University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Culture

Pittsburgh is an incredible melting pot of cultures from every part of the world. In the nineteenth century, the influx of new Americans arriving to work in the steel mills and factories made Pittsburgh one of the fastest-growing industrial cities in the country.

Today, the result is a pastiche of customs, cuisine, and linguistic oddities that are absolutely unique. Golden onion domes rise above South Side, a traditionally Ukrainian area of town. Large stone Presbyterian churches dominate downtown, where wealthy Scottish immigrants settled and built homes for their native faith. The gorgeous century-old St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland testifies to the millions of Catholics who live in the region.

Lots of cities in the industrial Northeast and Midwest have intriguing Old World heritage, but Pittsburgh expresses this diversity in a few unique ways. The Cathedral of Learning, located at the center of Pitt’s campus, is crammed with classrooms funded and designed by immigrant communities from the early 20th century. Called Nationality Rooms, they encompass nations and ethnicities and feature iconic interior designs, furniture, and textiles. Some rooms are simply beautiful—and the winter tour of the decorated rooms is a great way to celebrate a Pittsburgh holiday.

The mix of linguistic traditions has resolved into a creole of absolutely unique expressions and pronunciations called Pittsburghese. The signature “yinz,” a contraction of “you ones,” is Pittsburgh’s version of the South’s “y'all.” It's the word that helps define the region’s flavor.

Find out more about Pittsburgh’s diverse cultural groups, history, and happenings: