Downtown Pittsburgh is going to be a frozen hellscape this week.
Mother Nature is set to unleash the most frigid cold weather snap in more than two decades with “the distinct possibility of keeping temperatures below 10 degrees for three days,” Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon, told the Post-Gazette.
“What’s going to happen is Mother Nature is going to put the hate on us,” he said.
Some cities, like Minneapolis and Toronto, have built public covered walkways to keep pedestrians out of the elements. But with a few exceptions, Pittsburgh didn’t follow suit, leaving us to trudge through the arctic landscape.
So we created this guide to help you take advantage of the city’s semi-public spaces and cut through warm buildings when you can, because in this weather, even shaving off a few seconds outside helps.
We’ll walk you through each step, starting from the locations closest to the Point and moving up the Golden Triangle. Find the interactive map here, and stay warm.
Gateway Center ↔️ Wyndham
This one is probably only helpful if you work in Gateway Center or are staying at the Wyndham, but: Nestled within the groundhog-like maze beneath Gateway is a barbershop and a cafe, so you can get lunch and a fresh cut without ever having to go outside.
The walkway is open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
PPG Place ↔️ PPG 2 ↔️ Market Square
If you work in one of the PPG Buildings, and you’re walking outside to get lunch or coffee at Market Square, you’re doing it wrong. During business hours, cut through the indoor breezeway at PPG 2, which connects Fourth Avenue and Market Square. You can even get your shoes shined, do some banking or buy a lottery ticket on the way.
Liberty Avenue ↔️ Fifth Avenue Place ↔️ Penn Avenue
Sure, you could walk along Stanwix Street or Fifth Avenue to get from one major avenue to the other. Or you could beat the cold by cutting through Fifth Avenue Place.
Plus, once you’re in the building, you can grab coffee at Fifth Avenue Beanery and check out the photographs at Dave DiCello’s gallery. Bookmark this hack to go between the T station and the Cultural District and from the Cultural District toward Market Square.
The Arcade Shops are open until 6 p.m. on weekdays and until 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Forbes Avenue ↔️ CVS ↔️ Fifth Avenue
The l-o-n-g CVS that stretches from Forbes to Fifth avenues makes an excellent, warm path. Helpful for darting between Market Square and the rest of Downtown, if you enter on the Market Square side, you’ll exit by a major bus stop offering connections to Oakland.
It’s open till 7 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on weekends.
Wood Street ↔️ Wood Street T Station ↔️ Sixth Avenue
There’s no need to walk along Liberty Avenue all the way around the T station. Breeze through the building, and stay warm anytime the T is running.
Side note: While you’re waiting for your bus and monitoring it on True Time, wait inside the station until it’s nearby.
10th Street ↔️ Westin Hotel ↔️ 11th Street
This one’s so good it feels a little like teleportation.
Enter through the Westin on 10th Street and stay to the left to wind through the building, where you’ll pass a Crazy Mocha and a Starbucks. Exit on 11th Street and voila, you’re near the Greyhound Station and headed toward destinations in the Strip.
Grant Street ↔️ Omni William Penn Hotel ↔️ William Penn Place
If you just got off the T at Steel Plaza or are headed from the Steel Building deeper into Downtown, do *not* walk in the cold. Instead, pass through this resplendent hotel while staying warm — even into the wee hours of the night.
Enter on Grant Street through the revolving doors and pause for a moment to see how truly extra this building was when it was built (even the ceiling drips with fancy things).
Follow signs for “hotel lobby.” After winding through some more swanky hallways, you’ll end up in the Omni hotel lobby, home to Pittsburgh’s prettiest Starbucks, and you can exit onto William Penn Place.
Steel Plaza T Station ↔️ Steel Tower (and beyond)
Think of the Steel Plaza T Station like a wheel where you can take different spokes to get to different parts of the city — and stay warm along the way.
Take one path and get to Ross Street; take another and get to Sixth Avenue where you can pick up buses to Oakland. Hop on the T and trek further Downtown toward Gateway Station or out of the city toward the South Hills.
Another tunnel will lead you to the T Stop Shops (and toward the exit on Grant Street).
But the real magic here happens in what’s called the Triangle Concourse.
This long hallway sporting an ’80s vibe connects the T station to the U.S. Steel Tower. Along the way, you’ll pass Istanbul Grille, a shoe shine station, a barbershop and a large mural featuring a race car, a rocket ship, a satellite, Pittsburgh’s skyline and, of course, steel. Take the escalator from the mystical Triangle Concourse to the lobby of Steel Tower — ta-da.
Tunnel access is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, and closed Sundays.
Grant Street ↔️ Union Trust ↔️ William Penn Place
This is a short cut-through, but it works nonetheless. Travel from Grant Street to William Penn Place, or cut the corner to either Fifth or Oliver avenues. On the way, stop to admire real purple orchids, which are enough to brighten a gray day. And if you’re really cold, grab a soup at Freshii to warm up.
Grant Street ↔️ Frick Building ↔️ Forbes or Fifth avenues
This pass-through is part for warmth and part for architectural admiration. Enter the Frick Building on Grant Street and exit on Forbes or Fifth avenues.
The 1902 building is a page out of old Pittsburgh with its marble detailing and stained glass windows. Don’t miss the coffee shop, as well as a bust of Frick himself and historic photos.
Grant Street ↔️ Grant Building ↔️ Third or Fourth avenues
Enter the Grant Building on Grant Street and exit right to Third Avenue or left to Fourth Avenue.
This Art Deco skyscraper houses a coffee shop, a shoe shine, a salon, and an off-the-beaten path old-school diner with serious ’80s vibes.
Grant Street ↔️ Oxford Centre ↔️ Fourth Avenue
Enter Oxford Centre on Grant Street, then head upstairs and wind around to the right, following your nose to Downtown’s Chick-fil-A. Or head downstairs to Oxford Market for everything from a salad bar to a BBQ station. There’s also a Pittsburgh Juice Company outpost and a Starbucks location. The main exit will take you to Fourth Avenue, but you can also connect through to the attached parking garage, and it’s like a choose-your-own adventure novel from there.
Editor’s note: This article updates the 2018 version with more paths thanks to reader suggestions.