Roxanne’s Dried Flowers creates amazing designs for all seasons and carries an impressive selection of decorative and functional items for both home and garden. On top of that, the place smells every bit as sweet as the air around Penn Avenue’s street food vendors does delicious. At 2613 Smallman, Artistry offers a large selection of furniture, housewares and outdoor fixtures which run the gamut from rustic to regal.

Living & Culture

New apartments at Lot 24 across from the Cork Factory/ photo by Brian Cohen

When they opened in 2007, The Cork Factory lofts started a mini-revolution in the way Pittsburgh thought about urban housing. Subsequent developments, like the Otto Milk condos and the brand-new Lot 24 have proven the Strip’s viability as a desirable residential neighborhood.

On top of countless markets and restaurants, the Strip provides walking-distance access to some of Pittsburgh’s finest cultural resources.

In a city rife with museums, the Heinz History Center stands out. It serves not just as an engaging and evolving record of Pittsburgh’s past, but one of the city’s most versatile event spaces. The Society for Contemporary Craft sits at the eastern end of the produce terminal on Smallman Street. It routinely showcases extraordinary and socially conscious art and its shop is consistently stocked with the area’s finest handmade art and gifts.

In the midst of its 75th season, the Pittsburgh Opera makes its home in the former Westinghouse Air Brake factory on Liberty Avenue in the same building as innovative local dance company Attack Theatre.

The Bayardstown Social Club, a vacant lot on Penn Avenue that Deeplocal turned into a shared outdoor space last year will return for a second season, enhancing the area’s already vibrant night life.

What’s Next?

The Strip’s most high-profile project, the Buncher Company’s $450 Riverfront Landing office and residential development, remains at least partially on hold while the city seeks alternatives to Buncher’s plan to demolish the western third of the Smallman Street produce terminal. Buncher holds an option to buy the structure from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for $1.8 million and wants to raze part of it to extend 18th Street and aide riverfront access, but agreed in January to put the project on hold for six months while the city sought solutions to save the entire building. The proposals have been submitted and being reviewed now.

The Monroeville-based Sampson Morris Group purchased the New Federal Cold Storage building —known as the Wholey’s building for all the years it served as the fish market’s cold storage space — in 2008, and plans to turn the seven-story structure into 144 one- and two-bedroom loft apartments.

Oxford Development is getting in on the Strip’s residential craze, too. They’ll start work on Three Crossings — an apartment complex of nearly 300 units — on the site of the Pitt-Ohio Express truck terminal when the terminal moves its operations to Harmar later this year.

Closer to Downtown, developer Brian Schreiber and his Shadyside-based Schreiber Real Estate are working on a six-story, 59-unit apartment building tentatively dubbed 1100 Smallman. A third of the units will be two-bedroom apartments while the rest will be one-bedroom options. The building is tentatively scheduled to open next year.

For years, all cars towed within the city limits were taken to an impound lot beneath a railroad bridge on 33rd Street. The lot has been vacant since the city privatized the towing process in 2010, and requests for proposals on the old lot have been put out three times to little fanfare. Neighbors in the Strip would like to see that and other neighboring properties become homes for new manufacturers, citing WindWStax, the local wind turbine producer, as an excellent model for the kinds of companies the Strip hopes to court.

There’s also a concerted effort underway to better link the Strip with its neighborhood to the east, Lawrenceville. The Public Market’s new location was chosen with that goal in mind, and already, businesses in what used to be the seldom-trafficked upper sections of Penn Avenue are seeing a boost.

Along that stretch, Zerrer’s Antiques and Lotenero Art + Design share the space at 2703 Penn Avenue. Originally built as a hotel and saloon dating to the 1890, it’s one of the coolest Pittsburgh buildings you probably didn’t know existed — equal parts art studio, gallery and antique store with bare brick walls and an ornate pressed tin ceiling.

Co-owner John Zerrer says he’s noticed a lot more foot traffic on the block since the new Public Market opened just down the street.

“We’ve had people stop in on their way to the market who’ve said, ‘we never knew you were here,’” he says.

There are dozens more shops, markets and restaurants in the Strip, making it one of Pittsburgh’s most eclectic and fun-to-explore neighborhoods. Share your favorites with us on Twitter @NEXTPittsburgh.

If you’re looking to learn more about the Strip, contact Neighbors in the Strip and ask for Becky Rodgers, Cynthia Helffrich or Cindy Cassell. They’re three of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet and can tell you just about anything you’d ever want to know about Pittsburgh’s defining neighborhood.

Matthew Wein

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.