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Pittsburgh PA

Pittsburgh, PA

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Named the most livable city in the nation two years in a row by Forbes.com, Pittsburgh is full of surprises. Pittsburgh scored in the top 10 percent for its low crime rate as well as for its growth in personal income and cultural opportunities. So how did this Rust Belt city pull off such a transformation? One important factor is the city’s decades-long effort to raise its standard of living. The presence of a dozen colleges and universities, including the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, and the revitalization of the city are also important factors.

The city straddles the “Point,” where the Allegheny River meets the Monongahela River, uniting to become the Ohio. Pittsburgh’s 38 miles of riverfront presented a unique opportunity for the community as the steel plants and heavy industry went into decline. Seizing the moment, the nonprofit Riverlife Task Force (now simply Riverlife) organized in 1999 to reclaim the city’s waterfront heritage. After more than a decade, the 13-mile riverfront loop dubbed Three Rivers Park is two-thirds complete.

One of the best things to do in Pittsburgh, particularly for shutterbugs, is trekking to the top of Mount Washington, which overlooks downtown from across the Monongahela River. USA Weekend Magazine recognized the view as among the top 10 most beautiful views in the nation. Getting to the top can be an adventure aboard the Duquesne Incline Railway, which transports visitors on century-old cable cars.

Because of its location near major rivers, Pittsburgh has more than 700 bridges, earning it the nickname the “City of Bridges.” Among them are the Three Sisters Bridges, connecting downtown Pittsburgh with the Northside across the Allegheny. These bridges on 6th, 7th and 9th Streets, are the only trio of nearly identical bridges in the country.

A long-time love affair with the arts is another reason Pittsburgh earned the distinction as the most livable city in America. Of course, the city’s interest in the arts extends back to the 19th century, when steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Museum of Art. Visitors to this Pittsburgh museum amble through 2.5 acres of gallery space featuring 1,800 pieces of art from an extensive collection of 35,000 items. Not surprisingly, it is considered one of the premier art museums in the country.

But the Carnegie, as locals affectionately call it, consists of more than the Museum of Art. In fact, the Carnegie is a collection of museums. The Museum of Natural History, another premier Pittsburgh museum, boasts a collection of 22 million specimens, exhibiting 10,000 at any given time. An Egyptian mummy and an American mastodon are among the artifacts on display. The Science Center includes the Buhl Digital Planetarium and roboworld, billed as “the world’s largest robotics exhibition.” This interactive exhibit allows visitors to speak to androids and play basketball with robots. One of the top things to do in Pittsburgh, the seven-floor Andy Warhol Museum is also part of the Carnegie.

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