Oh, Pittsburgh. How I love you.
Spending some time at home over break has really helped me to appreciate my city. And by “my city”, I mean the only big and notable city on my side of the state.
I’m really thankful that I grew up where I did. I might be a 45 minute drive (15 miles, give or take) from the city, but man, I had the best of both worlds. In high school, I’d spend the week in my rural town with a spacious backyard. During the weekends, though, I’d take the short drive to Oakland with my friends. The air is different in the city. To say I’m infatuated is an understatement.
OK, we may not have the best baseball or football teams (as of right now…) but we have charisma, that’s for sure. We’ve got the Strip District (a multicultural shopping center in the heart of the ‘city), boba shops on every corner in Oakland, scenic views from Mount Washington, a handful of art and history museums and so much more.
The entirety of downtown is sprinkled with diversity. We are also home to the original Primanti’s, Heinz Ketchup (the ketchup of all ketchups, duh), I.C. Light and my personal favorite: the Eat ‘n’ Park Smiley Cookie. Needless to say, Pittsburgh is the city of all cities, the place of all places, the home of all homes.
My love for my city has introduced me to some wonderful people, places and things over the years. I am most thankful, though, for Mac Miller and his music. For about a year now, I’ve been absolutely hooked. Mac’s love for Pittsburgh shines through the lyrics of his music. I’m telling you, that’s the kind of loyalty that resides in the 412. If you’re ever looking for a fun day in the ‘Burgh, just listen to some of Mac’s music. He alludes to a ton of cool spots in the city: Frick Park Market, Blue Slide Park, PNC Park and Kennywood.
I’ve kept it pretty general, but let’s take a moment to walk through my favorite memories as a Pittsburgher. Whenever I was younger, I used to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo with my parents. I remember enjoying the animal-themed playgrounds and the aquarium. Presently, I’m not the biggest fan of zoos for an array of reasons, but the aquarium still holds a special place in my heart. Around Christmas, Pittsburgh has a gingerbread-making contest. Throughout grade school, I’d visit the display with my family. I’ve walked, biked and driven through Pittsburgh (mostly courtesy of my dad), so I established a decent sense of direction at a young age. My introduction to the city is something special that I will value for life.
As I got older and started driving, I began to experience Pittsburgh independently. My friends and I found and toured a couple of abandoned houses, we’ve spray-painted in Color Park and picnicked in Pointe State Park. Although my parents made sure to pump some black and yellow into my veins, I wasn’t able to establish a true appreciation until I set off into the city on my own. Now, some of my greatest memories reside in the heart of the 412. No matter where life takes me, Pittsburgh will forever be my home.
I’ve even been fortunate enough to make new friends in Pittsburgh. For Christmas of my junior year of high school, my mom gifted me a golden retriever puppy. After a few months, we started following golden retriever accounts on Instagram. Somehow, we found her biological brother, Ralph, through Instagram. We got them together at Frick Dog Park, and we attend Pittsburgh Golden Retriever outings together. Piper and Ralph are three now. I love Ralph and his mom, Jess. It’s always a great day in the city with them.
I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for nearly two decades now, and I’m still discovering new places each time I visit the city. If you’re interested in getting a feel for the 412, take a walk around. You never know what you’re gonna find. Recently, my friends and I stumbled upon Benny Fierro’s Pizza in South Side. This little hole-in-the-wall pizza shop is probably my favorite pizza place on the entire planet. Five dollars for a slice the size of your head. I’ve had their bruschetta pizza (yum), the not-so-spicy sausage (as someone who likes spice, beware. It’s actually a little spicy!) and the original plain. I have not been disappointed once. After grabbing a bite from Benny’s, my friend Lauren and I will take the ten-minute drive to Mount Washington. We can hang out there for hours, admiring the Monongahela River, the bridges and the daily hustle going on in the city.
As a Penn Stater, I feel pressured to diss Pittsburgh, but, man, do I think my city is a little slice of heaven on Earth. No matter where I go, I will forever honor Pittsburgh as my hometown. I couldn’t imagine a better place to grow up.