Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.



(page 1 of 9)


Photo by dave dicello

 

With more residents moving in, more cultural and dining destinations and the redevelopment of communal space, the perception of Downtown Pittsburgh is quickly changing — and with construction and development a constant, the boom is far from over. We update you on its theater and food culture, public spaces, projects in the works and much more.
 


Photos by chuck beard

 

Downtown is Moving on Up.

When Dan Adamski wants to impress out-of-town guests, he shows them his new patio. It’s a nicer patio than most, perching as it does 12 stories above the flourishing café scene of Market Square.

Adamski, who heads the local office of Chicago-based commercial real estate firm JLL, has been selling and leasing corporate office space in Pittsburgh for 17 years. He got his own new office — and that patio — when JLL moved its 500 local employees into Tower Two Sixty on Forbes Avenue in time for the building’s opening in May. “It’s been tremendous to see the evolution of the city,” he says. “It’s very exciting to be part of it.”

Downtown Pittsburgh has seen its share of booms and busts in two centuries. The present upward trend — with its mix of new skyscrapers and landmark restoration, improved parks and public spaces, and an explosion of new culinary and cultural offerings — might be enough to lock in the Golden Triangle’s status for years to come as one of America’s most beloved downtowns.

Stand in recently renovated Mellon Square and turn in a slow circle, and you can see it in microcosm: the ornate Union Trust Building marking its centennial with a $100 million facelift; workers laying the foundation for a new building where Saks Fifth Avenue stood; the once-emptying Oliver Building gutted and fully refurbished, with a hotel occupying its top 10 stories; Alcoa’s aluminum-clad ex-headquarters, now marketed as luxury condos; and in the shadow of the historic Omni William Penn Hotel, the twinkling lights of the rooftop biergarten at the boutique Hotel Monaco.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s annual “State of Downtown Pittsburgh” report, released in May, reported 196 building permits were filed in 2015 in the Central Business District, the third time in four years the number has approached 200. Last year saw 23 new restaurants debut in the Golden Triangle. Three new hotels have opened Downtown since 2015, and at least five more are under construction or about to be, raising some industry concerns about oversupply. “I think we feel comfortable Downtown about the pace of development,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the partnership. “But with every new hotel announcement, everyone kind of looks at each other and says, ‘All right, are we done?’”

More people are coming to stay long-term too. In the past five years, population in the city’s central business district is up 33 percent, to about 5,000 residents. Rents are rising with more upscale apartments — and so, at times, are tempers. City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, whose district includes Downtown, says he is dealing with a lot more noise complaints from residents. If it isn’t the bars, it’s the jackhammers. “Moving from a workplace center to a 24-hour live-work-play scenario brings challenges the city never had to deal with,” he says.

Not since Pittsburgh’s first Renaissance, anyway. In the city’s postwar transformation into a modern corporate showplace, Mayor David Lawrence brought in bulldozers to demolish his own childhood neighborhood and make room for Point State Park and the stainless steel towers of Gateway Center. Renaissance II in the 1980s added a Downtown subway and more skyscrapers, though that boosterism was tempered by the shuttering of steel mills throughout the region.

So is it Renaissance III now? To some, perhaps. But don’t say that to Mayor Bill Peduto. “The Renaissance era ran its course after the collapse of heavy industry ...” he says. “Now we’re in a different era.” Peduto claims two big contrasts between past and present revitalization: Downtown no longer is being planned chiefly for cars, but instead the emphasis is much stronger on the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit; and historic preservation is preferred today over “the wrecking-ball approach to urban development.”

The latter is vindication for Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., president and co-founder of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. When he started fighting city hall and big developers 50 years ago, Ziegler says he was inspired by Jane Jacobs, who in her 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” singled out Pittsburgh as an urban center being “witlessly murdered” by urban planners and their sterile towers.

Now, by rehabbing old shops on Market and Wood streets for small retailers such as Heinz Healey’s Gentlemen’s Apparel, Market Street Grocery, Boutique La Passerelle and Katie’s Kandy, Ziegler says the foundation is helping to rebuild the varied and busy streetscapes Jacobs championed. “If you walk down Penn, Liberty or Forbes and you arrive at Gateway Center, there’s almost nobody walking in Gateway Center,” he says. “They’re all across the street with the old buildings, the shops and the restaurants.”

Instead of recycling a renaissance, Peduto prefers shifting shapes. His aim is to turn the Golden Triangle into a “Golden Quadrangle” by strengthening linkages across the rivers and uptown. The most ambitious effort would heal the Renaissance’s ugliest scar — the razing of the Lower Hill in the late 1950s and early 1960s and its severance from the city (by what now is Interstate 579/Crosstown Boulevard) to build a cultural “acropolis” that wound up being only the Civic Arena.
Councilman Lavelle, a lifelong Hill District resident, is a strong proponent of a plan to build a 3-acre park over I-579, a project expected to cost upwards of $30 million. It’s a formula that worked for Chicago, which stretched its lush Millennium Park over still-functioning railroad tracks, and Madrid, which buried six miles of arterial highway under a new riverfront park.

“When we demolished the Lower Hill, we displaced hundreds of businesses and tore apart the economic core of the community, and it has never recovered,” says Lavelle. But today’s pace of change has him feeling keenly optimistic. 

