What Our Neighborhoods Do Best
The perfect neighborhood for every Pittsburgher.
Photo by Dave DiCello
Honestly, calling Pittsburgh a “City of Neighborhoods” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Picking a corner of the city to hang your hat can lead to some different lifestyles, from the constant beat of East Carson Street to the cultural wonders of Oakland to the tranquil calm of Brookline. Fortunately, we found a guide. The folks at PittsburghCityLiving.com, in conjunction with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, polled experts and residents on the unique strengths and characteristics of every local neighborhood. We combed through their data and picked out an ideal home base for 20 lifestyles — so you should be able to find your perfect neighborhood match. We also asked Rick Sebak about each ’hood’s hidden wonders. Whether you’re looking for a new home or are simply curious about what the city and its suburbs have to offer, it’s time to explore.
The Perfect Neighborhood for the New and Modern
On a warm summer evening, downtown is chock-a-block with people. Streams of baseball fans flow toward PNC Park, creeks of hipsters soak into galleries, and rivers of ticketholders drift in to catch Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Public Theater performances. All around them, steel skyscrapers and antique brick office buildings punctuate the skyline. The asphalt vibrates with foot-traffic, Port Authority buses and even the T whooshing below.
The Cultural District has transformed downtown — from a mash of office buildings and forgotten shops to something of a mecca for arts and culture. Instead of “adult bookshops,” visitors find Awesome Books, Go Pretzel and Pittsburgh Popcorn Co. When students and office workers converge each morning, they pass sculptures, murals and billboards for upcoming shows.
Meanwhile, a refurbished Market Square and Point Park University’s brand-new Academic Village offer denizens more open space and fresh air than they could’ve ever imagined. With the completion of the North Shore Connector, partitions and orange tape were stripped away, revealing a sparkling, new Golden Triangle. Our city has come a long way in the past few decades, and nowhere is that progress more evident than right in the middle of it all.
Horne’s Department Store is no longer the tenant of the seven-story building at the corner of Penn and Stanwix. Highmark occupies much of it today, but stately old brass plaques drop clues that this was once a classy retail emporium. Founded by Joseph Horne in 1849, Pittsburgh’s first downtown department store stuck around until 1994, when Lazarus replaced Horne’s. And the store’s logo (two intertwined horns) is still embedded in the sidewalk near several entrances.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Constant Variety
In what other neighborhood could you find the nation’s most scenic baseball stadium and the Mattress Factory, with its maze of installation art? Where else do you stumble into an underground jazz club and paddle a rented kayak around a manmade pond? You could walk the back streets for hours, take in the pastel-colored row houses and think, I’ve seen the North Side. I know what it’s all about — and then you turn a corner and spot the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Plus The National Aviary. And The Andy Warhol Museum.
Somewhere near East Ohio Street, you just throw up your hands and say, “I give up. What is the North Side?”
Well, it’s variety. Every block and alleyway yields something different and new. In a way, the North Side is Pittsburgh at its most open — residents make of it what they will. Avant-garde café? Urban garden? The still-new Rivers Casino, instantly a magnet nightlife destination for the region? An enormous hospital complex (with helipad)? The North Side has everything. Whether it’s honoring past wars (Mexican War Streets) or paying homage to its earliest immigrants (Deutschtown), the area is a wild amalgam of people and expressions. And beyond the noise of the neighborhood, beneath the cacophony of the stadiums, the riverfront is to die for.
Steve’s New York Hot Dogs on Federal Street is always busy. “There’s never really a lull most days,” says Fanny Kostos, who has run this place with her sister, Irene Karavolos, since 2000 (they named the shop after their late father, Steve). The original recipe for the chili (circa 1963) came with the building – it’s finely ground beef with lots of spices. Order the chili atop an “Everything” dog (only $1!).
The Perfect Neighborhood for Living Close to Everything
When you walk into the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. (aka Penn Mac), be sure to ask the deli clerk for a cheese sample. Pick something good. She’ll cut you a slice, call you “dearheart,” and deliver a short dissertation on the cheese’s merits.
That’s life in the Strip District — walkable, personable and brimming with expertise. Park your car once, and you can find a butcher, a baker, a coffee brewer and a cigar aficionado without breaking a sweat. Continue your stroll, and in no time, you’ll encounter the sea-scented world of Wholey’s Fish Market. A little farther, you can get fresh tofu at Lotus Food Market. Wait a while to catch a concert at Altar Bar, all without having to move your car.
