Best (and Worst) of Pittsburgh




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Arts, Entertainment & Leisure

Best Reopening: Dormont's Hollywood Theatre, which was treated to $300,000 in renovations in 2006, is now under the management of Motion Picture Heritage Corp. (MPH), a group based in Indianapolis that operates, and seems to truly appreciate, classic cinemas. According to Bill Dever of MPH, the art-deco-style single-screen theater, built in the 1920s, will host classic films, "B-movies," independent films, current releases, family matinees, film festivals, theme nights (including Rocky Horror Picture Show) and live music. The venue reopened this August, and future plans for the 298-seat venue include a cafe and lounge. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont; hollywooddormont.com. - J.W.

Best Clubhouse: When it comes to battling cancer, medical care is only the half of it. Gilda's Club Western Pennsylvania offers a program of social and emotional support for anyone living with cancer - men, women, teens and children along with their friends and families. The club organizes social activities and in-house lectures and workshops such as yoga and meditation, nutritious cooking and stress reduction, and includes a state-of-the-art kitchen, a children's playroom and a media room. Membership is free; donations support Gilda's Club. 2816 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/338-1919, gildasclubwesternpa.org. - C.H.

Best Re-Invention of a Pittsburgh Radio Legend:
What a year Lynn Cullen's had. One of Pittsburgh's favorite broadcasters, the self-proclaimed "Lone Liberal" of daily talk fell victim not once but twice to radio station format changes in '09. But who needs "old media"? Cullen now entertains loyal listeners here and around the world via online streaming on City Paper's Web site. Her show airs live from 10 to 11 a.m. every weekday, with previous broadcasts archived for download from the site at any time. "I'm thrilled to be back with my audience again," Cullen says, "annoying right-wingers 24 hours a day." "Lynn Cullen Live" can be heard at pghcitypaper.com. - J.W.

Best Neighborhood Artwork:
The Pittsburgh region is a bastion of local pride. You'll see a glimpse of it as you cross the Rankin Bridge to enter the borough of Braddock and are greeted by a stunning 10-by-12-foot mosaic mural, which spells out the words, "Welcome to Historic Braddock," in bits of sparkling mirror, tile, stone and stained glass. Uptown sculptor James Simon unveiled the mosaic in the summer of 2007 as part of Braddock's Community Day festivities, and it continues to inspire residents: This summer, planning began for a 10-panel mural to be mounted on the facade of a new housing development for senior citizens on struggling Braddock Avenue. - Melissa Rayworth

Best Reason to Go Into the Woods at Night: Relax - we're not talking about spying on your neighbors. We're talking about the "Star Parties" thrown by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh. Scheduled throughout the year at both Wagman Observatory (Deer Lakes Regional Park, Allegheny County) and Mingo Creek Park Observatory (Mingo Creek County Park, Washington County), the parties are free-of-charge (though donations are always welcome). AAAP members arrive just before sunset and set up their personal telescopes, sharing the celestial view with anyone who wishes to take a peek. 3ap.org. - M.R.

Best Ballroom Dance Lessons:
Whether you have two left feet and you're trying to avoid looking like a fool at your wedding, or you're an advanced dancer who lives to perform, Absolute Ballroom Dance Center of Pittsburgh is sure to teach you some fun new moves. With ballroom classes for all skill levels, students learn to waltz, swing and foxtrot. And if you're looking for a challenge, the center also specializes in African dance, West Coast swing, Argentine tango and other spirited styles. 6617 Hamilton Ave., East Liberty; 412/441-1461, absoluteballroompgh.com. - C.H.

Readers Poll: Arts, Entertainment & Leisure

Best Music Venue, Classical:
Heinz Hall
Sixth Street, downtown
412/392-4900, pittsburghsymphony.org

Best Music Venue, Jazz: (tie):
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
1815 Metropolitan St., North Shore
412/323-4000, mcgjazz.org

Firehouse Lounge "Thursdays with Etta Cox"
2216 Penn Ave., Strip District
412/434-1230, firehouse-lounge.com

Best Performing Arts Venue:
Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
Seventh Street, downtown
412/456-6666, pgharts.org

Best Theater Company:
City Theater Co.
1300 Bingham St., South Side
412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org

Best Movie Theater:
A.M.C. Loews Waterfront 22
300 Waterfront Drive, West Homestead
412/462-6923, amctheatres.com

Best Library:
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main
4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland
412/622-3114, clpgh.org/locations/main

Best Music Venue, Pop: (tie):
Mr. Smalls Theatre
400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale
412/821-4447, mrsmalls.com

Post-Gazette Pavilion
665 Route 18, Hanover Township, Washington County
724/947-7400, livenation.com

Best Place for People-Watching: (tie):
South Side
southsidepgh.com

Kennywood Park
4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin
412/461-0500, kennywood.com

Best Fitness Club:
Club One
club1pittsburgh.com

Best Local Dance Company:
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Co.
5824 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill
412/521-6094, 412/425-3766, bodiographybc.com

Best Weekend Trip:
Washington, D.C.
washington.org

Best Camp Site:
Cook Forest State Park
River Road and Route 36, Clarion, Forest and Jefferson counties
814/744-8407, cookforest.com

Best Walking Trail:

Frick Park
2005 Beechwood Blvd., Squirrel Hill
412/422-6538, pittsburghparks.org

Best Fitness Class:
Hot Yoga at Amazing Yoga
amazingyoga.net

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The 412

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This third Renaissance has allowed us to be spectators as Pittsburgh changed from a city suffering the damages wrought by the collapse of its steel industry to a vibrant, active place known for its academic, medical and technology sectors.

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