Station Square is located at what used to be the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. The railroad was used so frequently that it came to be nicknamed the ‘Little Giant’. After the railroad was no longer being used, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation decided to use the space as a commercial development, while keeping the ‘Station Square’ theme. It now houses over 20 retailers and restaurants.
The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation wanted to use as many of the original structures as possible for this reuse project. One building used to be a shack to house freight trains, and now features shops that sell Pittsburgh novelties as well as cigars, toys, etc. The building across from it (the ‘Grand Concourse’ restaurant) used to be the actual concourse of the station.
Buca di Beppo is one of the iconic restaurants located in Station Square that celebrates Pittsburgh’s large Italian culture by serving classic Italian dishes in ‘family style’ portions that are made for sharing. The restaurant also claims to mimic the Italian values of “friendship and hospitality”. Station Square has also historically featured an ‘Italian Heritage Festival’, which features music, dancing, and plenty of pasta.
Buca di Beppo is only one of many restaurants and entertainment opportunities located in Station Square. Two restaurants in particular (the Grand Concourse and the Gandy Dancer Saloon) are rich with the history of the original station at Station Square. Constructed in 1901, the Grand Concourse still has the station’s accents of brass and marble. The Gandy Dancer Saloon is connected to the Grand Concourse and features a “legendary” happy hour with fresh seafood and oysters. My family has historically gone to the Grand Concourse to celebrate family birthdays, so I can attest to the fact that it is an amazing restaurant!
Station Square celebrates Pittsburgh’s steel history (in the form of ‘Bessemer Court’). Bessemer Court features a fountain made from a Bessemer converter, which originally converted molten iron into steel. As most Pittsburghers know, Andrew Carnegie invested in these converters, which transformed the steel industry. The fountains at Bessemer Court host lighted water shows approximately 45 times a day. These shows are often choreographed to music from various song styles. Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera (raised in Wexford!) are just a few examples.
My experience in Station Square was a relaxing few hours spent with my mom. Although we both live in Pittsburgh, Station Square is not a frequent destination for either of us. Typically my family goes once a year (to celebrate my birthday at the Grand Concourse). We especially enjoyed some leisurely browsing in the unique shops- specifically the bookstore (see below). There were so many unique Pittsburgh artifacts, mostly celebrating the iconic Steelers and Penguins. My trip to Station Square was a special time to bond with my family and re-discover the history of this city in a tangible way.
By Kristen Kailer