Did You Know? 10 Fun Facts About Pittsburgh

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What do you know about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?

Chances are, you associate this city with one of two things – sports, or steel.

With well-known sports teams like the Steelers (football) and the Penguins (hockey) calling Pittsburgh home and a long history of steel manufacturing, it's no wonder these are the two things most frequently associated with the city.

But Pittsburgh is so much more than sports and steel.

Read on to learn some fun facts about “Steel City” that you probably didn't know!

10 Fun Facts About Pittsburgh

1. Pittsburgh is the “City of Bridges”

Believe it or not, Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice! The city boasts more than 445 of them, many of them crossing the three rivers (Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela) that meet in downtown Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh

2. Pittsburgh is the home of public TV

In 1954, WQED became the first community-sponsored educational TV station in America. And one of its most beloved shows — Mister Rogers' Neighborhood — was based in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland. Fred Rogers himself even called the area home.

3. Pittsburgh also has hills

Move over San Francisco. Bike enthusiasts in the Midwest should look no further than Pittsburgh if they want to train on some steep terrain. Pittsburgh is made up of hills, rivers, and valleys — making for some interesting (and extremely hilly) roads.

To properly appreciate these hills, be sure to ride the Duquesne Incline up Mount Washington. The views at the top are fantastic!

Pittsburgh

4. Pittsburgh could be the next Hollywood

Okay, so maybe not really. But the city has starred in a lot of blockbusters in recent years — the most famous of which probably being “The Dark Knight Rises.” This is actually fairly apropos, considering that the first movie theater in the world — the Nickelodeon — was opened in Pittsburgh in 1905.

5. Celebrities call Pittsburgh home

From Gene Kelly to Michael Keaton to Christina Aguilera, many famous people have ties to Pittsburgh. And we of course can't forget Pittsburgh's most famous artist, either — Andy Warhol. Along with the Carnegie museums, the Andy Warhol Museum is one of the best in city.

6. Pittsburgh is the home of the emoticon

You know that smiley face you use all the time online and in text messages? Well it was created in 1980 by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman.

7. Pittsburgh has famous food

Plenty of foods that we all know and love started out right here in Pittsburgh. Like the Klondike bar. And Heinz ketchup. And even the Big Mac (which was “invented” near Pittsburgh in 1967).

But if you want a real Pittsburgh classic? You have to head to Primanti Brothers‘ Strip District location — home of some of the biggest sandwiches you'll ever find, with coleslaw and fries right on top.

Primanti Brothers

8. Pittsburghers speak Pittsburghese

The Steelers become the “Stillers,” wash becomes “warsh,” and you'll hear “yinz” substituted for “you guys.”

9. Pittsburgh is full of art

From the Carnegie Museum of Art to the Frick to the Warhol to the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh is actually quite an artsy city. Even Phipps Conservatory has an artsy flair, with glassworks dotted throughout the gardens and exhibits.

Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

10. Pittsburgh is very livable

For a long time, Pittsburgh had a reputation as a polluted industrial town. Forget about that, though. Today, Pittsburgh has dozens of LEED-certified buildings, lots of green spaces, and is currently sitting pretty as the 30th most livable city in the world (and the second most livable in the US), according to CNN.

Fun facts about Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh may not be New York or Las Vegas. It may not be Miami or San Francisco. But that doesn't mean it's not worth a weekend of your time. In fact, if you ask me, Pittsburgh is one of the most underrated cities in the U.S. Hopefully I've convinced you to at least consider a visit!


Practical Pittsburgh info

Thinking of planning a trip to Pittsburgh? Here are a few tips to help you out:

Where to stay

Pittsburgh has a wide variety of hotels scattered around the city, whether you want to stay right downtown or in one of the surrounding neighborhoods. All the normal chains can be found here, from Hilton to Hampton to Holiday Inn. Pittsburgh also has some unique boutique and luxury hotels downtown, including the Omni William Penn (JFK stayed there!), the Fairmont, and Hotel Monaco by Kimpton.

Or check out Pittsburgh's best hotels here.

Pittsburgh

How to get around

Many visitors will either drive to Pittsburgh or fly in and then rent a car. And while this is perfectly fine, let me warn you that downtown Pittsburgh is SO confusing if you don't know it well. If you're staying downtown and plan to visit the city's main attractions, you can also rely on ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft and let somebody else tackle the confusing roads. (And be sure to check out current Uber promotions before you go.)


