Pittsburgh/Oakland

Oakland is a bustling college neighborhood on the eastern side of Pittsburgh, home to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. The surrounding area is made up of several distinct (and quieter) neighborhoods, including the pleasant districts of Squirrel Hill and Shadyside.

Understand

The University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning

The primary attraction here for visitors and residents alike is the neighborhood of Oakland, home to Pittsburgh's two major universities and several major museums. Once the edge of the city, Andrew Carnegie set it up to be a cultural center with the founding of the Carnegie museums and libraries. The neighborhood continued to grow as Pittsburgh's cultural center with the growth of universities in the area, most notably the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon. Today, the area is full of ethnic diversity, students, and others seeking out culture.

East of Oakland are many smaller neighborhoods which are mostly residential, but some possess business districts and attractions of their own, just at a more laid-back pace than Oakland. Many of these neighborhoods are well-kept, with an educated professional populace and stately homes in good condition. Squirrel Hill, wedged between Frick and Schenley Parks, is one such neighborhood with plenty of lovely homes, shopping, and good ethnic restaurants. While the proximity to several major colleges makes the community a diverse one, the general ethnic identity of the neighborhood is Jewish. During various religious holidays and weekly periods of worship, the prevalence of the culture is obvious. Shadyside, just outside of Oakland, is well known in the city for its shopping. Walnut Street, the core of Shadyside's shopping district, offers a bustling atmosphere of boutiques, shops, lounges, and restaurants designed to suit the discriminating tastes of residents and visitors. Other neighborhoods in the region include Point Breeze, Regent Square, and several others.

Get in

Map of the Oakland area
Map of Oakland

By car

The area is directly accessible via the Parkway East (I-376). The interchange on the west end of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel leads you onto Forward Avenue, which takes you directly into Squirrel Hill. From the same exit, you can also head into neighboring Greenfield via Beechwood Blvd. and take the Greenfield Bridge into Schenley Park. The other interchange of note leads into Oakland, although the entry point is different depending on which direction you are travelling. Heading outbound from Downtown, one can exit directly onto Forbes Avenue into the heart of Oakland. Heading inbound, however, the exit will put you on Bates Street (Route 885 North) which leads up to the Boulevard of the Allies.

From Downtown, primary streets you can take to get into the district are the Boulevard of the Allies, Forbes Avenue (one-way west), Centre Avenue, or Bigelow Boulevard. Fifth Avenue runs parallel to Forbes Avenue, but is a one-way street westbound (towards Downtown) between Oakland and Downtown. On the east side of Oakland it is a two-way street and one of the primary routes used to reach Shadyside.

By bus

The Port Authority has several bus routes heading east from downtown through Oakland, making it a very convenient place to take public transit to. Any of the 61, 67 and 71 routes take you from downtown right into to the center of Oakland, and its only a 15-minute bus ride from downtown. The P3 takes the East Busway from Wilkinsburg directly to Oakland and back. The Airport Flyer 28X goes from the airport through downtown to Oakland. The 54 is a good north-south route through Oakland, taking you to South Side and the Strip District. Many other bus routes also pass through Oakland.

There are several buses routes that run through Shadyside, principally along Fifth Avenue, Ellsworth Avenue, and Centre Avenue. The 71B, 71D, and East Busway routes are all prominent routes that pass through Shadyside. For Squirrel Hill, any of the 61 routes will work fine.

Get around

Oakland is heavily congested, especially during school hours, as many are traveling here to either attend class or work at one of the many universities in the area. This is further complicated by a number of one-way streets: 5th Avenue is westbound only through most of Oakland, whereas Forbes is mostly eastbound. Parking can also be fairly difficult to find, unless you're willing to park in a garage. Most of the attractions and restaurants in Oakland are within walking distance of each other, so footing it is usually easiest.

Getting to other neighborhoods can (usually) be done easily by car. Squirrel Hill usually has ample surface parking, while in Shadyside it can be a hassle. Shadyside does have a parking garage, but of course it is more expensive.

If driving is not an option, not to worry- this area is one of the areas of Pittsburgh best served by bus.

See

Frick Park Entrance
Phipps Conservatory in Schenley Park is an impressive Victorian botanical garden

The Carnegie

A large complex along Forbes Avenue between Craig Street and Schenley Plaza holds the Carnegie Museums as well as the Main Carnegie Library and a music hall.

Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

Carved doors in the Hall of Architecture, Carnegie Museum of Art

  Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave,  +1 412 622-3131. M-W, F-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM (closed Tu Labor Day-Memorial Day). Museum of Art. Museum of Natural History. $19.95 adults, $14.95 seniors, $11.95 students/children/teens, children under 3 free (admission includes entry to both museums).

A main attraction in Oakland and a highlight for any visit to Pittsburgh, these two museums sit in different wings of the same building, but blend together well and have a wealth of treasures.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has extensive exhibits covering the fields of paleontology, geology, mineralogy, and biology. Naturally, the highlight exhibits are the dinosaur halls on the first floor, which make up one of the best dinosaur skeleton collections in the world, thanks in large part to Andrew Carnegie's funding of scientific field work just as knowledge of dinosaurs became known to the world. Among the many specimens on display are complete skeletons of Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, and the most complete Apatosaurus skeleton in the world. These, along with the museum's Tyrannosaurus Rex, are all the original holotypes - the skeletons used to determine how each species lived. Other fossils include Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Allosaurus, and sea dinosaurs, along with other rare fossils. The museum has recently acquired a currently unnamed species of Oviraptorosaurus, which will be used as a holotype for this species.

