The Silver Screen’s Steel City: Exploring Movies Filmed in Pittsburgh

When you think of iconic film locations, Hollywood, New York City, and exotic global destinations might come to mind. But what about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? This city on the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers has been the setting for numerous memorable films. In this post, we’ll take a cinematic journey through some of the most noteworthy movies filmed in Pittsburgh and even suggest some sites you might want to visit.

There are all kinds of reasons to visit Pittsburgh PA – the film industry is but one.

With three rivers, 446 bridges (the most of any city in the world, including Venice), and a New Yorkish downtown, Pittsburgh makes a compelling backdrop for movies.

Both Frank Gorshin (original Riddler on Batman TV show) and Michael Keaton (original Tim Burton movie Batman) were from Pittsburgh. So is it just a coincidence that This City serves as a model for Gotham City?

Zombie On Board, Pittsburgh Pet Monster
Zombie On Board, Pittsburgh “Pet Monster”

The Steel City also boasts a “pet monster” – the Zombie. George Romero and Russ Streiner met in Pittsburg and, in 1968, made the very first Zombie-as-flesh-eating-fiend-flick – Night of the Living Dead –in Evans City, Butler County PA, about 30 miles north. Ten years later, Romero went on to make Dawn of the Dead (1978,) widely considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made.

Streiner now serves as the Board Chair of the Pittsburgh Film Office, successfully marketing his hometown to filmmakers. Known as “Hollywood of the East,” Pittsburgh PA has been the backdrop to hundreds of movies since silent films were the rage, with more being made here every week.

So this Getaway focuses on publicly accessible movie locations in Pittsburgh, and organized tours to get the most out of a trip here; providing a unique guide to attractions, restaurants, and hotels that, even if you have never been here, might seem very familiar to you.

Movies Filmed In Pittsburgh

A Man Called Otto

Set in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, mostly in a Gilliland Ave neighborhood, A Man Called Otto could be anywhere in Middle America. More visit-worthy film spots include Merchant Street in Ambridge and St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Oakmont.

Fences (2016)

The film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Fences,” starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, brings Pittsburgh’s Hill District to life as a poignant backdrop.

Jack Reacher

In 2012, Pittsburgh became the backdrop for the action-packed thriller “Jack Reacher,” starring Tom Cruise. The movie features Cruise as a former military police officer drawn into a complex case. Various parts of Pittsburgh stand in for the fictional setting, and if you’re a fan, you’ll recognize numerous locales as you explore the city.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

No list would be complete without mentioning Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster. Heinz Field morphed into Gotham’s football stadium, and you might remember the tense sequence that occurs there. Want to stand where Batman once stood? A trip to this Pittsburgh landmark is a must for any fan.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This coming-of-age drama set in the 1990s used multiple locations around Pittsburgh, including the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Peters Township High School, and Kings Family Restaurant. Literature and film buffs will want to see where Charlie, Sam, and Patrick brought Stephen Chbosky’s beloved book to life.


One of the iconic films of the 1980s, “Flashdance” starring Jennifer Beals told the story of a Pittsburgh welder with dreams of joining a prestigious dance academy. The movie featured several locations around the city, including the Carnegie Mellon University campus and a steel mill that has since been closed.

Adventureland (2009)

Set in a run-down amusement park, “Adventureland” utilized Pittsburgh’s Kennywood Park for its location. If you loved this quirky, romantic comedy-drama, a day at Kennywood should be on your itinerary.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Although not filmed entirely in Pittsburgh, the Bill Murray classic utilized some locations in the area, notably in the opening driving scenes. It’s a short trip to Punxsutawney from Pittsburgh if you want to experience Groundhog Day festivities firsthand.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The haunting psychological thriller “The Silence of the Lambs,” featuring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, utilized the ominous atmosphere of Pittsburgh to amplify its dark narrative.

Pittsburgh Attractions That Appear In Movies

Pittsburgh attractions have proved to be versatile film locations. For example, the Civic Arena, also known as Mellon Arena, played a starring role as the venue for the fictional game in the hockey-centered movie “Sudden Death,” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. But it’s also the backdrop to a date night on the 2010 romcom, “She’s Out Of My League.”

Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh
Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh

VISIT: Duquesne Incline

Find the top of this steep funicular in the tony Mount Washington neighborhood – a section of million dollar homes and condos perched way above the city. The Duquesne Incline opened on May 20, 1877.

Pitched at 30.5 degrees, and running 793 ft as it clickity-clacks 6 MPH uphill, riding the incline should be on every Pittsburgh visitor’s to do list. From the observation deck of the incline, you’ll get a spectacular overview of Pittsburgh and its many set locations, including:

  • On the Incline itselfNext Three Days (2010), Flashdance
  • Heinz Field – blown up in Dark Knight Rises (using a foot high overlay and lots of post-production enhancements).
  • PNC BuildingAbduction
  • 31st Bridge on Allegheny River – Striking Distance (in fact, the first call to the just-formed Pittsburgh Film Office was regarding this 1993 Bruce Willis Action flick).
Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark
Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark

TOUR: Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Once rendering 9,000 tons of molten iron from iron ore per day and producing 1,200 tons of iron, this furnace and others just like it fed the Victorian-age building boom all the way through 70’s urban renewal.

