- Vacancy rate: 14.6%
- Recent homes added: 502
- Projected Annual Growth Rate (2015-2020): .07%
- Arts-related businesses: 200
- WalkScore: (out of 100): 60
5. Pittsburgh, PA
After holding the top spot on Livability’s 2015 ranking of the best downtowns, Pittsburgh, Pa., didn’t fall far. The Steel City’s downtown area remains a vibrant mix of culture, arts and innovation. A slightly higher than average vacancy rate along with fewer new homes and lower projected growth were enough to reposition Pittsburgh in our new ranking of the Top 10 Downtowns.
But Downtown Pittsburgh didn’t lose any points when it comes to entertainment and affordable living options. Historic Market Square fills with office workers and students from nearby colleges during lunchtime, and draws in residents from across the city with vibrant nightlife. More than just a collection of shops and restaurants in Downtown Pittsburgh, Market Square is tied to the abolition of slavery and the Underground Railroad. The 14-block Cultural District in downtown provides daily opportunities to watch performing artists and dine in some of Pittsburgh’s most prestigious restaurants. Venues ranges from places like the Altar Bar, a popular place to check out emerging artists and the college crowd, to the Heinz Hall, home of the internationallyacclaimed Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Museums and art galleries always have inspiring exhibits to see.
Parks and riverfront trails make living downtown an even more appealing option for people who like to be where the action is. Many downtown residents frequently visit Point State Park, a 36-acre green space located at the tip of the Golden Triangle, where the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny rivers converge. The rivers provide chances to kayak and canoe. Smaller neighborhood parks provide playgrounds and athletic fields, and pro sports fans simply have to cross the Allegheny River to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Steelers. The downtown area hosts more than 80 outdoor concerts, art crawls and festivals each year.
Downtown residents Joe and Rosemarie Shirk said they are “spoiled by the convenience factor and amount of activities in downtown.” Packed into a 1-mile radius of downtown are more than 190 shops, 270 places to eat, three farmers markets, nine theaters, six art galleries, three schools and 10 institutions of higher learning.