South Side is the southern region of Pittsburgh, south of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. While this article covers the entire southern region of the city, "South Side" usually refers to a popular neighborhood directly across the Monongahela River from Downtown.
The South Side neighborhood contains more restaurants and bars than perhaps anywhere else in the city. It is along the Monongahela River, extending from Station Square about 30 blocks to the east, and extending inland several blocks from the river. The central artery is East Carson street on which most of the restaurants and bars are located. Historically the neighborhood was home to the millworkers for the steel mills that once lined the Monongahela River. Since most of these workers came from eastern Europe there is a European feel to the neighborhood, with small rowhomes, dozens of churches of various ethnic persuasions and even more neighborhood bars and small shops all mixed together.
Today the mills are gone and shops and restaurants are springing up in their place. The area is an interesting place to wander and people-watch. It is one of the few places in Pittsburgh where, in the summer, people eat and drink at tables outside restaurants. The South Side is divided into two main sections, aptly named the "Flats" and the "Slopes". The flats, closer to the river, contain shops, bars, restaurants as well as many interesting homes and apartments. Further south from the river, the Slopes climb uphill; hundreds and hundreds of narrow, tall homes, cheek-to-jowl with one another, perch precariously on the hillside. There are dozens of streets and pseudo-streets (steep concrete and wooden stairs maintained by the city) which residents use to get up and down.
West of South Side is Mount Washington, both a sight and a place to see from. The bluff rises, in some places almost vertically, 500 feet (150 m) above the river valley. It offers a spectacular view of the rivers and of the downtown area. Atop this geologic structure is a large district of residential homes, commercial businesses, apartment buildings, and a number of popular restaurants that share the beautiful view of the valley and the city. Mount Washington was once called Coal Hill because of the generous coal seams it contained (since mined). It was, and to some extent still is, one of the major residential areas for the people that worked in Pittsburgh's industrial plants and offices. Today it is most famous for the two incline railways that climb the steep slopes facing downtown and the rivers.
West and south of South Side and Mount Washington are numerous small residential neighborhoods, many of them quite hilly, which don't contain many attractions for the average tourist.
From Downtown or northern and eastern neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, go south across the Monongahela or Ohio Rivers. There are six bridges you can use to cross the Monongahela River, and one bridge crossing the Ohio River. Most intersect with Carson Street after you cross the river. From west to east the bridges are:
- The West End Bridge, which connects directly to the North Side over the Ohio River.
- The Fort Pitt Bridge (I-376) from downtown, which has a exit onto westbound Carson Street.
- The Smithfield Street Bridge, which will take you from downtown directly to Station Square.
- The Liberty Bridge, which takes you from the east side of downtown. This is the only bridge into this area that doesn't intersect with Carson Street; rather it intersects PJ McArdle Road. From downtown, turning right onto PJ McArdle Roadway will take you up to Mount Washington. No left turn is permitted from the Liberty Bridge onto PJ McArdle Roadway.
- The 10th Street Bridge, which takes you from the Duquesne University area into South Side.
- The 22nd Street Bridge (also known as the Birmingham Bridge), which takes you from I-376 at the foot of Oakland into South Side.
- The Hot Metal Bridge (so-named because it was formerly used to transport ladles of molten steel from the blast furnace on one side of the river to the rolling mill on the other), which takes you from I-376 south of Oakland into South Side.
In the South Side flats you can sometimes find on-street parking on the side streets and there are also some metered parking lots.
By public transit
Pittsburgh's light rail system, "The T", runs from downtown into the South Side. Immediately after crossing the Monongahela River, both lines stop at Station Square, then proceed into a transit-only tunnel under Mount Washington and come out at the South Hills Junction station on the other side before they split apart into the suburbs south of Pittsburgh.
Or, you can take the 48 or 51 bus routes to get from downtown past Station Square and down Carson Street right into the heart of the South Side neighborhood. The 54 will get you from South Side to other popular destinations such as Oakland.