Between Bloomfield and downtown, the Strip sprawls like the seaport of a bygone age, when groceries were purchased in markets and biscotti was baked fresh. When the Strip District’s population exploded throughout the last decade, new residents found themselves close to the river and the Cultural District, and a stone’s throw from the “new” Lawrenceville. But the wisest newcomers know that they’re not just close to the action; they’re right in the middle of it.
If you find Lucy Sheets on Penn Avenue outside the old No. 7 Engine Co., you may fall in love with her and her sandwiches. Called “banh mi,” these Vietnamese-style hoagies — cooked fresh daily from 8 a.m. ’til 2:30 p.m. — include cilantro, jalapeños, pickled cauliflower, carrots, onions, grilled chicken and some secret ingredients. One of the best lunches in town!
The Perfect Neighborhood for the Avid Cyclist
The Eliza Furnace Trail is a plucky little bike path. Flat, straight and smoothly paved, the trail begins at the foot of Oakland and continues, uninterrupted, all the way to downtown. Not only is the route safe and fast, but it also ducks under the Birmingham Bridge and runs parallel to several important roads, including I-376. And every day, in every kind of weather, cyclists ride the full length and back.
While Uptown has struggled for several years, the trail continues to draw thousands of commuters every season. And because Uptown is the link between Oakland and downtown — plus Pitt and Duquesne — this long, narrow neighborhood is often filled with bicycle commuters. Forbes and Fifth avenues draw all kinds of traffic, and although there’s no ascribed bike lane, cyclists routinely travel this corridor, from home to work to school and back.
Since most people drive or bus through Uptown, only cyclists get a real sense of the neighborhood’s charms. Lounges and pizzerias abound on Forbes Avenue, and little shops cluster around UPMC Mercy and Duquesne’s campus. And when big events occur downtown, traffic is atrocious. Taking their shortcut through Uptown, it’s the cyclists who reach their doorsteps first.
Gist Street, only five blocks long, connects the Boulevard of the Allies to Fifth Avenue. It’s named after Christopher Gist, an explorer, surveyor and guide from North Carolina who passed through this area several times in the 1750s. Gist returned to western Pennsylvania with General Braddock in 1755 during the General’s disastrous attempt to oust the French from the area. Sadly, Braddock earned himself a big long avenue while Gist just gets a short cross-street.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Chatting Up the Neighbors
Witamy Do reads the sign as you cruise into Polish Hill. By traditional measure, the neighborhood shouldn’t exist. The houses stand on precipitous slopes. The streets are laid out at impossible angles. There’s no supermarket — but there are at least four bars, one café and a record store. And right in the middle of Polish Hill looms the breathtaking green-onion domes of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, still attended by mobs of regulars.
Only one type of person could live in this odd, malformed, illogical neighborhood: someone who loves it. Small wonder then that the elder Polish Hill natives blend so well with the young artists and radicals who choose to call these thoroughfares home. Everybody knows everybody here, and they cavort in Gooski’s or The Rock Room. Folks nod as they pass on the uneven sidewalks of Melwood Avenue, and they wave from their porches when strangers climb the concrete stairways. And if you stick around, their stories are bound to knock you out. Polish Hill isn’t the most affluent neighborhood. The buildings are old. It’s even hard to get to, no matter how you commute. But you can’t beat the people.
What does “Witamy Do” mean, anyway? It’s Polish for “Welcome.”
Immaculate Heart Of Mary Church was built between 1901 and 1904, with lots of help from men from the neighborhood who pitched in after their day jobs. The building, designed by architect William P. Ginther, was modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The statue of Mary inside the church wears a gold locket that contains the names of the Polish families who founded the parish in 1897.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Living Fashion-Forward
At Round Corner Cantina, your tacos de chorizo look downright handsome: browned chunks of chorizo, chopped cilantro, slices of radish and a lime wedge, all spread over a floppy tortilla. Ten years ago, you would never see such an elegant taco on Butler Street. And you wouldn’t have sipped a Basil Julep on an atmospheric back patio either. But now you can. You can also dress fashionably. And talk about hot-button topics with post-grads. Because, nowadays, Lawrenceville is lookin’ good.
