ImaginePittsburgh.com

On the heels of Zagat’s proclamation in December that Pittsburgh is America’s No. 1 food city, The New York Times recently weighed in:

“Everybody seems so young. And everybody’s talking about restaurants. If there are scholars who hope to study how a vibrant food culture can help radically transform an American city, the time to do that is right now, in real time, in the place that gave us Heinz ketchup.”

The full essay by Jeff Gordinier, “Pittsburgh’s Youth-Driven Food Boom,” is below and here (along with a photo slide show from Pittsburgh-based photographer Jeff Swensen).

PITTSBURGH — It hits you as soon as you get to town.

There’s the purple-haired free spirit at the Ace Hotel who gives you the lowdown on outlaw poetry gatherings and killer pizza. There are the art kids offering tips at the Andy Warhol Museum, and the tyro entrepreneurs strategizing over cocktails at the Tender Bar & Kitchen in Lawrenceville, the neighborhood along the Allegheny River that is shifting from a desolate zone where your laptop might get stolen to the place where butcher paper in the windows signifies a bumper crop of new restaurants. There’s the 25-year-old Uber driver who shoots you a crucial heads-up: “The best bartender in the world is working tonight.”

Everybody seems so young. And everybody’s talking about restaurants. If there are scholars who hope to study how a vibrant food culture can help radically transform an American city, the time to do that is right now, in real time, in the place that gave us Heinz ketchup.

In December, Zagat named Pittsburgh the No. 1 food city in America. Vogue just went live with a piece that proclaimed, “Pittsburgh is not just a happening place to visit — increasingly, people, especially New Yorkers, are toying with the idea of moving here.”

Kelly Sawdon, an executive with the Ace chain, said the company spent years trying to raise money to convert a torn-and-frayed Y.M.C.A. into a hip hotel because the “energy” of the city suggested a blossoming marketplace. Food, she said, has been the catalyst.

For decades, Pittsburgh was hardly seen as a beacon of innovative cuisine or a magnet for the young. It was the once-glorious metropolis that young people fled from after the shuttering of the steel mills in the early 1980s led to a mass exodus and a stark decline.

“We had to reinvent ourselves,” said Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh’s mayor.

And they have. Over the last decade or so, the city has been the beneficiary of several overlapping booms. Cheap rent and a voracious appetite for culture have attracted artists. Cheap rent and Carnegie Mellon University have attracted companies like Google, Facebook and Uber, seeking to tap local tech talent. And cheap rent alone has inspired chefs to pursue deeply personal projects that might have a hard time surviving in the Darwinian real estate microclimates of New York and San Francisco.

No one can pinpoint whether it was the artists or techies or chefs who got the revitalization rolling. But there’s no denying that restaurants play a starring role in the story Pittsburgh now tells about itself. The allure of inhabiting a Hot New Food Town — be it Nashville or Richmond, Va., or Portland (Oregon or Maine) — helps persuade young people to visit, to move in and to stay.

Recent census data shows that Allegheny County’s millennial population is on the rise. People ages 25 to 29 now make up 7.6 percent of all residents, up from 7 percent about a decade ago; the 30-to-34 age group now comprises 6.5 percent, up from 6 percent.

Years ago, local boosters proposed a tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign starring a mascot called Border Guard Bob, who would dissuade young people from abandoning the city’s Rust Belt remains. “That has changed dramatically,” said Craig Davis, the chief executive of Visit Pittsburgh. He said the median age in Pittsburgh is 32.8, well below the national figure, 37.7.

That’s good news for tourism; 2,800 hotel rooms have been added in Pittsburgh since 2011. “We’re really using the food scene as a driver of that,” Mr. Davis said. “There’s a reason to come to the city.”

It is also good news for business and culture leaders who seek out young employees and customers. When job candidates arrive, the new wave of restaurants is brandished as a selling point.

“The food scene in Pittsburgh is actually responsible for our landing some best-in-the-world types of people,” said Andrew Moore, the dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon and a founder of Google’s first office in the city.

Google’s presence has since expanded considerably — and almost in sync with the restaurant surge. Pittsburgh’s mayor said the food boom had played a pivotal role in restoring neighborhoods, evidence of an “entrepreneurial attitude throughout the city.”

“Ten years ago, you had some visionaries, some young people who had a dream of owning their own restaurants,” Mr. Peduto said. “They took a risk — they really did believe the place had this amazing potential.”

One of those pioneers was Domenic Branduzzi, who opened a spot calledPiccolo Forno in the Lawrenceville area 11 years ago as a way to showcase the specialties that his family had brought to western Pennsylvania from Tuscany.

“I’m an O.G.’’ — an original gangsta — “in the neighborhood,” Mr. Branduzzi said on a recent afternoon as customers filled the cocktail bar atGrapperia, a second Lawrenceville spot of his, which was celebrating its first anniversary. “If I ever want to be transported to my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a kid, I taste one bite of the lasagna.”