Ron Baraff, Director of Archives for Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation
Ron Baraff, Director of Archives for Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation

“There were once 75 of these blast furnaces in the area. In the 1930s, Pittsburgh was dark at noon,” says Ron Baraff, Director of Archives for Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, a Big Steel conservation and preservation organization.

Carrie Furnace Pittsburgh PA

The Carrie Furnace closed in 1978 and was abandoned for over 30 years before being rescued by Rivers of Steel volunteers.

A stabilized ruin, the Carrie Furnace is Pittsburgh’s last one standing, and, for obvious reasons, a darling of “Apocalyptic” filmmakers and other fans of postindustrial decay.

Among the many movies, shows, and music videos filmed here is the very dark, all-star vehicle, Out of the Furnace. Christian Bale chased Woody Harrelson through the base of the furnace, and no – those weren’t real rocks used in the head-bashing sequences. You can still see man-made foam stone on a behind-the-scenes tour.

Carrie Blast Furnaces Pittsburgh PA

The Carrie Furnace made an appearance in the opening scene of Mrs. Soifel, and was backdrop to a BBC Documentary on Andrew Carnegie. During your tour, you’ll learn about the process of steelmaking, filmmaking and history of this region.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, Pittsburgh
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial

VISIT: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, Oakland Neighborhood

Built to honor Civil War Veterans in 1910, this fantastic building also serves as a magnificent 2,600 auditorium for graduations, official events and performances (Bruce Springsteen played here in May ’14 for his friend Joe Grushecky’s Reunion Show), as well as a museum to recognize all Allegheny County veterans of wars from the American Revolution until now.

Soldier and Sailors Monument Museum Pittsburgh PA
Soldier and Sailors Monument Museum Pittsburgh PA

But movie buffs will want to come here for another reason. The “Cage” scene from Silence of the Lambs was filmed in the upstairs ballroom, which has since been spruced up for weddings and the like. Still, visiting the space might prompt you to ask for some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Open Mon-Sat 10-4, free.

Interior Cathedral of Learning U Pitt PA
Interior Cathedral of Learning U Pitt PA

TOUR: Cathedral of Learning Nationality Rooms, Oakland Neighborhood

This Pittsburgh neighborhood, three miles from downtown, is university central. It’s where Carnegie Mellon U. and University of Pittsburgh, as well as the Carnegie Museums and Phipps Botanical Garden are located.

But for lovers of the offbeat, plan to see the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning” – home to twenty-nine “Nationality Rooms.” Think of it as “Winterthur on Campus.”

Classroom Cathedral of Learning U Pitt

The building– a 42-story cloud-piercing Gothic Revival edifice – is worth visiting in itself. The “Cathedral” made an appearance in the Mothman Prophesies, 42, and The Wonder Boys.

But the functioning classrooms, designed in exacting detail to represent different cultures at various time periods across the world, are the real draw.

Cathedral of Learning Nationality Room
One of 29 “Nationality Rooms” at Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh

There’s an 18th Century Russian Peasant home, an Early 17th Century Scottish room, an 18th century Swedish cottage, a room from Ireland representing the mid 900’s that contains a set of chairs with carved Irish Wolfhound armrests (to ward off evil spirits).

Find the circa 1510 world globe in the Polish room.  It was the first to depict North America as a separate continent. Also see an illuminated mosaic of Constantine in the church-like interior of the Romanian Room.

TOUR: Burgh, Bits and Bites Food Tour

Sylvia, founder/tour guide, runs two-hour food tours in five diverse Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (That’s two hours in each ‘burg). Sign up for the Brookline Tour if you want a taste of old and traditional meshed with newfangled Pittsburgh establishments.

Street Tacos, Pittsburgh PA
Taco Stand outside Las Palmas Mexican Grocery Store

According to one Yelper, Marne O, “When I was looking to buy a house, I turned to Brookline because I knew they had a great coffee shop and a taco stand.”

The coffee shop Cannon Coffee (now closed) was famous for its locally roasted coffee and Open Mic Wednesday Nights.

The Taco Stand remains right outside Las Palmas Mexican Grocery Store – and the tacos are so good, there are lines down the street all year.

Pitaland, Pittsburgh PA
Pitaland, Pittsburgh PA

But Brookline also has Pitaland, owned by Lebanese expat, Joe Chahine, who’s been coined “the Willy Wonka of Pita Making.” Chahine is more than happy to show you the apparatus that turns out 2,000 pitas an hour.

You’ll watch the whole process from dough making to final product while learning about Joe’s American immigrant success story. And then, of course, you’ll get a taste of as many hot pitas (with humus) as you can eat.

