90 Neighborhoods and What We Love About Them
Explore the ins and outs of Pittsburgh’s incredible, diverse neighborhoods with fun things to do in every part of town.
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Take a break from whatever you should be doing and enjoy a cigar and cuppa at Leaf & Bean.
Like the sail of an enormous ship, the bow of the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture curves above Liberty Avenue, a sleek masterpiece of metal and glass. Since its unveiling in 2009, the downtown center has astonished locals and visitors alike, becoming one of the most awe-inspiring structures in the city. Named after Pittsburgh’s beloved playwright, the August Wilson Center houses art galleries, classrooms and a voluminous theater with state-of-the-art equipment. The interior is on par with any Smithsonian hall, and the facilities offer nonstop activity, from concerts to staged readings to fine art exhibits. For years, the city’s African-American community could only dream of such a wondrous venue. Today, that dream is more than a reality — the center is a pillar of the Cultural District, attracting visitors weekly. The AWC Dance Ensemble has attracted national attention. During Gallery Crawls, the place is packed. In coming years, the August Wilson Center will have to evolve in order to keep itself buoyant. Downtown is a fickle neighborhood, and staff needs to stay savvy to attract patrons and donors. One thing will endure: The center is a monument to Pittsburgh’s rich history and a reminder of how much African-American culture has impacted Steel City lifeIt won’t be easy, but one way or another, this ship will sail. — Robert Isenberg
[980 Liberty Ave.; augustwilsoncenter.org, 412/258-2700]
Pittsburgh Public Schools' Miller Pre-K to 5 center, formerly Miller African Centered Academy, gives Hill District students a head start.
Oishii Bento offers a variety of sushi choices, including the Oishii and ocean rolls, which can be made spicy upon request.
Middle Hill – Wylie Avenue
No Pittsburgh neighborhood has undergone a struggle more documented than the Hill District. At one time, Wylie Avenue was one of America’s great centers of black culture. This is where the Pittsburgh Courier became a newspaper of national influence. It’s where Pittsburgh’s African-American population found an identity. This is where such talents as Billy Eckstein, Lena Horne and August Wilson grew. (Several of Wilson’s plays, including Gem of the Ocean, Two Trains Running, Radio Golf and Pulitzer Prize-winner The Piano Lesson are set on or around Wylie Avenue.) Unfortunately, the development of what was the Lower Hill in the 1960s decimated the culture of the Hill District, with the construction of the Civic Arena as the knockout punch. More than 50 years later, the glory days may be gone for Wylie Avenue — but it remains a center of culture, commerce and community. August Wilson once observed that the Hill District never seemed to sleep, that there was always movement and life there. That’s still true today, as churches, civic organizations and the nearby Carnegie Library branch dominate the street. Part of the Hill may be gone, but its history is immovable. — Sean Collier
High above the city, Pitt's student-athletes train at the Petersen Sports Complex.
The statue is about 12 feet tall (closer to 14 at the tip of the sword) and weighs about 3 tons. Made of cast iron, it has developed a pale-green patina throughout the years. The statue was installed in October 2011 in an empty lot at the corner of Tustin and Seneca streets in the part of Uptown that’s sometimes called “Soho.” Sam Kiss, a native of Belgium, saw this warrior in the lot of an antiques store in Duncansville, Pa., and fell in love at first sight; he eventually arranged to truck the artwork here on a flatbed. He’s dubbed the statue “Sir Samelot,” and he thinks of it not only as a neighborhood guardian but also as a menacing reminder to folks downtown on Grant Street to be careful with their politics. Neither Kiss nor the man at the antiques store can offer a guess as to the statue’s provenance, but Kiss says the markings on the knight’s shield might be able to tell us something. In his first few months as a Pittsburgher, Sir Samelot was decorated several times: with pumpkins and a Scream mask for Halloween; with a Steelers shield; with an extended sword lancing three turkeys for Thanksgiving; and with a Santa hat and sleigh for Christmas. — Rick Sebak
Robert E. Williams Memorial Park is a stately, historic landmark dating to 1889.
The Hill House Association is a nonprofit with deep roots — its heritage can be traced back to ancestors in the early 1900s. Today, the organization provides early child development services, senior care and much more. — Sean Collier