In the early days of Piccolo Forno, Mr. Branduzzi was warned that Pittsburghers weren’t likely to take a chance on old-school items like rabbit or wild boar. “People thought it was crazy and that it would never sell,” he said. “And now I can’t take rabbit off the menu.”

Being shielded from crushing rent increases allows Pittsburgh chefs to take risks and cook the way they want to cook without constantly fretting about going under.

“Pittsburgh is the land of opportunity for chefs,” said Justin Severino, another Lawrenceville pioneer whose Cure, which he opened on a dingy stretch of Butler Street in 2010, has won national accolades. He’s got a second baby in Lawrenceville now, too — a brand-new Basque-style pintxos restaurant called Morcilla.

A veteran of the acclaimed Manresa, in Northern California, Mr. Severino, now 38, fled the Bay Area when he realized that he couldn’t even afford a beer and a sandwich with friends, let alone a vacation or a house. In Pittsburgh he saw the capacity for ownership, and change. “While the rest of the country was floundering, Pittsburgh stood on the gas and reinvented itself as a city,” he said.

This is not to say that creating Cure was easy. Lawrenceville still has its fair share of graffiti and abandoned storefronts, but “you should’ve seen that neighborhood five years ago,” Mr. Severino said. “I got to know the prostitutes who worked the corner. I got to know the drug dealers who hated my guts.” He was always calling the police; thieves broke into Cure repeatedly.

Through it all, he stuck to his philosophy: “I’m just going to do what I want to do without regard for what people say they want.”

Early adopters like Mr. Severino, Mr. Branduzzi, Sonja Finn of Dinette,Kate Romane of e2, and Richard DeShantz of Meat & Potatoes proved that chef-driven cuisine could flourish alongside steel-town fixtures likeTessaro’s and Primanti Brothers. The next generation is grabbing that message and running with it.

At Whitfield, the new restaurant inside the Ace Hotel, Brent Young, a native son who had helped build the Meat Hook butcher shop in Brooklyn, lobbied passionately for a job conceiving the whole-animal-fixated menu, and brought in the locally grown chef Bethany Zozula and the pastry chef Casey Shively to run the kitchen. Whitfield opened in December; reaction was quick and unexpected. “On New Year’s Eve, we had a line around the building,” Ms. Zozula said.

In the Strip District, the marketplace zone that Mayor Peduto referred to as “the heart of western Pennsylvania’s food culture,” Ben Mantica and Tyler Benson, two 20-something entrepreneurs who met in the Navy, are bringing the model of a tech incubator to the food world. Their Smallman Galley consists of four kiosks in which different chefs showcase their cooking for 18 months. The chefs pay no rent; the hope is that they’ll build a following and create their own restaurants.

Mr. Mantica and Mr. Benson see Smallman as a way to cater to the tastes of the young employees of Apple, Uber and Google who are starting to occupy new apartments in the area. “We’ve seen this huge demographic shift in Pittsburgh, and now it’s a matter of, ‘What do those people want?’” Mr. Benson said.

To the northeast of Smallman Galley, in Lawrenceville, the chef Csilla Thackray and the restaurateur Joey Hilty, both in their 20s, are trying to carve out their own slice of the marketplace with the Vandal, a casual restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Mr. Hilty grew up near Pittsburgh, and said he had plans to leave for New York or Oregon after college, but “I had too much debt. So I slowly figured out what my contribution would be to the city.” He is glad he stayed. Lawrenceville, he said, is “very youthful and it’s full of unbridled enthusiasm for this stuff.”

But there is ambivalence as well. Young restaurateurs know how gentrification works; they’ve witnessed it in Brooklyn and San Francisco. Rents rise. People get squeezed out. “We all see where it’s going to be in five years,” Mr. Hilty said. “The barrier to entry’s going to be so high.”

Ms. Thackray added, “It’s really cool — and then the bubble bursts.”

Like winning the lottery, being crowned a Hot New Food Town can complicate things. Despite his trailblazing, Mr. Severino has noticed how Lawrenceville’s newer inhabitants view him as something of a square. “Most of those hipsters hate me,” he said with a laugh. “They’ll go out of their way to tell me what a yuppie I am.”

Some of the more thoughtful leaders of Pittsburgh’s cultural youthquake find themselves vexed — worrying that the city they wanted to live in could turn, over time, into its glossy and expensive opposite, a place that evicts older residents and prices out younger ones.

“Look, I like good coffee, I like good bread, I like good food,” said Adam Shuck, 29, who writes an e-newsletter called “Eat That, Read This” and is developing The Glassblock, a web magazine about the city. “I’m torn. I love this stuff, and I’m not going to say I don’t. I welcome and applaud this changing Pittsburgh.”