Lawrenceville has always been a solid neighborhood, the home of decent, working-class families. But the 16:62 Design Zone is also getting a makeover — favorite shops have sprouted up, like WildCard and Divertido. Fresh venues, like New Amsterdam and 720 Music. New benches and gardens, and new art galleries and artists — plus, new concepts, like the Arsenal Building “loft parties.”
But there is no better showcase of Lawrenceville’s spirit than Art All Night. In April, the annual art market drew hordes of artists and visitors to a remote industrial warehouse. Each chamber was packed with canvases, photographs, drawings and sculptures. The place looked fantastic. It wasn’t the fashion or the work itself — it was the smiles, the thoughtful expressions and the encouragement. In a single word: beautiful.
The Pittsburgh Electric Club in Lawrenceville is a private club housed in the basement of a stately Greek Revival house built by Dr. Peter Mowry in the 1830s. Architect Keith Cochran is currently restoring the place, and he’s allowing the club to stay in the basement, where it’s been since 1973. The club traces its history to 1891, when employees of George Westinghouse decided they needed a place to socialize.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Keeping in Touch with Nature
There’s no part of the city named more literally than Highland Park. The neighborhood stands high above the Allegheny River, and one-third of its territory is covered in lawns and woodland. The entrance to the park is decorated with manicured tracts of sod and bush, like the gardens of Versailles. Each morning, runners lap around the Highland Park Reservoir. Birds take wing over quiet little Lake Carnegie. And a bestiary of exotic animals greets the day in the simulated habitats of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
Even along the urban streets of Highland Park, trees grow everywhere, and every house is only a few minutes from King Estate or Heth’s Playground. The people of Highland Park don’t just keep in touch with nature — they are surrounded by it.
The area’s most notable monuments are the Welcome Sculptures on North Highland Avenue, a pair of Classical women waving olive branches from their tall pillars. Cast in bronze by sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, these 1896 statues beckon visitors into the park. It’s quite the greeting; towering over Highland Avenue, no figure could be more triumphant. As you pass them, you expect to hear trumpets. Instead, you hear songbirds.
Billy Eckstine was one of the most popular American singers in the 1940s and ’50s. He was a pop icon, a jazz vocalist, a bandleader and a handsome man known for the style of his clothes, as well as the smoothness and clarity of his singing. Eckstine was born and raised in Highland Park on Bryant Street; there is now a state historic marker outside the red-brick house where he grew up.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Staying Active
Suppose a (local) mad scientist had built a time machine in 2000 and traveled to the year 2012. Would he recognize East Liberty? Would he feel disoriented and confused? He might wonder what happened to this neighborhood in 12 short years. Where did the high-rise projects go? Where did the Trader Joe’s come from? What is Ethiopian food? And how come everybody looks so fit?
East Liberty has undergone a renaissance lately, but the most unsung achievement is improved athletics. The place is packed with gyms, from Club One and Urban Active Fitness to Global Wellness and MUV Integrated Fitness. As the streets earn a better reputation, joggers and cyclists can be spotted everywhere. Baseball teams square off in nearby Mellon Park, along with runners, hoopsters and tennis players. And when the games are over, aching players can slip into Massage Heights of Bakery Square for a rubdown.
When Pittsburghers think of the inner city, they usually think of East Liberty. In the past, they might’ve pictured concrete and express buses — but that’s the old East Liberty. Locals are sweating off extra pounds, and they’re healthier and happier than every before. Nobody ever dreamed of such improvement.
Built in 1900 as the East Liberty Market House, the large yellow-brick structure now called Motor Square Garden has had many lives. It went out of business in 1915; then came boxing matches, bicycle races, Pitt basketball games and, in May 1932, a dance marathon. KDKA hosted the first-ever broadcast of a sporting event here in 1921. The building was a Cadillac Showroom starting in 1938. It was even a shopping mall for a brief period in the late ’80s.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Going Organic
Where exactly is Friendship? Locals love to dispute its borders. Does it start at Friendship Park? Does it end at East Liberty? On a map, Friendship looks like a blunt arrowhead. But the actual perimeter is not important. When you turn onto South Fairmont or Emory Way, something in your gut just feels different. Rows of Victorian houses stand on bright, sloping lawns, and trees form a tunnel that looms above the quiet streets. Friendship feels so — well, friendly.
