Home to stunning architecture, ground-breaking museums, a rich heritage and a superior setting, Pittsburgh is a remarkable city. In 2008, Pittsburgh celebrated a monumental birthday and 250 years as a leader in industry and culture. With a skyline dominated by steel structures and skyscrapers, this thriving city features a wealth of cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. Additionally, Pittsburgh hosts numerous events throughout the year including the annual Pittsburgh Wine Festival, Three Rivers Film Festival and Dragon Boat Festival across numerous Pittsburgh event venues .
Not only does Pittsburgh offer a plethora of enticing activities, it also offers many alternatives to traditional meeting space. Invite up to 200 guests to convene under the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Dinosaurs in Their Time Exhibit, a permanent exhibit featuring intact dinosaur skeletons including two T-Rexes posed mid-fight. Offer attendees exclusive views of animal habitats when you entertain at the wildly popular Pittsburgh Zoo or PPG Aquarium. Up to 500 guests can mingle with gorillas at the Safari Plaza, while 30 guests will delight in views of the polar bears from the Water's Edge Conference Room. For an authentic Pittsburgh experience, host an event like a true Pirates fan at one of the indoor or outdoor spaces at the 970,000-square-foot PNC Park, a striking testament to the city's love for its hometown team. For a lesser-known but no less prominent event space, the Mattress Factory, a unique contemporary art museum, is sure to make for an unforgettable evening of dinner or cocktails for up to 150 guests.
Hosting a tradeshow, convention or multi-day conference? The city's David L. Lawrence Convention Center opened in September 2003 to rave reviews. The $375 million, 1.5-million-square-foot convention center sits on 7.9 acres of land, offering spectacular views of the cityscape and the Allegheny River. As the first and largest LEED-certified convention center in the world, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center's modern, sprawling architecture is not only remarkable, but also efficient. The center utilizes natural lighting and ventilation, as well as cutting edge water and energy conservation throughout its 313,400 square feet of exhibit space, 31,610-square-foot Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom, 53 meeting rooms and two 250-seat lecture halls.
Pittsburgh practices the perfect balance of celebrating its heritage while modernizing its landscape. September 2008 marks the opening of the city's Great Allegheny Passage Trail, a 335-mile-long bicycle and hiking trail that joins Pittsburgh to Washington, DC and takes riders and hikers past the historic C&O Canal National Historic Park in Cumberland, Maryland.
Planners can rest assured that the city's great attractions are accessible, thanks to the city's light rail transit lines. Plus, visitors from 20 major U.S. cities, including Charlotte, Cincinnati and New York City, are fewer than 90 minutes away from touching down at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Pittsburgh's economy rests on retail, technology, finance and medicine. Several corporate giants hold their headquarters in Pittsburgh, including Dick's Sporting Goods, H.J. Heinz Company, PNC Financial Services and Mylan Laboratories. Higher learning also holds a strong presence within the city, as it is home to Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, also known as "Steel City" due to its once prominent steel making industry, enjoys a world-class reputation that's as strong as its nickname implies. Named America's Most Livable City by Places Rated Almanac in 2007, Pittsburgh's modern allure stems from its friendly atmosphere, breathtaking surroundings and intriguing attractions. It's also the location of many important firsts, including Heinz ketchup, which was first created in Pittsburgh in 1876. George Ferris constructed the world's first Ferris wheel in Pittsburgh in 1893. His creation was a towering 264-foot-high rotating structure that could hold more than 2,000 people at a time.
Pittsburgh was established in November 1758 after the French and Indian War when General John Forbes led his army to the region and captured the French outpost at Fort Duquesne. Named after British Secretary of State William Pitt, Pittsburgh is located at the fork of three rivers: the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. Pittsburgh became a major industrial center in the 19th and early 20th centuries, specializing in steel, iron, aluminum and glass, much to the detriment of its environment. But by the 1960s, Pittsburgh reinvented itself with a focus on clean water, clean air and a strong commitment to community.
Pittsburgh's population of 334,563 people is spread among 89 distinct neighborhoods that range from the upscale, funky Shadyside to the traditional Little Italy district in Bloomfield. Pittsburgh's artsy Lawrenceville neighborhood features charming art galleries and coffee shops, while the Strip District is a melting pot of specialty grocers, restaurants, shops and vendors celebrating Asian, European, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean cultures. The city's South Side is an urban neighborhood full of live music, art exhibits and furniture shops within a 20-block stretch, while the North Side is the city's cultural and entertainment capital, serving as home to the Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Carnegie Science Center, just to name a few.
Pittsburgh is also a cultural mecca, as literally hundreds of unique sites, museums and performing arts centers, including four world-renowned Carnegie museums, are located within the city's 58.35 total square miles. Marvel at more than 12,000 Warhol creations at the Andy Warhol Museum. Visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to journey back to the past by observing 2,500 ancient Egyptian artifacts. Catch a glimpse of Jupiter's clouds and Saturn's rings at the first-class observatory in the Carnegie Science Center.
