Pittsburgh presents the profile of a bustling metropolis, but in a size and scale that's easy to grasp and maneuver. It is not exactly an urban planner's dream city, however. The hilly terrain, multitude of rivers, bridges and tunnels, and winding suburban roads preclude any pretense of the traditional city grid. We just don't have city "blocks" here. Downtown Pittsburgh is even laid out in a triangle shape, as it sits right at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio.
Geography of PittsburghAn easy way to orient yourself is to divide Pittsburgh into four sections: the North and South Sides and the East and West Ends, with downtown positioned conveniently right in the center of it all.
Both the North Side and South Side are divided further into the "flats," the areas which begin flat along the rivers across from downtown, and the "slopes," the neighborhoods which quickly sprawl up the hills which cocoon downtown Pittsburgh on the north and south.
Tucked into the nooks and crannies of the four sections are the 88 distinctive neighborhoods which make up Pittsburgh, linked by winding streets, steep stairways and even a few inclines.
Getting Around TownDowntown Pittsburgh occupies a compact 50-acre area bordered by Grant Street to the east, Penn Avenue to the north and the Boulevard of the Allies to the south. You're never more than a few blocks to your destination, and downtown is easy to walk and nicely scaled for pedestrian enjoyment - with parks and plazas spaced conveniently between office towers and retail corridors. Outside of downtown, public transportation links the outlying city neighborhoods and suburbs.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County has more than 875 buses, 83 light rail vehicles and the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines to help you get around Pittsburgh
Subway - The 'T' - Pittsburgh's small but clean and safe 25.2-mile subway and light rail system, the 'T' serves downtown Pittsburgh with a four-stop loop including stops at Steel Plaza at Grant Street, Gateway Center Plaza (Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street), Wood Street, and the First Avenue Parking Garage. Underground, the music is classical, the art whimsical and travel within downtown Pittsburgh is free. The subway will also deliver you across the river to Station Square on the South Side for a minimal fare. After traveling under the Monongahela River, the 'T' runs above ground along three different light rail lines into Pittsburgh's south suburbs.
Public Bus - Multiple bus routes connect downtown Pittsburgh to cultural and other attractions on the North Side and Oakland as well as to the majority of the neighborhoods surrounding Pittsburgh. The Port Authority also sponsors the ACCESS program, the nation’s largest paratransit program of its kind for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Duquesne & Monongahela Inclines - Thousands of visitors each year marvel at the breathtaking view of the city of Pittsburgh while riding two of only a few remaining inclines in the country, the Monongahela ('Mon') & Duquesne Inclines -- which run up and down Mt. Washington just across the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh. Many residents also use the inclines on a daily basis to get down to the base of Mt. Washington where they can hop a bus or the 'T' over to downtown Pittsburgh.
Taxi service is available in the Greater Pittsburgh area. The area's two largest cab companies are Yellow Cab (412-665-8100) and People's Cab (412-681-3131). As a warning for visitors from other cities, don't expect to be able to hail a cab anytime you want. Cabs in Pittsburgh generally require a phone call to arrange for a pickup, or a walk to the nearest hotel cab stand. Cabs are also available at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Zipcar offers a car sharing option for Pittsburgh residents and visitors, especially those in the downtown and Oakland neighborhoods. With a ZipCar account you share access to any of fifty vehicles. All you need to do is reserve a car online or by phone, and then return to the car's designated parking space when you're done, all for one hourly rate that covers gas, premium insurance and 150 free miles.