Destination North Shore: No longer just home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012 01:02
In this city, sports jerseys are worn year round and the arenas that host these teams also happen to be some of the most unique pieces of eye candy in the city. And for hardcore Pittsburgh sports fans, the North Shore is a mecca of sorts, having been home to the Steelers, Pirates and Pitt Panthers over the years.
From Mt. Washington or The Point, it is difficult to notice what else the North Shore truly has to offer other than sports, since the stadiums dominate the view. But in addition to being sports-fan heaven, the neighborhood is also a budding entertainment, art and educational center that is only beginning to realize its potential.
One of the most notable new additions to the area is the popular Stage AE. The concert and event venue opened in 2010 and has since hosted about 130 events per year, including concerts, parties and meetings. It will also sometimes host special events that coincide with playoff games and other local events.
Coordinating events like these happen with assistance from the Sports Commission Expo. The SCE is an organization that holds hearings to let the local businesses know about events the North Shore will be hosting.
Amy Cooper, the Directing of Marketing for Stage AE, noted the venue and SCE have a "great partnership." The SCE helps maintain business in the area and also does a "terrific job of maintaining the riverfront trail," according to Susan Zimecki, head of marketing at the Carnegie Science Center.
While the North Shore has been especially thriving in the past few years, the area's business and attractions have been growing since the 1980s. During that decade, the Buhl Planetary Institute of Popular Science was looking to expand their institute with a new planetarium. The mayor at the time, Richard Caliguiri, suggested that they open this new center on the mostly undeveloped North Shore.
Years later, the planetarium was added to the Carnegie family of museums in the city, and in 1991 the Carnegie Science Center opened. The science center continues the legacy of not only the original planetarium, but Carnegie's love of science and the dream of Caliguiri to see the North Shore prosper.
Zimecki said she believes the area's prosperity today has truly "fulfilled mayor Caliguiri's dream."
City officials have also taken note of the thriving North Shore. The Port Authority plans to open its new North Shore Connector stations on March 25. The expansion of the city's light rail stations will provide two new stops on the North Shore.
"The original goal of the project was to support that revitalization effort of the North Shore," said Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie.
The new stations will add to the area's accessibility and aim to increase the foot traffic. Zimecki said she was "thrilled" to see what new opportunities the connector would bring to the area.
"This would help get people over there," Ritchie said. "It should have a big impact on how people move around the city."
The connector project was initially met with controversy when it was announced four years ago. Objectors claimed that Port Authority should expand to already heavily travelled public transportation areas such as Oakland or Shadyside.
Ritchie said the connector will not only help with congestion before and after games, but will also draw more Pittsburgh residents and visitors to the North Shore just to relax on the trail for a day, or have a meal.
Local business owners tend to agree are excited about the connector.
Matthew Marco, general manager at the Jerome Bettis Grille 36, said he would like to "generate more foot traffic down here."
"This is a great part of the city," Marco said. "There's a great view of the stadiums, the three rivers…[T]he sights are unbelievable."
The Grille 36 is just one of the area's great restaurants. Marco feels Bettis's restaurant and the events it holds are a "good reflection of what he's done for the city."
Other popular sights and businesses in the area include The Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, The Andy Warhol Museum, SoHo, McFadden's and the Mattress Factory. The area is also rumored to become the new home of Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar & Grill" as well as a possible new Burgatory location.