One of the giants of the Rust Belt, Pittsburgh is the second-largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania. It’s got an industrial history and reputation, but it’s also a creative haven — we’ve seen tons of cool projects from Steel City, and it felt like time to highlight a few of them. 

Below, you’ll find a roundup of great Pittsburgh projects, from food to zines to an opera made out of air. (See more great projects here.) 

Six poets (and former Carnegie Mellon students) decided to do a poetry tour, workshop series, and documentary. The Line Assembly Poetry Tour was the result. We caught up with Line Assembly (Adam Atkinson, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Zach Harris, Ben Pelhan, Anne Marie Rooney, and S.E. Smith) last summer at the New York City Poetry Festival and heard them read. After traveling together for weeks, their performances meshed together seamlessly and they could practically complete each other’s lines. 

Don Moyer’s Calamityware is the best series of disaster-based plates we’ve ever seen. The plates he makes feature a classic blue-and-white color scheme, but depict horrible things such as menacing hordes of flying monkeys, robots bent on metropolitan destruction, and — his most recent — a voracious sea creature.  

For Mysterious Letters, creators Lenka and Michael sent hundreds of letters from Poplar, UK to Pittsburgh. Residents received the letters, which appeared to be of unknown origin. The missives caused confusion and delight (and even ended up on the news). Long live the epistolary tradition.

Superior Motors may be in nearby Braddock, but chef Kevin Sousa deserves a mention on this list for his long-standing involvement with the Pittsburgh food scene. It’s also a notable project because Braddock was a community with no functioning restaurant or existing food infrastructure. Superior Motors proved that fresh food does not have to be exclusionary. 

Pneumatica is Squonk Opera’s show about air. Air-powered instruments like bagpipes make the sounds, and a giant sculpture named Lady Pneumatica, with accordion lungs, will play while inflatables permeate the audience. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, find out the details here

Railroads is a game about the railroad tracks of the northeast. It takes place on a map, and you build railroads to connect the cities. It’s industrial down to the details: the board and pieces are made out of wood using Pittsburgh small-scale manufacturing equipment.  

Immaculate Reception is a short narrative film that takes place during the 1972 playoff game between the Steelers and the Raiders. In the midst of all this commotion, the protagonist, a shy 16-year-old named Joey, tries to win over the girl of his dreams. Production for the film included an audio recreation of the broadcast of the game. Immaculate Reception headed to Sundance earlier this year.

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