And all around the neighborhood, businesses cater to this joie de vivre. Locals find fresh produce at nearby Giant Eagle Market District and ingredients fit for the ultimate foodie at Whole Foods in neighboring East Liberty. They take a quick trip down Penn to dine at Garfield’s Salt of the Earth, one of the most celebrated culinary experiences in the city. They sip craft brews at the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium and host parties on their broad porches. They careen through the neighborhood on fixed bicycles, learn new positions at Yoga Hive and stroll up to Penn for the Unblurred art walk.
It’s not surprising that Friendship was once a colonial farm and that its name has Quaker origins. The people of Friendship like to taste Bloomfield’s action, but they also like quality meals, organic lifestyles, and some peace and quiet. It might just be the most
balanced place around.
Turn off Penn Avenue onto South Aiken Avenue, and look for the community garden on your left. Inside are nicely tended plots – but right smack dab in the middle sits a mosaic octopus with striped pipe for tentacles! It’s the Octopus’s Garden! The garden was the brilliant design idea of local resident Kristin Hughes; Octavia, the superbly wacky sculpture, was donated by Pittsburgh artist Laura Jean McLaughlin. Be on the lookout for the “Caution: Tomatoes” signs!
The Perfect Neighborhood for Diversity
All kinds of people reside in Shadyside. Grad students live there. Entrepreneurs. Professors. Artists and dishwashers. Asians, Africans and Latinos. In a single converted mansion, veterans and hippies cohabitate. They eat everything from sushi to tapas. Some wear American Apparel; others shop at Hey Betty! Vintage Clothing and Collectibles. Shadyside is home to more gay nightlife than anywhere else in the region. Even the art galleries are diverse — Gallerie Chiz sells modern canvases and sculpture, while Galerie Werner sells antique European oil paintings.
Shadyside is a cultural lodestone, attracting people from all over the world. Newcomers yearn to live here. They settle in renovated studios and houses, and they spend their free time browsing the storefronts on Walnut Street or taking in Ellsworth nightlife. Shadyside is a melting pot of disparate cultures and identities. This is the neighborhood that put Pamela’s P&G Diner and La Feria in the same building — Lyonnaise potatoes and Peruvian empanadas served within a close promixity.
The real diversity test: the delightfully wacky Kards Unlimited. Pittsburgh’s most eccentric novelty shop draws every kind of person imaginable. If you love to people-watch, this is the place to do it. No two customers are the same.
Cathedral Mansions – home to many Pitt and CMU students – is a big apartment building at 4716 Ellsworth Ave., officially in Shadyside (although some might consider it North Oakland). For more than 30 years, Fred Rogers rented a ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment here, where he wrote scripts for his TV shows and composed songs on an electric piano. He walked back and forth from here to WQED’s Fifth Avenue headquarters.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Hanging Out at the Corner Bar
You could call it la vita bella. In the afternoon, folks amble the wide sidewalks of Liberty Avenue as if they have nowhere important to go. They sip cappuccino at outdoor tables, they trade gossip, they chuckle. And when the sun sags low, they stand up and head for the bar.
Happy hour stretches long in Bloomfield. Some people arrive in the afternoon and stay ’til midnight and beyond. If the conversation is good, they might hobble home without bothering to check the time. People don’t get moody or bellicose — why would they? Everybody they know is here, sitting on the deck of the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern digging into a massive “Polish Platter.” Or they’re gathered around the inlaid wood of Lot 17. Or they’re signing up for karaoke around the jam-packed bar of Del’s Bar & Ristorante. Whether they sip Cabernet or Iron City, they share stories and elbow room, and the time passes dreamily. That’s how they roll in Bloomfield after the sun goes down.
And locals know where to cavort — secret spots like Sonny’s Tavern and Nico’s Recovery Room. They know the weekly specials and the bartender’s backstory. Spend some time in Bloomfield, and you’ll get to know everybody, too. You’ll end up with a go-to stool. Doesn’t take long to fit in.
It’s easier to love a neighborhood that still has a good bakery. Especially where fresh doughnuts fill the cases every morning – and cookies and cakes with French buttercream icing are part of the local landscape. Paddy Cake Bakery has been a delicious part of the Bloomfield scene since the early 1980s. Pittsburghers who love cream-filled lady locks, take note: Sometimes Paddy Cake bakers make giant-sized versions of that pastry that could satisfy a family of six!
The Perfect Neighborhood for Performances and Museums
Every local knows that U2 played in Oakland before the band became famous. They know that August Wilson taught himself how to write at the Carnegie Library, and that President Obama spoke at Soldiers and Sailors. It’s even rumored that Salman Rushdie visited Oakland during the Fatwa. The list goes on and on.
