Once a rough and gritty center for the steelmaking industry, Pittsburgh is now home to one lone blast furnace and a wide assortment of other industries. Pittsburgh has a tremendous base of headquarters operations for U.S. and some foreign companies in a variety of industries from banking to food processing to steel and heavy manufactured goods to pharmaceuticals. These include Alcoa, HJ Heinz, PNC Bank, PPG Industries, Mellon Bank, US Steel, Allegheny Technologies, Wesco, Bayer North America, GlaxoSmithKline, American Eagle Outfitters, General Nutrition Centers, and more.
The former grime and smoke have largely blown away, leaving a livable city with historic and revitalized neighborhoods and plenty to do. Employment is shifting from blue-collar to professional jobs, although there have been some dislocations in recent years due to mergers and general corporate downsizing.
Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. Steep hills rise on all sides of town; some neighborhoods can be reached by a 19th-century incline tram from the central city. The neighborhoods have unique identities and the city’s planning department recognizes more than 90 in all. The population is ethnically diverse. The downtown area is vibrant and active, with nightlife along the river and ample downtown shopping.
Excellent residential neighborhoods and suburban towns extend in all directions. The Moon Township area (west above the river) is the fastest growing and one of the best family areas, while older suburbs like Mt Lebanon and Bethel Park (to the south) and McCandless and Allison Park (north) are all worth a look. These areas have generously spaced, high quality housing for the price.
The area is well known for its sports, education, and cultural amenities. Pittsburgh has major league teams in football (Steelers), hockey (Penguins), and baseball (Pirates). Fan support and interest, particularly for the Steelers football team, is legendary. The new Heinz Field and PNC Park are attractive, accessible sports venues.
Educational opportunities are excellent, particularly with Duquesne and Carnegie-Mellon universities and the University of Pittsburgh. The city has excellent public transportation facilities, especially for neighborhoods closer to downtown. It is the major hub for US Airways.
Early industrial wealth endowed the city with numerous cultural assets. The Carnegie-endowed museums, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the PPG Aquarium and the zoo are all noted in their fields. For all of this, the Cost of Living Index is a bargain. Crime is also lower than expected given the area’s gritty industrial history. The area is an excellent place for corporate professionals or small businesses supporting corporations, and is an excellent place to raise a family. The main downsides are weather (cloudy and variable), employment shifts, and some decayed areas.
Downtown Pittsburgh sits at the confluence of the “Three Rivers” (Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio), about 100 miles south of Lake Erie. Most of Pittsburgh lies in a narrow valley, with high, wooded bluffs surrounding the city. The climate is a humid continental type modified slightly by the Atlantic Seaboard and the Great Lakes. Summers are warm, still, and humid with periodic thunderstorms and occasional cooling from the northwest. Winters are cool and variable with intermittent periods of freezing and thawing. Precipitation is distributed evenly throughout the year. Cool northwest winds deliver moisture from the Great Lakes, creating persistent cloudy conditions and showers especially in winter. The area has the most cloudy days in the state, and is among the cloudiest in the country. Fog may persist in the valleys during colder months. First freeze is mid-October, last is end of April.