Considering a move to Pittsburgh? Good timing.
Back in the 1980s, The New Yorker ranked the three most beautiful cities in the world: Paris, St. Petersburg, and Pittsburgh. “If Pittsburgh were situated somewhere in the heart of Europe,” the magazine wrote, “tourists would eagerly journey hundreds of miles out of their way to visit it.” In 2012, The Washington Post compared hipster-prone Portland to our fair city: “Pittsburgh is reasonable-rents, nice scenery, nice downtown, and the people are, in general, just far less insufferable.”
In between, a series of city ranking algorithms — most recently the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit — declared Pittsburgh “most livable” among all US cities.
Skeptics balk. Locals shrug. Safe to say, Pittsburgh keeps improving with each new release.
Start with the basics:
• Pittsburgh stopped being “smoky” half a century ago.
• Terrain defines Pittsburgh… pack your walking/hiking gear.
• Arts… a century of wealth left a legacy; performance spaces and museums that cities twice as big envy.
As the locals say in their particular vernacular, “check it ahht.”
Pittsburgh Briefing Package
Home base. Student central — with Carnegie Mellon University, Software Engineering Institute, University of Pittsburgh, and two smaller private colleges. Pittsburgh’s Robber Barons (Carnegie, Frick, Mellon) sought to mold the Oakland neighborhood after the “City Beautiful” movement popular at the turn of the 20th century — so they invested money in buildings and public spaces on a grand scale. Fast forward 100-plus years and you can enjoy museums, concert halls, Victorian glass houses, and parks the envy of any world capital.
Students generally live within an easy walk or bus ride of Oakland — mostly in the nearby East End neighborhoods of (old-world) Bloomfield, (upscale) Shadyside, (foodie) Squirrel Hill, (artsy) Friendship/Lawrenceville, (homesteading) Highland Park, or (bar ‘hoppin) South Side. Have a car, enjoy plenty other options.
Whats more, Pittsburgh is not only a great and affordable place to live while you are studying at CMU, it is also one of the best places to settle down as a software developer. So, who knows, maybe you'll decide to call Pittsburgh home after graduation!
Pittsburgh sits on the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, 50 miles from terrain rough enough that it might take a rescue team to find you. Blessed with four rivers, countless streams, and the Great Allegheny Passage, a 339-mile (car-free) rail-trail between downtown Pittsburgh and Washington, DC, Pittsburgh today rivals trail-mix capitals like Seattle, Austin, and Boulder for outdoor recreation. The Youghiogheny River is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River. Cyclists enjoy more than 100 miles of bike trails just within the county borders, including the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, an 11.5-mile ribbon of greenspace ringing downtown.
If you appreciate a twist of irony, then you might enjoy a city that produced cultural icons as diverse as pop artist Andy Warhol (Pop), playwright August Wilson, and children’s television pioneer Mr. (Fred) Rogers.
While few in Paris or NYC might heap praise on Pittsburgh for its artistic edge, look again. Contemporary American art got its start here with the ongoing triennial Carnegie International exhibition begun in 1896 by Andrew Carnegie. Two newer venues — the installation art Mattress Factory, and Pittsburgh Glass Center — attract artists from around the world to exhibit, live, and teach.
Pittsburgh today enjoys more theaters, museums, and performing arts groups than most cities twice its size. Oakland, the cultural heart of the city, boasts The Carnegie Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, and Main Library. The downtown Cultural District boasts five beautifully restored theaters and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
But perhaps coolest of all, Pittsburgh regularly plays host to numerous major motion picture productions. In 2012 alone, The Dark Knight Rises, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jack Reacher, and many others were filmed in our fine city. If you don't believe us, watch this short film montage, Pittsburgh: The Movie, to spot several key Pittsburgh landmarks like Heinz Stadium, the Fort Pitt Tunnel, and the Carnegie Institute!