Pittsburgh's extensive restaurant scene includes such neighborhood favorites as the Original Fish Market, which serves upscale fare made from fresh seafood and shellfish flown in twice daily. The chic, Mondrian-inspired Ibiza Tapas Restaurant and Wine Bar serves more than 45 international tapas selections within its rich Red Room, glass-paneled Wine Room and Bar, stark White Room and stone waterfall-accented patio.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Pittsburgh experiences four distinct seasons. Sunshine is abundant throughout most of the year; in fact, the sun shines more than 50 percent of the time from April to October. The average annual precipitation measures around 37 inches of rain, which is more or less evenly spread throughout the year. Pittsburgh receives an average of 43 inches of snow, most of which falls during December, January and February. October is Pittsburgh's driest month, while June is the wettest month.
Pittsburgh's warmest month is July, with an average high temperature of 82°F and average low temperature of 62°F. Summers also tend to be quite humid. January is the coldest month with an average high temperature of 35°F and an average low temperature of 20°F. Popular tourist months include the early spring, with average high temperatures in the low 70s and lows in the mid 50s, as well as early fall, which sees average high temperatures in the mid-60s and average lows in the mid-40s.
David Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center is not only a beautiful facility with superior amenities and in-house services, but it is also hailed as the first and largest LEED-certified green convention center in the world. The $375 million convention center, which opened in September 2003, encompasses 7.9 acres on the banks of the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh. Offering 1.5 million square feet of total space and 313,400 square feet of exhibit space, the center prides itself on upholding the highest standards for technology, efficiency, comfort and service.
Named after Lawrence, who served as Pittsburgh's mayor from 1956 to 1959 and Pennsylvania's governor from 1959 to 1963, the convention center's remarkable architecture features a curved stainless steel roofline, walls made completely of windows, circular glass elevators, sprawling terraces and expansive balconies with beautiful riverfront views of the city skyline. Elements of the facility's green design include the use of natural lighting and ventilation; in fact, roughly 75 percent of the exhibition space is lit by natural daylight. The center also utilizes water and energy conservation technology, and leftover food is donated to local food banks.
Among its four floors, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center includes a 31,610-square-foot Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom, which features a 32-foot-high ceiling and a unique lighting system of more than 1,200 lights, as well as 53 meeting rooms, two 250-seat lecture halls and a 12,000-square-foot kitchen. All meeting rooms and both lecture halls are equipped with custom phone systems, video conferencing, cutting edge audio-visual features, high-speed Internet access and individually-controlled thermostats and lighting. The center also boasts a 40,000-square-foot fourth floor terrace, perfect for breaks between meetings or outdoor functions.
In-house amenities offered at the convention center include full audio-visual, lighting and telecommunications services, a UPS Store and catering and food services by Levy Restaurants, which uses fresh daily ingredients from the city's specialty groceries district, The Strip. The center's $2 million public art program includes 25 pieces located outside the ballroom and along the third floor corridor. Guests may use the center's 37 loading docks and 750 connected parking spaces, as well as a pedestrian walkway to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, a 21-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail along the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. The center is also directly connected to the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh hotel, which features 39,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, 22 meeting rooms, three restaurants and 616 guest rooms.
The convention center's unparalleled services, architecture and technology all lend to the fact that the center hosts more than 200 events per year. Notable events include the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, International Auto Show and Pittsburgh Boat Show. The facility is also the recipient of the 2004 Supreme Award for structure engineering excellence from the Institution of Structural Engineers, as well as an Excellence in Design Award.
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Approximate taxi fare: $50.88 USD
The award-winning Pittsburgh International Airport holds a stellar reputation for its excellent visitor services, beautiful architecture and large volume of domestic and international flights. Opened in 1992, the $1 billion airport is located 16 miles outside of downtown Pittsburgh, services 10 million travelers per year and operates approximately 430 daily flights to 107 destinations. The airport spans 2.1 million square feet and sits on 12,900 acres, an area twice the size of downtown Pittsburgh.
A minor hub for US Airways, the airport has 69 domestic gates, six international gates and 25 commuter gates. Pittsburgh International Airport has been named one of the world's best airports by Official Airline Guide Worldwide for four consecutive years, as well as one of the top 5 airports in the world by JD Power and Associates. The airport is also a recipient of the People's Choice Award by Conde Nast Traveler's magazine.
Designed to simplify and ease pedestrian traffic throughout its four concourses and to all of its gates, the sprawling, light-filled airport consists of three connected buildings, including the Landside Terminal, Midfield Terminal and Airside Terminal. Pittsburgh International Airport's extensive amenities and services include its Air Mall, an area of more than 100 shops and quick service and waited service restaurants, and free wireless Internet throughout its four concourses. The airport also offers an on-site chapel that holds daily mass, a post office and spa services.
