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!

Step Right Up ... And Up:
The inclines weren’t always the only way to scale the face of Mount Washington. In 1910, an ordinance was introduced to “build steps up the side of the bluff to Grandview Avenue following the old Indian trail,” according to the Pittsburgh Daily Post. Starting in 1935, this 2,400-foot stairway was used by those who couldn’t afford the incline fare. It was made up of 628 steps, “miles of wood, and enough gray paint to coat a battleship.” The steps were mostly gone and unusable by the 1940s, leaving us with our current options to get to Grandview: McArdle Roadway, an incline or getting drunk enough to attempt to free-climb it. 

A Different Kind of Amusement:
The “Park” in Kennywood Park’s name has a deeper historical meaning than you probably realize. When the Monongahela Street Railway Company opened Kennywood Park in 1899, it was a park-like attraction billed as picnic grounds. In addition to a dancing pavilion, the park featured several small lakes, cottages, a bowling alley, tennis courts, a bicycle racing track and even a baseball field. A far cry from the coaster-rich Kennywood we know and love (and eat our way through) today. 

At Least They Didn’t Drop the H:
Outside of a Bucs home run or a Penguins goal, you need a 10-page PDF to figure out what the weather-forecasting light display atop the Gulf Tower is telling you. But the beacon atop the Grant Building has been spelling out the same word in Morse Code since 1928 … P-I-T-T-S-B-U-R-G-H. Except during malfunctions; at various points, it has been spotted spelling out PITETSBKRRH and TPEBTSAURGH.

From Huckster to Artist:
efore achieving international fame, Andy Warhol was an 18-year-old Carnegie Tech student who spent the summer of 1946 selling vegetables from a wagon in Oakland and Homestead. He used the experience as inspiration for a series of sketches skewering the “new-rich” of Pittsburgh who made him “carry a pound of tomatoes to a sixth-floor apartment just to impress their friends.” That November, those sketches earned him a $40 Leisser Art Fund award. Of particular annoyance to the young Andy? Those who would squeeze the tomatoes. Makes you wonder if that’s why he chose the tomato soup can all those years later. 

Risky Move:
In 1904, H.J. Heinz decided he wanted the house in which he built and started the Heinz company to serve as a museum near his plant on the North Side. There was just one small problem: The house was 5 miles away in Sharpsburg. Heinz hired a local company to uproot the two-story brick house, roll it 800 feet to the Allegheny River and float it via barge to the North Side as a crowd looked on. In 1952, it was dismantled and rebuilt in Greenfield Village, Mich., where it sits today. 

Just Like in the Movies:
Since I last wrote about Pittsburgh’s first mayor, war hero Ebenezer Denny, I learned he became a message dispatcher for the Fort Pitt regiment by begging his father for permission to enlist — despite being just 13. Young Ebenezer did most of his riding at night to avoid detection, but once while nearing Fort Ligonier, he tried to finish the trip in the day ... only to be met by three hostile Native Americans. Ebenezer put his horse in a full sprint while they fired guns. After rounding a sharp curve, he dismounted, removed the long leather rein, stretched it across the path, and then watched as the indians’ horses hit the obstacle and tumbled down the hillside, allowing him to ride on. So what were you doing when you were 13?  


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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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