Big Mac Museum
To celebrate all things Big Mac, you can visit the Big Mac Museum located in a town called North Huntingdon, east of Pittsburgh, off Route 30. The iconic Big Mac was created by a Western PA McDonald's franchiser over 50 years ago. The museum is filled with McDonald's memorabilia, plus it has the world's biggest Big Mac replica. If you do get hungry, you can order yourself a meal from the McDonald's restaurant colocated with the museum.
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
"America's Taj Mahal"
While walking around I picked up a brochure for Prabhupada's Palace of Gold" near Wheeling, West Virginia, which must be within a reasonable driving distance of Pittsburgh. I had never heard of THIS "Taj Mahal!" The brochure pictures an enormous-looking palace and other buildings surrounded by highly decorated stone walls.
Tours take you into the "palatial splendor" of 10 elaborately decorated rooms, 31 stained-glass windows, murals, antique crystal chandeliers, marble floors and walls (52 types of marble!!!), intricately painted ceilings and walls, paintings, carved teakwood furniture, and rich fabrics. The centerpiece MUST be the 4,200 piece crystal dome! Outside, the palace has its own exquisite gardens and fountains. (click on photos to see more detailed view.)
It's difficult to believe, but construction on the palace was begun only in 1973, and amazingly has been built entirely by "monastic volunteers!" The palace is considered a memorial to Srila Prabhupada "the world's most prolfic exponent of Eastern arts and culture." The brochure does not expound any further on the person or persons involved. It is a mystery worth exploring however!
Escorted tours are available year-round: April - August 10:00am to 8:00pm;
September - March: 10:00am to 5:00pm. A gift shop and cafe are available for guests.
Rd 1 NBU# 23, Moundsville, West Virginia
- Castles and Palaces
Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater"
If you know in advance that you'll be visiting the Pittsburgh area and you're an "organic" or modernist architecture fan, you may want to make reservations to see one of celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most celebrated works: the house known as "Fallingwater."
Wright designed the house named "Fallingwater" for EdgarJ. Kaufmann and family, owners of a Pittsburgh department store. One of the most significant features of the house, which was completed in 1939, is the fact that it was built over a waterfall. Built of sandstone quarried on the property, the house is cantilvered over the water.
The portion of Wright's work which has fascintated me the most, are his "built-ins" or furniture and amenities that are actually part of the architectural structure and not separate pieces. His work with wood, stone and particularly designed glass and ceramics hold a certain amount of appeal for me as well.
Fallingwater seems to look like sandstone trays holding glass compartments at different levels and intersected by beautiful stacked-stone walls and beautiful windows perched above the rocky waterfall and surrounded by curtains of leafy forest. My favorite time to visit would definitely be fall when the leaves are changing colors.
Hard to believe, but Fallingwater was only the Kaufmann's weekend home from 1937 til 1963 when Mr. Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. , "entrusted" the home to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Considered by some to be the most famous private home in America, it is said to be the only major work of Frank Lloyd Wright to "come to the public domain with its setting, original furnishings and artwork intact." Fallingwater was named a Commonwealth treasure in 2000 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Several different tours are available from 1-hour (no photography permitted on this tour) to a more indepth 2-hour tour, or tours of the grounds only. Ultimate tours include brunch/lunch on a private terrace (must be quite special!!). To ensure admission, advance ticket purchases and reservations are required (they suggest 2 weeks in advance!). Purchase tickets online or call the reservations office. Ticket prices run from $16 for the 1-hour tour up to $100 for the "Sunset and Brunch" (you'd think it'd be sunset and dinner!). Children ages 6 - 12 are $10 (2008 prices).
The Visitor's Center has not only a shop but a cafe which serves soups, sandwiches, daily specials (entrees) and desserts.
Fallingwater is located on PA Route 381 between the villages of Mill Run and Ohiopyle and driving directions are listed on the website. (We determined that Fallingwater had to be 1 - 1 1/2 hrs. from Pittsburgh).
Clayton - The Frick Family's Mansion
Clayton is a historic home located in the Point Breeze neighborhood of eastern Pittsburgh. Clayton was built in the 1870s and bought by Henry Frick, the steel industry tycoon, in 1882. The Frick family lived in the house from 1883 until 1905, when they moved to New York City. Afetr that, their daughter lived in the house for decades. It became a museum in 1990 after her death.
What makes Clayton different from many historic houses is that almost all of the furniture and art is original. When the Fricks moved from Pittsburgh, they left the house's furnishings in place for their daughter, who made almost no significant changes or alterations. The artwork in the house is impressive, and includes a Monet, a Gainsborough, and a Rousseau.
You can only enter Clayton as part of a guided tour, which needs to be booked in advance. The tours last for approximately an hour and cover the history of the house and the Frick family, as well as details about its furnishings and architecture.
Adjacent to Clayton are two small museums run by the same foundation. The first is a museum of antique coaches and automobiles, many of which were owned by the Frick family. The second is an art museum that feautres paintings from the Frick family's collection. The museum is small, but the collection is of very high quality. One room features religious art from the 1300s and 1400s. The other room features paintings from the 1500s through the 1800s. There are also a number of beautiful tapestries in the museum's central hall.
