Five Things I Love About Living in Pittsburgh

Happy Friday! It's time for the Friday Five linkup hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What. This week's theme is "Five Things I Love About [Anything]." I pretty much love everything, so it was hard for me to choose! But today I thought I'd talk about how much I love living in Pittsburgh.

I grew up an hour south of Pittsburgh, went to college in Pittsburgh (Downtown for undergrad and Oakland for graduate), and have lived here my whole life aside from a short four-month period in New Mexico where the lack of green and seasons made me move back immediately. Pittsburgh is my home, and I absolutely love living here. Here's why.

Note: Photos by my husband Dave.
Downtown Pittsburgh and its three rivers, taken in our pilot friend's Cessna

1. Pittsburgh is a city of unique neighborhoods. Pittsburgh has 90 neighborhoods, each with its own flavor. Several years ago, I started a blog to feature all of them, but I never made it past 6! Still, one of our favorite things to do is explore the neighborhoods. I love doing that so much that I even had a job a few years ago in community development in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. (That was back when no one knew of Lawrenceville. Our non-profit was responsible for helping to build the foundation for the rock star that Lawrenceville is today, as well as things like the gateway signage and trash cans [they are cool trash cans!] and the improved stop lights at the intersection with Doughboy Square.) In that position, I was often contacted by the Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau who wanted to bring travel writers and large groups in for a tour. They were people who write about travel internationally and all through the US, many based in places like LA and NYC, who would tell me how surprised they were to find what a treasure Pittsburgh is. Yes, there's something special about Pittsburgh.
In the Spring Garden neighborhood, looking toward Downtown

2. Pittsburgh is great for outdoor lovers. Pittsburgh has a lot of hills and green space right in the city. A five-minute walk from my house is the 24-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which connects with the Great Allegheny Passage. It is feasible to leave my front door and walk, run, or bike all the way to DC. In addition to the trail where I run most days, Pittsburgh has a lot of really nice city parks so you don't have to go far to be in the woods. We usually take our dog for walks in Frick Park (the largest with 644 acres) and Schenley Park in the East End and Riverview Park in Observatory Hill. I also sometimes run in North Park, which is just outside the city. Dave and I love to go hiking, and there are a lot of awesome state parks in the Laurel Highlands in the East, about an hour away. We love that area so much that we had an outdoor wedding in the Laurel Highlands.
One of the many sets of city steps in Pittsburgh's hills

Our greyhound Django in McConnells Mill State Park

3. "You're either on the Northside, or you're outside." That's what our neighbors on the Northside say. While many people think the Northside is one neighborhood, it's actually composed of 18 different neighborhoods and has seven hills. From my neighborhood of East Allegheny, I can see Downtown from my roof and watch the fireworks that happen all the time, can walk to the Strip District in 15 minutes and Downtown in 30 minutes, and can drive to where I work in Oakland in 15 minutes. I love being so centrally located. If I had to drive to get to Downtown, I would seldom go there. But because we live so close, we are always checking out events happening Downtown. There's no where else I'd want to live.
Park of the Heinz plant near my house
 4. It's crazy affordable. Our house shows up on an old Pittsburgh map from 1890, so it is at least 120 years old. It's a large, three-story brick townhouse with high ceilings and many original features (pine floors, fireplaces, wood shutters, a back staircase). We bought it 11 years ago, mostly renovated, for less than $100,000. While house values have gone up a ton on our street since then, you can still find good values. In many smaller, lesser-known neighborhoods, you can get a decent house for under $100,000. And because we live so central to everything, we don't have to drive much (Dave commutes to work by bike and my commute is only 15 minutes) so we save on commuting costs.
7th Street Bridge going into Downtown

5. My house is old, crooked, and completely wonderful. There is not a straight line in our house. The floors tilt, and the window sills are crooked. There are gaps in the old pine floors where you can see into the basement. Numerous bats and some birds have gotten into the house through various nooks and crannies. There are about a million spiders that live with us with new cobwebs popping up daily (I try to put them outside instead of killing them, but I can't get rid of them completely so I've come to accept it). Our house is not perfect by any means. But it has loads of character that you just can't find in the new cookie-cutter houses built today. It also has a roof with a view of Downtown and a private little oasis of green space in the back.
The view from our roof (and some wacky nighttime effects)

I love living in my house, in my neighborhood, in my city. :-)

What do you love about your house, neighborhood, or city?

I look forward to reading what everyone else wrote for their Friday Five! Check out the linkup!

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