The airport's on-site Hyatt Regency hotel consists of 336 guest rooms and is attached to the Landside Terminal via a moving pedestrian walkway. The airport also offers more than 13,000 parking spaces. Parking costs a maximum of $20 per day for short-term, $11 per day for long-term and $6.75 per day for extended parking. The Pittsburgh International Airport is also serviced by the city's public Port Authority bus line, and is located on the 28X Airport Flyer via West Busway route; more than 40,000 people access the airport via the 28X route each week.
Airline carriers serving Pittsburgh International Airport
Amtrak service is available to Pittsburgh via two routes. The Capitol Limited route runs daily between Washington, DC and Chicago, traveling through the Potomac Valley and the Allegheny Mountains into Pittsburgh, while the Pennsylvanian route travels daily from Pittsburgh to New York City.
The Pittsburgh Amtrak station is located just east of Grant Street on Liberty Avenue, in the basement of the Pennsylvanian, a building first known as the city's Union Train Station. After undergoing a major renovation in 1987, the Pennsylvanian is now a 12-story luxury condominium building, with Amtrak still operating in its basement. The station and ticketing center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Port Authority zoned fare system is based on trip length originating from downtown Pittsburgh; there are two fare zones in the downtown region and three zones located outside of the downtown area. Single fare rides by zone are $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for children for the downtown zone; $2 for adults and $1 for children within one zone; $2.60 for adults and $1.30 for children for two zones; and $3.25 for adults and $1.60 for children in three zones. Seniors with identification ride free at all times.
Recent upgrades to Pittsburgh's public transportation system include the 2004 Stage II Light Rail Transit Project, which included the reconstruction of the light rail Overbrook and Library lines, the purchase of 28 new light rail vehicles, the remanufacture of 40 light rail vehicles and an expansion and modernization of the Operations Control Center. The Port Authority is currently conducting funding discussions for the construction of the North Shore Connector, a 1.6-mile extension of the light rail system that will service Pittsburgh's North Shore neighborhood and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
The Port Authority zoned fare system is based on trip length originating from downtown Pittsburgh; there are two fare zones in the downtown region and three zones located outside of the downtown area. Adult and child fares are available; seniors with identification ride free at all times. Single fare rides by zone are $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for children for the downtown zone; $2 for adults and $1 for children within one zone; $2.60 for adults and $1.30 for children for two zones and $3.25 for adults and $1.60 for children in three zones.
Original weekday surcharges for the light rail cash fares are in effect from 6 to 9 AM on inbound trains and from 4 to 6:30 PM on outbound trains. Surcharges are $1.75 for adults and $0.85 for children within the downtown zone; $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for children within one zone; and $3.10 for adults and $1.55 for children within two zones.
Weekly passes run $20 per person for one zone, $24 for two zones and $30 for three zones. Monthly passes run $75 per person for one zone, $90 for two zones and $110 for three zones.
The Port Authority operates three busways throughout downtown Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. These busways include the 4.3-mile-long South Busway that operates along 14 routes; the 9.1-mile-long Martin Luther King, Jr., East Busway that operates along 34 routes; and the five-mile-long West Busway that operates along eight routes, including the 28X Airport Flyer line to the Pittsburgh International Airport. Most buses run daily from 4 to 2 AM.
The 25-mile-long Port Authority light rail system, commonly referred to as the "T," provides service throughout downtown Pittsburgh and several communities located south of the city. The downtown network includes three underground stations at Steel Plaza, Wood Street and Gateway, as well as three above-ground stations of Station Square, First Avenue and Penn Park. The T operates 394 trips every weekday, with an average weekday ridership of 26,200 people. The T runs daily from 5 to 1 AM.
Consolidated as part of the Port Authority system in 1964, the Monongahela Incline provides transportation to those riders traveling to Pittsburgh's Mount Washington neighborhood, which is located on a 600-foot-high hill overlooking the downtown cityscape. Totaling 635 feet in length to an elevation of 369.39 feet, the Monongahela Incline features cable cars that carry 23 passengers at a speed of six miles per hour. The incline operates Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 12:45 AM and Sunday from 8:45 AM to midnight. Single ride fare is $2 for adults and $1 for children ages 6-11.
The Port Authority offers a door-to-door, advance reservation bus system for seniors and those with disabilities. ACCESS operates daily from 6 AM to midnight. Single ride fare is $2.25.
Greyhound service is available for the Pittsburgh area from its station at 990 2nd Avenue, directly across the street from the city's Amtrak station. The Reno Greyhound station operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Pittsburgh has several rental car companies. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty are represented at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Pittsburgh has numerous taxi companies, with many select companies servicing the Pittsburgh International Airport. The city's taxi fares include a $2.25 initial fee and $0.25 fee per additional 1/7 mile. Travelers should expect a $35 fare from the airport to downtown Pittsburgh.
Photo Credit : Visit Pittsburgh
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