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Pittsburgh is a bit of a working class laid back place. ....try to blend in. At one of the bars Liz clearly stuck out with her accent and the bartender made it a point to mock how she said the word "soda" (she has a Bronx accent...it happens). We didn't know if he was being funny or trying to start with her but she played it off and smiled not wanting to cause a problem. We all left after the first round of drinks and moved on to the next place. I just think that some places are definitely for the "locals" and out of towners just happen to stick out more .
Written Apr 2, 2009
I've lived in Pittsburgh my entire life, and I have never felt threatened in this city. Like all cities, you shouldn't walk around certain areas at 3am (Homewood, the Waterfront, Oakland). However, that is just common sense. During the day, you can walk almost anywhere without problems.
Pittsburgh has a large number of colleges, so the college police patrols often. The area between the University of Pittsburgh and CMU is double-patrolled by the police of both colleges. Moreover, these areas have special security boxes that set off an alarm that reports directly to the police.
Pittsburgh has quite a lot of homeless people on its streets. There are "nice" homeless people that I tend to give money to. Others can be rather aggressive at times. A few safety tips:
1 - Don't make eye contact or respond if they become aggressive.
2 - If they begin to follow you, keep moving and find a crowded area. They usually stop after a block or so.
3 - Don't taunt them. I've seen people be extremely cruel. You never want to provoke anything.
Written Jun 15, 2008
The Hill District especially the stretch between Duquesne and Pitt can be troubling at night. Larmier, Garfield, East Liberty, and Homewood to the east can become violent at times. Sheridan and Elliot to the west have several troubling spots to avoid at night. St. Clair Village can become a danger spot at times in the south as well.
Updated Dec 18, 2007
Pittsburgh is a nice and freindly city for the most part.Like all major cities there are probelms however.The safest and smartest thing to do is to ask the locals what they think. Pittsburghers are very blunt and will not suger coat things. Most people will be glad to give you advice.They will only recommend areas that they would wanna go to.Also you can buy tourist guide that will keep you on the right track. If its not recommended then dont do it. Its not advised to wander around. You will know when your in a tourist area and when your not. The inner city can be very dangerous in some parts and so can the suburbs.Even tourist areas at night arent advisible to wander around passed 2 a.m. .Thats when the bars close and people go home.The rest are suspect.Do not try and buy drugs in Pittsburgh.The Police and people dont have any real tolerence for this.Even if a dealer offers dont do it.At this point anything can happen to you and nobody would care.Do not insult Pittsburgh in any way.Alot people in pittsburgh take it as an insult to them.This can end up violent.For instance at bar or sports game.Its not wise to brag much about where your from either.As this can also be seen as an insult.People here are very competitive.Do not mimic or over examines the local dialect.The locals will think your making fun of them.Most people dont have a thick Pittsburghese accent.Alot of peolple in Pittsburgh know the accent themselves and find it annoying.Not everybody in Pittsburgh is a hill billy and you should not pre stero-type anybody.The arent any amish peolpe in Pittsburgh with a horse and buggie.Pittsburghers can be anybody and anything so dont expect .Beside that, enjoy yourself.
Written May 10, 2007
Generally, Pittsburgh looks pretty bad on the crime statistics chart. In almost every category of crime, Pittsburgh ranks in the "high risk" level. But if you look closely at the data, especially by zipcoded areas, you will see that the suburbs show much less than normal crime risk.
We have stayed in Pittsburgh, both in the city motels and the suburb motels. In the city, in many areas you will see "gang signs" on mailboxes and blank walls. Most downtown motels have "behind-the-gated-wall" parking for their customers. In the suburbs, we saw none of that.
If you are using a downtown hotel, just check with the desk clerk to find out what areas that tourists should avoid. Roaming Pittsburgh very late at night is generally not a good idea.
There are 475 registered sex offenders in the greater Pittsburgh area. That sounds like a lot but it averages out over the population to be about one SO per 1000 people.
If you are concerned about that, see the website below.
Updated Apr 18, 2007
As for neighborhoods, use common sense...If the houses start to look like noone cares about them, chances are you are in a neighborhood noone cares about--including the police. Just stay away from areas where the businesses close down at dark...because they know whats up in that area if you dont. If you drive into an area that is all closed down at 5pm on a Monday...
Don't do either downtown or from downtown on a bus or subway car around 2:00-3:30, all the city schools let out around then and the busses are crowded and really really rowdy. You will be completely outnumbered by screaming, pushing kids who are really excited about school letting out.
