Downtown Pittsburgh is expanding. The vitality of our city’s core is so strong that the district is overflowing its traditional boundaries and including surrounding neighborhoods.
This is the striking conclusion of a new report from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership on the state of our Downtown. When he introduced the report at a press conference, Mayor Bill Peduto casually suggested that the Golden Triangle is being transformed into a “Golden Quadrangle.”
According to the report, areas of the North Shore, South Shore, Strip District, Lower Hill and Uptown can all be included in the definition of “Greater Downtown.” Development in the urban core has used up most of the available parcels of land, so developers are now looking to the fringe neighborhoods for opportunities.
Pittsburghers can be rightfully proud of the findings in this report. The central business district stands up well against its peers in other cities in the Northeast and throughout the country.
A few facts from the report bear repeating. Since 2015, five new hotels have opened in Greater Downtown. The population of those who make their homes in the Golden Triangle has grown by 33 percent from 2010 to 2015, and many more housing units are under construction. Arts and entertainment events drew 1.6 million people into the Downtown area in 2015, an increase of 9 percent over the year before.
A decade ago, there was controversy about the value of building the North Shore Connector, a tunnel under the Allegheny River to extend light-rail transit. Some residents believed that the expansion would benefit only those who attend sporting events. However, the transit link has proved to benefit development on the North Shore greatly, turning that area into an extension of Downtown. This should serve as a model for the future expansion of public transit.