Hidden in the hills of Western PA, just outside of downtown Pittsburgh, exists a hidden treasure that rivals San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf or Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The difference is, not many people know of this hidden treasure referred to as “the strip district.” The strip, as it is more commonly referred to, is one of the most popular destinations for locals and for good reason. Not only can you find delicious and authentic Italian, Polish, Mexican, and even Greek meals to name a few, but you can find great night life and a great social scene. Now, the strip district has not always been this popular. In fact, it has really only been the last thirty years that it has really taken off.
The strip district as we know it today was founded in 1814, by two men named James O’Hara and George Bayard. The small waterfront village was originally referred to as Bayardstown and maintained this name for more than 100 years. Over the course of the rest of the century, the town saw a lot. It served as a significant destination for shipping goods and artillery during the civil war as it is located along the shore of the Allegheny River about a mile upstream from the Pointe (the location where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio River). After the war, Pittsburgh began to develop into a huge steel town, in fact maybe the biggest in the U.S. at the time. This period lasted through the Industrial revolution, well through WWI and WWII, and into the 60s and 70s. It wasn’t until the steel industry started to die down that we began to see an increase in immigration to the area and an increase in popularity with the Strip District. All of the nationalities that moved to the region opened up shops and restaurants in the Strip and brought their cultures with them. This is what makes the strip such a special destination and is something I will illustrate throughout the rest of my blog.
“The Strip District: A Place like No Other.” Popular Pittsburgh, 24 Nov. 2014, popularpittsburgh.com/ stripdistrict-3/.
Walsh, Victor A. “Across ‘The Big Wather’: The Irish-Catholic Community of Mid-Nineteenth Century Pittsburgh.” The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 66, no. 1, Jan. 1983.