Downtown Pittsburgh

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Central Business District; Golden Triangle
Neighborhood of Pittsburgh
From Mt. Washington
Pgh locator central business district.svg
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Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Allegheny County
City Pittsburgh
 • Total 0.64 sq mi (1.7 km2)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 3,629
 • Density 5,700/sq mi (2,200/km2)

Downtown Pittsburgh, colloquially referred to as the Golden Triangle and officially the Central Business District,[1] is the urban downtown center of Pittsburgh. It is located at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River whose joining forms the Ohio River. The "triangle" is bounded by the two rivers. The area features offices for major corporations such as PNC Bank, U.S. Steel, PPG, Bank of New York Mellon, Heinz, Federated Investors and Alcoa. It is where the fortunes of such industrial barons as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, Henry J. Heinz, Andrew Mellon and George Westinghouse were made.

In 2013, Pittsburgh had the second-lowest vacancy rate for Class A space among downtowns in the United States.[2]


The Central Business District is bounded by the Monongahela River to the south, the Allegheny River to the north, and I-579 (Crosstown Boulevard) to the east. An expanded definition of Downtown may include the adjacent neighborhoods of Uptown/The Bluff, the Strip District, the North Shore, and the South Shore.


The Smithfield Street Bridge
Famous mural on the 300 Sixth Street building

Public transportation

Downtown is served by the Port Authority's light rail subway system (known locally as the "T"), an extensive bus network, and two inclines (Duquesne Incline and Monongahela Incline). The Downtown portion of the subway has the following stations:

T Stations

  • Station Square on the South Shore in the Station Square development (street-level station)
  • First Avenue near First Avenue & Ross Street, Downtown (elevated station)
  • Steel Plaza at Sixth Avenue & Grant Street, Downtown (underground station)
  • Penn Plaza near Liberty Avenue & Grant Street, Downtown (underground, limited service)
  • Wood Street at the triangular intersection of Wood Street, Sixth Avenue, and Liberty Avenue, Downtown (underground station)
  • Gateway Center at Liberty Avenue & Stanwix Street, Downtown (underground station)
  • North Side near General Robinson Street & Tony Dorsett Drive on the North Shore (underground station)
  • Allegheny near Allegheny Avenue & Reedsdale Street on the North Shore (elevated station)

Downtown is also home to an Amtrak train station connecting Pittsburgh with New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. to the east and Cleveland and Chicago to the west. Greyhound's Pittsburgh bus terminal is located across Liberty Avenue from the Amtrak Station, in the Grant Street Transportation Center building.


Major roadways serving Downtown from the suburbs include the "Parkway East" (I-376) from Monroeville, the "Parkway West" (I-376) from the airport area, and the "Parkway North" (I-279) from the North Hills, and (I-579) in Downtown Pittsburgh. Other important roadways are Pennsylvania Route 28, Pennsylvania Route 51, Pennsylvania Route 65, and U.S. Route 19.

Three major entrances to the city are via tunnels: the Fort Pitt Tunnel and Squirrel Hill Tunnel on I-376 and the Liberty Tunnels. The New York Times once called Pittsburgh "the only city with an entrance,"[3] specifically referring to the view of Downtown that explodes upon drivers immediately upon exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Also traveling I-279 south and I-376, the city "explodes into view" when coming around a turn in the highway.

Local streets

Downtown surface streets are based on two distinct grid systems that parallel the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.[4] These two grids intersect along Liberty Avenue, creating many unusual street intersections. Furthermore, the Allegheny grid contains numbered streets, while the Monongahela grid contains numbered avenues. And, in fact, there are cases where these numbered roadways intersect, creating some confusion (i.e. the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 7th Street/6th Avenue). This unusual grid pattern leads to Pittsburghers giving directions in the terms of landmarks, rather than turn-by-turn directions.[4]


At least seventeen of Pittsburgh's bridges are visible in this aerial photo.

Pittsburgh is nicknamed "The City of Bridges". In Downtown, there are 10 bridges (listed below) connecting to points north and south. The expanded definition of Downtown (including the aforementioned surrounding neighborhoods) includes 18 bridges. City-wide there are 446 bridges. In Allegheny County the number exceeds 2,200.

Downtown Bridges

Sixth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh

Bridges of Expanded Downtown

  • West End Bridge carries US Route 19 from the West End/South Shore to the North Shore/North Side just west of Downtown
  • 16th Street Bridge carries 16th Street from the Strip District to Chestnut Street on the North Side
  • West Penn Bridge (pedestrian/bike-only) is part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail connecting the North Side to Washington's Landing on Herr's Island
  • 30th Street Bridge connects River Avenue on the North Side with Waterfront Drive on Washington's Landing at Herr's Island
  • 31st Street Bridge connects PA Route 28 on the North Side with 31st Street in the Strip District
  • 33rd Street Railroad Bridge connects the North Side to the Strip District and crosses Herr's Island
  • South 10th Street Bridge connects the Armstrong Tunnel at Second Avenue just east of Downtown with the South Side at South 10th Street
  • Birmingham Bridge connects East Carson Street on the South Side with Fifth and Forbes avenues in Uptown

Downtown districts

Downtown contains a wealth of historic, cultural, and entertainment sites. While most people still consider the entire Downtown as one neighborhood, there are several significant subdistricts within the Golden Triangle.

