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Dear Travelers to Pittsburgh: Don't Come Visit Until You've Understood These 10 Things

by Reda Wigle Jul 26, 2016

We don’t give a shit if you’re famous

Ask Sienna Miller. The only celebrities we revere are athletes and local news anchors. Looking at you and your regal lowlights Sally Wiggin.

Toilets without walls

Known as the Pittsburgh toilet, these stand alone, wall free basement bathrooms are a standard feature in many of the city’s pre war homes. At first glance it can feel more Silence of the Lambs than subterranean spa, but these lone thrones were built with steel dusted and coal mined working men in mind – giving them a space to clean up before joining their families aboveground.

Come thirsty

Pittsburgh has more bars per capita than any other US city – some worthwhile watering holes include Shadyside’s Le Mardi Gras – the cities oldest cocktail bar where the drinks are stiff the light is dim and the smoke is stale. Jack’s in the South Side is a neon invitation that graciously sells chicken fingers in quantities of one to gout.

Steelers fans are savage AF

Evident in the fact that the team has sold out every single home game since 1972 and crowd enthusiasm negates the need for franchise cheerleaders.

Our dialect

Pittsburghese, the singular vernacular of our city, often used as a punch line is in fact a patchwork tongue of Scotch-Irish, Appalachian and Polish influences. At times incomprehensible to the untrained ear I suggest Pittsburgh Dad for purposes of research and demonstration.

Parking cones are for amateurs

If you want a parking space or a coveted front row view of a street parade (honestly with a roster of tiny car shriners, batons and mini ponies who doesn’t?) bring a pair of chairs, a couple of garbage cans and some police tape to mark your territory.

Our namesake steak has a hell of a history

The term and steak preparation known as “Pittsburgh rare” relates to the cities past life as a steel mill mecca. Workers that needed a calorically rich and time saving lunch. thanks to the industrial bastardry of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick, would flash sear meat on a blast furnace leaving it charred on the outside and near raw in the center. In a similar vein or clogged artery as it were, the city’s famed Primanti Sandwich with it’s guts full of french fries and coleslaw was born out of Depression era necessity – it was a complete meal you could eat with one hand while working with the other.

Pittsburgh is all kinds of resilient

Rather than rust like many of its kindred industrial cities, Pittsburgh has found new life for itself and its architecture through tech industries and urban revitalization. Abandoned churches become breweries ( or in the case of Braddock Tiles, a ceramic workshop spearheaded by streetart pioneer Swoon. The Ace Hotel lives inside an old YMCA building in East Liberty while City of Asylum has refurbished dilapidated North Side homes into sanctuaries for literary writers facing prosecution in their home countries.

The city is not built for convenience

It forces you by bridge and byway, single lane tunnels, potholes, nonsensical one way streets, doomed inclines and eternal construction to take the long way around more often than not. Additionally, public transportation is meager and you have a better chance of getting a ride in a police car than a taxi cab.

Zombie pedigree

In addition to being a Pittsburgh treasure Mr. George Romero writer and director of Night of the Living Dead is the father of the modern zombie genre. Other noteable yinzers include Andy Warhol, the hot werewolf from True Blood, Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms, Wiz Khalifa and Mister Rogers.

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