The Hill District borders Downtown Pittsburgh, Polish Hill, and Oakland. It used to be known as the “Crossroads of the World”. During the 1960’s, “The Hill” endured hard times as the struggle for civil rights was occurring. The Hill is now becoming a safer and more stable district as it is experiencing a renaissance of its own. This is mainly a result of the Hill Community Development Corporation working to improve the area.
Here is a view of Downtown from the Hill District. The Steel Tower is the tallest building in Pittsburgh as it dominates the horizon from the intersection of Webster and Manilla. This picture was taken less than a mile from the tower and even closer to Consol Energy Center.
This is 1727 Bedford Avenue, which is where the playwright, August Wilson lived until he was five years old. His most famous work was “The Pittsburgh Cycle” which was made up of ten plays, nine of which were set in the Hill District. He also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama two times, in 1987 and 1990. This location was declared a national landmark in 2007, after Wilson’s passing in 2005.
These are pictures of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, the front entrance and the street view (from the August Wilson Center website). The purpose is to present the performing and visual arts programs that celebrate the contributions of African Americans. This center opened in September 2009 and is a center for culture and art in Pittsburgh. Its downtown location makes it accessible and its unique shape makes it easy to recognize.
This is a picture of the Miller African-Centered Academy on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District. The Pittsburgh Public School website says the school focuses on “teaching and promoting the history and culture of people of African descent and the principles of Nguzo Saba. The seven principles of Nguzo Saba are celebrated in the seven days of Kwanzaa.
PNC Park and Heinz field are professional sporting stadiums located in the North Shore Pittsburgh. They were both built in order to replace Three Rivers Stadium, previously home to both the Pirates and Steelers.
PNC Park has been home to the Pittsburgh Pirates since the 2001 season, but plans for the stadium had been in the works since 1991. Once Kevin McClatchy purchased the team in 1996, the plans for then new stadium became a reality and ground was broken on April 7, 1999, led by the teamwork of HOK Sport, Dick Corporation and Barton Malow. The ground breaking ceremony was held in conjunction with the renaming of the 6th Street Bridge to the Roberto Clemente Bridge, in honor of thefamous Pirates outfielder.
The first game in the park was played on March 31, 2001 against the New York Mets, and has since hosted the 2006 MLB All-Star Game and has seen performing artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett and Dave Matthews Band come through. The first playoff game in PNC Park was held on October 1, 2013 against the Cincinnati Reds, in which a park record 40,487 fans were in attendance.
East Liberty Presbyterian Church, also known as the Cathedral of Hope, was originally created in 1819 and the current structure was completed in 1935. The gothic-styled church occupies a full block in east liberty and over $4 million was spent on its construction. A congregation of about 800 attends its various services throughout the week. The church has a music and art education outreach for youth called Hope Academy.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is the second tallest educational building in the world. The 42-story construction project was started in 1926 and was completed in 1934. Two of the biggest attractions are the Commons Room and the Nationality Rooms. The half-acre Commons Room, pictured above, is four stories tall and is the main entryway. There are 29 Nationality Rooms that are designed to reflect each nationality that was influential in the development of Pittsburgh. 27 of the classrooms are working classrooms while the other 2 are permanent display rooms.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is located on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University. It has permanent exhibits on dinosaurs, African wildlife, and ancient Egypt. Founded in 1896, the museum gained attention in 1899 when it discovered the fossils of Diplodocus. The museum is open year round and is a paid attraction.
Shadyside is a popular destination in Pittsburgh for locals and tourists. Walnut Street in Shadyside has many shops and restaurants from national chains such as Gap and American Apparel to local favorites such as Henne Jewelers, Mario’s East Side Saloon, and Pamela’s Diner.
East End is a great place to venture for a day. You can start off the day with brunch at Pamela’s in Shadyside. Then, head over to Oakland to check out the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and take a look at the Cathedral of Learning. After that, head back to Shadyside for some shopping and head to the Elbow Room for dinner and maybe get a few drinks at Mario’s East Side Saloon. If you are in town for a Sunday morning, head over to East Liberty Presbyterian Church for a service.