“A decade from now, I would say the biggest change will be that the Hill District has seamlessly blended into Downtown to the benefit of all.” —Mark Houser
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

 


  •  

  •  

  •  

  •  

  •  

  •  

  •  

  •  

  •  
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

#Shalieve in Love: An Exclusive Look at the Shaziers' Wedding

#Shalieve in Love: An Exclusive Look at the Shaziers' Wedding

Ryan Shazier and wife Michelle Rodriguez never lost faith that they’d get their dream day. A year and a half after the Steelers linebacker suffered a severe spinal injury, he danced at his wedding.
11 Real Pittsburgh Weddings

11 Real Pittsburgh Weddings

Chosen from more than 70 submissions, these 11 couples celebrated with lots of personal touches at local venues. We share all of the details that got them to “I Do.”
Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Your 10 best bets for this month include Rock, Reggae & Relief, Shawn Mendes and a Party at the Pier.
Why These 6 Days in 1969 Were So Important to Pittsburgh

Why These 6 Days in 1969 Were So Important to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but we're not the only ones. We take a look at six notable events from 1969.
Women in Power: The Pros Changing Allegheny County

Women in Power: The Pros Changing Allegheny County

Allegheny County breaks the old boys’ club by placing women in key positions.
Growing Together: Farmers and Chefs Elevate Pittsburgh Dining

Growing Together: Farmers and Chefs Elevate Pittsburgh Dining

These seven farmer/chef pairings are leading the charge toward more vital vegetable dishes.
Afraid to Go to the Dentist? Consider the Sedation Solution

Afraid to Go to the Dentist? Consider the Sedation Solution

For some patients, dental work wouldn’t be possible if they were fully alert.
Restaurant Review: Spirits & Tales at the Oaklander Hotel

Restaurant Review: Spirits & Tales at the Oaklander Hotel

Executive chef Jessica Lewis’ strong voice is undermined by inconsistencies throughout the restaurant.
Our 50 Years: Why This Movie Landed on Our Cover

Our 50 Years: Why This Movie Landed on Our Cover

Hollywood could be found on the Mon, quite literally, in 1993 — leading to some fawning coverage of the mostly forgotten (but very, very Pittsburgh-centric) action flick “Striking Distance.”
Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

Your 10 best bets for this month include Van Gogh in Bloom, Star Wars and the return of Hootie and the Blowfish.
Edit Module

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags


Troy Polamalu and his Hair Get Last Word in New Commercial

Troy Polamalu and his Hair Get Last Word in New Commercial

The former Steelers safety goes to head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. The ending is classic.

Comments

Behind the Scenes with Pittsburgh Chefs

Behind the Scenes with Pittsburgh Chefs

Watch some of the city's most prolific chefs and restaurateurs in action.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Big Changes Are Coming to Fish Nor Fowl

Big Changes Are Coming to Fish Nor Fowl

We have details on the launch of the restaurant's second chapter, plus updates on other Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group projects.

Comments

New Smallman Galley Cocktail Menu Pays Homage to The Royal Tenenbaums

New Smallman Galley Cocktail Menu Pays Homage to The Royal Tenenbaums

The Strip District food hall's late-summer drinks menu riffs on the Wes Anderson cult classic.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


What's Your Favorite Happy Hour?

What's Your Favorite Happy Hour?

After Dark wants to know about your preferred spot for after-work drinks and deals.

Comments

Five Essential August Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential August Events in Pittsburgh

Seasoned sketch, skacore sounds and more August happenings.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Coach Mike Tomlin Confronts Sorrow from the Heart

Coach Mike Tomlin Confronts Sorrow from the Heart

The Steelers’ head coach dug deep while leading his team through its grief over the loss of beloved assistant coach Darryl Drake. The words were hard to find but Tomlin found them while revealing a side of himself the fans and media don’t always see.

Comments

Steelers Rookie Getting His Ducks in a Row

Steelers Rookie Getting His Ducks in a Row

Off-the-radar, out-of-nowhere quarterback candidate Devlin Hodges is making a name for himself at Saint Vincent College. Can the NFL really be his true calling?

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Good Boys

The 400-Word Review: Good Boys

This raunchy comedy isn't just funny — it's surprisingly sweet.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

The 400-Word Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Dora's in high school now, but her first feature is still for younger viewers only.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Love on the Farm: The Beauty of a Barn Wedding

Love on the Farm: The Beauty of a Barn Wedding

Even in the city, the barn wedding trend is on the rise.

Comments

Cookie Table Contest Winners and Runners Up: A Taste of Pittsburgh

Cookie Table Contest Winners and Runners Up: A Taste of Pittsburgh

Cookie tables are wonderful things in and of themselves, but more and more couples choose to go above and beyond.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
After Controversy, Luxury Condos Underway in Sewickley

After Controversy, Luxury Condos Underway in Sewickley

After being delayed two years by court challenges, 400/420 Centennial broke ground in August.

Comments

Get a Sneak Peek at Homes About to Hit the Market

Get a Sneak Peek at Homes About to Hit the Market

Launched by North Hills resident Wendy Gilch, Selling Later is a new online community that allows future home sellers and prospective home buyers to connect — before the house is listed.

Comments