Shadyside 15232

Brandon and Brenda notwithstanding, 9021090210Shadyside and Beverly Hills seem to have a lot in common. Though, after a rare lunch and shopping excursion to 15232 yesterday with my sisters, I’m not too anxious to visit 90210 to compare.

Like its California counterpart, Shadyside is someplace I’d be happy to go if I was on vacation — filled with chichi shops full of things I can’t afford, lovely little eateries with overpriced food (cup of soup, 1/2 sandwich $8.50), and teeming with beautiful, fashionable people — no thunder thighs or tummy bulges in site. Apparently the U.S.’s obesity problem — or even those pesky extra 5 lbs. — does not extend to the wealthy and well-heeled (in Prada). I didn’t check, but I bet those stores didn’t have a size 2 or 4 in stock but were loaded with sizes 10 and above.

After driving past precisely parallel parked Beemers, Volvos, Benzes, Lincolns, and the like for 15 or 20 minutes, my dirty Subaru finally found a resting place 5 or 6 blocks from “the action.” After walking those blocks past apartment building after apartment building after big-house-converted-into-apartments, my sisters and I were rewarded with Walnut Street — Pittsburgh’s answer to Rodeo Drive.

Like I said, on vacation, it would have been fun — window shopping, grabbing a bite, people watching. On a cloudy Thursday, hungry, fighting a cold, annoyed at the lack of parking and at streets teeming with after-Christmas hordes, it was a chore.

Oh, and it’s not just about the parking. Nobody will say parking on the Southside or the Strip is any easier. But Shadyside just doesn’t seem like Pittsburgh — doesn’t have the same character as shopping downtown with businesspeople hurrying past waiting bus riders amidst sleek skyscrapers and grand old buildings. Or pushing your way along Penn Avenue in the Strip with Here We Go blaring from Feinberg’s. Or strolling along Carson Street with its funky little shops and bars and homey row houses just a few steps away. Or marveling at how the Southside Works doesn’t even feel like you’re in Pittsburgh, but that’s pretty cool. 

Of course, I know people who LOVE Shadyside — who live there even. It’s a curious mix of students, yuppie professionals, and old and new money. (Oh, and watch your purse, lock your car, and double-lock your apartment — it’s that kind of neighborhood, too.)  And yes, I’m an avowed  ‘burbanite now, but I went to Pitt and worked and even lived in Oakland — not 10 minutes away from Shadyside — but I don’t think I visited Walnut Street once in the 8 or so years I was in college or working nearby. I guess it’s just never been my thing.

But who knows, maybe I’ll spend a vacation day sometime and visit with that adventurous, relaxed mind-set. In the right frame of mind, the day will likely be pleasant. But I suspect  the final verdict will be the same as on many such “destinations” I’ve visited: Interesting shops, beautiful people, glad I saw it, don’t need to see it again.

Oh, wouldn’t the world seem dull and flat
with nothing whatever to grumble at? 
                                        ~ W.S. Gilbert

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