On the other hand, “there’s also a part of Pittsburgh that has been left out of this excitement,” Mr. Shuck said in an email. “Poverty, food deserts and lack of opportunity and access in historically marginalized communities are big problems in Pittsburgh, and all of the praise and celebration can ring a bit hollow when you consider these realities. Nitro coffee and slow bread are not at the top of your list when you can’t even get to a grocery store.”

The present is exciting in Pittsburgh. The future? That depends.

“We just have to stay vigilant in how Pittsburgh’s redevelopment takes place,” Mr. Shuck said, “fostering the conversation and pressuring government and private capital to work together to do it right.”

If You Go …

Ace Hotel 120 South Whitfield Street; 412-361-3300; acehotel.com/pittsburgh.

Cure 5336 Butler Street; 412-252-2595; curepittsburgh.com.

Dinette 5996 Centre Avenue; 412-362-0202; dinette-pgh.com.

e2 5904 Bryant Street; 412-441-1200; e2pgh.com.

Grapperia 3801 Butler Street; 412-904-3907; grapperiapgh.com.

Meat & Potatoes 649 Penn Avenue; 412-325-7007; meatandpotatoespgh.com.

Morcilla 3519 Butler Street; 412-652-9924; morcillapittsburgh.com.

Piccolo Forno 3801 Butler Street; 412-622-0111; piccolo-forno.com.

Primanti Brothers 1832 East Carson Street; 412-325-2455; primantibros.com.

Smallman Galley 54 21st Street; 412-315-5950; smallmangalley.org.COMMENTS

Tender Bar & Kitchen 4300 Butler Street; 412-402-9522; tenderpgh.com.

Tessaro’s 4601 Liberty Avenue; 412-682-6809; tessaros.com.

The Vandal 4306 Butler Street; 412-251-0465; thevandalpgh.com.

*   *   *

Pittsburgh has jobs: more than 20,000 across 10 counties. Tap into ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers and industries.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

 

Fitt PGH

Sharing from Fitt PGH / Written by Reyna Scott 

When it comes to parks and green spaces, Pittsburgh is pretty spoiled. From exploring the outdoors within the city, to more adventurous outings just a short drive away, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get outside around here. Especially when someone (ahem!) compiles a list of everything you need to know about our region’s city, county and state parks in one place.

InTheCity-Edit1-white
Whether you’re looking to relax and read a book, go for a run through wooded trails or play a game of basketball with your friends, these Pittsburg parks have it all! The best part is you won’t even have to leave the city to get to them.

Mellon Square

Conveniently located in downtown Pittsburgh, this park is a great lunch break destination.  Wait, a park in the middle of the city? Yep, that’s right! And that’s not all: it’s built on top of a parking garage. The park reopened last May after being restored due to the 60 years in use. The 1.37-acre area is a great spot to relax from the hustle and bustle of downtown’s office-goers.

Riverview Park

This 259-acre park offers something for everyone. Hikers, bikers, and runners can enjoy the deeply wooded trails, while residents can also enjoy a swimming pool, playground, ball field, and even horseback riding.  One of the landmarks at the park is the Allegheny Observatory, a major astronomical research institution, owned by the University of Pittsburgh. You may also notice the Chapel Shelter, which after a restoration completed in 2008, now allows for a great picnic spot.

Washington’s Landing

Probably most popularly known for the marina, is Washington’s Landing. Don’t worry; you don’t have to have a boat to check out the area.  Here you get the best of both worlds: a park and a view of the three rivers. If you need to regain some energy while exploring, there is a riverfront restaurant, Redfin Blues, located nearby where you can watch the boats while enjoying a drink.

Highland Park

The entrance of the park welcomes you with a large Victorian-style garden, which leads up to one of Pittsburgh’s many reservoirs, along with running and dog walking trails.  If you’re looking for something to do with the entire family, you may want to check out the 50-meter swimming pool, the kiddie pool for the little ones, and the volleyball courts. Last but not least, we can’t forget about the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium!

Frick Park

This is the largest city park in Pittsburgh covering 600 acres of trails and baseball fields. Not only are the amenities endless at Frick Park during the warmer months, but also in the winter, which includes Blue Slide Park: the go-to spot for sledding. In fact, there is so many different activities to do in Frick Park, rapper Mac Miller even wrote two songs about it: “Frick Park Market” and “Blue Slide Park.”

Schenley Park

For many college students Schenley Park is the perfect study spot being that it’s only a few minute walk from both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie University. While Schenley Park offer a fantastic view of the Cathedral of Learning, you would never even know you’re still in the city. A swimming pool in the summer, an ice skating rink in the winter, and an 18-hole golf course are just a few of the conveniences you can access to escape reality for a bit.

West Park

Better known as Allegheny Commons, this 64-acre park is the oldest in Pittsburgh. Built in 1867, in what was Allegheny City, the park once featured four fountains that have since demolished. But, thankfully, community groups are currently hard at work raising funds that would restore the park surrounding Lake Elizabeth to its original splendor.

