Monday, April 14, 2008

The 10 Best Things About Pittsburgh: #2


#2 The Strip District. "The Strip" is not Pittsburgh's premiere gentlemen's club nor is it any other seedy, smoke-filled establishment where woman disrobe. The Strip is a neighborhood bordered by the Allegheny River and Liberty Avenue from 11th through 33rd streets in Pittsburgh. In the early 19th century, the Strip District was home to many mills and factories as its location along the Allegheny River made for easy transportation of goods and shipping of raw materials. The H.J. Heinz Company, famous ketchup and condiment manufacturer is located here.

The shipping infrastructure built around the manufacturing companies lead to The Strip becoming a vibrant network of wholesalers—mostly fresh produce, meat, and poultry dealers. Soon auction houses rose around the wholesale warehouses and many restaurants and grocery stores were built to feed hungry shift workers at any hour of the day. By the 1920s The Strip District was the economic center of Pittsburgh.

Today in the Strip District there are still several wholesalers and produce dealers. Today many of the abandoned warehouses have been renovated into small specialty shops, restaurants, night clubs, and bars. The area has developed into a historic market district with many ethnic food purveyers, some art studios, antique dealers, unique boutiques and other such businesses setting up shop where trains once delivered produce by the ton. The Strip District comes alive primarily on weekends during the summer months when street vendors are selling their wares, the open-air farmer's markets are in full swing.

One of my favorite places is the world famous Primanti Bros. restaurant. There's no need to order fries and cole slaw with your sandwich; they already come on your sandwich. I remember going to The Strip with my brother when I was a kid and getting one and feeling all grown up. I spent many a night after a Sigma Nu party sobering up, I mean grabbing a late night snack there during my college years. After not having one for nearly 20 years while living in Virginia, I took my wife there. Iwas so excited. We waited in line for about 40 minutes; we ordered a couple of the #2 Best Selling Cheese Steaks; I waited for her reaction to the wonderfulness of this sandwich. It never came. I was devastated! She didn't like it!

So I was all a flutter when attending a Pirates game this past weekend when she said she'd give them another try. Luckily, PNC Park has a Primanti Bros. right behind home plate. OK, I've got to give her credit for trying again, but she had the same reaction. To be fair, the ones at PNC aren't as good as the ones in The Strip; or could it be they just tasted better at 4 a.m. after a party with my fraternity brothers and a few CMU and Duquesne co-eds?

1 comment:

Ed said...

I'm taking Eddie to see the Star Wars exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia this weekend (http://www2.fi.edu/exhibits/traveling/starwars/) and for me, the highlight will be a stop by Geno's and Pat's for a Philly cheesesteak. Last time I was there, they WERE as good as I remembered!