When you think of big American cities, rich in culture, art, sports, it’s easy to see why the major cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, L.A. come straight to mind. When you think of famous buildings, bridges, arenas, fields, it’s easy to see why the brain jumps to Fenway Park, Chrysler building, Brooklyn bridge.
For the next 8 days, I’m exploring some of the cultural hotspots of the Mid-West, kicking it off in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I have a confession, coming here my knowledge was incredibly limited. I know all about the Steelers and the Penguins from a sports fan point of view, and I knew all about the rich history in industry, but I really didn’t have much of a clue about all of what Pittsburgh had to offer. And boy does it offer a lot. (Starting with the grand entrance from the tunnel, downtown rising above you.)
The lovely guys from Visit Pittsburgh did a phenomenal job of cramming so much in such a small amount of time. They showcased the city to the max, and have left me with a strange feeling of missing it even though I’m exiting the city limits.
On to the good stuff. To start with, our hotel. We stayed at the Drury Plaza hotel, a new renovated spot in Downtown in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. It is actually situated in the historic federal reserve building, with some of the original vault doors and 3ft reinforced walls. It has an amazing vibe and feel and has everything on the doorstep (and more if you’re a heist fan like me!)
We got a small chance to walk around and get a feel for the downtown area (see picture above by a bridge). The city is situated where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers meet, so there are a lot of awesome river shots, and bridges (over 440!!!). The old football stadium was named after the rivers too! The old warehouses from the days of the Pennsylvannia Railway and the river days still line the strip and are being renovated to make great art, dining, and industry spaces. We made the most of using these faculties and visited Lisa’s Italian. Lidia is a celebrity chef in the US and has the most incredible warm and beautiful restaurant that serves the most tasty mouthwatering food imaginable.
Everything about Pittsburgh is done with passion. The dedication to their city is admirable, be it their history ( the preservation of buildings such as the Heinz factory and old Rail station and of course the Drury Plaza hotel shows this) their sports (at the time of writing, the Penguins are about to play the first of 7 games to take them to the Stanley Cup Final) or their conservation (The National Aviary, the only of it’s kind in the US does so much to preserve endangered and extinct in the wild birds). The passion of Pittsburgers is incredible and infectious, and when you hear locals talk about their city in the way they do about theirs you can’t help but fall in love. The city has done an incredible job to embrace it’s history in steel manufacture, and rejuvenate the city after it’s decline to become a green, sustainable, silicone valley of the East.
On a slightly more personal interest note, our time was capped off with a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum. Part of the wider Carnegie Museum group, the Warhol Museum is housed in his home town (that’s right, he’s not from New York) and is housed over 7 floors progressing through his changing styles and works.
Bottom line? This is one of the most culture-filled, under-rated cities of the USA, and I definitely want to come back one day and spend more than a night to take in a game at PNC Park, visit more museums and galleries, and enjoy a primanti sandwich!
Have you visited Pittsburgh, or are you from there? What do you think of the city? What are your must do things?