By Kyle O’Keeffe
The James Street Tavern can be found at 422 Foreland St, in the North Side of Pittsburgh. Still sitting in the original building where it opened in 1890, the Tavern makes you feel like you are walking back into the history of the city. Numerous famous Jazz players, both from Pittsburgh and around the country sit on the wall staring at you as you enter the dinning room. One whole wall is dedicated to Jazz musicians who have played in the restaurant, filling the space with music and rhythm. Other pictures and furniture help to continue to offer an authentic air to the entire building. Even the restaurants menu’s represent it’s past, as it is made from old record albums. The rest of the Tavern features a bar, a ball room on the second floor, and a down stairs called the Speak Easy, where live Jazz performers still play Tuesday, and Friday through Sunday nights.
Market Square is also known as “The Diamond.” It was laid out by George Woods and Thomas Vickroy in 1784. The square had two three-story buildings that were connected by a bridge on the top floor. It was the largest city market where many residents of Pittsburgh and pioneers passing through the city came for supplies. Market Square also contained the city hall and even after it was relocated, the square remained a place for commercial activity through the Civil War and early 1900’s. The first Allegheny County Courthouse was constructed in this area. When the new courthouse on Grant Street was finished in 1841, the square returned to being just a public marketplace, which is what it was meant for. In 1914, a public market house was built but was later demolished in 1961 to open up the space as a public park and meeting place.
Market Square has a lot of important history. In 1972, Market Square was designated by the city as the first historic district. In 2009, Market Square was rejuvenated into a European-style plaza for various leisure activities including dining and shopping. However, some of the businesses that were around when Market Square was first built are still in existence. Nicholas Coffee and Tea Co. has been serving coffee since 1919. The 1902 Tavern has been in Market Square for over 100 years. Finally, the Original Oyster House from 1870 is the oldest union bar in the city and is designated a historic landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
PPG Place is a beautiful office complex also known as “the crown jewel in Pittsburgh’s skyline” and “the towering success of downtown Pittsburgh.” The PPG Place office space opened in August of 1983, the retail shops opened in November 1984 and the complex was dedicated on April 11, 1984. It was built during Pittsburgh’s “Renaissance II Period” which was when the economy was declining due to steel mill closures. During this time, Pittsburgh Steel Glass still remained a Fortune 500 company. PPG Place is a six building complex with a 40-story glass tower surrounded by four 6-story glass buildings and a 14-story glass building all containing a total of 21 elevators. Together, PPG occupies 5.5 acres. Before it was built, an 8-foot-tall model was put together by Renato Chieruzzi in his own basement. The architecture was designed in the neogothic style and was inspired by London’s Victoria Tower, H.H. Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse and Charles Klauder’s Cathedral of Learning. During preparation for construction, anthropologists found over 10,000 artifacts in what was the Kings Garden and Kings Orchard about 1,000 feet from the gate to Fort Pitt. The buildings have 231 glass spires and 19,750 pieces of PPG’s Solarban 550 Twindow, which is meant to be an advertisement for the insulating glass product. The complex cost $200 million to construct. The design is not only appealing but it is also high-energy efficient. In the summer, heat is reflected away from the building by the glass and in the winter infrared heat is reflected and contained within the building. The building also collects and utilizes heat from computer equipment.
There are many wonderful year-round attractions at Market Square and PPG place. PPG Plaza contains a 44-foot granite obelisk that stands on four spheres. During the warm weather months, there is a 140 jet fountain that is accented by 280 underground lights. In the winter, the same area is covered by a lighted Christmas tree with an ice skating rink surrounding it. The rink is open mid-November through mid-February and for adults to skate it is $8 with a $3 skate rental fee. Group rates and skating lessons are also available. Saturdays during December, children can skate with Santa. There are several shops located in Two PPG Place including Serendipity and Chocolate and Chances. There is also a food court and several restaurants including Ruth’s Chris Steak House. For the convenience of visitors, there is a 700-space parking garage with a public entrance on Third Avenue.
For the winter months, there are several free holiday events. A favorite event are the free horse-drawn carriage rides around Market Square that take place Saturdays November 23rd through December 21st. Market Square is also set up with seasonal merchants that are very fun to visit. Wintergarden is an all-glass garden environment that is very bright and open with a 32-foot tree. It is located in One PPG Place and holds free exhibits from late November through early January. During these exhibits, donations to Children’s Hospital’s Free Care Fund are collected. One exhibit is the annual Spirits of Giving around the World which features a display of life-size Santas and original paintings. There is also an exhibit with gingerbread houses that were submitted by various organizations throughout Pittsburgh. There is also a unique train exhibit created by a local artist Don Jones. Every day during the month of December, Wintergarden hosts area musicians that play seasonal music. The area can be rented for private functions, including small weddings.
