In Depth The view of Pittsburgh's skyline is stunning as you emerge from the Fort Pitt Tunnel, where the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers converge and modern monoliths soar majestically beyond. Shame on visitors expecting to see a gritty steel mill town engulfed in smoke, for Pittsburgh doesn't deserve the bad rap of its past—the city has cleaned itself up and undergone a renaissance. Steel mills have been replaced by high-tech and healthcare concerns, and more than 30 institutions of higher learning now exist in “The College City.”

Pittsburgh has received accolades for urban beauty, and a prime example is Point State Park, flanked by the three mighty rivers, a majestic fountain at one end and the skyscrapers of the downtown Golden Triangle at the other. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail guides hikers, joggers and cyclists along 24 miles of riverfront turf, while locals and tourists alike enjoy the equestrian paths and the occasional evening jazz concert at Riverview Park. An extensive trail system snakes through woodlands and steep valleys at Frick Park, while peaceful urban exploration via kayak or canoe is an option on the Allegheny River Trail.

Shaped by the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, the city is not in the usual grid pattern and is laid out a bit haphazardly—this, along with one-way streets and construction can make driving a challenge. Although the downtown Golden Triangle is shaped as such and is easy to navigate on foot, you’ll need to rent a car or ride the bus to venture beyond this area and explore Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. The lush scenery is a pleasant surprise, as are the sets of stairs dotted throughout town along with two funiculars that transport residents upward to their hilltop communities.

Many names gracing buildings and other venues serve as reminders of the philanthropic families that figured prominently in the city's development. There's Heinz Hall, home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Senator John Heinz History Center; and football arena Heinz Field. Mellon Bank Center carves out a space in the skyline and Mellon Square is a modernist rooftop garden plaza. Carnegie Mellon University is one of the area's leading educational institutions, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are a treasure to anyone captivated by art, science and natural history.

What's nice about Pittsburgh is that it has big-city amenities but retains a small-town feel. The city's enclaves stand as proud symbols of diversity: Squirrel Hill, home of one of the region's largest Jewish populations; Bloomfield, known as “Little Italy”; the North Side, with traces of the old German community that immigrated in the early 19th century; and Polish Hill, where Polish immigrants settled in the late 1800s. In all, Pittsburgh has nearly 90 neighborhoods.

All Pittsburghers come together to demonstrate spirit for their sports teams: the Steelers (football), Penguins (hockey) and Pirates (baseball). Home games are a sea of black and gold as devoted fans show off the colors adopted by all three teams.

Tradition also plays a part in the form of food icons and the friendly neighborhood grocer. Pittsburghers grew up with Isaly's Chipped Chopped Ham in the fridge, a household staple since the 1930s still satisfying cravings today. Many locals consider Sarris Candies to be one of the nation's best confectioners, and numerous pubs and restaurants continue to serve pierogis, those soul-satisfying dumplings filled with such ingredients as potatoes, cheese, bacon and sauerkraut. Generations of Pittsburghers have sampled the namesake beer of Iron City Brewing Co., a fixture since 1861 and once delivered to homes via horse-drawn carriage. In the Strip District, named for a narrow plot of land between the river and the hillside, you'll find mom and pop businesses devoted entirely to popcorn, cheese, freshly baked bread, biscotti, coffee and other culinary delights. Stores like Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., with its remarkable selection of pastas, olive oil and all things Italian, and Wholey's fish market, where patrons still line up and take a number on busy Saturdays to snare a fresh catch, are like family to Strip District shoppers.

As a whole, the former Steel City has revitalized itself, embracing the new while retaining the traditions of the past and celebrating its diversity.

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Pittsburgh, PA

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

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Hyatt House Pittsburgh/Bloomfield/Shadyside

5335 Baum Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15224

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The Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh

1000 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Omni William Penn Hotel

530 William Penn Pl. Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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Hampton Inn & Suites Pittsburgh-Meadow Lands

475 Johnson Rd. Washington, PA 15301

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Travel Information

City Population

305,704

Elevation

1,370 ft.

Sales Tax

Pennsylvania's statewide sales tax is 6 percent. An additional 1 percent is collected by Allegheny County, as is a 7 percent lodging tax. The city levies a 5 percent amusements tax.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(412) 323-7800

Time and Temperature

(412) 391-9500

Hospitals

Allegheny General Hospital, (412) 359-3131; UPMC Mercy, (412) 232-8111; UPMC Passavant—McCandless, (412) 367-6700; UPMC Presbyterian, (412) 647-2345; UPMC St. Margaret, (412) 784-4000; West Penn Hospital, (412) 578-5000.

Visitor Information

120 Fifth Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Phone:(412)281-7711 or (800)359-0758

Air Travel

Pittsburgh International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz, at the Pittsburgh International Airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (412) 472-5955 or (800) 654-3080.

Rail Service

An Amtrak passenger service station is on the lower level of The Pennsylvanian, formerly Penn Central Station, at 1100 Liberty Ave. at Grant Street; phone (800) 872-7245 or TTY (800) 523-6590.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. terminal is at 55 11th St. near Liberty Avenue; phone (412) 392-6514.

Taxis

The leading taxi company is Yellow Cab, (412) 321-8100. Cabs are metered, and the base rate is $4 plus $1.75 per mile. A fuel surcharge may be charged.

Public Transportation

Port Authority of Allegheny County Transit operates public transportation throughout the city and Allegheny County. A section of downtown Pittsburgh is a fare free zone. Other areas have a base fare of $2.75; exact change is required. Discounted fares are available through the purchase of weekly or monthly passes, which can be purchased at the transit's downtown service center at 534 Smithfield St. For route information, phone (412) 442-2000.

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