Taking Care Of Business

For as long as anyone can remember, Market Square's been the place for local merchants to set up shop. Way back when, early Pittsburghers flocked to the Square to stock up on hard-to-get frontier provisions and just to catch up on the latest news around town. Over time, the city's first courthouse went up in the Square and so did the first newspaper building. And of course, the Square was the longtime home of the grand old Market House that stood smack dab in the middle of the space.

Well, all the attention and investment from Mayor Ravenstahl, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and several local Foundations* is paying off.  As a result of their investments, we are seeing another kind of investment - small businesses opening in small spaces that had lain vacant for a long time. Today, the Square plays host to merchants who sell everything from the latest fashion trends to the freshest pastries in town. And it seems like every time we visit the Square, another new business is hanging out its shingle to attract customers inside.

For instance, maybe you noticed a hip new clothing on Graeme Street — one of the shortest lanes in the city — called WEAR. Well, we played a not so secret shopper to check out their cool shades, super skinny jeans and ultra chic accessories. Now if you're in the mood a bit of pampering, the staff at Zhang's Massage will help soothe those aching shopping muscles, and it's just across the street on the second floor of the 1902 building.

One of our favorite Square activities is sampling the goodies available at the many to die for eateries there. For some finger-licking Southern style eats, A & J Ribs just can't be beat. They opened last fall but in case you were a little detered by the construction now is your chance to check it out! With a menu that serves home-cooked favorites like ribs, greens, mac and cheese and, of course, some sizzling barbecue sauce. Sometimes, we like to think of Market Square as a state of mind that crosses over its Belgian block boundaries. Which is why you might just spot us at the newly opened Tavern 245 on Fourth Avenue.  With executive chef Jay Lewis — he used to ride herd on the kitchen at Palomino's — in charge you just know the food will be great. But what really brings us back again and again are the marvelous Market Square Cosmopolitans.

Okay, back to the Square. Remember that we said the city's first couthouse — and jail — were in the Square? Well, legal eagles of the Sommer Law Group found a new nest in the Square in a lofty perch above Starbucks. Market Real Estate, with a specialty in Downtown residential opportunities, is also located in the space.

Sometimes we get so excited about happenings in the Square that we need to take a little time to walk around the corner to discover what's new. 3 Guys Optical just moved into the beautiful blue and white terra cotta Buhl Building on the corner of McMasters and Fifth. While you're eyeing up 3 Guys, you might spot the signs for the soon-to-open Splash, the Cranberry shop that sells high-end cabinets and fixtures for bathrooms and kitchens is coming to you — a real convenience for all those Downtown dwellers moving in everyday or the busy employee that comes to town everyday.

When you think about it, Market Square is still a center of commerce and social activity in Downtown. After nearly 270 years, we're still taking care of business in the Square.

*Special thanks to the Foundations who have supported the reconstruction, management and programming of Market Square including: the Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Colcom Foundation and Hillman Foundation.  And to the Laurel Foundation for supporting the Market Square plantings.  Also to the District Attorney's Office and the Pittsburgh Police Department for continued support in making Downtown a safe and welcome place to live, work, play and do business.

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