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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Go From Street to Summit
BY THE NUMBERS:
Elevation: 1,223 feet (373 meters)
Median Home Price: $157,000
Hot Job: Biotech engineer
Main Industries: Insurance, education, high tech, steel, aluminum
The best place to witness the new Pittsburgh is from atop Mount Washington, the 1,250-foot (381-meter) hill that rises over the Ohio River. From there you can view the once soot-choked skyline—now a well-arranged collection of modern high-rises and repurposed early-1900s factory buildings. What's most surprising? It's beautiful. Thanks to a 15-year urban renewal program, the city has been revived, morphing from a stronghold of industry into a place that better reflects the surrounding Allegheny Mountains.
This sort of integration into the natural setting is precisely what makes a top-notch adventure city, and, in achieving it, Pittsburgh has become a place where residents can be serious both about their careers and their outdoors. The same shift away from heavy industry that beautified the skyline has also reordered the economy: Over the past decade, hundreds of technology companies of all sizes have set up shop in the Steel City. Still, relocators can take advantage of home prices that remain well below the national average and renovation opportunities in the increasingly trendy downtown zones, such as the artist-filled Oakland neighborhood.
Another sign of Pittsburgh's metamorphosis is that the city's outdoors community now has a central clearinghouse: Venture Outdoors (www.ventureoutdoors.org), a nonprofit that promotes recreation within city limits. The group's comprehensive Web site includes event calendars and activity guides. It can also point you toward area outfitters such as Kayak Pittsburgh, which rents kayaks for exploring the urban-riparian landscape ($24 for two hours; www.kayakpittsburgh.com), and the Ohiopyle Trading Post, which runs half-day rafting trips on the Ohiopyle and Upper Yough Rivers ($63 per person; www.ohiopyletradingpost.com). "We've had to show people—even locals—that they can be active and there are places to do it," says Tricia Chicka of Venture Outdoors. "Once they understand that, there's so much to do."
Getting There: Major airlines offer daily flights to Pittsburgh International Airport.
Where to Eat: On the Strip—Pittsburgh's answer to SoHo—try Kaya (www.bigburrito.com/kaya), an arty hangout that serves an exotic paella.
Where To Sleep: The Priory is a bed-and-breakfast ($79; www.thepriory.com) in a former Benedictine monastery.
Moving There: Consult the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (www.pittsburghchamber.com). Or visit www.pittsburghrealestate.com for property listings.
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Adventure's September 2006 issue features 31 amazing adventure towns; chaos at the top of Mount Everest; an inside look at surfing California's Lost Coast; 11 fall weekend getaways near you; the best high-tech footwear, world class adventure travel; hiking the Alps, and more!