From Downtown, one can easily walk to Station Square via the Smithfield Street Bridge, and from Station Square take the Monogahela Incline railway up to Mount Washington. South Side, however, can be a little out of walking distance depending on how much you're willing to walk (the 48 or 51 bus routes can help in this regard).
In the case of Mount Washington, getting there is half the fun. Many people take one of two incline railways, each a mile apart, to the neighborhoods atop Mount Washington:
- The 1 Monongahela Incline is probably the most direct from downtown and the more tourist oriented, rising from near Station Square to Grandview Avenue in the neighborhood of Mount Washington. This incline is operated by the Port Authority, so transfers and passes good for the bus and light rail system will apply to rides on the incline as well. Fares are $2.50 adults (plus a $1 transfer for a round-trip) and $1.25 children (plus a 50-cent transfer for a round-trip).
- The 2 Duquesne Incline goes to Grandview Avenue in the Duquesne Heights neighborhood has the better view from the top, able to see down all three river valleys. This incline is operated by a non-profit group and not the Port Authority, but Port Authority transfers and passes are accepted. Fares are $2.50 adults ($5 round-trip), $1.25 children ($2.50 round-trip), free for seniors.
Both inclines are funicular railways that scale the side of the mount. At the peak of the industrial era, a number of similar inclines transported workers from the top of the mount to the South Side "flats", where they either walked across one of the bridges, or took a streetcar to their work. Today the Duquesne Incline and Monongahela Incline are the only two inclines remaining.
For the less adventurous, one may "mount the mount" in an automobile. Also if you are willing to go out of the way for a picturesque view one would probably take the car farther up the side of the river to Fineview. Take the Liberty Bridge from Downtown south, across the Monongahela river; just before you would enter the Liberty Tunnel--don't--instead turn right and go up the McArdle roadway. Don't let the driver watch the expanding view as you travel up the face of the mount.
Once in South Side or atop Mount Washington, the best way to get around is usually just to walk. Most of the streets are perfectly suitable for walking and everything is close together. The South Side Riverfront Trail runs along the south shore of the Monongahela River from the Duquesne Incline east through Station Square and South Side, and can be accessed from Station Square, 4th Street, 9th Street, 18th Street, 26th Street, and Hot Metal Street. The distance from Station Square and Mount Washington to the heart of the South Side neighborhood can be a little much to walk though; the 51A and 51C Port Authority bus routes will cover that distance along Carson Street.
- 1 Mount Washington Overlooks (along Grandview Ave). Once you've ascended to the top of Mount Washington, either by driving or taking one of the two inclines (popular attractions in their own right; see above under Get around), you'll be treated to a splendid view of Downtown Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. Along Grandview Avenue, which parallels the edge of the hill, there are several overlooks offering you unobstructed views. As you walk from one end of Grandview Avenue to the other, the view will change. At the eastern end, at the top of the Monongahela Incline, you'll be directly across from the skyscrapers of Downtown. As you proceed to the western end, near the top of the Duquesne Incline, you'll have a better view of the point, the North Side, and up the river valleys of Pittsburgh.
- 2 South Side Riverfront Park, entrances at 18th St and South Side Works near the Monongahela River. Picnic area, public boat launch, canoe launch, and a riverfront trail. The riverfront trail runs from the Duquesne Incline along the Monongahela River to about Homestead to the east. Along the trail are informative signs about Pittsburgh history and industrial artifacts from Pittsburgh's industrial heyday on display.
- 3 Station Square, Smithfield and E Carson Sts, ☏ . Now a popular office and shopping complex, Station Square used to be a railroad station. The station, fully renovated, is still there. Now housing the Gandy Dancer Saloon and the Grand Concourse restaurant, it is a beautiful example of the grand train stations of the past with a huge, beautiful colored glass skylight, feaux marble columns and fine wooden appointments. You may still see a train passing on the tracks between the station and the river, but they are freight trains, not passenger trains. In the courtyard space facing the river and downtown, you will find several artifacts of the steel industry past on display: huge ladles and furnaces and other equipment. From April through November, the courtyard's large fountain is turned on with the jets of water choreographed to music.
