If you’ve never been to Pittsburgh, you may be forgiven if your mental image of the city includes a gray urban landscape full of soot-belching smokestacks. But seeing the Three Sisters, a trio of bright yellow bridges that arc across the Allegheny River, would belie that notion. Over the past few decades, Pittsburgh has emerged from its post-industrial haze, and today the city sparkles with a fresh, creative spirit.
That renaissance began in the early 1980s with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust—a group of visionaries who believed a vibrant art scene would lend patina to the city’s gritty, rust-belt reputation. The trust began buying up decaying theaters and seedy shops downtown and transforming them into performance venues. That once-blighted neighborhood is now a thriving arts district—one that rivals the country’s most prolific cultural hubs.
“Pittsburgh has a lot more art per capita than other cities of the same size,” says Kristen Wishon, senior director of external affairs for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. “That’s part of what makes Pittsburgh what it is. There are always so many interesting things going on.”
To help steer people in the right direction, the Arts Council recently unveiled 4 neighborhood arts maps that highlight more than 140 art-centric locations throughout the city.
Here are 3 ways to experience Steel City’s art and culture.