But those are special occasions — celebrity cameos, if you will. Every day, Oakland is a hub of museums, concerts, poetry readings and events. In five minutes, you can walk from the Dinosaur Hall at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to the annual Greek Festival at the Church of the Ascension. You could attend a Theosophy lecture and a Kuntu Repertory Theatre performance in the same evening. You can taste the cuisine of a dozen different nations. You can puff a shisha at The Sphinx Café and watch live belly-dancing. If downtown is our Manhattan, then Oakland is our Brooklyn — filled to the brim with activity, youth culture, excitement and illumination.
Oakland has changed a lot over time, yet much has stayed the same. Tela Ropa and the Oakland Beehive are long gone, Oishii Bento and Joe Mama’s Italian Deluxe have risen, and Dave & Andy’s Ice Cream still scoops frozen delights every summer. Whatever it looks like on the surface, this area will always draw crowds. For sheer vivacity, Oakland reigns omnipotent.
There’s no marker, but the right half of the modest yellow-brick duplex at 3252/54 Dawson St. was home to Andy Warhola from 1934 (when he was only 6) until 1949 (when he lost the “a” at the end of his last name and left for New York City). Folks in South Oakland recently put up a sign: “Welcome To The Boyhood Home of Dan Marino & Andy Warhol.”
The Perfect Neighborhood for Trendy Hangouts
If you have a yen for frozen treats, you’ll find five parlors in a two-block radius. Asian cuisine? Five different restaurants. A place to watch the game? Take your pick: Silky’s, Fanattics, the Squirrel Hill Café. And a half-dozen others. Name a dessert, a delicacy or a kosher ingredient. Squirrel Hill has it — actually, it probably has six varieties of it.
This iconic destination neighborhood excels at too many things to list. All kinds of people live here, work here and attend Allderdice High School. But Squirrel Hill is also a trendsetting neighborhood. Locals flaunt their talents, from the waffles at Waffallonia to the curry of Sun Penang. And when friends get together at “The Cage,” they spend hours playing board games, sharing pitchers, rooting for the Pens and yakking it up.
Squirrel Hill brims with energy, and you’ll feel it in the morning at the Bagel Factory, midday at the 61C Café and all night outside the darkened windows of the Murray Avenue Grill. Laced with caffeine, that verve vibrates through the tables of Pamela’s P&G Diner. That vigor surges toward the pins of Forward Lanes. Day and night, Squirrel Hill pulsates — and that liveliness is the only trend that never dies.
The house at 1180 Murray Hill Ave. has a talented former tenant — the great American novelist Willa Cather, who lived here as a guest in an attic apartment from 1901 to 1906. The house was home to Judge Samuel A. McClung, whose daughter Isabelle was friends with the writer. Cather moved to New York City in 1906, but returned often; she wrote most of O Pioneers! and The Song Of The Lark here before the McClungs moved out in 1916.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Stunning Views
Just take a gander down Thomas Boulevard: Lovely old houses line the sidewalks, peering past sloped lawns and tall trees. The boulevard is divided by a green strip, which pauses for grassy roundabouts. In summer, the air in Point Breeze tastes sweet. In the autumn, the skyline blazes gold. In winter, the icicled porches look downright Dickensian.
And Thomas Boulevard isn’t even the scenic part of Point Breeze. This sleepy residential neighborhood is a slice of Mayberry, where a couple little streets house every bit of business: a dry cleaner, a veterinary clinic, Make Your Mark Artspace & Coffeehouse, Pino’s Contemporary Italian and the most celebrated spot of all — Point Brugge Café. Beyond this little cluster, Point Breeze is a web of stately houses and tree-shaded streets, as tranquil as the leaves that overhang.
On the far reaches of Point Breeze, you find the Frick Art & Historical Center, whose estates contain a mansion, a café, a greenhouse, an art gallery, a garage for antique cars and some of the loveliest grounds in the region. Point Breeze isn’t busy. But for a peaceful promenade, Breezers know what others are missing.
The wonderful Pittsburgh architect Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr. built several unusual and interesting structures around here in the first half of the 20th century. As you drive along Penn, look for the double duplex known as the Parkstone Dwellings (1922) near Murtland Avenue. Scheibler designed the buildings with beautiful Moravian tile mosaic decorations that look like Persian rugs hanging from the upper windows. Check out the concrete mushrooms by the four front doors!