South Side Park

When most people think of Southside they think bars, shops, and restaurants. Well, now its time to think hiking and biking, too! The park isn’t easily spotted because it’s hidden back in the slopes of Southside, but once find it, you’ll never want to leave. After exploring the wilderness for bit, don’t forget about East Carson Street… stop down for a drink at Fat Head’s Saloon or a “sammitch” at Primanti Bros.

Emerald View Park

This park includes three different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, not to mention best view of the city. You can even catch a movie at the park every week as a part of the free “Cinema in the Park” during the summer. When you’re looking to be a little more active, Emerald View Park also has basketball courts, baseball fields, and even a boxing club (a great way to relieve some stress)!

Mellon Park

Located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Shadyside Avenue, Mellon Park is a great place to stop as you’re driving through Shadyside. The Walled Garden underwent a restoration of several years and was completed in June 2010. Since the update, the park has been offering events throughout the summer, which includes Summer Soul Line Dancing. Not interested in dancing? Don’t worry. You can schedule your own private events here, too!

August Wilson Park

For the past two years August Wilson Park, formerly Cliffside Park, has been under a redevelopment project. Before the renovation the park didn’t offer much, with overgrown shrubs, cracked pavement, and drainage problems. Thanks to the hard work from residents, the park now holds two play areas, a picnic area, a half basketball court, and not to mention a great view of the river.

CountyParks-Edit1-White

After you’ve checked out all of the Pittsburgh parks, it’s time to see what the county parks have to offer.  At some of these parks you will find longer trails, perfect for hiking and taking your dog for a walk, water spray parks for the kids (or adults…we don’t judge) and even a BMX track. You can be sure to stay active no matter the season!

North Park

Being that North Park is the largest in the county, you are sure to stay active and busy here. Walk, run, bike, or hike on the trails totaling 43 miles. During the summer go for a dip in what was once the largest pool in the world, or go paddle-boarding, kayaking, or take a ride on a pedal boat, or even go for a horse back ride.  Don’t worry; there are winter activities at the park, too. When the lake freezes over maybe you want to try cross-country skiing or ice fishing.

South Park

This park may be the oldest in the county but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated by any means. 17 miles of trails is only the beginning. Here you will find a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, a golf course, and an ice skating rink.  Oh and don’t forget the wave pool or amphitheater for summer concerts! But wait, there’s more… the BMX track is considered the best in the county.

Boyce Park

This park is ideal for any of the winter lovers out there. Here you’ll find snowboarding, tubing, downhill skiing and trails for cross-country skiing. Don’t panic summer lovers; Boyce Park has activities for you too, including 21 miles of trails for hiking and biking.  While you’re here be sure to check out the Nature Center, organic greenhouse, and take an art class or two!

Deer Lakes

Deer Lakes is known for it’s three spring-fed lakes, which provide year round fishing opportunities-a fisherman’s paradise. This park also sits on one of the highest points of all of Allegheny County, allowing for picture perfect views of the stars and planets. In fact, visitors can take a “tour of the sky” throughout the year. But that’s not all… enjoy the 18-hole disc golf course and water spray park while you’re here.

Harrison Hills

Just because this park is the smallest in the county doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do or see, especially for nature lovers. This spot is ideal for kids and bird enthusiasts, offering guided walks and nature camps. There’s also plenty of room to stretch your legs here with three soccer fields, a children’s play area, and 20 miles of trails. Great for the entire family!

Hartwood Acres

The 31-room mansion is definitely the most recognizable part of this park. The mansion was lived in until 1974, which has since been used for weddings, tea parties, mansion tours, and parties. Aside from the iconic mansion, this park offers 15 miles of trails being shared with hikers, bikers, and cross-country skiers. Hartwood Acres provides entertainment, too! It’s known for its performance stage and Summer Concert Series.  Be on the look on for who’s performing next!

Round Hill

This 1,100-acre park is great for field trips because it’s a current working farm. That’s right… this means there’s cows, pigs, goats, horses, and more. There’s even a milk house and a duck pond that the kids will be sure to love.  While the park is extremely educational, stop by to enjoy the trails, picnic shelters, and water spray park on those hot summer days.

Settlers Cabin

So, this park is pretty cool because it’s the only county park that has a professional diving well! After working up a sweat from the rugged hiking and biking trails, or playing tennis against your besties, cool off by taking a dip in the water. That’s right… you can drive, jump, or cannon ball into 17-feet deep water from a one, three, or 10-meter concrete platform (hopefully you’re not afraid of heights) or take a ride in the wave pool.

White Oak

This park may be small to some, but large to nature lovers, especially tree lovers.  Here you will find some of the oldest tree groves in PA.  The garden within the park is also a hidden gem for weddings (shhh)! Of course there are trails and a playground to enjoy as well!