So how about it? Who wants to visit Pittsburgh?

*Note: My visit to Pittsburgh was partially sponsored by VisitPittsburgh and the Courtyard Pittsburgh West Homestead/Waterfront. As always, though, my opinions are my own. There are also a few affiliate links in this post.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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54 Comments on “Did You Know? 10 Fun Facts About Pittsburgh

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  1. Saved the blog as a favorite, I really like your blog and articles!

    You must start to include two one-of-a-kinds in Pittsburgh. First, the Bayernhoff Museum and the fact that there is a Theatre Organ in Dormont. Not many places have one. They are the big old Wurlitzer Organs that were invented to accompany silent films. They have bird calls, thunder, street sounds, bells, whistles, ooga horns, horse’s hoofs, etc. The Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society maintains the organ in Keystone Oaks High School auditorium. Silent films are accompanied with the Wurlitzer just as they were in 1920. Concerts on the organ are also held during the school year.

    Maybe 8 years ago I visited daburg. Saw a Pirates game family nite at PNC and after the game that put on a fireworks display. I have been to NY NY, DC and several harbor fireworks displays on the 4th but never experienced the visual and audible display I did that night; my number one for life so far. Each firework set off reflected off of the city buildings in the background and they were fired from the river, the ballfield and dawntan buildings as well. Each BOOM reverberated it seemed back and forth between buildings and the cone of the park into my seat it seemed. It was truely a 3D Kaleidoscope of pirotechnics magnified. Breathtaking and I don’t even think it was the 4th. (sit on the 3rd base side facing the city.)

      I used to go to Pirates games as a kid on family night, and remember those same fireworks shows!

    You know what’s really cool is that if you’re lost and ask directions it’s not unusual for someone to just say “follow me” and take you to you destination. I’ve been over ever inch of this country and Pittsburghers are some of the most friendly folks and don’t take themselves too seriously.

    Just got back from a trip to Pittsburgh. Beautiful city and great people. ..can’t wait to go back.

      Great to hear you enjoyed it! It’s such a fun city.

    You forgot the city’s latest gift to the world – namely Jackie Evancho.

    BEST St Patrick’s Day party Ever! Great to be down town with friends from Butler and Nashville.

    Great job hitting the highlights. I grew up in Pittsburgh and you identified many of the places we would take out of towners. One item that you can’t miss though, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. It is about an hour outside the city in the Appalachian mountains, near a large wilderness area called Ohio Pyle. Its an amazing house in the woods cantilevered over a waterfall. Go in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

      Thanks, Mark! And would you believe that I have yet to visit Fallingwater? I definitely need to.

    Grew up in Pittsburgh and now live in Philly – I am a total advocate of friends taking the 5 hour journey for a quick weekend visit. The city has never disappointed any of my friends who took me up on the idea! Maybe you can help though – my son is doing a speech on the “mysteries of Pittsburgh”… like the 4th river, the B52 bomber, Point park on a scrap field, bridges (incuding the bridge of sighs), George Washington “slipped” here.. Do you know of any more intersting/little known…mysteries of pittsburgh?

      Like I always say, Pittsburgh really is underrated!

      I’m sorry to say that I can’t think of any other little “mysteries” for your son to add to his speech. In fact, I’ll need to read up on a few you mentioned that I’ve never heard about!

    Fantastic job promoting what I am now convinced truly is an under appreciated city! I would love to learn more and so appreciate your article and am thrilled to hear that Pittsburgh is working so hard to be a far greener and more sustainable city! Furthermore, I am floored by the number of bridges and would love to explore Pittsburgh’s outdoor spaces!

      I would go so far as to say that Pittsburgh is probably one of the most underrated cities I’ve ever been to. There are SO many interesting things about it. I’m glad to be able to do my small part to help promote it!

    One cool fact I did learn about Pittsburgh in my research – it is where the characters of Lenny and Squigy were born (at Carnige Mellon U).

