College Town

When people talk about the revitalization of Pittsburgh, it usually involves the tagline meds and eds — and meds and eds it is in College Town. You’ll find the sprawling buildings of Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow University and the University of Pittsburgh as well as several UPMC medical complexes. Here, you can climb to the top of the second-tallest educational building in the world. Whether you’re working on your degree or visiting someone who is, you’ll never be bored, thanks to a wealth of cultural opportunities.




photos by kristi jan hoover
 

What's Here?

North Oakland
It’s easy to think of Oakland as a rowdy neighborhood of college students, but a walk through North Oakland’s Schenley Farms Historic District will give you the chance to contemplate the architectural grandeur of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Central Oakland
A favored undergraduate enclave, Central Oakland offers plenty to do. Every block is packed with people hopping between the very many places to eat, drink and play.

South Oakland
You can be anything you want to be in South Oakland. The neighborhood raised artist Andy Warhol and footballer Dan Marino; it births babies at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and innovates at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center.

Terrace Village
Terrace Village runs alongside the Middle and Upper Hill districts, where the culture of the Hill runs into the University of Pittsburgh’s sports complexes. The neighborhood also is home to the Oak Hill apartment community.

West Oakland
Dominated by the campus of Carlow and a portion of Pitt’s massive footprint, West Oakland is home to education, innovation and — thanks to ample programs for both students and the public — community engagement.
 

Eat

Learn about Iranian culture (until the restaurant changes its focus) at Conflict Kitchen in North Oakland. Try the cold yogurt soup abdoogh khair. A project supported by CMU, Conflict Kitchen focuses its rotating menu on cultures with which the United States are in conflict.  221 Schenley Drive, conflictkitchen.org.

Combine your Pittsburgh ethnicities with a pie-rogi at Papa DaVinci’s in South Oakland. This delightful treat is a pizza with mashed potatoes, onions, mozzarella, provolone and cheddar.  3526 Boulevard of the Allies, papadavinci.com.

When the weather starts to turn cold — but before you vow never to leave your house again — we recommend one of the hoagie options at Oak Hill Market in Terrace Village. The cheesesteak, garlic chicken or chicken Parmesan varieties will spark your tongue and warm your insides.  504 Oak Hill Drive, facebook.com/oakhillmarketpgh.
 

Drink

A cup of peppermint tea is the perfect drink for an afternoon at The Corner in West Oakland. This space thrives on social justice, community education and the simple — and sometimes difficult — task of getting to know your neighbors.  200 Robinson St., cornerpgh.org.

Even if school’s out for the summer, you still can have a mason jar cocktail at student hotspot Hemingway’s Café in North Oakland. We recommend The Forbes Field (strawberry-lemonade vodka, sours, strawberry syrup and Sprite) while enjoying the café’s namesake summer poetry series.  3911 Forbes Ave., hemingwayspgh.com.

You’ll find outstanding cocktails both custom and classic at Butterjoint, the bar attached to Legume. Hungry drinkers can indulge in some of the top pierogies and hamburgers in Pittsburgh. 214 N. Craig St., butterjoint.com.
 

Shop

When was the last time you hit up your local metaphysical shop? If you can’t remember, then get on over to Hocus Pocus in Central Oakland. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you with everything from card readings to essential oils.  113 Meyran Ave., facebook.com/hocuspocus1313.

Maybe when you were young, you broke the Russian pecking-chickens paddle game at your grandparents’ house. We’ve all been there. Surprise your grandparents — or anyone who enjoys offbeat gifts — with traditional favorites from the Nationality Rooms Gift Center inside the Cathedral of Learning in North Oakland.  4200 Fifth Ave., nationalityrooms.pitt.edu/gifts/gift-center.
 

As the city becomes more and more bike-friendly, you’re going to need to up your game and your gear. Iron City Bikes in Central Oakland has been ahead of the curve for more than a decade; the staff can help you hit the streets, trails or the next big thing.  331 S. Bouquet St., ironcitybikes.com.
 

Do

Spend a night at the museum at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Third Thursday 18+ events each month. You can see the exhibits after dark, listen to live music and order from the cafe’s late-night menu.   4400 Forbes Ave., cmoa.org/third-thursday.

If you’re willing to go on a bit of an adventure, you can discover the beautiful treasure that is Panther Hollow in Central Oakland. There you’ll find a park that celebrates Pittsburgh’s Italian heritage.  End of Joncaire Street.

Stretch out and run around at Kennard Playground in Terrace Village. In addition to being a general hangout, the park also hosts an annual Community Appreciation Day as well as other health, wellness and justice events.  Reed Street at Kirkpatrick Street.
 

Food Critic's Pick

One of my favorite chefs in Pittsburgh is Tamilselvan Thanguardi, who runs the kitchen at All India Restaurant in North Oakland. The journeyman chef grew up in southern India and after years of moving around Pittsburgh kitchens has comfortably found a home at All India. There’s a buffet, of course, but I recommend ordering from the restaurant’s menu. The chaana masala and goat curry are especially good. (315 N. Craig St., allindiapgh.com) — Hal B. Klein
 


Austrian Nationality Room/photo provided by university of pittsburgh

Signature Event

At the University of Pittsburgh in North Oakland, The Nationality Rooms Holiday Open House is both a celebration of the 30 rooms and their heritage and a celebration of the holidays. The free festival, always held the first Sunday in December, brings together people and customs from cultures that otherwise might not have much in common. Expect traditional food, crafts and choreographed dances in the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room that will keep you entertained all afternoon. Make sure to visit the rooms themselves while you’re there. (nationalityrooms.pitt.edu) — Lauren Davidson
 

 

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21 Great Communities

Around the Point

With exciting options for work, play and attractive new housing – these Pittsburgh neighborhoods are the places a rising number of urbanites want to call home.

