After living in Pittsburgh for years, I was shocked at my lack of knowledge about the east end of the city – in particular, a neighborhood that in the last few years has been quietly experiencing an urban revolution of sorts: East Liberty, or S’liberty to native Yinzers. Here’s why East Liberty was the perfect location for our first EVER tour:
We were in the neighborhood.
Yes, it was convenient, as we were all using the co-working space in East Liberty to build the company and the first tour. That’s just it though. East Liberty is teeming with creative, tech, and other types of innovative companies – not to mention the bevy of coworking spaces that host these businesses. With The Beauty Shoppe, and incubators such as Alphalab Gear and Ascender, entrepreneurs now have the chance to connect and collaborate. Dare we say, it’s like the Silicon Valley of Pittsburgh. Even Google has set up shop over at Bakery Square.
Pittsburgh history runs deep in East Liberty.
East Liberty used be known as Pittsburgh’s “second downtown.” Around 1958, it entered into a suburban development period that led to it’s downfall. A lot of Pittsburgh forgot about the area, but in the late 1990s, the neighborhood started to make a comeback. One of the places that went through all of this change is the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, originally opened in 1914. The East Liberty Presbyterian Church is worth stepping into, too. First built in 1819, the beautiful cathedral that is now open to visitors was completed in 1935.
During the disorder and violence that affected the community in the sixties, a professor at The University of Pittsburgh, Virgil Cantini, created the Joy of Life fountain that is one of the centerpieces of East Liberty. It’s made of the same steel that the USX building downtown sports. Stop by and take a minute to appreciate the message of oneness it represents – it really sets the stage for East Liberty’s comeback story.
They’ve got something for everyone.
If you’re like me, one of the most important features of neighborhood involves finding the best eats. I also can’t say enough about a good cup of coffee or a well-made adult beverage.
If you just want a coffee and a muffin, head to Zeke’s Coffee. High quality and fresh, Zeke’s will not let you down with a tasty caffeine fix.
Really hungry? You’ll find some of the most unique restaurants here. There’s a lot of American eats – think meat and more meat – at BRGR. Dinette serves up authentic Italian, with some twists. Make sure you get yourself your OWN pizza. You’ll thank me later.
Maybe you’re more interested in grabbing a drink. If so, no need to despair, head over to Kelly’s Bar & Lounge after dinner. They’ve got just the right level of buzz in the evening: not too loud yet not too lonely.
Big and small business development.
Yes, there’s an urban style Target that attracts all of the college students in the area, and a large Whole Foods boasting all of the healthy options, many that you can’t get anywhere else (if you’ve ever tried to find Goji berries in Pittsburgh, you know what I mean). But East Liberty’s prizes are the small stores that are popping up and thriving. Food-wise, a favorite spot is Olive and Marlowe, experts on artisanal olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
They’re focused on community.
And really, that’s what is causing the revitalization. There are so many people that truly care about the history, development and cultivation of the neighborhood, and it shows. Stop into the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library to check out what’s going on in the area.
We love East Liberty and can’t wait to see what’s next for this small but mighty neighborhood.