When I told friends I was visiting Pittsburgh, most responses were a mix between curiosity and uncertainty. Known for being a blue collar and industrial city, Pittsburgh may not seem to have character or charm. However, I found quite the opposite. While others may choose to travel to New York City or Washington D.C. further east or visit other northeastern cities like Chicago or Boston, Pittsburgh has art, history, and culture all its own. Pittsburgh may seem to only attract sports fans for the Steelers or an occasional Pirates fan, but there’s more to this city than what you’d expect. Although my main reason for visiting involves watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Pittsburgh Pirates, I find there’s more to discover in this unique city.
Blocks of ethnic grocery stores, bookstores, restaurants, and sports paraphernalia cover this neighborhood, The Strip. Cookies, spices, oils, and cheeses with a Mediterranean flavor cover the shelves of grocery stores. Among the unique sausages, collections of olives, and slaw, there’s also a mix of languages from Italian to Polish to Greek. The Contemporary Craft also provides a collection of artistic crafts, and to our delight a display of recycled art. Using materials from sheets, lightbulbs, spoons, and more, I’m enjoying my exploration of figurines and jewelry.
Andy Warhol Museum
Continuing my discovery of art leads me to the Andy Warhol Museum. Inside the museum leads through separate floors showcasing Warhol’s progression throughout the decades. After watching Factory Girl, a film about the star of Warhol’s films, Edie Sedgwick, and having seen countless Campbell Soup paintings, I’m eager to learn more about this artist. I find Warhol’s commercial and ideas for advertising and editorial to be just as fascinating as his pop art. Seeing Warhol’s art evolve is a testament to the breaking away from conformity and realism. I admire Warhol for his use of everyday items that he morphs into something else and makes anything into art.
Cathedral of Learning and the Heinz Memorial Chapel
On the University of Pittsburgh campus, one of my favorite parts of the trip can be found at the Cathedral of Learning. The Nationality Rooms of countries from around the world contain artifacts of handicrafts, design elements, and furniture representing locations from Austria to China. Nearby sits the Heinz Memorial Chapel. In this Catholic church, I’m intrigued by the stained glass windows that depict more than religious figures. On a closer look, I find historical and literary figures depicted in the glass, recognizing them for humanitarian contributions.
Wishing to see a view of the city from above? Be sure to head to Monogahela Incline (there’s also other inclines including Duquesne Incline) which is the oldest continually operating railway run by a set of ascending and descending cars. Originally made in 1870 to help factory workers commute to work, it still operates today as a link for commuters and visitors to downtown Pittsburgh.
Even though it’s an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh, Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is definitely worth it. Known for combining nature with his architectural designs, it’s no surprise this project was a perfect fit since it sits atop a waterfall. Furnished with original décor, books, and furniture, this home was owned by Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann and became and museum and National Historic Landmark. Hearing the water and feeling an occasional cool breeze, I can’t help but marvel at this home based on ecological conservation.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield
A short drive from Fallingwater, my family is happy to make the trek for another stamp. This site, known for being George Washington’s only surrender, is a famous battle of the French and Indian War. Although Washington suffered a loss, the British eventually won the war and the stage was set for the American Revolution. The surprising part is how small the actual fort was, since depictions always seem to make forts larger. Looking around the green thick forests and lawns, I finally get the sense of being in Pennsylvania.
Upon returning home, I’m excited to share my discoveries and have answers to those questions of uncertainty. Pittsburgh is industrial, but it is also has a feel that is cosmopolitan. There’s nothing wrong with heading to a more popular east coast or Atlantic city, but don’t avoid Pittsburgh. It’s a destination you’ll see has more than sports teams and you’ll be glad you didn’t miss it.
This post is part of the Travel Photo Thursday Link-up hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox, Budget Travel Talk, Tanama Tales, and Rachel’s Ruminations, The Weekly Postcard hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond and City Tripping hosted by Mummy Travels and Wander Mum.