The Perfect Neighborhood for Parks and Playgrounds
The first thing you see when driving along Braddock Avenue is Frick Park. Children scamper around a grassy playground. Families host barbecues beneath municipal shelters. Rookies toss baseballs in the diamond, and tennis players parley on the court. Their backdrop is a tsunami of green foliage. If the grass is always greener on the other side, then Regent Square is the other side.
Like a city by the sea, Regent Square’s border is a great swathe of nature. Joggers disappear into the woods, just as dog-walkers emerge from it. The parks serve as both refuge and recreation. On the edge of the city limits, the children of Regent Square can play on a public lawn, hikers can explore the reclaimed greenscape of Nine Mile Run and athletes can hone their skills. Any other neighborhood should be so lucky.
Only a few blocks away, the Regent Square business district hums along. Locals chow down on gourmet hot dogs from D’s and catch art films at the Regent Square Theater. It looks like any other prosperous city street. But after a scrumptious brunch at the Square Café, any couple can arm their stroller, head to the park and disappear among the trails. That’s what parks are meant for.
Bumpy brick streets slow down traffic in the part of Regent Square west of Braddock Avenue, the grid of streets that constitute the oldest part of “The Square.” This part of the homey neighborhood is bordered on three sides by Frick Park; look for the red bricks that cover the streets inside the City of Pittsburgh limits, while orange bricks indicate you’ve passed into Swissvale.
The Perfect Neighborhood for a Suburban Feel in the City
Yes, Swisshelm Park feels suburban — but nothing like the McMansion developments of the past few decades. You won’t find boring checkerboards and identical designs, standard-issue kitchens and bland clapboard siding. Swisshelm Park is an old-fashioned suburb of ranch houses and brick cottages. When you walk its wide streets, you travel back in time, to the Rockwellian America of yesteryear.
If Swissvale is a humming town of culture and commerce, Swisshelm Park is a milder younger sibling. Time passes easily here, in a place that’s home to a firehouse, a tiny parklet and the Sarah Jackson Black Community Center. There are no particular chain stores in Swisshelm and no billboards or sprawl. This charming neighborhood is just a little slice of houses and two-lane streets, the way Pittsburgh’s surrounding environs used to be. The highway roars above, but Swisshelm Park doesn’t even trifle with an exit ramp.
Then again, Swisshelmers don’t have to travel far to find action. Regent Square is right around the corner, and Frick Park is only a stone’s throw away. Pub in the Park nearly straddles the line between Swissvale and Swisshelm, attracting regulars from both neighborhoods. And on a warm night, a promenade through Swisshelm is a sweet pastime.
One of the most prominent buildings in this small neighborhood is the solid red-brick city firehouse, home of Engine Co. 19. Built in 1915, the structure still has its original No. 61 – although someone must have noticed by now that the old number could be flipped upside down! The tall tower in the building was originally used for drying the big hoses after a fire.
The Perfect Neighborhood for My Pets
For a neighborhood that doesn’t cover a full square mile, Greenfield is amazingly complicated. The flat part of Greenfield borders Squirrel Hill. Then Greenfield Avenue curves down a long slope, with homes on both sides. Then you arrive in “The Run,” a secret settlement at the bottom of a ravine. If you don’t live there, Greenfield can seem a little hard to pin down.
Here’s the big secret: Greenfield is a fantastic place for pets. “Pets?,” you ask. Yes — dogs in particular. Whether you’ve got a pointer, a schnauzer, a sheepdog or a husky, Greenfield has navigable streets and friendly neighbors — not to mention Schenley Park to the north and a lovely bike path in The Run. Slow-moving traffic means owners can slacken their leashes, and quiet walkways and steep inclines will keep a canine active for hours on end.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood is also home to Greenfield Veterinary Hospital, where animals have been treated since 1979, and the Greenfield Grooming Salon, which employs a stylist with a knack for maintaining furry friends’ looks. Both are small businesses with an independent spirit, and pet owners come to this unassuming locale from all over the county to have their pooches X-rayed and trimmed. Healthy, happy and good looking — what more could a pup ask for?
In the northwestern part of Greenfield (called “The Run”), in the shadow of the Parkway East, the handsome old church of Saint Joachim has been de-sanctified and transformed. Now, it’s the home and warehouse of internet-based DrumFactoryDirect.com; the company fills orders for drum parts and equipment to be shipped around the world. The group also sells exotic musical instruments, and plans to open a retail shop soon.
