Pittsburgh, the city of champions, the city of bridges, the city that has completely reinvented itself following the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s. Unlike other American cities located in the country’s Rust Belt that, as the name suggests, have “rusted away”, Pittsburgh has not only bounced back, it has thrived. Thrived in the form of its restaurant scene, the amount of visitors traveling here each year and discovering its unique charm and beauty, and the amount of praise it’s gotten by professionals in the travel industry. And that’s exactly why Pittsburgh should be a destination you visit in 2020.
The heart of Pittsburgh’s historical past is undoubtedly tied to steel, the industry that put the city on the global map, but also to the thousands of European immigrants who settled here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to work in the mills. The best place to see examples of this legacy are the Vanka Murals, dubbed by some to be the Sistine Chapel of Western Pennsylvania. Located in a Croatian Catholic church founded by Croatian immigrants, the 25 murals depict a variety of scenes including ones that show the before and after of Croatian immigrants coming to Pittsburgh from the Old Country. Then there’s the Nationality Classrooms, which are located on the University of Pittsburgh campus in the very imposing Cathedral of Learning, the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere. The national and ethnic groups that helped build the city of Pittsburgh and depict that group’s cultural heritage donated these 31 classrooms. And for a fascinating look at the steel industry itself from times past, you simply must visit the Carrie Blast Furnace, which today is a National Historic Landmark. Located just outside the city, the furnace was once part of Homestead Steel Works and operated for nearly a century.People who knew Pittsburgh before its renaissance might not recognize the city anymore, especially when it comes to its food scene. Although fried, artery clogging fare is still a perennial favorite, so are the restaurants from critically acclaimed chefs Justin Severino of Morcilla and Kevin Sousa of Superior Motors, which was named one of the best new restaurants by Bon Appetit in 2018. And of course, if you’re a foodie at heart, then no visit to Pittsburgh is complete without walking the streets of the iconic Strip District, the city’s version of the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia or La Boqueria in Barcelona.
Come to Pittsburgh to be blown away by its striking landscapes, enjoy its fascinating past, cross over its more than 400 bridges (it has more bridges than any other city in the world!), and savor countless incredible meals at restaurants that won’t break the bank. And you’ll quickly see why it’s truly one of America’s most underrated cities. An added bonus? British Airways started direct service between London and Pittsburgh in 2019, making it that much easier to visit.