Market square is a wonderful place to visit. There are always people walking around to visit the shops and restaurants. PPG Place is a beautiful structure and worth the time just to look at it. The winter events are well done and bring all different kinds of people together to celebrate the holidays. Going there has been a great place to experience the livelihood of Pittsburgh. I believe that Market Square truly has fulfilled its intent of being a public marketplace to bring people together. I recommend to everyone spending time at Market Square and PPG Place – even if it is just visiting the Starbucks for a coffee, or getting a quick dinner at Chipotle or Noodles & Company- experiencing the charm of the city is worth every minute!
By Brittany Goodwillie
The U.S. Steel Tower Is the tallest building in Pittsburgh, fourth tallest in Pennsylvania, the 41st tallest in the United States, and 212th tallest in the world. At its time of construction, the architects considered making it the tallest building in the world. Nonetheless, on sunny days (rare in Pittsburgh), the building can be spotted from a little over 50 miles away. Begun in 1967 and completed in 1970 as the U.S. Steel Tower, the name changed to the USX Tower in 1988 and then changed back to the U.S. Steel Tower in 2002. U.S. Steel is still the largest tenant of the Steel Tower (occupying over 500,000 square feet of space), and the building is currently owned and managed by Winthrop Management, a commercial real estate developer.
There are 18 hollow columns in the building filled with a water/antifreeze/rust inhibitor mixture that is meant to stop the spread of a fire and slow the rusting process. It was the first building in the world to use this unique design to inhibit the spread of fires. The distinctive (and massive) steel columns were placed externally rather than internally to exhibit the new Cor-ten steel—manufactured in Pittsburgh—which was resistant to the corrosive effects of rain, snow, and ice. Cor-ten steel resists corrosion by forming a dark brown coat of oxidation over the metal. Unique in its composition, the steel has cut costs by eliminating the need to paint the building or invest in rust prevention maintenance.
Containing over 44,000 tons of steel, the structure creates a striking view first impression with its triangularly indented sides. The roof is said to be the largest in the world at its height or above (it is close to an acre in size). The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been a major tenant since 2007, and had its name placed at the top by helicopter in mid-2008. Each Christmas, the U.S. Steel Tower displays a large nativity scene designed by the Pittsburgh architecture firm, L.D. Astorino Companies. It is said to be the only nativity scene in the United States to be directly sanctioned by the Vatican and is the world’s only known replica of the Vatican’s own nativity scene. The display is sponsored by Pittsburgh’s Christian Leaders Fellowship. Noted for its “green” design, the building has received recognition for it low-flow sinks and toilets and low-emitting carpet, furniture, and paint.
At the time of its completion, the U.S. Steel Building was the tallest structure in the world outside of buildings in New York City and Philadelphia (it was quickly overtaken by the newly constructed Sears Tower in Chicago). It dwarfs its neighbor and the second tallest building in Pittsburgh, the Mellon Building, by 116 feet. Though it still dominates the Pittsburgh skyline, the U.S. Steel Building falls short of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa of Dubai, by 1,876 feet! The building—even more imposing when it was first constructed—stands as a monument to the steel city. Though perhaps many would consider the building stark, harsh, and utilitarian, its steel columns convey a simple beauty. Its drab brown exterior is a reminder of the city’s recent past—a time when the entire downtown area was caked in layers of soot from the nearby steel mills. Even though there are many skyscrapers today which are taller, the width and angular design of the U.S. Steel Tower make it an imposing building that immediately catches and holds the eye. To get a full view of the building, it’s best to stand back a few blocks—or perhaps even better to view it from a nearby skyscraper such as the Mellon Building.
The building is 64 total stories and contains 58 elevators. Visitors to the site would do best to park at the Consol Energy Center, and take the free shuttle which has a stop at the U.S. Steel Tower. In order to see more than simply the building itself, visitors might go during the Christmas season (November 21-January 5) to visit the impressive nativity scene. The stable is 64 feet wide, 42 feet high, and 36 feet deep, and weighs around 66,000 pounds. Inside the building, there are several options for dining, including Au bon Pain and the Pittsburgh Grille. Through the lobby, visitors also have access to the metro station, which they can take for free. The building provides services such as a gym to employees of its respective tenants.