Also on the first floor is the excellent Hall of Minerals and Gems, where you'll see many exquisite and beautiful specimens, as well as a hall of fine jewelry. On the second floor, there are rooms full of habitat dioramas with North American and African animals, such as lions, zebras, polar bears, and many others. Of particular interest is a diorama of two lions attacking a man on a camel, a memorable display which predates the museum itself. The third floor has some changing exhibits as well as some interesting anthropological exhibits, with halls dedicated to ancient Egypt, the people of the Arctic, and Native Americans.

Not to be outdone by the Natural History Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art is a world-class exhibit space with a permanent collection of paintings that include Rembrandts, Van Goghs, Cezannes, Picassos and many more. In addition it hosts temporary exhibits from other museums all over the world and funds the Carnegie International, a biennial staging of "the most important and prestigious international survey of contemporary art in North America." Most of the exhibit spaces are on the second floor, but on the first floor are the Halls of Sculpture and Architecture, which showcase other interesting works, both contemporary and classical.

Pitt campus

The half acre, 52-ft tall gothic Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning is surrounded by 29 unique Nationality Rooms on the 1st and 3rd floors that are a must to explore

The main campus of the University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as "Pitt", comprises approximately 132 urban acres (0.53 km2), much of which is located in Schenley Farms-Oakland Civic Center National Historic District. The university's centerpiece is the 42-story Cathedral of Learning, the second tallest university building in the world, which serves as obvious landmark for the explorer of Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, no matter where one is located. Pitt's campus has been has been termed "a theme park of replica buildings", and contains an eclectic mix of architecture that includes Greek revival, Neogothic, Italian Renaissance, Brutalist, and modern. Many of the University of Pittsburgh buildings are accessible to the public and are within short walking distance of each other. Scattered throughout the campus are many noted works by master blacksmith Samuel Yellin, stained glass artist Charles Connick, sculptor Tony Smith, and sculptor and enamelist Virgil Cantini. The campus is also adjacent to the major attractions in the Carnegie Museum complex and Schenley Park.

Heinz Chapel sits immediately to the east of the Cathedral of Learning and provides free docent led tours. Its stained windows, by noted artist Charles Connick, are some of the largest and most spectacular in the world.
Home Plate from Forbes Field's final game in Posvar Hall
The Nicholas Lochoff cloister in the Frick Fine Arts Building contains some of the best reproductions ever created of classical works of art. The building also contains Pitt's University Art Gallery which is free to the public.

Of note, but off-campus on Pittsburgh's North Side, is the university's Allegheny Observatory, an active and historic astronomy observatory in Riverview Park.

Carnegie Mellon University campus

The Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) campus lies just to the southeast of Oakland between Oakland and Schenley Park, and has some sights to see and nice architecture to take in. With a few exceptions, most Carnegie Mellon buildings are in the neoclassical style, with tan brick walls, hardwood doors, and iron railings. Nearly all the buildings demand a certain amount of exploration, with many hidden corners and interesting spots.

Hammerschlag Hall, Carnegie Mellon

Do

Athletics

Performing arts

Many of Pitt Stage's theater performances occur in the gothic revival Stephen Foster Memorial's Charity Randall Theatre, just one of many performance and theater spaces in Oakland

Events

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix in Schenley Park

Buy

Oakland

Looking towards the Pitt campus from the Forbes Avenue business district

Oakland is a book lover's dream. Sample any of the many used book stores to see what treasure you can find.

Shadyside

Walnut Street in Shadyside

Shadyside has two shopping districts: the Walnut St. district specializing in apparel, and variety stores, and the Ellsworth Ave. district specializing in art galleries.

Squirrel Hill

Eat

Oakland

Put some twenty thousand college students in a small urban area and you can be sure you won't go hungry. Or thirsty. If you've outgrown college food and college bars there are also a number of very good restaurants in the area. There is always The O, the place for some of the best fries in Pittsburgh. All along Craig Street and Forbes Avenue are restaurants ranging from Chinese and middle eastern to Subway. Here is a small sample of what's there:

The "O", as it is known to local students, is one of Oakland's oldest and most famous student eateries. It has received national publicity for its hot dogs but is well known locally for its greasy food, cheap pizza, extremely large portions in each order of french fries. For decades, the neon on its facade has broadcast its location adjacent to the Pitt campus.

Squirrel Hill

Squirrel Hill is home to a diverse assortment of cafes and restaurants - from kosher to Asian to Middle Eastern - along Forbes and Murray Avenues.

Shadyside

Drink

Bars

Walking a few blocks down Atwood St from Forbes will get you to Oakland's only hookah bar, the Sphinx Cafe, which is located in a former church and is across the corner from the original Mad Mex, famous for their margaritas, which has now expanded into other cities.

Coffee

Sleep

Since Oakland is a "college town", as well as a center of research and technology, there are some accommodations including most of the big name chain hotels. In addition the area has very frequent bus connections to Downtown which is only a ten or fifteen minute ride to all the large downtown hotels.

Connect

In addition to the many cafes in the area with wifi for their customers, there is also free wifi available along Walnut Street in Shadyside and in Schenley Plaza.

The branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh also offer free wireless.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.