- 4 West End Overlook, 700 Fairview Ave. A lovely overlook offering a gorgeous view of Downtown Pittsburgh and the three rivers, looking at the point dead on. To get there requires going through a residential neighborhood down several side streets. From South Side, take Carson St west, turn left at the intersection at the West End Bridge and proceed down Steuben St (a small street on your right just after you make that left turn), turn right on to Chartiers Ave, turn right on to Lorenz Ave, proceed into the neighborhood, turn right onto Elkton St, and finally turn left onto Fairview Ave; the overlook will be directly in front of you.
- 1 Gateway Clipper Fleet, Station Square (on the docks), ☏ . Offers a variety of sightseeing, dining, and entertainment cruises on the three rivers of Pittsburgh using old-fashioned paddle wheel boats. There are also dinner and dance night cruises, where you can eat galumkies (Polish stuffed cabbage) and polka away the evening on the river. One-hour sightseeing cruise $20 adult, $10 children (click on link to see schedules and prices for other cruises).
- 2 Segway Pittsburgh, Station Square (inside the Freight House Shops), ☏ . Offering guided segway tours of the Downtown area and segway accessories. Prices vary by tour; check website for details.
- 3 Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 510 Station Square Drive, ☏ . A professional soccer team that plays in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League. The Riverhounds play their home games at the 3,500-seat Highmark Stadium in Station Square. Tickets $10-$20.
- South Side Step Trek. Every October in the South Side is a tour of the South Side Slopes. The event takes place on a Saturday. Participants are given a map and can walk guided trails of the South Side Slopes. Water stations are setup along the way. This is an excellent way to see the South Side Slopes.
- South Side Soup Contest. One Saturday in February is a yearly soup contest held in the South Side. For $25, participants can try nearly 30 different soups from various restaurants. The restaurants make the soup and serve samples in nearby stores. This event is a great way to try soups from many of the restaurants as well as see many of the stores that make up the South Side.
Shops are strung out along E Carson St. from about 10th St. to 27th. An unbelievable melange of quirky shops, used book stores, tattoo parlors, mystic readers, and... well you get the idea.
- 1 Station Square, Smithfield and E Carson Sts, ☏ . An outdoor shopping and entertainment complex with a variety of shops, most of them high-end national chains.
- 2 South Side Works, Sidney and 27th Sts, ☏ . A mixed-use area with lots of local boutiques and some higher end national chains, as well as a movie theater.
There are numerous restaurants in South Side and on Mount Washington, from small neighborhood spots to grand cuisine. The locals are very friendly and will be happy to tell you their favorites. In South Side, there are restaurants of all kinds throughout the neighborhood, particularly along Carson St. For restaurants on Mount Wasington, visitors -- especially the well-heeled -- will want to try one of the popular restaurants along the edge of the bluff to take in the view while they dine. For those on a budget, take the incline up from Station Square, walk along Grandview Ave. and enjoy the view, then wander farther south (back from the bluff) along almost any street and you will find modest restaurants of all types.
- 1 Café du Jour, 1107 E Carson St, ☏ . Call for a reservation and enjoy a seasonal menu at incredibly reasonable prices. The courtyard provides an intriguing setting for your meal. BYOB (a stem fee applies).
- 2 Cheesecake Factory, 415 S 27th St (in the South Side Works plaza, near the Hot Metal bridge), ☏ . A long list of drinks, a trendy crowd, and excellent dessert to compliment this chain's well-known huge servings.
- 3 Dish Osteria, 128 S 17th St (at Sarah), ☏ . Cozy upscale Italian restaurant and one of Pittsburgh's most romantic restaurants.
- 4 Don's Green Front Inn, 2341 E Carson St, ☏ . Bar and restaurant, a peppy crowd.
- 5 The Grand Concourse, Station Square. Site of the former train station, hosts a huge Sunday brunch and a beautiful view of the city.