    I am really enjoying what I’ve been reading given I’m moving to Oakmont in August (site unseen) from, hands-down, one of the most liveable towns on the planet – Missoula, MT! It will be hard to leave the splendor of western Montana but we are moving so our youngest can enroll in the WPSD. My wife and kids visited earlier in the spring, and were blown away by school’s resources. They were also taken back by how friendly everyone was. OK… lots of praise for Pittsburgh. BUT how about somebody chimes in on the cons? For instance, I have a feeling, with so many bridges, traffic has got to be a nightmare. What about weather… do you ever see the sun in Pburgh? How’s the humidity? I’ve also been told there is a bunch of fracking going on in the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Is this true and should it be a concern? How’s the public transportation situation.. is there no metro, commuter rail or monorail… correct me if I’m wrong? Sorry, I know this is supposed to be a fun facts about Pitts site. It just seems too awesome and positive. I’m not trying to bring everyone down, I just want to know if Pittsburgh is known for some not so cool stuff, as well. Missoula is awesome in so many ways but I would warn about the fire season; it can be smoky as hell in August and Sept. We also get a great deal of inversion in the winter months making for very long and grey winters. In direct relation to the smoke and inversion issues, the air quality could be better in Zoo Town, as well.

      Yup, this is indeed a post about fun facts about Pittsburgh – nothing too serious!

      As for the downsides to the city, I’m not a resident, so my observations only come from a visitor’s perspective. BUT, yes, traffic can be a bit of a nightmare, and chances are you will get lost a lot in the beginning because the road system in Pittsburgh is mental. Even GPSes get confused there.

      The weather there (from what I can tell) is typical for this part of the country (and similar to the weather where I’m from an hour away in Ohio) – cold in the winter and hot/humid in the summer. You DO see sun, though, don’t worry.

      Yes there’s fracking going on all over Pennsylvania, Ohio, and surrounding states. I won’t share my personal opinions on it here, though. Just know it’s happening.

      And as for public transportation, I really can’t speak to that. There are buses, but no extensive metro system. Most people in Pittsburgh own a car (or at least a bike).

      Hi Darius –

      Best of luck with your move. I’ve heard good things about MT (big sky country!) but I’m not sure if I could handle the winters. I love snow, but I’m guessing you guys get slammed! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Oakmont is a cute little neighborhood. They have a GREAT bakery!! http://www.oakmontbakery.com/

      Speaking of bakeries…Pittsburgh is also fortunate to have two authentic French bakeries:
      http://lagourmandinebakery.com/ – in Lawrenceville
      http://www.jeanmarcchatellier.com/index.html – in Millvale
      Both are fairly close to Oakmont.

      Here are some links that might come in handy:

      http://www.oakmont-pa.com/home.html
      http://www.oakmontborough.com/
      http://www.visitpittsburgh.com/
      http://portauthority.org/paac/default.aspx
      http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/getting-around/construction-updates/east
      http://www.kennywood.com/

      ——————————-
      To answer some of your questions: Not going to lie, the traffic can be a pain, but it’s not as bad as L.A., NYC, etc. And depending on where you’re going, you can sometimes find some back roads to avoid the bottle necks. But as DangerousBiz mentioned, Pittsburgh has a long way to go when it comes to getting around town. We’re famous for limited or nonexistent road signs, endless construction projects in the spring/summer and lots of one way streets. The good news…if you ever get lost, I would bet you could ask anyone and they’d be happy to help you find your way. Rt. 28…the road you’ll probably be traveling, can be a bit of a nightmare at rush hour. But they’ve been making improvements to it for the past several years and it’s come a long way.

      Humidity can be an issue…but it doesn’t last forever and the nights usually cool off a bit. Believe it or not, we do get sun, but we’re also known for a lot of gray days. You never know…with global warming/cooling…that could all change! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Fracking is big business in the rural parts of Western PA. Depending on who you talk to, it could be a concern…or not.

      Our transporation system could use a facelift. We have a bus system that has, unfortunately, had a lot of service cuts. But we just elected a new mayor so things could change! Our limited metro system is called the “T”. It comes in handy if you’re trying to get around town, to the “North Shore” – home to our baseball and football stadiums, casino, science center, etc. Commuters who live in the South Hills make out the best because that’s where it has the most stops.

      If you’re into sports, you’re headed to the right town. Pittsburghers LOVE their Steelers and Penguins. The Pirates are even gaining some fans these days…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Hope this helps!

      Wendy

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