[photos to come]
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Erskine Covered Bridge - on PA-WV border
Erskine covered bridge in Washington County was built in 1845 by William Gordon. The red, box-like bridge is just 39 feet long and about 12 feet wide, and it rattles like a baby's toy as you drive across! The bridge, spanning Middle Wheeling Creek, was just refurbished in 2006.
It stands just one tenths of a mile from the West Virginia border, so it is the westernmost bridge in PA and the oldest bridge in the county.
Pennsylvania has 197 covered bridges still standing, and there are 28 remaining covered bridges in Washington and Greene counties.
To get to Erskine Covered Bridge, take I-70 west from Pittsburgh. Take exit 1 just before the WVa border and go south on Old Brick Road. After about 2 miles, turn right on State Route 3018/Middle Creek Road. Go about one mile and the bridge will appear on your left at the entrance to Erskine Road.
Three Rivers Heritage Trail - Strip District Trail
The Strip District Trail runs along the southshore of the Allegheny River from it's juncture with the Monongehla River, east, 1 1/2 miles to 21st street. Another half mile is being developed. Along the route, you'll pass under the Three Sisters (6th, 7th, and 9th Street) bridges.
You'll have a view of the northshore, where the old Trinity Cathedral is visible and PNC Park.
- Hiking and Walking
Three Rivers Heritage Trail - South Side Trail
The Three Rivers Heritage Trails - South Side Trail runs along the southshore of the Monongahela River from it's junction with the Allegheny River to 3 miles up river. Here, it joins the Baldwin Borough Trail for another 2 miles. The western end is located at the Duquesne Incline, past the Monongahela Incline and Station Square.
Across the river to the north is downtown Pittsburgh.
- Hiking and Walking
Three Rivers Heritage Trail - North Shore
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a combination of four trails, along the riverfront. The North Shore Trail is along the northshore of the Ohio River from 3 miles below (west of) the point between the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers to 4 miles above the junction along the north side of the Allegheny River.
- Hiking and Walking
The Adventurer's Adventure Club
The D4DR Club is a social club like no other.
Geared at those individuals that are willing to go on vacation to that far flung, war torn country or the guy who is wiling to risk his life by bungee jumping inside a cave....
They come from all walks of life. Men and women of all denominations and races, their common denominator is an elongated D4DR gene.
The D4DR is a gene at the end of chromosome 11. We all have it, but when it is mutant or elongated, it causes that person to seekout high stimulation via adventure travel or extreme sports.
For the first time, we have managed to bring together a unique niche within our society, filling a vacuum which laid dormant for years.
Just weeks after our site was launched it had already seen an amazing response. Over 2500 visitors and 100 email requests came in soon after its launch.
Why do people join the club? Some join to have a forum where they can interact with others like them, others want to take advantage of the club benefits and some want to advance the research on the D4DR gene.
According to a 1999 Time Magazine article, people living today do not encounter danger on a daily basis as they did centuries ago. This has caused people to search out and take risks on their own to satisfy this urge.
Either way, the club has definitely tapped into something which many of us could just not put our finger on previously.
As the site's home page states, "if you've got the D4DR gene, no need to do genetic testing, you probably know it!"
Also check out this recently published article:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
History and learning doesn't have to be boring!! This building was formerly the Chautauqua Lake Ice Company building, and is located in the Strip District (look in Must See section for more about this fun area). It has been associated with the Smithsonian Institution since 2000. Devoted to the history and heritage of Western Pennsylvania, the History Center is a 160,000-square-foot museum and research facility, which is about to grow by roughly 40,000 square feet when its five-story addition opens in 2004. There are both permanent and travelling exhibits as well as Kidsburgh and Discovery Place, especially for kids.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Clayton is the name of Henry Clay Frick's late-Victorian home here in Pittsburgh. It was Henry Clay Frick’s first home as a married man and the chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company; it now houses the Frick Art and Historical Center. There are over 5 acres of lawns and gardens and various buildings. The house was home to Helen Clay Frick, Henry's third child until the 1980s when she died. Many of the original furnishings, including their purchase receipts still remain. A fascinating look into the Victorian era!
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Forbes Field Site -- former home of the Pirates
Check out the former location of Forbes Field, now located on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Home plate still sits in its original location, enclosed under plexiglas in the main hallway in Posvar Hall (formerly known as the "Forbes Quadrangle"). This building is just across the street from the Cathedral of Learning.
Inside Posvar take a look at the home plate that was actually used in the final game as well as the famous print from Life magazine of the students watching the World Series from the top of the Cathedral of Learning (the print is framed with a letter signed by Bill Mazeroski).
Just in front of Posvar Hall you call follow the line of the old left field wall--now just a double row of red brick--and see the plaque marking the exact spot where Mazeroski's home run left the park in game 7 to win the series over the still-hated Yankees.