Stateparks-1 copy

If you ever need to get away from the city for a little bit (it’s OK, it happens sometimes) check out these four state parks.  Make it a weekend camping trip at Raccoon Creek State Park or go rock climbing at McConnell’s Mill. The great thing is that these state parks aren’t even too far away from home!

Point State Park

This park is conveniently located where the three rivers come together, known appropriately as “the point” or the “Golden Triangle.” As a part of this National Historic Landmark, Pittsburgher’s indulging in water ports including boating, paddle boarding, and kayaking are a very common sight.  Be sure to check out the Fort Pitt Museum while you’re visiting, too… It tells the story of how Western PA plays a role during the French and Indian War (very educational)!

McConnell’s Mill

This state park is perfect for the adventurers out there.  Bring your own kayak or canoe and you can whitewater raft down the Slippery Rock Creek. Provide your own equipment and you and your buddies can traverse the Rim Road Climbing area. This park even offers hiking trails for all ages and experience levels. Looking for more of a leisurely activity? Fishing is permitted almost anywhere along the creek. McConnell’s Mill is sure to please everyone!

Moraine State Park

Finally, a beach in Western PA! Moraine State Park provides not one, but two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. While we all love to catch some rays and go for a swim during the summer, this is only one of the amenities the park offers.  While you’re here you can even book a cruise. OK, so maybe it isn’t to the Caribbean, but hey, who wouldn’t enjoy the scenery and wildlife that surrounds Lake Arthur? Or, if you’d rather take your own boat out on the lake, you can do so at the Davis Hollow Marina.

Raccoon Creek State Park

This state park has just about anything you can think of. Everything from horseback riding to camping to snowmobiling, pretty much you name it, you can do it here. Come here for a peace and quiet hike through the woods or a family camping trip.  No matter the season, you will be sure to stay busy whether it is just for the day or for a week long vacation.

NEXTpittsburgh

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Amanda Waltz

It’s time to head outside for some fun family activities. From a children’s theater festival to a week long celebration of innovation in learning, there’s something for everyone this month.

Kids Day at PNC Park.
Kids Day at PNC Park.

Kids Day at PNC Park: May 1

Baseball season will go into full swing with Kids Day at PNC Park. Little ones can have some fun before the game at the #1 Cochran Family Fun Zone on Federal Street. Inside the park, fans age 14 and under will receive a commemorative Andrew McCutchen Silver Slugger Plastic Bat with paid admission. After the final inning, kids can pretend to be their favorite players when they rush onto the field for a chance to Run the Bases.

Federal Street activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit the Pirates website for more details and ticket prices.

 

Mother’s Day Weekend in Lawrenceville: May 6—8

The whole family should head to Lawrenceville for the neighborhood’s Mother’s Day Weekend. Mom can indulge in discounts and freebies at 54 participating businesses all along Butler Street. For the foodie mom, there are brunch deals, wine tastings and sweet treats at various restaurants, bars and bakeries. Take advantage of special deals on gifts and services at Wildcard, Love Bikes and Metamorphosis. The event will also offer activities for kids and moms to enjoy together, including Mom and Me make-up classes at The Gilded Girl, Mommy and Me Yoga at Shining Light, and puppet shows at the Teddy Bear Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Mother’s Day Weekend in Lawrenceville will begin on Friday, May 6 and continue through Sunday, May 8. Some activities require registration.

 

Photo by Kate Buckley.
Photo by Kate Buckley.

Millvale May Days:

May 6—7

The Business Association of Millvale (BAM) will present a weekend full of activities for Millvale May Days. The free event will feature self-guided tours of 30 stops in Millvale’s business district, where guests can check out sales, specials and raffles. Also included are horse-drawn carriage rides, live music, and opportunities in GAP Park to learn about Millvale’s plan for a sustainable future. BAM will also provide tour maps to mark off for a chance to win one of three grand prizes.

Millvale May Days will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 6 and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. Grand prize winners will be announced at 5 p.m. during the Saturday Post Party at the Millvale Library.

 

Pittsburgh Vegan Festival: May 6—7

Vegan and non-vegans alike can attend two days of food and fun at the North Hills Unitarian Universalist Church during the Pittsburgh Vegan Festival. The all-ages event will begin on Friday, May 6 with an opening party and the RE-Model Gala, an art and dance fashion show featuring belly dancers modeling designs by local artists who work with recycled materials.

The event continues on Saturday, May 7 with a full day of vegan cuisine, live entertainment and over two dozen vendors offering everything from handmade jewelry to astrology consultations. Among the available food items are vegan hot dogs from Onion Maiden, Indian fare from Sree’s Foods, and empanadas from Salud Pgh. Especially for kids, there’s story time, an art activity, play time, and more.

The Pittsburgh Vegan Festival will kick off on Friday, May 6 with an opening party from 6 to 9 p.m. The event continues on Saturday, May 7 from 12 to 7 p.m. Tickets for the opening party are $10 pre-sale, $15 at the door, and free for kids 12 and under. Admission to the Saturday main event costs $5 at the door (free for kids 12 and under).

