Pittsburgh’s South Side was first known as the locus of America’s glassmaking industry – the Ripley Glass Company building still stands on Bingham Street – before becoming the headquarters for Jones and Laughlin Steel Company and becoming associated with metal foundries and steel mills. Annexed by Pittsburgh in 1872, the South Side retains outsized commercial structures like the neo-classical Iron and Glass Bank Building and the Duquesne Brewery Clock – still marking time with its one-ton minute hand.
Today, Pittsburgh’s South Side contains the city’s core social scene, particularly for college students, with coffee shops, restaurants, shot-and-a-beer pubs, theaters, retailers, art and photo galleries, clothiers, bookstores, and a significant nightlife. East Carson Street is a nationally designated historic district, and for 13 blocks, three- and four-story Romanesque, Italianate, and Second Empire storefronts welcome customers and tourists. Bike-friendly businesses and public art abound.
Two remaining funicular railways – the Duquesne Incline and Monongahela Incline – take you up to the city’s best views from the Mt. Washington neighborhood. Alternatively, you can wander the South Side’s residential slopes using any of the 68 sets of public stairs.
Halfway up the slopes are the gardens and grounds of the St. Paul of the Cross Monastery, a quiet spot for reflection, or for viewing the South Side business district and downtown skyline.
The 1,174-foot Hot Metal Bridge, which once transported crucibles of molten iron from the blast furnaces across the Monongahela River, now carries the GAP and its travelers. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail beckons travelers along both riverbanks and features interpretive signage and many great views of Downtown Pittsburgh.
Local Events and Activities
Annually, OpenStreetsPGH holds a free community event that opens miles of South Side streets for people to walk, run, bike, and explore spaces that would otherwise be used by motor vehicles.
The annual GAP Relay presented by UPMC Health Plan is a popular team running event that starts or ends on Pittsburgh’s South Side, depending on the year.
Parking and Trail Access
There’s fee-based parking available at the Ladle Garage. It’s in SouthSide Works, a gathering of local and national retailers, restaurants, corporate offices, and trendy residential units. Metered parking is available on nearby sidestreets.