No, I can't seem to get the 'Burgh off my mind. This year I took the train from Philadelphia, a glorious seven-hour ride through the Pennsylvania wilderness to the city that at one time declared February 26, 2001 as "Roadside Day" for Pittsburgh. Unlike past visits, I also took the opportunity to return to the Priory Inn on the city's North Side. In Issue 31, I waxed ebuliently about how Graff family restored and — pardon the pun — resurrected this precious little slice of the city.
In January of this year, the Priory nearly doubled its size by restoring the adjascent apartment building after it had suffered a fire. The end result makes the Priory twice as nice. Now at 42 rooms, it also can offer a bar, a complimentary breakfast, and a fitness center. My single room with a twin bed overlooking the courtyard cost $99, a reasonable sum in comparison to other lodgings in the immediate vicinity.
The weekend I chose saw a perfect storm of events. The city hosted the Three Rivers Arts Festival at the Point, a downtown Jazz festival, the Cirque du Soleil, and the Philadelphia Phillies came to town to take on the Pirates. As a result, I've never seen the city so active.
The Strip District, which is essentially a year-round arts festival, continues to thive. The sidewalks are so busy, you often get forced into the street. Wholey's Market remains a premier attraction on the Strip, and it singlehandedly rivals anything you might see at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia or Quincy Market in Boston.
With the demise of the ill-fated Fifth and Forbes retail project, downtown remains a hodge-podge of retail and dining. Market Square and anything along the Allegheny seem to do well. But the blocks that the Fifth and Forbes project would have obliterated don't show much life at the moment.
Be careful if you take a cab from the Amtrak station. The cabbies there didn't seem to know much about the city. The Priory is a 1.2 mile walk from the station, but one cabbie wanted to charge me $20 for the ride. I took a hike.
This slide show will update over the next few days as I add more images.