At the Children’s Museum.
At the Children’s Museum.

Remake Learning Days: May 9 – 15

During Remake Learning Days, a first for Pittsburgh, kids and families can experience first-hand the revolution underway in the future of education in our region. With hundreds of events on tap, all categorized by audience (children and families, for one), this is your chance to explore the world of hands-on and technology-based learning including STEM and STEAM – that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math. From STEM all hands on tech at the Carnegie Library to Family Maker Night, there’s plenty  to do in this  weeklong celebration showcasing everything that makes the Pittsburgh region a  national leader in innovative teaching and learning.

Find events everywhere from schools and museums to universities and tech startups, all free and open for you to explore. Check the schedule and plan your week!

 

EQT Children’s Theater Festival in the Cultural District: May 12—15

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will celebrate 30 years of bringing outstanding children’s programming to Pittsburgh with the latest EQT Children’s Theater Festival. Organized by the Children’s Theater Series, the event will roll out productions by eight award-winning theater companies from Canada, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Peru and Scotland. As part of the festivities, the Cultural District will also offer a wide array of hands-on activities, public art and music at a variety of outdoor, pop-up green spaces and indoor lobbies.

Performances will take place at the Byham TheaterEQT Plaza at 625 Liberty Ave., the August Wilson Center and the Trust Arts Education Center.

 

Pizza from Driftwood OvenSteel City Pizza Fest in Arsenal Park: May 14

Enjoy a slice or two at Steel City Pizza Fest, Pittsburgh’s premiere pizza and music festival. The annual event returns to Arsenal Park to serve up offerings from 11 area pizza shops representing Millvale, Bloomfield and Lawrenceville. Spirit’s Pizza Boat, the Driftwood Mobile Pizza Oven and the Pittsburgh Pizza Truck will also appear.

In addition to gorging on some cheesy, doughy goodness, guests can also listen to live performances by bands The Turpentiners, Allegheny Rhythm Rangers, Strange Monsters and Turbosonics, or shop for local, handmade goods at the Spring It On craft show.

The 2016 Steel City Pizza Fest will take place from 12 to 6 p.m. The event is free to attend and open to everyone, including dogs.

Touch-a-Truck in the Strip District: May 14

The Junior League of Pittsburgh, an organization of women committed to improving communities through volunteerism, will host a Touch-a-Truck fundraiser in the Strip District. Kids of all ages will have the opportunity to explore fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and other vehicles, and meet the men and women who drive them. Food trucks will add to the mix by selling food and beverages. Proceeds from the event will support the Junior League of Pittsburgh.

Touch-a-Truck will take place from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. at 15th and Smallman Street in the Strip District. Tickets are $4 online, $5 at the door. VIP tickets are $10 for adults, $15 for children (includes early access at 9 a.m. and a t-shirt). Parking is free.

 

Noah’s Ark whale at Kennywood.
Noah’s Ark whale at Kennywood.

Noah’s Ark Grand Opening at Kennywood: May 25

Families visiting Kennywood this year will discover some major surprises. The historic theme park begins its 118th season with the much-anticipated return of the Noah’s Ark whale. Twenty years after its removal, the majestic creature returns to celebrate its 80th anniversary serving as the entrance to the classic ride. The park will commemorate the occasion with a grand opening event.

Other changes include a new and improved Potato Patch, and the addition of a 4-D Theater, which will run the animated short Ice Age: No Time For Nuts 4-D every 12 minutes. The theater is free with park admission.

 

Free Family Fishing Day at Fort Pitt Museum: May 29

Point State Park and the Fort Pitt Museum will provide fun and educational activities in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Fish-for-Free Days, a state-wide event allowing people to legally fish on Pennsylvania waterways with or without a license. Point State Park staff will provide plenty of modern fishing equipment and teachable moments for the 21st century. The Fort Pitt Museum will have costumed interpreters with period 18th-century fishing equipment to demonstrate how people fished at Fort Pitt 250 years ago.

The Free Family Fishing Day at Fort Pitt Museum will take place in the Amphitheater along the Monongahela Wharf. While participants are not required to have a fishing license, all other fishing regulations still apply.

 

Image courtesy of PyroFest.
Image courtesy of PyroFest.

PyroFest at Cooper’s Lake: May 28-29

Now in its fifth year, PyroFest returns to Cooper’s Lake to unleash an epic Memorial Day weekend fireworks display. For the first time ever, the event will feature four highly renowned international pyrotechnic companies. On Saturday, May 28, the Chinese company Vulcan will present their action-packed show Road Trip Ramble, followed by Ricardo Caballer Ricasa. On Sunday, May 29, the Canadian company Sirius Pyrotechnics and Pyrotecnico, the largest fireworks company in America, will light up the sky.

PyroFest will also have a choreographed special effects production set to a live performance by the band Rusted Root. Other offerings include music on the main stage, food vendors and a Kids Zone.