The Perfect Neighborhood for Excitement
South Side is really two different neighborhoods: South Side by day and South Side by night. In the daytime, this 30-block commercial strip is a timeless ode to Main Street America. You can buy a cup of espresso at the Beehive and peruse the racks at Slacker or Yesterday’s News. You can lose an entire afternoon strolling from shop to shop, and along the sidewalk, you’ll spot all the characters that make South Side so dynamic: tattoo artists hanging outside their studios, bike punks pedaling through traffic and shopkeepers who have lived in the Flats for decades.
Then night descends, and everything changes. Like a Rust Belt Bourbon Street, East Carson Street comes alive with brightly lit signs and wide open doors. No matter the season, throngs of youth flood the streets and alleyways. They pack into bars and seep into restaurants until there’s hardly room to wave a Terrible Towel. Special brews and elaborate cocktails flow freely. Nocturnal South Side is a place of bravado, loud voices and raucous laughter. The density of pubs is world-famous; meanwhile, in the side streets, every real-life comedy and drama imaginable unfolds. You will not need to seek out excitement in South Side. Excitement will, assuredly, find you.
City Books is a treasure in the 21st century – a traditional used-book store full of surprises. Ed Gelblum, a retired professor from Duquesne University, has been involved in the book business here since the early 1980s, and he knows his East Carson Street shop has become a rarity. “It’s more than just the love of books,” he says. “It’s human civilization.”
The Perfect Neighborhood for Saving Some Cash
Truth be told, Grandview is among the most opulent streets in the city. The avenue is named after its breathtaking view of downtown, and this panorama makes Grandview some highly prized real estate. Located along it are some of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants and most expensive domiciles.
But just a couple of blocks off of Grandview, Mt. Washington is a regular ’hood. The streets are steep, and the lanes are narrow — but otherwise, Mt. Washington is a quaint little village that rolls over the landscape like waves on the ocean. Rent is cheap, properties are reasonable and you can still buy a decent lunch (at one of several neighborhood eateries) for $5.
Lowlanders forget about Mt. Washington, mostly because it seems hard to reach. But good times can be had for a song if you scale the hill. You’ll find places like Red Beard’s and the Havana Lounge, fun little spots that won’t raid your wallet. And the Shiloh Grill may offer the most economical brunch in the city: a mimosa, bottomless coffee and all the eggs Benedict you can eat for $14. You might have to be well-off to live on Grandview, but Mt. Washington is made for everybody.
Standing on Grandview Avenue, overlooking the city, can make you forget your journey up the hill – unless you pedaled your bike up Sycamore Street, sometimes called Burma Road. It’s steep, with hairpin curves, and it’s always part of the annual Dirty Dozen ride, a grueling trek that scales Pittsburgh’s most intimidating hills. When the city hosted the international Thrift Drug Classic bicycle race in the 1990s, the 120-mile course included 11 climbs up Sycamore.
The Perfect Neighborhood for a Little Peace and Quiet
Farmers and miners first settled in Brookline during the 19th century. Only a hop away from Pittsburgh, the small town might as well have been in Kansas — and more than 100 years later, Brookline is still peaceful and easygoing. The neighborhood lies over the hills from downtown, far from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Brookline Boulevard is home to places like the Moonlite Café, Boulevard Ice Cream and Party Cake Shop. The strip is long and full of small businesses, but the pace is calm and carefree.
Most of the neighborhood consists of residential streets, lined up in grids. You won’t find a neater layout than Brookline’s, and residents can easily skip over to Brookline Memorial Park, Moore Park or McKinley Park. In this relaxed environment, people raise kids, buy local and get to know their neighbors by name. You get the best of urban life — shops, eateries and nightlife — with all the room (and privacy) of the suburbs. Their neighborhood may not get much attention, but Brookliners seem to like it that way. When residents need excitement, they know they can find it on the other side of the Liberty Tunnel. Otherwise, Brookline is a place of hassle-free days and serene nights.
The Pittsburgh Baptist Church on Pioneer Avenue was the first Southern Baptist congregation in Pennsylvania when it was founded in 1959, but some 17 new Baptist churches have grown out of this one. In July 1992, just days after receiving the Democratic nominations for president and vice-president, Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with Al and Tipper Gore, attended Sunday services here as part of their bus tour across America.