The New North

If you venture to this neighborhood only to attend a sporting event or concert at PNC Park or Heinz Field, you’re missing out; the area is full of restaurants, museums, cultural landmarks and churches, as well as some lovely historic homes.

The Old Allegheny Slopes

No matter where you drive or walk in The Old Allegheny Slopes, you are probably going up or down a hill. This makes for a lot of good views, along with hidden surprises tucked into these city neighborhoods.

The Northern 'Burbs

The area commonly referred to as the North Hills maintains its long-held status as a fine suburban place to live or go for a walk in a nature park, but the area also offers plenty of shopping and dining and play options.

The Near East

There’s a reason all of the out-of-town trend pieces praising Pittsburgh’s 21st-century rebirth seem to focus on these neighborhoods. This thriving part of the city is where design, the arts, restaurant culture and high-end shopping are integrated into Pittsburgh’s working-class bones.

Where 8 Meets 28

The river communities that have been home to many families with histories in steel- and glass-making have a wealth of quaint, independent retail stores, restaurants and businesses, as well as much-loved libraries, festivals and community days.

Allegheny River Communities

Each borough and municipality in this northeastern corner of Allegheny County contains surprises. To those who live along the river’s edge, they’re familiar, hometown destinations and sights; to visitors, they’re spots worth making the drive out along (the finally construction-free) Route 28.

College Town

When people talk about the revitalization of Pittsburgh, it usually involves the tagline meds and eds — and meds and eds it is in College Town. You’ll find the sprawling buildings of Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow University and the University of Pittsburgh as well as several UPMC medical complexes.

Green Pittsburgh

Green Pittsburgh is a story of the birth and rebirth of our city: students and young professionals flock to Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, adding vibrancy that radiates from top universities. Meanwhile, redevelopment in Hazelwood and Glen Hazel offers new chances for affordable housing and a blossoming community.

The Hidden East End

The Mellons, Fricks, Carnegies and Westinghouses built their mansions in this most-stylish part of town. But their departure for greener and more secluded pastures — and the mass relocation of families here after the razing of the Lower Hill — left much of this area economically depressed for decades. Now the long-awaited renaissance of East Liberty is beginning to bring major reinvestment here, too.

The Eastern Border

Most of these communities, which lie to the east of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, are residential suburbs with small business districts. There also are tons of beauty in these hills, which are packed with historic homes, parks, schools and churches, as well as evidence of Pittsburgh’s steel-making and industrial past.
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The Sprawling Suburbs

Roadways, which prompted the construction of shopping malls, always have played a key role in this region’s growth. Research labs for U.S. Steel, Westinghouse and others attracted engineers from around the world, particularly India, and the new immigrants often built temples — one of which is a familiar sight perched on a hillside overlooking I-376

The Mon and Beyond

Past meets the present in the communities making up Pittsburgh’s eastern and Mon Valley regions. Here you’ll encounter reminders of where we started as leaders in the steel industry and — while plenty of these small towns still face challenges — you’ll find glimpses of where we’re going in neighborhoods moving towards revitalization.

Scaling the Mountain

There’s a lot happening in the area between the South Side and the Hilltop, and every time you visit, it seems a new business has cropped up. The communities around Mount Washington enjoy beautiful views of the city as well as parks, strong neighborhood associations and ethnic restaurants.

The Reborn 'Burbs

This is where the city’s southern suburbs begin, at the edge of the city limits and drifting into the areas closest to Pittsburgh proper. Along the south bank of the Monongahela River — in an area with heavy industrial roots — you’ll find neighborhoods in the midst of revitalization, with plenty of business and more quaint places to live.

Far Down the River

Pittsburgh loves its blue-collar industrial history, and at the heart of that are the communities that make up the Mon Valley. Where the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers meet is the beginning of a network of proud, tight-knit communities with lots of trails and woods to explore, plenty of fishing spots and — important for any community — a wealth of beloved soft-serve ice cream stands.

The Southern Suburbs

With their abundance of green spaces, thriving business districts and walkable sidewalk communities, Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs offer plenty of incentive for families looking for a peaceful place to call home. Though mere minutes from Downtown, these neighborhoods make residents feel as though they are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Midwest

The neighborhoods west of Downtown were among the region’s first. Most were part of Chartiers Township, which (like the creek) was named for Pierre Chartier, a local trader of French and Shawnee parentage who later became a chief. Formerly farmland, most of this area was transformed by industry into working-class neighborhoods, a legacy which persists today.

Down the Highways

While driving southbound on Interstate 79, don’t be scared to take an exit and explore. These townships and boroughs range from scenic farmland to busy main streets. Regardless of the surroundings, the areas in this region all offer plenty to experience.

The Far-Flung 'Burbs

These primarily residential communities have spent the past years growing — and becoming more and more popular. With Pittsburgh International Airport nearby and increasing economic development, it’s easy to see why so many call this end of the region home.

The Ohio River Valley

The lands north of the Ohio River became part of the Depreciation Lands used to pay Revolutionary War veterans for their service. The numerous small boroughs and townships along Ohio River Boulevard are collected into slightly larger (but still compact) school districts, befitting their continued status as popular hometowns to raise families generation after generation.
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Getting Around & More

Your Guide to Getting There

How to make your way through construction, inscrutable directions and traffic and (quickly) get to everything Pittsburgh has to offer.

Six More Things You Might Not Know about Pittsburgh

The thing that annoyed a young Andy Warhol. A typo broadcast over the city skyline. And how our first mayor outwitted hostile natives at age 13. All of this and much more in the latest edition of Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh!

The Easy and Practical Newcomer's Guide to Pittsburgh

Here's everything you need to know about getting settled in the Steel City.
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