Tickets for PyroFest are available for purchase at Showclix.

Honorable mentions:

Waves Party at Assemble: May 11

Penny Arcade at Arcade Comedy Theater: May 14

Zooperheroes Family Game Night at the Pittsburgh Zoo: May 15

Venture Outdoors Festival: May 21

3 Rivers Comicon at Century III Mall: May 21-22

 

*   *   *

Wondering about your career future? Check out ImaginePittsburgh.com to explore southwestern PA’s trending careers, industries and the more than 20,000 jobs open now on our custom-built aggregator, updated nightly.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

ImaginePittsburgh.com
Laura Arnold b
Laura Arnold, 31, left a lucrative but unrewarding paralegal job as to pursue a job with more learning potential in advertising, for which she won an award. Photo by Matt Steffen via USA TODAY.

USA TODAY is among the news sources reporting that a majority of Millennials says they would rather have meaningful work than higher pay. According to a Fidelity survey of 25- to 35-year-olds, doing work that is interesting, rewarding and imparts new skills matters more than a cozy paycheck.

“I look for a role where work actually gets done and I’m challenged,” 31-year-old Laura Arnold, of Cincinnati, told the newspaper. “Getting new skills and things you can take with you if things go south or you wanted to leave is really more valuable than an extra couple thousand dollars.”

Conducted in February, the Fidelity Investments survey queried 1,500 respondents ages 25-70 who work full-time, and whose employer offers a defined contribution workplace retirement savings plan.

Read the USA TODAY story here.

Read the Fidelity news release here.

 

Fitt PGH

Sharing from Fitt PGH / Written by Joe Vennare 

Quick question: Any idea how many neighborhoods there are in Pittsburgh?

Hm. Here’s a hint: A LOT. There are 90 in all. Which is kind of crazy. But the really crazy part is that they each have something a little different to offer. The problem is, you can’t really get a good sense for what makes each spot special when you’re just passing through. It’s as though you have to stop, park your car and walk around a bit to truly get a feel for things.

Great idea! Explore Pittsburgh and get some exercise in at the same time. With 90 neighborhoods to hit, you better get started soon. Well, this article should help. Here are 12 walks around town you should take – at least once. Just click the green map icon on each image to see the route.

Grandview Avenue

Grandview Avenue

You can’t call yourself a Pittsburgher if you’ve never seen the Steel City from Mt. Washington. And no visit to Pittsburgh is complete without a walk along Grandview Avenue. So whether you’re a longtime native, a newbie or just passing through plan on taking this one mile walk from the Point of View Statue (George Washington and Seneca Chief Guyasuta) to Shiloh Street. You’ll pass a the Le Mont, St. Mary of the Mount, a few inclines and observation pods where you’ll want to stop for a photo (or ten). Take your time and take your time before making the return trip back to see George.

 

Mexican War Streets

Known for beautifully restored row houses, tree-lined streets and community gardens, this historic district has a character and feel that’s best experienced on foot. To do so, meander through the streets between West North Avenue to Sampsonia Way and from Sherman to Drovers. Along the way, plan to make stops at a handful of amazing art spaces including the Mattress Factory, City of Asylum, and Randyland. If you’re feeling extra energized cross North Avenue and explore Allegheny Commons and Lake Elizabeth.

 

The Strip District

The Strip District

Spending a weekend morning in the Strip District. It’s a quintessential Pittsburgh experience. To see what we mean, head to the Penn Avenue market district between Liberty and Smallman for street vendors, ethnic eateries and food purveyors, unique boutiques, antique shops and more. Prepare to shop, smell and sample your way through spots like Wholey’s, Penn Mac, Enrico Biscotti, Parma Sausage and La Prima Espresso. Whatever you do, don’t forget about brunch at Deluca’s or Pamela’s. Then walk it off as you continue your tour of the Strip District with a walk through the Heinz History Center.

 

Schenley Plaza + Park

Okay, we’re going to come right out and say it. Block an entire day off for this walk. Or plan to take a series of walks. Because there’s so many great things to see, do and explore in and around Oakland. You could park in Schenley Plaza and pop into the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. Take a lap around (or through) the Cathedral of Learning. Head up Schenley Drive. Stop at Phipps Conservatory. Climb Flagstaff Hill. Follow Panther Hollow Trail through Schenley Park. If you pack everything into one trip, you’ll cover four miles, minimum. Go you!

 

Riverfront Plaza to Point State Park

riverfront

If you’re trying to log some extra miles post brunch in the Strip, keep walking until you reach Point State Park. A trail closure makes the starting point a little tricky to reach, but you can get there through the parking lot across the street from the Heinz History Center, or by following Penn to 10th Street. A right on 10th will take you under the Convention Center to Riverfront Plaza. Follow the  Three Rivers Heritage Trail  to the left. Walking alongside the Allegheny River, make your way to Point State Park. FYI – It’s about two miles there and back if you begin at the Convention Center.

