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When I was growing up, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was talked about a lot by my family. My grandparents moved to my hometown from the Pittsburgh area shortly after they were married when my grandfather started working for the steel mill in my hometown. I still have several cousins who still live out that way. I haven't visited as much as I would have liked to, but the times I did, I had a blast.
Pittsburgh has a reputation as a blue-collar sports town. While it is true that it’s often ranked as one of the best sports’ cities in the nation, you’ll find a lot more to do here than cheer on the home team. Of course, you won’t want to miss the chance to catch a game, whether it’s the NFL Steelers, the NHL Penguins or MLB Pirates – just be sure to keep a close watch for those foul balls or you may end up spending your time making phone calls to a Pittsburgh injury lawyer like one woman did after getting smacked in the back of the head.
No matter what you plan to do if you’ve been here before you’ll notice that Steel City has gone through a transformation in recent years. You might even find yourself falling in love with it as the late Anthony Bourdain noted in an interview with NEXTpittsburgh when he visited for an episode of “Parts Unknown” –
“I’ve been to Pittsburgh a number of times and have fallen in love with how it looks. The architecture, to me, the countryside, just the feel of the city — I always felt it resonated with me.” – Anthony Bourdain
There are all sorts of things to see and experience here today, though these are my favorite parts of all.
San Francisco may claim to be home to the world’s crooked street, but Canton Street in the Beechview neighborhood of Pittsburgh is the steepest officially recorded public residential street in the nation. The 630-foot-long street has a grade of 37% for nearly 22 feet and has been featured in several car commercials. Be sure to take a drive up or down it while you’re here. Just keep in mind that if you’re exploring the city on two wheels, you’re probably going to be walking that bike up – it’s used as part of the Dirty Dozen road cycling race, one of the toughest there is.
Andy Warhol Museum
Hailing from Pittsburgh, the city gave the legendary author, filmmaker, painter, publisher and record producer Andy Warhol his own dedicated museum. Even if you just have a passing interest in art, it’s worth a visit to see the works of one of the most talented, and eccentric, artists in the world. As you stroll past the many identical self-portraits and pink cows when entering, you’ll immediately know that this is unlike any other museum. It’s filled with seven floors of exhibits as the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single artist. While there’s a lot to see, don’t miss the interactive “cloud room” on the fourth floor.
The Strip District
This district is filled with all sorts of shops, markets, eateries and art galleries at the northeast corner of the Golden Triangle near the Allegheny River. Once a railroad hub, today it feels like the heartbeat of Pittsburgh, offering some great people watching, incredible tastes and aromas, and opportunities to pick up some of that black-and-gold memorabilia for the game. And that’s any game, as this is the only city in the U.S. in which all pro sports teams share the same colors.