Got a craving for food and fun? The Strip District can satisfy your hunger for both. Once the center of Pittsburgh’s wholesale produce industry, “The Strip” (as locals know it) has grown into a marketplace of specialty groceries and restaurants, coffee shops, street vendors, museums, art galleries, and chic boutiques.
Locals will tell you that grocery shopping in The Strip isn’t a chore - it’s a cherished Pittsburgh experience seasoned with the sights, scents, and sounds of Pittsburgh’s ethnic diversity. Chinese, Polish, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Syrian, Thai, Greek, Korean, Irish -- The Strip is Pittsburgh’s melting pot, and we think you’ll agree that the results are delicious.
After sundown, the Strip District takes on a different flavor. Its diversity in dining and entertainment options makes it one of the city’s most favored nightspots. Take a seat at a tapas bar or an Irish pub. Sit back for sophisticated jazz or let things loose at a hip nightclub.
The Strip District’s neighborhood roots were planted in 1814 as a plan of lots known as the “Northern Liberties of Pittsburgh.” The neighborhood’s location -- a flood plain along the banks of the Allegheny River -- made it ideally situated to become part of Pittsburgh’s growing industrial economy. By the 1820s and 30s, the neighborhood was home to iron mills, foundries, glass factories -- as well as the immigrants who worked there. Polish, Irish, and German populations were the ethnicities with the strongest representation in this growing neighborhood.
In addition to heavy industry, the Strip District’s rail lines made it well suited for the city’s wholesale produce and food industry. Independent grocery store and restaurant owners came here for domestic and imported produce, seafood, and cheese. Throughout the 1950s, the growth of grocery chain stores and the shift to truck transportation took its toll on this industry, but enterprising business owners of The Strip kept business strong by selling directly to consumers. Many of these family-owned specialty food retailers that line Penn Avenue and Smallman Street today are descendents of the Strip’s wholesale heritage.
The Strip is home to other traditions that have lasted throughout changing times. Several all-night and early-morning diners that once served the drivers of booming truck traffic now tend to the cravings of customers leaving the nightspots that occupy the Strip’s old warehouse buildings.
To Know The Strip Is To Love The Strip
Although it has one of the smallest resident populations among city neighborhoods, many Pittsburghers associate the Strip with a taste of home. Shopping in the Strip is a way for many families to preserve their ethnic traditions through the purchasing and cooking of traditional foods.
Pittsburghers come to this neighborhood to celebrate life, and that festive spirit is palpable to those who visit, as well. National Geographic sung The Strip’s praises in 2003; and Jane and Michael Stern feature several Strip District eateries on their Roadfood website.
For a self-guided walking tour that illuminates local history and architecture, visit the Neighbors in the Strip website.
- Less than 1 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh central business district
- Pack a cooler in your trunk! It’s hard to resist the culinary treats you’ll find here. Put your locally made sausage, imported cheeses, and fresh seafood on ice for the ride home.
- Mapping? Major streets into and through the Strip District include Smallman Street, Penn Avenue, and Liberty Avenue. The 16th Street Bridge connects The Strip to the North Side.
- Geocaching? Find Strip District caches on Zip Code 15222.