 

Roberto Clemente Bridge + PNC Park

You don’t have to like baseball to love PNC Park. So what we’re trying to say is that you should definitely check out a Pirates game. And when you do, make your way to the game by crossing the Roberto Clemente Bridge with thousands of Pittsburgh-loving Buccos fans. Best of all, the bridge is closed during home games. So the entire walk is like a giant block party suspended over the river. If you’re taking this stroll in the off season or when the team is out of town, feel free to combine it with other routes, including the North Shore Trail, a trip through the Strip District or a loop around Point State Park.

 

East Carson Street + South Side Trail

southside

Take a lap around South Side with a route that’s equal parts urban streets and off-road. Kick things off at SouthSide Works near the Hot Metal Bridge. From there, follow the South Side Riverfront Trail along the Monongahela River. You’ll pass through the South Shore Riverfront Park. Kickback or carry on until you reach 18th Street. The next part is up to you. Continue on the Riverfront trail or hop off between 18th and 16th Street to East Carson to explore the sights, sounds and shops on the South Side. Eventually, you’ll want to make your way back to where you began by heading east (obviously!) on Carson Street. Said differently, walk in the direction where the cross streets get bigger until you arrive back in SouthSide Works.

 

North Shore Trail

From the Great Lawn to the Water Steps and Heinz Field to PNC Park, there’s no shortage of reasons to hit the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the North Shore. If you do, you can explore at will. Especially if you head to Washington’s Landing and back. Fair warning, it’s almost 10 miles there and back. But every mile is totally worth it. Do this: Start at the Carnegie Science Center, hop on the trail and make a left towards Heinz Field. From there it’s a straight shot to the Landing. So keep walking, stop and splash around at the Water Steps, take a lap around PNC Park or a break at Redfin Blues. The possibilities are endless!

 

Butler Street

lawrenceville

There’s a lot to love about Lawrenceville. The shops and eateries along Butler Street have a lot to do with that. So why not see them all? Good call! Do this: supercharge your walk with a healthy dose of caffeine from Espresso a Mano. You’ll want to stay here all day. But we’re here for the walk, remember? And all of the boutiques, like Pavement and Mid-Atlantic Mercantile. Wildcard is always worth a stop. So is Atlas Bottle Shop. Pastries anyone? See Le Gourmandine. After your treat, you could keep going and take a lap around Allegheny Cemetery. Or you could make your way back to lower Lawrenceville. Either way, you’re looking at a two-ish mile round trip.

 

Highland Park

While Lawrenceville gets all of the hype, there’s a lot to love about Highland Park too. This lovely neighborhood offers walkable streets right next to some exciting redevelopment projects in East Liberty. Plus, attractions like Highland Park, Pittsburgh Zoo and bike oval make stopping by worthwhile. If you do, begin your tour by scoping out Highland Park. Next, set out to weave your way through this neighborhood, using North Highland Street as your guidepost. Before calling it a day, you might want to consider a detour along Bryant Street. Grab a snack or drink at neighborhood staples like Park Bruges, e2, Joseph Tamellini’s and Tazz D’orro coffee.

 

Walnut Street

Head to this thoroughfare in Shadyside to shop, snack and sip the afternoon away. More specifically, the stretch of Walnut between Ivy and South Aiken is where the action is. But it’s a short walk along this section of Walnut. So if you’re looking to break a sweat and burn off that pastry from Prantl’s, you have a few options. For starters, Bakery Square is less than a mile away. More shopping anyone? Or avoid the crowds altogether with a trip to Mellon Park. Paved paths through this park’s “secret” gardens await you. On your return trip, it’s not a bad idea to stop for some gelato from Mercurio’s. It’s actually a great idea!

 

Frick Park + Regent Square

frick

If you’ve never been to Frick Park, you definitely need to go. Whether it’s on foot, via mountain bike or with your pup, Frick has you covered with 600 acres to explore. The trails and nature beauty are such that this walk feels more like a hike. Which is awesome. Especially when you sandwich it between snacks in Regent Square. We prefer brunch at Square Cafe and an afternoon of fun at Frick, followed by an adult beverage at D’s Six Pax and Dogs. Armed with the map we created (see green map icon above) and this map of Frick Park, you have an awesome day ahead of you.

 

 

 

Are you new to the region, or just looking to get better connected? Take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh!” quiz.

We’ll tell you whether you’re City Centric, an Outdoors Enthusiast, a Global Citizen or something in between.  The quiz will point you to neighborhoods and events that can help you connect.

You’ll be matched up with some of our Neighbors — friendly people from around the corner and around the world who have chosen Pittsburgh as the place to advance their careers and build great lives. Nearly all of them have LinkedIn contacts through which you can contact them and get advice on getting settled or finding a job.

Take the quiz today, and pass it on to your friends!