  • The Fifth & Forbes Corridor is Downtown's shopping district along Fifth and Forbes avenues and includes historic Market Square. Downtown is home to numerous independent retailers plus large retailers such as Burlington Coat Factory and Brooks Brothers.
  • The Grant Street area is the seat of Pittsburgh's and Allegheny County's government and is also a prestigious corporate address with many of the city's tallest skyscrapers.
  • The Firstside neighborhood along the Boulevard of the Allies and Fort Pitt Boulevard adjacent to the Monongahela River is an educational and residential district. It is home to Point Park University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh both of which have high-rise student housing in the neighborhood. Numerous other residential projects are also under construction in this neighborhood.


File:Jobs located within the City of Pittsburgh, 1991-2007.jpg
Pittsburgh's number of jobs is generally stable.

Downtown Pittsburgh retains substantial economic influence, ranking at 25th in the nation for jobs within the urban core and 6th in job density.[6]

University of Pittsburgh economist Christopher Briem notes that the level of employment in the city has remained largely constant for the past 50 years: "[the] time series of jobs located in the City proper are about as stable as any economic metric in the region, or in any other Northeastern US urban core, over many decades. In 1958, [there were] 294,000 jobs located in the city proper…Those numbers are virtually identical today which tells me there is a certain limit to how many jobs can efficiently be located in what are some relatively (very) constrained areas."[7] These numbers reflect employment in the city as a whole, not just the central business district; but the central business district has the highest density of employment of any Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Pittsburgh has long been a headquarters city, with numerous national and global corporations calling the Golden Triangle home. Currently, Downtown is still home to a large number of Fortune 500 companies (8 in the metro area, 6 of which are in the city in 2009, which ranks Pittsburgh high nationally in Fortune 500 headquarters):

– headquartered in PPG Place

– headquartered in the PPG Place

– headquartered in One PNC Plaza

– headquartered in PPG Place

– headquartered at Station Square

– headquartered at the US Steel Tower

Downtown is also home to GNC, Dollar Bank, Equitable Resources, Duquesne Light, Federated Investors and Highmark as well as the regional headquarters for Citizens Bank, Ariba, and Dominion Resources. Regional healthcare giant UPMC has its corporate headquarters in the US Steel Tower.

Major buildings


Downtown is home to the following hotels:

Parks and plazas

Downtown is home to numerous parks, large and small:

  • Point State Park at the tip of the Golden Triangle
  • Mellon Square located in the square between Oliver & Sixth avenues and Smithfield Street and William Penn Place
  • Market Square at Forbes Avenue & Market Street
  • Mellon Green located at Grant Street & Sixth Avenue
  • FirstSide Park located between Grant & Ross streets and First & Second avenues.
  • Gateway Center plazas located around the Gateway Center skyscrapers near Liberty Avenue & Stanwix Street
  • Plaza at PPG Place near Third Avenue & Market Street
  • US Steel Tower Plaza at Grant Street & Sixth Avenue
  • Katz Plaza at Penn Avenue & Seventh Street
  • Triangle Park bounded by Liberty Avenue, Fifth Avenue & Market Street
  • Allegheny Riverfront Park along the Allegheny River below Fort Duquesne Boulevard
  • Mon Wharf Landing along the Monongahela River below Fort Pitt Boulevard (under construction)
  • North Shore Riverfront Park opposite Downtown along the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, part of the larger Three Rivers Park

Educational facilities

While Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood is known as the educational center of the city, Downtown is home to several higher education institutions as well as a branch of the city's Carnegie Library system and a Pittsburgh Public Schools 6–12 school:

Residential areas

Downtown has several condos, including Gateway Towers and Chatham Place dating to the 1960s [1] and more modern structures as well.

Surrounding neighborhoods

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "PGHSNAP 2010 Raw Census Data by Neighborhood". Pittsburgh Department of City Planning PGHSNAP Utility. 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2013. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Belko, Mark (May 14, 2014). "In The Lead: Low vacancy recorded in Downtown Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 14, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Top Ten Reasons to Visit Pittsburgh". Retrieved June 28, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Conti, John (January 22, 2012). "How a municipality is designed can create elegance or chaos". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved January 22, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Staff (March 13, 2009). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Miller, Harold (August 3, 2008). "Regional Insights: Pittsburgh is a national player in jobs per square mile but needs more population". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 6, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Briem, Christopher (August 5, 2011). "hold em like they do in Texas plays". Nullspace. Retrieved August 6, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links