- 6 Mallorca, 2228 E Carson St (From downtown take the 22nd St bridge south across the Monongehala River), ☏ . Specializes in authentic Spanish and Portuguese food, lots of seafood dishes but also very large steaks and chops. In pleasant weather you can be seated outside on the terrace.
- 7 Nakama, 1611 E Carson St, ☏ . 11AM-10PM daily (Happy hour M-F 5PM-7PM). An sushi restaurant with reasonable prices. The dress code requires smart casual.
- 8 Primanti Brothers, 1832 E Carson St, ☏ . 11AM-2AM daily. The popular Pittsburgh chain famed for its sandwiches.
- 9 Zenith Tea Room, 86 S 26th St (a couple of blocks off E Carson St), ☏ . Offers an all-vegetarian Sunday brunch, with salad, fruit, bread, pastries, and an amazing vegan dessert table. It's also an antiques store and art gallery.
There are so many bars and restaurants along Carson Street that if you attempted to have one drink in each—-people have attempted—-you would not make it nearly from one end to the other before requiring assistance. The street traffic on a weekend night can be formidable, but fun if you have the right constitution. A few major ones have been listed but walk the area and you're bound to find a spot that suits your fancy.
- 1 Carson City Saloon, 1401 E Carson St. Voted as one of the best sports bars in the city. If you are interested in cheering for a Pittsburgh team, this is the bar to go. If it is the playoffs, show up ahead of time or there may be a line at the door.
- 2 Casey's Draft House, 1811 E Carson St, ☏ . Casey's has a little-person bartender on Monday's where he walks onto the bar and dumps shots into your mouth.
- 3 Fat Head's, 1805 E Carson St, ☏ . A giant beer selection, truly focusing on local and regional beers, many of them on tap. Giant sandwiches and home cut fries and chips. They have an even larger section in their carry-out store on the 2nd floor.
- 4 Hofbräuhaus, 2705 S Water St, ☏ . Modeled after the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, with German style brats and booze. The accordion player (and sometimes other entertainers) keeps the mood festive and energetic, especially once visitors have had a few rounds of beer.
- 5 Jack's Bar, 1117 E Carson St. Open every hour that they are legally allowed to serve alcohol, closing only from 2AM-7AM each morning. A dive bar in the truest sense, and typically the final stop for many on a Carson Street pub crawl. The drinks are extremely cheap. If you are looking for a beer and a shot, this is the bar to go.
- 6 The Smiling Moose, 1306 E Carson St. This bar is typically filled with rock & roll types. On Thursday through Saturday nights the second floor of the bar acts as a venue for local artists. Many of the shows are all ages.
- 7 Beehive Coffeeshop, 1327 E Carson St. Ongoing exhibits, a relaxing Bohemian atmosphere, young crowd, courtyard and a wide selection of gourmet coffees, teas, sandwiches and other snacks contribute to the Beehive's ongoing reputation as one of the best spots in Pittsburgh to relax and socialize.
- 1 Holiday Inn Express - South Side, 20 S 10th St, toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM.
- 2 Morning Glory Inn, 2119 Sarah St, ☏ . A bed and breakfast in a historic building, although the service can be unfriendly.
- 3 Sheraton Station Square, 300 W Station Square Dr, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
- 4 South Side Traveler's Rest, 27 S 6th St, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Pittsburgh's only licensed hostel, with shared and private accommodations. Shared single-person bathrooms in the hall; the Byers Suite has a private ensuite bathroom. Security lockers available in the shared dorms. Free wireless internet. Dorms from $40, privates from $80.
The branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offer free wireless.
- 1 Carnegie Library - Mount Washington, 315 Grandview Ave, ☏ . M W F Sa 10AM-5PM, Tu Th 11AM-8PM, closed Su.
- 2 Carnegie Library - South Side, 2205 E Carson St, ☏ . M-Tu 11AM-8PM, W-Sa 10AM-5PM, closed Su.
|Routes through South Side|
|North Side ← Downtown ←||N S||→ Castle Shannon → South Park|
|North Side ← Downtown ←||N S||→ Mt. Lebanon → Upper St. Clair Township|