Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pittsburgh is a happening place

It seems like 90 percent of Pittsburgh's residents cross the street no matter what color the stoplight. And by the end of four days in the former Steel City (now a center for education, health care, technology) we were crossing against the light and in the middle of the block with the rest of them because we had places to go and things to see.

Other than the Andy Warhol Museum and the City Cafe, mentioned in previous posts, here's a run down of what we did:

--Walked, walked, walked, and walked some more. We never got our car from the hotel parking garage. Nor did we use public transportation. We decided to concentrate on the business district and nearby neighborhoods and walked them to the tune of 30 miles in four days. 

--Gaped at the wonderful architecture. This is the city of Mellon, Carnegie, Frick, Heinz, and other industrialists, and a lot of money went into some beautiful buildings. 

--Visited the warehouse or "Strip" district, a ribbon of land between the Allegheny River and a hillside.  The Strip used to be home to mills and factories. Now it's indoor markets, outdoor markets, bakeries, coffee shops, a fish market, Pittsburgh sports teams memorabilia stores, restaurants, apartments and lofts.

--Went to pubs/brew houses/restaurants. Some faves: East End Brewery Tasting Room on the Strip; Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville (just past the Strip); Ten Penny in the city's cultural district; and Market Square, a park outlined with restaurants. We also went to the Capital Grille at the recommendation of a bartender at Ten Penny; turned out to be way expensive, so we just had soup, salad and dessert. Get the flourless chocolate cake. And the French Onion soup or clam chowder. Maybe in that order. OMG.

--Visited Point State Park, the triangle of land where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet and become the Ohio River. It was Fort Pitt during the Revolutionary War, then it became a hub of industry and  transportation. By the 1920s it was full of warehouses and railroad yards. Then the Depression hit, there was a flood, and the area was in bad shape.  A state park was created in 1974 and renovations started in 2007. A lovely park.

--Took a narrated paddle boat tour on Pittsburgh's three rivers.

--Road the Monongahela incline, built in 1869 and the oldest cliff railway in the country. Pittsburgh used to have 17 of these hill-climbing machines (technically called "funiculars") but is down to two.

--Visited the Heinz History Center, a affiliate of the Smithsonian and the largest history museum in the state.  Very well done.
Pittsburgh's downtown business district as seen from Mount Washington  across the Monongahela River.
To get to the top of Mount Washington we took the Monongahela Incline, built in 1869 and part of the city's transportation system. It's a cross between a railroad car and a gondola that climbs a set of tracks.
The Andy Warhol Bridge, seen here,  has two "sister" bridges on either side: The Roberto Clemente, named for the right fielder who played 18 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates;  and The Rachel Carson, for the Pennsylvania native, author and environmental activist. The city recently sponsored a survey to see if the bridges should be repainted separate colors.  Pittsburghers said "Keep 'em all Pittsburgh gold." I read that Pittsburgh has 446 bridges. It certainly has a lot, but how can that be possible?
Midtown Towers building is the one with the red dome; the owner of the Pittsburgh Press once lived in a penthouse in the dome.  Formerly known as the Keenan Building, when built in 1907 it was the tallest building in the city. 
The Omni William Penn Hotel, where we stayed. Not quite the same as sleeping in the rig.  I read that an Omni staffer invented Lawrence Welk's bubble machine.  We once put dish washing soap in our RV's black tank and bubbles came out the vent pipe on our roof.  Similarities end there.
The fountain (lower center) is at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, and where the Ohio River begins. Point State Park is right behind the fountain.  In 2011 we visited the area where the Ohio River ends in Cairo, Illinois; sadly it's a trashy, weedy field with a dilapidated observation tower.  Get with it, Cairo.  
There was so much to see at the  Heinz History Museum, that when it came to taking a photo I went for the obvious.  But the museum is so much more than ketchup and the Heinz family.  It's the history of what was discovered/invented there like the Salk polio vaccine, Big Mac,  Ferris wheel; its famous people (Mr. Rodgers, George Westinghouse, and of course Carnegie and Mellon); Pittsburgh's sports traditions of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins; natural history; city history, and on and on. 
Bev at the Church Brew Works, a brewery at the former St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. I'm thinking St. John would approve.
This was built as a bank, not a church. It's the currently-being-restored Union Trust Building, originally organized by wealthy Pittsburgh businessman Andrew Mellon. It's a great example of some of the architectural details we saw in Pittsburgh. 

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