Once known as the ‘City of Steel’ SHARON SPENCE LIEB discovers there is a lot more to modern day Pittsburgh than steel mills and heavy industry. She uncovers an innovate city brimming with arts and culture, plenty of natural space, and most importantly – pierogis.
In the 1870’s, Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Steel Company. By the 1890’s, Pittsburgh was supplying most of the world’s steel, and Carnegie’s company was the most profitable industrial enterprise in the world. Carnegie sold his company in 1901 for $480 million to J.P. Morgan, who created U.S. Steel.
Pittsburgh faced daunting challenges as she grew: Pollution, floods, and the “Great Fire of 1845.” But Pittsburghers are relentless problem solvers. After decades of restoration, renovation, and well-planned strategies, Pittsburgh today is a beautiful successful city. A dynamic skyline shows off elegant turn of the century buildings tucked among glamorous high-rises. Parks beckon with flowers and green spaces. Kayakers paddle under the 446 graceful bridges, while bikers and runners work out on the Three Rivers Heritage trail – twenty-two miles of natural beauty alongside the Allegany, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.
Delight in the city’s world-class art, luxury hotels, and ethnic neighborhoods alive with cafes and authentic grocery stores. Shopping is eclectic fun: You can buy Greek baklava, Italian tuna, Belgium chocolate, and a Pittsburgh Steelers T shirt all on Penn Avenue in The Strip District in Pittsburgh’s northeast area.
ART AND DINOSAURS
Spend an inspirational day ambling through The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. You’ll discover one of the world’s great collections of art, not to mention 103,000 specimens of Jurassic dinosaurs.
I paid homage to my muse, Claude Monet, gazing reverently at one of his water lily masterpieces. A quick hello to Mary Cassatt and Degas, and I found myself in a quiet room with Henri Matisse’s “The Thousand and One Nights,” a multi-panel painted paper cut-out of fantastical images. At age 81, Matisse was a bedridden insomniac. But he persevered, creating this incredible artwork despite declining health. Matisse was inspired by the Persian literary classic, “Arabian Nights,” where Scheherazade stayed awake, saving her life with 1001 nights of compelling stories. The painting asks: Are we able to create artful and happy lives, regardless of obstacles?
At Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, nature lovers wander among delicate orchids, tangled jungles, mammoth cactus, and cascading waterfalls. The Tropical Forest features an Ayurvedic healing garden, spice and tea market displays, and a field research station. Located inside a historic Victorian glasshouse, Phipps is the most energy efficient conservatory in the world, plus the nation’s first teaching conservatory, winning awards for environmental development.
New at Phipps, is The Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a center for education, research, and administration. One of the greenest buildings on Earth, the Center generates its own energy, while capturing and treating all of its water on site. A state of the art outdoor kitchen will present chef demonstrations, and cooking classes to teach visitors new recipes for healthy eating.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
Pittsburghers wax poetic over their pierogis. They load French fries onto everything, even salads. At Primanti Brothers, try if you can to devour the monster sandwich – stuffed with meat, cheese, egg, French fries, coleslaw, and tomatoes, between two slices of thick Italian bread.
There’s a healthy farm to table movement taking hold in Pittsburgh, with delicious produce and fruits coming daily into the city from area farmers. We ate our way around the city, enjoying a fabulous gourmet brunch at The Fairmont Hotel, fresh salmon at Six Penn, and Italian antipasti onboard the scenic RiverQuest Explorer Cruise.
My favourite meal was breakfast at Pamela’s Diner in the Strip District. My friends enjoyed corned beef hash and a Tex Mex omelet stuffed with chorizo and guacamole. I was in heaven with crispy edged pancake crepes and farm fresh strawberries.
Pittsburghers can justly boast about their many “firsts”: Jonas Salk created the first polio vaccine here. Carnegie Mellon University debuted the first robotics institute. Pittsburgh is the birthplace of Heinz Ketchup, Andy Warhol’s Pop Culture, and home to PPG Industries, The PNC Financial Services Group Inc., US Steel, and Wesco International.
Sports? From the six-time Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers, to the three-time winners of the Stanley Cup Pittsburgh Penguins … not to mention the Pirates baseball team, Pittsburghers have so much love for their teams, they practically bleed Black and Gold.
Folks here buzz with entrepreneurial projects and the prowess to achieve their goals. Optimism is the norm. The city’s recipe for success: Mix determination, resilience, and down to earth friendliness. That’s Pittsburgh Power.
These folks are inspiring. Check it out, ya’ll.
Check out VisitPittsburgh.com for more information.