Don't get drunk and start mouthing off about Pittsburgh if you aren't from there....No quicker way to get thrown out of a bar without actually starting a fight. Pittsburghers are violently proud of their city, no matter how they gripe about it.
Don't make a U-turn ... ANYWHERE, unless it specifically says you can--Pittsburgh has very few places to make uies. Places that look like you could make one usually have a cop hoping you are from out of town.
Come to a complete stop at stop signs in the suburbs...suburban police have nothing better to do than to watch your air valve and if it doesnt stop moving completely you get a fine for running a stop sign, or failing to come to a complete stop or in one case BOTH!
Dont drive over to the South side to go drinking if you are not staying in the south side on the weekends...and vice versa. On Friday and Saturday (and holidays) random bridges or ALL the bridges going over the river to and from the south side are usually random car stops and dui checkpoints.
HUGE DONT for people going to UNIV of Pittsburgh, or visiting OAKLAND....People get killed every year on Forbes and Fifth Avenue because of it looking like one way traffic and you try to cross....BAM! IN OAKLAND THE BUSES HAVE THEIR OWN LANE GOING AGAINST THE ONE WAY---LOOK BOTH WAYS!!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!!
Written Sep 30, 2006
Just about every city has panhandlers/con-artists working the streets, though Pittsburgh sometimes seems like it has a rather large amount for a city its size. With panhandlers, generally a polite but firm refusal to give money is enough, though I did have one guy who followed me for like 3 blocks until I finally threatened to call 911. Con-artists...they can be a bit more persistent. Generally you'll encounter them downtown, giving you a sob story about how they "just got out of jail/lost their bus pass/are pregnant and need formula/etc." The two best options are... 1) polite but firm no, in which case they'll probably lay on some guilt, but steel yourself (no pun intended)...or 2) call them out on their BS, which requires being a bit more clever, but can also be a bit more fun. :)
Updated Jun 13, 2006
Pittsburgh is generally a very safe city, but it does have a few high-crime neighborhoods to avoid. These include the Hill District, which lies between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland (the location of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University); Homewood, in eastern Pittsburgh; and Wilkinsburg, just east of Pittsburgh.
Written Apr 8, 2006
Pittsburgh is one of the more challenging cities to drive around in the United States. There are a few reasons for this. First, because the area is extremely hilly, Pittsburgh's roads tend to to have a lot of steep slopes and twists and turns. It is easy to get lost without a map, because you can't always see your landmarks due to the hills and valleys. Second, Pittsburgh's roads are infamous for their potholes - craters caused by freeezing and thawing, which cause cracks in the road to widen into holes and then into something larger. Finally, Pittsburgh's traffic patterns (particularly at rush hour) are constrained by its hills and rivers (lots of bridges and tunnels). As a result, you often can't get from Point A to Point B in anything approaching a straight line, and you will often get stuck at rush hour in traffic bottlenecks at bridges and tunnels.
However, depite these problems, Pittsburgh is a fascinating city to explore. It has a lot of great views (particularly from the tops of the hills), and its various neighborhoods offer a wide variety of scenery and experiences. Also, Pittsburgh's drivers are more courteous than those of other eastern US cities such as Boston and New York.
Written Mar 10, 2006
I put this under local customs but I am reposting this under warnings just to make sure people know. :-)
Ahhhh, the good ol' "Pittsburgh Left". So let me paint the scenario for you:
You are waiting at a red light which you will be turning left at when it switches to green. Your green arrow does not appear, but green lights on both sides turn on. But...nobody moves? The guy in opposing traffic lanes is wondering why you are just sitting there...and you are wondering the same about him too.
Here is the simple trick about the Pittsburgh left. Even if you do not have a green arrow, and the opposing traffic has a green light, you keep an eye out for the green light, and use your keen driving skills as well as years of honed instincts to predict the EXACT moment the lights will turn green. When it turns green...QUICK!! TURN LEFT!! That way you don't have to wait for allll that opposing traffic to pass through the intersection before you turn.
All joking aside, this really is a phenomenon of driving in Pittsburgh and you do need to be aware of it. Many times drivers on opposing sides will wait another second or two for the first car in the opposing traffic lane to turn and do the "Pittsburgh Left". For the most part it is a common understanding amongst drivers. Keep it in mind when you are driving. People might be expecting the same treatment from you.
Written Dec 5, 2005
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