Around the side of Posvar is Roberto Clemente Drive and a stretch of the original Forbes Field left-center field wall. A sign at this location reads,
"FORBES FIELD -- The first all steel and concrete ballpark in the nation, Forbes Field was home to the Pirates, site of four World Series in 1909, 1925, 1927, & 1960 and two All-Star games. Hosted the Homestead Grays, Steelers, and Pitt Panthers, as well as political rallies and boxing matches. Site of Bill Mazeroski's game seven, ninth inning, World Series winning home run on October 13, 1960 and Babe Ruth's last 3 home runs. Damaged by fire, razed 1972."
Other historical baseball sites in the Pittsburgh area include the site of Three Rivers Stadium and Exhibition Park on the North Shore, the Pittsburgh Crawfords' former home in the Hill District, the Western PA Sports Museum in the Strip District, Josh Gibson's gravesite in Lawrenceville, Honus Wagner's birthplace in Carnegie, and finally Donora--birthplace of Ken Griffey, Sr, Ken Griffey, Jr, and Stan Musial.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Freedom Corner - Hill District
Freedom Corner was created in 2002 as the city's civil rights memorial. The circular site's stone carvings and engraved names were built with some $700,000 in community donations. The circle of names is comprised of local residents, both black and white, who led Pittsburgh's civil rights and human rights movements. In 2008 the Urban Redevelopment Authority transferred the memorial and its surround land to the city of Pittsburgh.
This corner, located at Centre and Crawford, has long been a local Pittsburgh landmark. From here marches for civil rights and women's rights, as well as anti-war protests began here. In 1963 Pittsburghers caught buses here when they went to March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where they heard Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.
Across the street is St. Benedict the Moor Church. The statue atop the church, though in a Jesus pose, is not a black Jesus. Rather it is a statue of St. Benedict the Moor, who was also known as Benedict the Black.
Historic St. Nicholas Church - Rt 28, North Shore
St. Nicholas Church, squeezed alongside a narrow stretch of Rt 28 on Pittsburgh's North Shore, dates back to 1900 and is considered the first Croatian Catholic Church in the United States. In 1921 the entire church was moved 20 feet back away from the road in order to build the first Allegheny Valley Expressway. After 104 years of continuous use, the church merged with another Croatian Church in nearby Millvale and closed.
Around 1995 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation made plans to expand congested Route 28 in this area, which included buying St. Nicholas' and demolishing it. Local historians and preservationists lobbies PennDOT to save the church, and after a three-year delay, the state finally decided to route the expanded road around the historic building. Now, unfortunately, the Catholic Church has abandoned the structure and no one is willing to offer enough money to purchase it. A local Croatian offered a small amount to buy the structure and transform it into a museum, but the Church wanted much more. Now PennDOT will build the highway around the structure, and it will probably crumble into ruin anyway.
In late 2009 the Lamar Company, which owns thousands of billboards nationwide, announced it was finalizing plans to buy the facility. It is still unknown if they will attempt to preserve or demolish the church.
A plaque on the face of the church reads
St. Nicholas R. C. Church
F. C. Sauer, Architect
Pittsburgh History &
Another sign that, until 2007, arched over the front entrance, flanked by USA and Croatian shields, read:
First Croatian Roman Catholic Church in America
Established A.D. 1894
Mother Croatian Parish
East Liberty's Cathedral of Hope
The huge, Gothic Cathedral of Hope is part of East Liberty Presbyterian Church. The original church on this site was constructed in 1819, but the present structure is the 5th church here and was built from 1932 to 1935. The money for construction was provided by Richard B. Mellon, son of the founder of Mellon Bank, Thomas Alexander Mellon, both of whom who lived here in East Liberty.
The first white settlers in the area known as East Liberty were farmers during the time of the American Revolution; one of the first families was the Negleys. The village of East Liberty was established around 1816, and in 1843 Thomas Mellon married Sara Jane Negley. Mellon helped develop the area and its transportation infrastructure making East Liberty a thriving market hub, using Negley money and Negley land. In 1868 the City of Pittsburgh annexed East Liberty as the city's expansion continued.
In the 1960s East Liberty began an abrupt decline when the city destroyed many of the old shops to create an outdoor pedestrian marketplace in an effort to compete with the malls. The city also built several huge low-income housing projects in East Liberty as a place to house the black community that was uprooted when the Civic Arena was constructed. Unfortunately the moves backfired and the market area was abandoned by shoppers, and crime increased.
The neighborhood slowly began to return to its former status as a market center when Mellon Bank started a non-profit group called East Liberty Development, Inc, which invested heavily in redevelopment of the area. The large housing projects were finally torn down and many of the remaining historic buildings were restored. Large national retailers were lured to the area, where they thrived, drawing even more business.
So, the area of East Liberty was originally owned by the Negley's, Thomas Mellon used Negley money to gain his own wealth and develop East Liberty, and Mellon's own bank later restored the area to its former glory. Amazing how things like this go full circle.
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