Pittsburgh: Beyond the Steelers

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.

The Strip

Mural in The Strip

A neighborhood mural in Pittsburgh’s The Strip.

Cheese at a Grocery Store in the Strip

Just because I can’t eat it doesn’t mean I can’t look at it!

Elisabeth Higgins O'Connor-Fever to Tell

Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor’s “Fever to Tell” at the Contemporary Craft.

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

Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol with a silk screen of Marilyn Monroe.

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

Ceiling in the Cathedral of Learning

Interior of the Cathedral of Learning.

India Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning

Taken in the Nationality Room for India.

Abraham Lincoln Stained Glass

Stained glass of Abraham Lincoln in 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.

Monongahela Incline

Pittsburgh from the InclineWishing 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.

Fallingwater

Falling WaterEven 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

Fort Necessity

Flag (L)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.

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29 Comments

  1. Being a Philadelphian, I’d always have the tendency to come up with some not-so-nice nicknames about Pittsburgh. But then I actually visited on my road trip, and I loved it! Mount Washington is absolutely beautiful and there is just something about those bridges. Thanks for sharing your trip!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      When I visited Pittsburgh, I didn’t expect much was excited to explore a new place. Pittsburgh definitely delivers! It’s beautiful and has lots to offer. The bridges are definitely a great part of Pittsburgh’s aesthetics!

  2. Eni

    Hi dear and thank you for your visit! I’ve never been to United States and to Pittsburgh, but I think it’s a wonderful city and your pictures confirm this. I hope one day to visit it. Have a nice day, kisses,
    Eni

    Eniwhere Fashion
    Eniwhere Fashion Facebook

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for visiting Eni! Glad you enjoyed my photos and stories of Pittsburgh.

  3. Shybiker

    Great post. A good friend of mine just moved there so I’ll take a motorcycle trip to see her soon. I knew about the Warhol museum (he was born there) so that’s a must-see.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I definitely recommend it! Let me know how your trip goes and what you experience!

  4. Rashaad

    My (late) father was from a small town near Pittsburgh (Washington, PA) and my grandmom and her husband still live in the area. Unfortunately, I’ve spent little time in the city. However, the views of the city’s bridges from the inside of a car are quite majestic. I would love the explore the University of Pittsburgh campus as my father got his law degree from that school (And my cousin is a very proud alum)

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I love the bridges too, there’s something about them that help make Pittsburgh so unique. That’s so cool you got to spend time on the University of Pittsburgh campus too!

  5. Eden

    Love this post Brooke! You’ve definitely showcased some beautiful aspects about Pittsburgh. I feel that it has changed a lot since I first went as a kid. I loved how the different rivers hugged the center of the city and it was beautiful to see at night from Mount Washington. Great photos!

    http://www.mintnotion.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Eden! There is something about those bridges and rivers that are fantastic. It’s always interesting to see how cities change as you grow older and revisit them.

  6. emi

    So unique! I want to get to Pittsburgh 🙂

    xo welltraveledwife.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I highly recommend it and hope you get the chance to go! 🙂

  7. Corinne Vail (@corinnevail)

    I think Pittsburg is a great little destination. I love the US History, the market, the food! Love it all!

  8. budgettraveltalk

    Previous to this post I knew absolutely nothing about Pittsburgh. Now I know quite a lot. Murals as street art have really taken off in the last ten years haven’t they and I think they’ve improved our streets so much. I clicked on the link for the Incline – they’re really cute and I’d like to ride them!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Jan,
      I hope you get the chance to go and see the city from the Incline! It’s a great view.

  9. InsideJourneys

    I remember driving through Pixburg, as a co-worker who had ties there used to call it, and thinking, this place is grey and bleak. It’s lovely to see the colors and see how Pittsburgh has remade itself. Thanks for sharing your tour – it’s definitely worth another look.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you get the chance to go back and have a different look at Pittsburgh!

  10. Ruth

    You know, I honestly feel like visiting this city. I have friends who visit on business trips and totally blown away. My mom lives on the state, so,I should visit her and then go around on a road trip. I am sure that would be cool.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I totally recommend it Ruth. I never thought I’d like it, but it was a great surprise and adventure.

  11. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    I never realised there was a Warhol museum here – and so much more! I love the way there’s always something to discover even in what might seem like an unlikely city. Thanks for joining up with #citytripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I completely agree! Finding Andy Warhol was incredible and a fantastic museum. So glad I made the opportunity to go!

  12. Pinay Flying High

    Whenever I visit my family in Maryland, my sister and I always go for a drive to Philadelphia which is my favorite city in the US. Once we considered driving to Pittsburgh instead but the thought of skipping our traditional Philadelphia trip was heartbreaking for the two of us. Seeing this post, I’m definitely going to drag my sister to Pittsburgh next time. :p

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you get to take this trip to Pittsburgh with your sister soon! I’d love to hear your thoughts on your visit. 🙂

  13. Global Locavore

    I always like visiting lesser known cities and towns. I find when there isn’t so much hype, you can discover more on your own and spend time on the activities you love without feeling bad about missing the more famous sights. I think you showed this really well!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I agree. It’s more fun to visit lesser-known places so you don’t already have a pre-conceived idea about them, you just experience them.

  14. WanderMum

    I didn’t know much about Pittsburgh other than the steel industry so it’s really interesting to read your post and discover what else is there. I love cities which are full of surprises and overturn preconceived expectations. I didn’t realise Andy Warhol was born there but I’d love to visit the museum. Thanks for joining #citytrioping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Glad you enjoyed my post and insights into another side of Pittsburgh! It was great to join #citytripping this week.

  15. Although it’s been a long time since I visited Pittsburgh, I really enjoyed the city! From an industrial point of view, America wouldn’t be here without it. But also, the art, the museums, the botanical garden – The Steelers! – such a great city with so much to see! And then a side trip to Falling Water? #BucketList!! Great post – thanks for sharing!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Rob! I’m glad I could inspire you and I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Pittsburgh. I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to experience this amazing city.

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