East Liberty has weathered several dramatic ups and downs throughout Pittsburgh’s history, most recently as a trendy center for entrepreneurs, high-tech giants, and their workforce.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, East Liberty was a remote, leafy hamlet favored by Pittsburgh’s wealthiest residents, a respite from the seething riverside mills that made them rich. In the first half of the 20th, it was a thriving commercial district where diverse Pittsburghers worked, shopped and lived. Urban development decisions that were on-trend in the 1950s and 1960s ended up destroying the neighborhood’s commercial base and dislocating hundreds of families. Subsidized housing towers stood in for sustainable investment through the century’s end. Fast forward to the 2020s: the towers are gone and a new, high-end commercial district has been born.
This development has not been without controversy. Posh new apartment complexes continue to spring up here and in adjacent Shadyside while soaring housing costs have priced out many long-time residents. Under pressure from advocates and elected officials, some mixed-income housing is in the works, and the neighborhood remains a hub for the region's bus system.
Most of the new development is oriented to the dining, retail, and lifestyle tastes of well-compensated employees from nearby engineering offices of Apple, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and other high-tech big dogs attracted by the talent emerging from Pittsburgh’s universities. East Liberty is also a hub for entrepreneurs and startups like Ascender and AlphaLab Gear. This is where regional co-working pioneer the Beauty Shoppe , now with three locations, started.
Cultural offerings include the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, a community performing arts center rooted in the uplift of people of color and LGBTQ people. The East Liberty Presbyterian Church , the landmarked Gothic cathedral that has ministered to the community for 200 years, also hosts a range of gatherings and performances by local groups including the Bach Choir, the annual Racial Justice Summit and iconoclastic Quantum Theatre company.
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Must Go Places in East Liberty
Square café is a fantastic and cheerful meeting place that serves seasonal menu items with fresh local products. Margot offers specialty coffee, shareable plates, signature desserts, and cocktails and is inspired by European casual. On the other side, Paris 66 is an intimate French bistro that serves everyday French cuisine prepared with local, fresh ingredients.
If your like happy hour with history, Kelly’s Bar is a small iconic bar that has been here since 1947 and offers hearty bar bites, ales & an extensive cocktail list in a hip hub with a patio & happy-hour specials, while Two Sisters Vietnamese Kitchen, is a cute little spot for fulfilling all of your Vietnamese pho, noodle, and rice dish needs.
If you are visiting the city or looking for a patio to enjoy the city, Indigo Hotel is a beautifully restored boutique hotel with a bar, terrace, and a bright restaurant.