Comparing Pittsburgh in The Last of Us to The Real Thing

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Posted by skrutop (3812 posts) -

If you haven't played through this game yet, you might get see some spoilers. I also need to play through this section again to uncover more stuff. I'll periodically update this as I go.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not picking on Naughty Dog for moving things around or misrepresenting the fair city of Pittsburgh. I get that you have to make changes to the geography and buildings to service the gameplay. I just thought that it would be fun to point some stuff out that I noticed while playing through Chapter 5 of The Last of Us. The screenshots I take are poor quality, and I lifted some images off of Google.

Entering the city

Entering Pittsburgh in Last of Us
Entering Pittsburgh in Last of Us
Blvd. of the Allies
Blvd. of the Allies

First off, you enter the city via 376 West to the Boulevard of the Allies and are forced off of the highway near the Crosstown Blvd. This is actually not that far off from what it looks like in real life, and that is likely the highway you'd be on if coming from Boston. The Fort Duquesne Bridge in the distance is not visible, though it's location is somewhat accurate.

Second Street

Second Street in Pittsburgh
Second Street in Pittsburgh

From here, you navigate through some fights and smaller streets, making your way into downtown. You'll find yourself underneath Boulevard of the Allies, on a street with steel supports holding up the road. This is Second Street, and again it looks like the real thing and is geographically accurate.

Nice View

2502053-view from where joel gets out of car.png

You'll eventually find yourself under this overpass looking towards your ultimate goal, which is the bridge. Again, this shot is pretty close to the real thing, with the BNY Mellon Building (white) next to the US Steel Tower (black). Fun fact: I work on the 38th floor of US Steel Tower. The BNY Mellon Building is a bit bigger in real life, though US Steel Tower is still larger.

The Omni William Penn Hotel

Omni William Penn Hotel
Omni William Penn Hotel
The Grand Hotel in Last of Us
The Grand Hotel in Last of Us

You'll wind up diving through some alleys and buildings until you find yourself on a flooded main street in downtown. This is where the game deviates heavily from the actual city. Your goal is to make it into the hotel on the right side of the street. It most closely resembles the Omni William Penn Hotel, though it's not really all that accurate in either the architecture or the interior of the hotel. As you can see, the real hotel is broken into three sections, while the game's version has two.

Grant Street, er 5th Ave, er Penn Ave...or whatever

From the lobby of US Steel Building
From the lobby of US Steel Building
Penn Ave & 6th Street
Penn Ave & 6th Street

The real hotel is on Grant Street, across the street from the BNY Mellon Building and the US Steel Tower (which you wind up never seeing again once you get into the city). As you can see, Grant has planters in the middle and there are big patio areas nearby. The street in the game more closely resembles Penn Ave both in size, how confined it is, and its proximity to the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Also, looking at the screenshot of the game, you'll see a sign that says Warren Centre. The real Warner Centre sign is a few blocks away on 5th Ave.

One Oxford Center


After escaping the hotel, you continue on your way to the bridge. Turning around, you can see One Oxford Center rising up a couple of blocks away. No matter which way you slice it, this building is nowhere near where it should be, which is down the street from BNY Mellon Tower on Grant Street. Also, the real One Oxford Center's three towers are all different heights.

Fifth Avenue Place (aka The Highmark Building)


Joel's body is facing the bridge in the shot to the left. Looking to your left, you can see the spire of Fifth Avenue Place (aka the Highmark Building). It's further away in the screenshott where it should be in the city, close to the Fort Duquesne Bridge and roughly to your left. However, the streets in that area have taller buildings all around which would box you in more in real life.

As you get to the Fort Duquesne bridge, the enemies start after you, so I couldn't get a good picture of the bridge itself. That's a real shame because the signs on it and it's architecture were really well done.

Spoiler time!

2502082-screen shot 2013-06-22 at 1.40.14 pm.png

You get ambushed and are forced to run for your life, and you wind up on the Fort Pitt Bridge, which is near the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Unfortunately, the bottom deck of the bridge is out and you have to jump. The bridge in the game looks just like the real one. From what I can tell, it looks like you wind up dumped out north of the city up the Allegheny River. The Allegheny actually flows south into the Ohio River, so there's no way that you would end up where you did without someone coming and pulling you upstream.


2502087-screen shot 2013-06-22 at 1.58.21 pm.png

The small Fort Duquesne Bridge sign looks similar to the different signs around Pittsburgh, though they don't have that bridge-like emblem on them. They're color-coded to each area of the city. Downtown signs are pink.

Also, I'm going to assume that Pittsburgh Arena would be Consol Energy Center (or maybe the former Mellon Arena), and the Bridge Theatre would be the Bynham Theatre. All of those are within 1.5 miles of each other in the real Pittsburgh, and where you are standing in the game you'd be about 2 blocks from the Bynham, maybe a half-mile from the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and less than a mile from Consol or Mellon.

Area Codes


412 is the area code for Pittsburgh.

512, however is Austin, TX.

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#1 Edited by Demoskinos (17253 posts) -

Living just 50 miles or so south of Pittsburgh that is indeed a accurate representation of Pittsburg. I wish more games would consider using it as a location.

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#2 Posted by Fredchuckdave (9522 posts) -

Pretty nifty, though no dilapidated version of PNC Park.

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#3 Edited by skrutop (3812 posts) -

edit: Looks like using headers fixed the formatting.

Sorry about the formatting; I can't figure out how to get the images and text to line up properly.

I'm planning to use the chapter select to go back through and see what else I might have missed. I also want to go over to the Omni William Penn's lobby and snap a few photos. From what I can remember, it doesn't look anything like what's in the game. Perhaps the Renaissance Hotel (which is the other historic hotel in Pitt) has a lobby similar to what's in the game.

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#4 Posted by spookytapes (301 posts) -

Nice post duder.

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#5 Posted by Grilledcheez (4050 posts) -

I appreciate the effort, really cool post!

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#6 Posted by EXTomar (5047 posts) -

Nice post. I love it when companies do this kind of work along with people finding it. :)

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#7 Posted by Keegs (113 posts) -

Cool write up! I was trying to find places I recognized too as a PGH native. They do mention some actual places too, such as there's a note you can find where they mention "Troy Hill."

Thanks for the post!

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