By Caleb Fuller
Station Square is located at what used to be the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. The railroad was used so frequently that it came to be nicknamed the ‘Little Giant’. After the railroad was no longer being used, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation decided to use the space as a commercial development, while keeping the ‘Station Square’ theme. It now houses over 20 retailers and restaurants.
The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation wanted to use as many of the original structures as possible for this reuse project. One building used to be a shack to house freight trains, and now features shops that sell Pittsburgh novelties as well as cigars, toys, etc. The building across from it (the ‘Grand Concourse’ restaurant) used to be the actual concourse of the station.
Buca di Beppo is one of the iconic restaurants located in Station Square that celebrates Pittsburgh’s large Italian culture by serving classic Italian dishes in ‘family style’ portions that are made for sharing. The restaurant also claims to mimic the Italian values of “friendship and hospitality”. Station Square has also historically featured an ‘Italian Heritage Festival’, which features music, dancing, and plenty of pasta.
Buca di Beppo is only one of many restaurants and entertainment opportunities located in Station Square. Two restaurants in particular (the Grand Concourse and the Gandy Dancer Saloon) are rich with the history of the original station at Station Square. Constructed in 1901, the Grand Concourse still has the station’s accents of brass and marble. The Gandy Dancer Saloon is connected to the Grand Concourse and features a “legendary” happy hour with fresh seafood and oysters. My family has historically gone to the Grand Concourse to celebrate family birthdays, so I can attest to the fact that it is an amazing restaurant!
Station Square celebrates Pittsburgh’s steel history (in the form of ‘Bessemer Court’). Bessemer Court features a fountain made from a Bessemer converter, which originally converted molten iron into steel. As most Pittsburghers know, Andrew Carnegie invested in these converters, which transformed the steel industry. The fountains at Bessemer Court host lighted water shows approximately 45 times a day. These shows are often choreographed to music from various song styles. Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera (raised in Wexford!) are just a few examples.
My experience in Station Square was a relaxing few hours spent with my mom. Although we both live in Pittsburgh, Station Square is not a frequent destination for either of us. Typically my family goes once a year (to celebrate my birthday at the Grand Concourse). We especially enjoyed some leisurely browsing in the unique shops- specifically the bookstore (see below). There were so many unique Pittsburgh artifacts, mostly celebrating the iconic Steelers and Penguins. My trip to Station Square was a special time to bond with my family and re-discover the history of this city in a tangible way.
By Kristen Kailer
The Sewickley Valley YMCA provides Sewickley and the surrounding cities with excellent workout facilities and many community programs. These programs include after-school opportunities for teens, family events, fundraising for local non-profits, and campaigns to improve healthcare benefits for Veterans. Ultimately, their mission is “to build a healthy spirit, mind and body based on Christian principles and to improve the quality of life for children, individuals and families in the Ambridge Area, Cornell, Moon Area, and Quaker Valley school districts.”
The Sweetwater began as a grass-roots effort developed by local members of the community. It finally opened its doors in 1975 an began its life as a fine arts education facility. This Sweetwater Center for the Arts is now a staple name in the Pittsburgh area when it coms to arts education. One community member said it is “a beautiful place that gives back to its community.
The Sewickley Bridge was built by the American Bridge Company and opened on October 21, 1981. It is a steel truss bridge that connects Sewickley and Moon Township and comprises a significant part of the daily commute for many Pittsburgh Fellows. The current bridge is actually the second to occupy this location. The original bridge was built in 1911 but had deteriorated badly by the late 1970s.
The Edgeworth Club is a private social and recreational club in Sewickley that was founded in 1893 for the purpose of “promoting friendship among its members and their social enjoyment.” The Pittsburgh Fellows use this club as the site for hosting their monthly Business Roundtables.
The Sewickley Public Library was established in 1873 but did not move to its present location until 1923. Its founders’ original purpose was to provide a place for the “rational amusement and self improvement” for young men that would serve as an alternative to the local pub scene. Today, the mission of the SPL is “to serve as a center for lifelong learning by providing free access to informational, educational, cultural and recreational library resources that address the interests and needs of the children and adults in the greater Quaker Valley community.”
By Andrew Edwards and Scott Schinderle
- Sewickely (pittsburghfellowsblog.wordpress.com)