I love cities: their haphazard accumulation of architectural styles and periods, their kinetic energy, the spontaneous combustion that happens when people live in close proximity. Some cities–New York, Paris, Milan–I have come to love in greater detail by living in them. Pittsburgh is my hometown, which I left at 17 to go off to college. For most of my adult life I regarded it as a good place to be from. And then, in 2007, I moved back and decided to stay.

DSC02264-EDGE 6th ave facade

I bought The Granite Building (above), an architectural landmark designed by Bickel & Brennan, at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Wood Street. Built in 1889 as the German National Bank, where German immigrants could transact their banking in their native language, the nine-story structure had been offices all its life; since 2003 it has been vacant, except for a ground-floor retail tenant. Together with a team of expert and outrageously talented hospitality professionals, I am revitalizing the building, which will soon become The Forbes Hotel, an independent hotel that will showcase Pittsburgh and serve as a force for change in the community.

PNC Park, home of the PiratesOn June 1, 2013, the Wall Street Journal’s Journal Concierge: Insider’s Guide to Pittsburgh, Pa.” featured local recommendations by former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver (and “Dancing with the Stars” champion) Hines Ward; Andy Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner; and chef Justin Severino; as well as my own. Good suggestions for first-time tourists and even locals looking to discover some parts of the city they don’t know.

Penny Postcards-6aveFor my own (highly opinionated) hometown guided tour–the one I take friends on when they come to visit–see Pittsburgh’s Authentic Attractions,” in Departures, July 2012. Maybe even more than most places, it helps here to get a native’s recommendations, since Pittsburgh can be a bit elusive: people who come and see downtown, thinking that must be where everything happens (as in so many other places) often leave feeling that they’ve somehow failed to experience the city. Pittsburgh is not so much a core ringed by suburbs as an amalgamation of neighborhoods that have stayed true to their own idiosyncracies, and every one of them has something–and something different, even weird–to offer.

downtown Pittsburgh panorama