Downtown Pittsburgh is the main business district and urban center of life in the city. Constrained by the Allegheny River on the north and the Monongahela River on the south, which join to form the Ohio River at what is known as the "Point", Downtown has been forced to grow upwards. Although Pittsburgh is in some ways a small town, its downtown contains some big city structures and is a bustling center; office workers stream in and out on the weekdays, packing buses, light rail trains, and the bridges during rush hours. In Downtown, visitors will find exceptional examples of architecture, a picturesque park where Pittsburgh's three rivers meet, numerous hotels, restaurants, theaters, and the home arena of the city's hockey team.

Get in

Driving in over the bridge offers a stunning view

If you're arriving in Pittsburgh by bus or train you'll likely be getting off in Downtown anyway — the   Greyhound Depot is located at 11th and Liberty, while Amtrak serves   Union Station, just across the street from the Greyhound depot. For detailed info on arriving via those modes, see the Get in section on the Pittsburgh article.

By car

Downtown Pittsburgh is readily accessible by a number of freeways and bridges. From the east, I-376 (The Parkway East) connects downtown to the eastern side of Pittsburgh and I-76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike), with three exits into Downtown: Second Avenue (right lane exit), Grant Street (left lane exit), and Stanwix Street (left lane exit). I-376 is also the best option for coming in from the airport and western suburbs, coming across the Fort Pitt Bridge (take the middle lane to exit into Downtown). I-279 (Parkway North/West) is your best option for coming in from the north - either exit on I-579 (the Veterans Bridge) or continue across the Fort Duquesne Bridge and exit there. From the southeast, Liberty Ave (which enters the Liberty Tunnel and then becomes the Liberty Bridge) is a good option.

By public transit

Because most bus routes terminate downtown, it is usually easy to access from any direction. From the south or the stadiums to the north, Pittsburgh's light rail system ("The T") provides quick access, with four stops in the district: First Avenue, Steel Plaza, Wood Street, and Gateway Center. From the east, the MLK East Busway (bus rapid transit line) provides traffic-free service to a few East End communities. To the west, the West Busway operates on a separate right-of-way for most of its trip. There is also a South Busway, though it is less useful.

If you're flying into Pittsburgh, the Route 28X Airport Flyer will bring you directly downtown from Pittsburgh International Airport, via the West Busway.

Get around

Map of Downtown Pittsburgh

Downtown Pittsburgh is optimal for walking as it is small (covering approximately 0.7 square miles) and very dense.

Taxis are more difficult to come by and typically accessed by request at one of the various hotels.

Buses are the norm downtown as well as the light rail/subway ("The T") which has three subway stops at Steel Plaza (Grant St. and Oliver Ave.), Wood Street (and Sixth Ave.), and Gateway Center (Liberty Ave. and Stanwix St.), as well as a surface station at First Ave (and B St.) Fares on buses and "The T" are free within downtown.



Anyone interested in American architecture will love downtown Pittsburgh; there are numerous prime examples of 19th-century and early 20th-century architecture scattered throughout the area, as well as many notable and interesting structures of more recent times.


Other interesting buildings

Allegheny County Courthouse

Point State Park

The fountain at the Point

Point State Park is a delightful 36 acre park located at the tip of downtown where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join to form the Ohio. Lawns, gardens, riverfront promenades, and sweeping views of the rivers, hillsides, bridges, and skyscrapers of Pittsburgh make it a very scenic place to stroll and relax. At the parks apex, where the three rivers meet, is a large fountain.

The Point has a very rich history, as indicated by the many plaques and monuments throughout the park. In the 1700s the Point was a very strategic location for the British and French forces in North America to claim control of this portion of the continent. George Washington, who at the time was fighting for the British, said:

I spent some time in viewing the rivers, and the land in the fork; which I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has absolute command of both rivers. -- journal entry by George Washington, November 1753

In 1754 the French built Fort Duquesne at the Point. George Washington was sent to capture the fort, but suffered his only defeat before he could reach the Point, at Fort Necessity 50 miles to the southeast. Other British attacks in the area were repelled until 1758 when a large British force led by John Forbes threatened the fort, forcing the French to burn down Fort Duquesne and abandon the site just before the British arrived. Soon Fort Pitt, one of the most elaborate British forts constructed in North America, was built on the site.

Fort Pitt lasted for several decades, defending the small settlement on the Point against various Native American attacks and serving the Americans as a headquarters for the western theatre of the Revolutionary War before being decommissioned in 1792. The growing settlement of Pittsburgh built on top of the remains of the old forts. The Point was occupied by commercial and industrial structures until the 1950s, when the city used eminent domain to acquire the land and construct the current park.


Performing Arts

The northern part of downtown (along Penn Avenue) is the Cultural District, where you can see symphony orchestra performances, opera, plays and many other events.

Visual arts

Festivals and events

A concert in Market Square


Downtown doesn't have a particularly impressive shopping scene; shops here mostly cater to office workers and are usually run-of-the-mill places - copy stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, the like. However, there are a couple of large department stores still in downtown, as well as a scattering of some small, interesting shops. Most shops of interest to the visitor are located along Smithfield Street or in the "Cultural District" along Penn Avenue.


The Original Oyster House



There are numerous hotels in downtown Pittsburgh, from the venerable old Omni William Penn, where innumerable political deals were cut and business deals sealed, to the Wyndham Grand hotel near Point State Park.

Stay safe

Although nightlife Downtown has improved significantly in the past few years, it is still primarily a business district, which means much of it becomes largely deserted after 6PM. While violent crime is fairly rare here, be cautious and aware of your surroundings if wandering downtown at night.


Almost all of downtown has WiFi which can be accessed free for two hours daily.

Go next

Routes through Downtown

END North Side  N  S  South Side South Park
END North Side  N  S  South Side Upper St. Clair Township

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, February 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.