Sals Barber Shop, Pittsburgh
“Little Sal” continues his father’s tradition at Sal’s Barber Shop, Pittsburgh PA

On Sylvia’s tour, you’ll try fresh-baked morsels at bakeries (DeLuca Bros. and the Party Cake Shop), a slice at Antionio’s Pizzeria and stop into Sal’s Barber Shop, which has been providing gentlemanly haircuts since 1947.

Though Sal’s no longer offers shaves, shelves on the walls are lined with shaving mugs. They are a reminder that in the past, customers would leave their own personal mugs with the barber; the more mugs, the better the barber. Apparently, Salvatore Bondi (who passed away in early 2014) and “Little Sal,” his son, were and are the tops. Food tours $43 per person. Check website for dates and times.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Film Locations

De Lucas, Pittsburgh
De Lucas, Pittsburgh

EAT/BREAKFAST: De Luca’s Restaurant

Longtime local favorite, DeLuca’s, in the film-worthy ethnic Strip District, was one location for the failed 1992 movie, Passed Away. Good thing food reviews are better.

Man Vs. Food came here, and it was a tossup. You’ll gorge on the Steel City Breakfast of Champions – short-stack, eggs, home fries, Hotcake Sundaes, or anything else from a huge menu.

Enrico Biscotti, Pittsburgh
Enrico Biscotti, Pittsburgh

EAT/SHOP: Enrico Biscotti

In the Strip District, this incredible bakeshop gets raves for its signature biscotti, macaroons and bread. No surprise that actor Scott Bao (Chachi) learned to bake bread here for his movie The Bread, My Sweet. He ultimately loved the craft so much he’d bake off-set and give his creations away. You, too, can take a 3-hour bread-baking class or indulge in a First Friday Dinner. Only 30 seats, so call for reservations.

Primanti Brothers, Pittsburgh
Primanti Brothers, Pittsburgh

EAT: Primanti Brothers/Strip District – A Favorite of Pittsburgh PA Movie Actors

Word has it that Jake Gyllenhaal while filming Southpaw at Pittsburgh’s South Side loved this local sandwich shop. And so do I. Unpretentious and plain good, you can watch your baloney hogie being grilled from your table upstairs.

Butcher Rye Pittsburgh PA

EAT/DINNER: Butcher and the Rye

Location of another bar scene from Father’s and Daughters (notice a theme?), this sister restaurant of Meat and Potatoes excels in both food and wit.

Barn wood walls, Mason jar hanging lamps, and a splendid backlit bar that features a whopping 517 types of whiskey; Butcher and the Rye has zeroed in on the meat-eating-hooch-swilling-rustic-barn zeitgeist. Small plates like Crispy Pig Wings and Bone Marrow are friggin’ awesome.

Grand Concourse Restaurant, Pittsburgh
Grand Concourse Restaurant, Pittsburgh

EAT/DINNER: Grand Concourse

This place is to Pittsburgh what Tavern on the Green is to New York – an iconic, singularly set enticing restaurant, where food, though very good, is incidental.

Originally the very swanky 20’s-grand train station, visitors go gaga over the stained glass roof, sweeping marble staircase and river views.

Flashdance, Next Three Days, Love and Other Drugs, and a slew of lesser-known movies were filmed here. Waiters, donning black suit vests, are sometimes enlisted as film extras. General Manager, Tony, shared that he played a bartender in Love and Other Drugs – shot in the popular Grand Concourse bar, the Gandy Dancer.

Where to Stay in Pittsburgh Movie Splendor

William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh
Omni William Penn Hotel

The Omni William Penn Is Where The Stars Stay

Old fashioned, stately, and traditionally elegant, the Omni has seen quite a few Hollywood stars come through its doors. Bob Hope proposed to his girlfriend here, and Kirsten Stuart auditioned for the Twilight Series downstairs in the ballroom (a common casting area in town).

But the most interesting story involves a bubble machine left over from a Pittsburgh PA film premier and the bandleader, Lawrence Welk. Welk’s sound was termed “Champaign Music” – because it was as “light and bubbly as Champaign.”

While he was playing a set at the William Penn, a band manager decided to employ the bubble machine. Welk loved the bubbles so much, they became a signature of his act.

All articles belong to Getaway Mavens LLC, and all photos belong to us as well, unless otherwise noted. It’s all copyrighted. Please don’t repost anything elsewhere without asking us first. All rights reserved. This site uses cookies to enhance your experience.

We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We’re not responsible for content on external websites linked to ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we have vetted, but can’t guarantee that your experience will be exactly the same.

Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.

United States Copyright, Getaway Mavens, LLC


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

4 thoughts on “The Silver Screen’s Steel City: Exploring Movies Filmed in Pittsburgh”

  1. This is a great article. It’s super informative and highlights some spectacular aspects of our city. If I might say, there are several grammatical errors that take away from the overall impact for me. I would be happy to proofread and send suggested edits if you would like.


Comments are closed.