantage of the spectacular view to accompany the cuisine.
Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods each have their own shopping district with its own unique character. The Strip District has grown from being the city’s warehouse center for fresh meat, fish, produce, and ethnic delicacies to include restaurants and entertainment complexes, of which a newer development is the Boardwalk, an enormous nightclub that floats on the Allegheny River. Squirrel Hill and Shadyside neighborhoods are both reminiscent of Greenwich Village with its unique boutiques and art shops. The Bloomfield neighborhood is known as Pittsburgh’s Little Italy. For micro-brew aficionados, visits to the Church Brew Works in Lawrence-ville and the Penn Brewery in Troy Hill are a must. At the Pittsburgh International Airport, travelers can find good food and duty free shopping in over 100 outlets at the Airside Mall. The largest shopping malls in the suburban areas are Century III and the Galleria in the south, Ross Park Mall in North Hills, Monroeville Mall and the huge new Waterfront development in Homestead to the east; farther east is the brand new Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Frazer Township.
Visitor Information: Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 4 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh PA 15222; telephone (412)281-7711; toll-free (800)359-0758. Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, One Station Square, Suite 450, Pittsburgh PA 15219; telephone (412)471-5808
Conventioneers are allured by the Pittsburgh’s accessability, its relatively low costs, low crime rate, and variety of attractions. The new David L. Lawrence Convention Center is the cornerstone of convention and tourism business in the region. It spans three city blocks in one corner of the Golden Triangle between the Cultural District and the Strip District, offering 313,400 square feet of exhibit space, 236,900 square feet of which are column-free; a Grand Ballroom that can hold up to 4,000 attendees; 51 meeting rooms, two 175-seat lecture halls, and a secondary exhibit hall; a 12,000 square foot main kitchen; 37 convenient loading docks; and pedestrian walkways to nearby hotels with 3,000 rooms available and to a riverside park and trail. Heinz Field, PNC Park, and Mellon Arena are also available for conventions and meetings. The Pittsburgh ExpoMart in Monroeville, about 9 miles from downtown, has 106,000 square feet for groups up to 2,000, and is connected to the Radisson Monroeville hotel, which offers additional flexible meeting space for groups of 10 to 600.
Clusters of hotels—old and new, and economy and luxury—are located around the airport, the Oakland university and hospital complex, Monroeville and other suburban locations, near the stadiums on the North Side, and downtown. Major downtown hotels include the Omni William Penn, Pittsburgh’s oldest hotel with original 1916 grandeur and 596 guest rooms; the 616-room Westin Convention Center and the 182-room Courtyard Pittsburgh, which both connect to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center; and the Hilton, downtown’s largest hotel with 713 rooms and more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Others include the Ramada Plaza Suites, Marriott City Center, and the Renaissance in the newly renovated 1906 Fulton Building. Also within walking distance to downtown are the Sheraton Station Square on the South Side, and the Priory and Spring Hill Suites on the North Side.
Convention Information: Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; 4 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; telephone (412)281-7711; toll-free (800)359-0758
Approaching the City
The 3-million-square-foot Pittsburgh International Airport opened in 1992. This state-of-the-art facility moves more than 14 million travelers in nearly 400,000 aircraft each year; it has 100 gates served by 20 passenger and 9 freight airlines. Taxis and buses provide transportation to the Golden Triangle, about 15 miles away.
The Pittsburgh area is at the center of an extensive highway system focused around Interstates 70, 80 and 76/376 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike) which run east and west, and Interstate 79/279 that runs north and south. Improvements to the Southern Beltway, the Findlay Connector, and the Mon-Fayette Expressway south of the city were recently completed and improvements to I-279 from the city to the airport area are ongoing. A recent renovation of the Fort Pitt Tunnels, which go through the base of the cliff of Mt. Washington connecting I-279 north of the city to south, was completed in early 2005 and greatly helped traffic congestion. Amtrak provides train service and Greyhound provides bus service into Pittsburgh.
Traveling in the City
The city center is confined in size by the three rivers and may be traversed on foot. The Port Authority Transit of Allegheny county (PAT) serves the city of Pittsburgh, all of Allegheny County and portions of five neighboring counties with 1,066 buses, 83 light rail vehicles, 4 incline cars, 75 other vehicles, and 457 ACCESS vehicles for elderly and handicapped riders. PAT services 228,454 passengers on an average weekday and had an approximate ridership of 68 million in 2004. There are 15,879 stops of which 256 are shelters or stations, and 64 Park and Ride lots with 14,850 parking spaces. Bus fare for adults is $1.75 for a one-way trip, and just 50 cents more buys one a transfer to a connecting line or a ride back home.
Newspapers and Magazines
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the city’s daily paper, appears Monday through Sunday mornings. Pittsburgh Magazine is published monthly. Carnegie Magazine focuses on culture, emphasizing the collections at the Carnegie Museums and Library. In addition, several publications of interest to the African American community and various religious groups, as well as a variety of foreign language periodicals are published in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Business-Times provides weekly coverage of the region’s business community. More than two dozen other magazines and newspapers of local interest are published in and around Pittsburgh.
Television and Radio
Pittsburgh is served by four major networks and a public television station, and 13 smaller independent stations. Two of these are historic firsts in television history: WQED is home of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and the first publicly funded television station in the U.S., and KDKA, which had the honor of broadcasting the first electronic image through the air in 1929. DIRECTV sells satellite dish service in the area and Comcast is the cable TV company for Pittsburgh.
Thirteen AM and at least 20 FM radio stations broadcast programs whose content ranges from news and talk to R&B, rock, and country music. Westinghouse-owned station KDKA was granted the world’s first commercial radio license in Pittsburgh in 1920.
Media Information: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; telephone (412)263- 1743; toll-free (800)228-NEWS (6397). Pittsburgh Magazine, QED Communications, 4802 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213; telephone (412)622-1360
Allegheny County home page. Available www.county.pa .us/index.asp
The Carnegie Museums and Library. Available www.clpgh.org
City of Pittsburgh home page. Available www.city.pgh.pa .us
Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. Available www.pittsburgh chamber.com/public/cfm/homepage_chamber/index.cfm
Pittsburgh Greater Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.visitpittsburgh.com
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Available www.post-gazette.com
Pittsburgh Public Schools. Available www.pghboe.net
Pittsburgh Radio and TV Online. Available www.pbrtv.com
Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. Available www.pittsburgh region.org
Urban Redevelopment Authority. Available www.ura.org
Western Pennsylvania History. Available www.qed.org/erc/ pghist/units/WPAhist/wpa1.shtml