Monday, April 23, 2012

Market Square

Let me preface this post by saying I am a suburbanite and have no true dog in this fight, but....

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hasn't done a lot of great (or even good) things during his tenure as Mayor of Pittsburgh.  But one thing that has gone well under his watch has been the renovation and renewal of Market Square.

Market Square is the area nestled between PPG Place and the recently-constructed PNC 3 Tower (with the Fairmont Hotel and Reed Smith offices).  Five years ago, when PNC 3 was just breaking ground, Market Square was a great place if you wanted to observe hobos in the wild, doing hobo type of things: being drunk at 10 a.m., swearing, scratching themselves, buying and using drugs, pushing shopping carts.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority and the City of Pittsburgh dedicated some funding to cleaning this area up ahead of the opening of PNC 3.  The construction project entailed re-routing vehicular traffic to the perimeter of the square, rather than criss-crossing the square -- thus protecting pedestrians and creating a safe space in the center.  Market Square was torn up and had new brick and stone pavers installed for the better part of 2 years.  During this time some restaurants closed, but there were plenty of new ones ready to take their place.

Great restaurants like NOLA on the Square and Winghart's Whiskey Bar came in.  There were new lunch choices like Chipotle, Noodles and Company, and the Diamond Bar Diner.  There were some new breakfast places too, like Mancini's Breads and other new coffee shops.

After the Pirate game on Friday, DB~ drove home separately so I hung around downtown for a little bit, just seeing what things were like right now.  It was a gorgeous night (still in the 70's probably, a sharp contrast to the 30's as I type this now) and the Square was packed.  The bars were overflowing, people were still enjoying Primanti's and NOLA and the Diamond Bar & Grill.

It was good to see downtown hopping on a Friday night.  Back in my early 20's, during the mid-90's, Friday nights meant M Squared in Market Square -- you would go down and get real drunk, listen to local Pittsburgh bands that you swore would break nationally, but never did.  I wonder if the Strip District will make a comeback from its recent heyday of the early/mid-90's next?


  1. Make a comeback in what way...lot's of people getting real drunk? Let's leave that to the Southside. A lot of the businesses that are populating Market Square and downtown generally were able to get their start in the Strip and are now able to fill the vacancies downtown with a second location because of their success in the Strip - Primanti's, Penn Ave Fish, The Pittsburgh Popcorn Company, 21st Street Coffee, Mancini's Bread to name a few. I'd say the Strip is back with a vengence!

    1. So, where the hell am I supposed to go hobo watching now when I get back up North?

      Thanks, Ravenstahl.*middle finger*

    2. I usually have a hobo or two laying around my house if you want to hang out here.

  2. Thanks for the offer, but I'm not a big proponent of viewing hobos in captivity. I guess I'm a traditionalist....I need to see them in their natural habitat. That means panhandling in the shadow of a giant obelisk, or under a bridge, or in front of an abandoned McCrory's, or something.

    Do you live in an abandoned McCrory's? If so, that may work after all.

    1. What is your stance on baiting for hobos? Luring them with strewn bottles of Thunderbird or Mad Dog 20/20? Not ethical hobo-viewing?