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 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).
"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 prolific 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.
Ticket prices as shown on website (2014):
"$8 adult - $6 child ages 6 - 18
$6 adult - $3 child Sep - Mar"
Address: 3759 McCreary's Ridge Road Moundsville, WV
Rd 1 NBU# 23, Moundsville, West Virginia
- Castles and Palaces
The Rolling Hills of Pennsylvania
Since most of our family live in the Pittsburgh area, we used to visit often from New Jersey, taking between 7 and 7 1/2 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to complete the trip. This beautiful vista shows what lies between New Jersey and Southwest Pennsylvania.
The countryside is just gorgeous in this part of the state, so I determined to get a photo on our last trip home. The route travels up and over several mountains dotted with verdant patches of forest, where deer, groundhogs and other wildlife are often seen grazing on the hillsides. You might even see Punxatawney Phil's cousin wandering through the brush!
- Road Trip
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
The building is the oldest authenticated structure west of the mountains. Built in 1764, it was a retreat from invading forces. It is the only building left from the original 18 acre site that was the start of Pittsburgh.
Most people pass by it without ever noticing it. It's at Point State Park near where Fort Pitt once stood.
- Historical Travel
Past and Present
The sculpture "The Reading Blacksmith" in Pittsburgh's North Side is a reminder of both where the 'burgh came from and where it is headed. Surprisingly enough, the piece was erected long before the downfall of the steel industry and the rise of education in this former steel town.
The statue was made by Danial French (the same man who did the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in DC) and was given to the people of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) by Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Carnegie was the benefactor of many libraries and museums throughout the North East and made his fortune in this city.
The Reading Blacksmith is outside the Allegheny Regional Library in the North Side.
Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie endowed four wonderful museums in Pittsburgh: the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History (recently named "One of the Best Dinosaur Collections" in the United States by Forbes.com), Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum.
The museum of Natural History features 15 actual dinosaur skeletons - not casts - of 14 different species from the Jurassic period.,
The museum of Art contains one of the world's most prestigious permanent collections of traditional and contemporary art, featuring French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings from Van Gogh, Monet and Degas.
And for you pop culture fans, the Andy Warhol is on the North Shore. It is the most comprehensive single-artist museum in the world.
The Science Center presents science in an entertaining way. It is recognized as the foremost science education facility for students, teachers and the general public in southwestern Pennsylvania.
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Allegheny County Courthouse
The Allegheny County Courthouse is probably downtown Pittsburgh's most unique building from an architectural perspective. When the county's previous courthouse was ruined by fire in 1882, Boston architect HH Richardson won the competition to construct the new facility. His building consisted of the main courthouse surrounding a large interior courtyard with a prison across the street and was completed in 1884. The prison and courthouse are connected with the "Bridge of Sighs" that was certainly inspired by Venice's 16th Century Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) which also connected that city's prison with the interrogation chambers in the palace.
The courthouse is located on Grant Street between Diamond Street and 5th Avenue.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
A tradition for generations...
One of the best things about Pittsburgh is it's sense of tradition and that line of thought of holding on to things from the past. (It's actually the cities greatest fault at the same time, but in this instance it works out as a good thing). Gus & Yaya's has been a Pittsburgh staple for years! And not just 4, 5, or 6. I am talking 40, 50...strike up a conversation and get the whole history yourself. ;-) (what...you want me to tell you EVERYTHING???)
Open only during spring and summer, Gus & Yaya's little stand is ready to serve anyone and everyone a nice cold snow cone with a wide variety of syrups. Anyone who is anyone knows about Gus & Yaya's...but not just everyone knows this secret. At any time you will find all sorts of people enjoying themselves out there...and once in a while...it has been rumored that certain Pittsburgh Steelers like to enjoy it as well.
Located on West Ohio Street in between Brighton Road and Ridge Avenue. Check the map out below...and just go where the star is.
1501 Penn Ave.
Wholey's is a locally popular place to buy mostly meat and seafood products. It has that old world sense to it. Butchers and all of that stuff you don't find too much anymore. Just another one of them Pittsburgh thangs baby. I have bought alligator and frog's legs here...just to name a few of the interesting things. They have a very wide selection of items. :-)
Gertrude Stein was born in 1874 in the former city of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, today part of Pittsburgh's North Side. She was the youngest of five children, born to educated German-Jewish immigrant parents, who made their significant wealth in the railroad and streetcar industry. Their house is just a block or two off Pittsburgh's Millionaires' Row, demonstrating the wealth Stein's father had accrued.
In her later life Gertrude Stein lived mostly in Paris, and she gained fame through her numerous novels, plays, stories and poems. She collected large numbers of early Picasso paintings, and it is said she was friends with Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso himself.
The plaque at the house where Gertrude Stein was born reads:
Birthplace of Gertrude Stein. In this house on February 3, 1874, Gertrude Stein was born to Daniel and Amelia Stein. Author, poet, feminist, playwright, and catalyst in the development of modern art and literature.
'In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. This is what makes America what it is.'
Allegheny West Historic District.
Millionaires Row--Allegheny West Historic District
In Pittsburgh's old days, industrial wealth was abundant. It is said that Pittsburgh had more millionaires than any other city in the world, and these wealthy families typically made their homes in the Allegheny West neighborhood, which came to be known as Millionaires Row. Today, the area still boasts numerous mansions, but the majority of the neighborhood was leveled to create the Community College of Allegheny County.
Allegheny West's first streets were laid out in the 1840s and the first houses appeared around 1846. In the 1890s the large millionaires' mansions appeared in this neighborhood. Ridge Avenue was always the area's "most fashionable" street and it was home to many who made their fortune in iron and steel. Today on Ridge Avenue you can still see the Byers-Lyons House, Moorhead House, William P. Snyder House, and Memorial Hall--once part of the Western Pennsylvania Theological Seminary.
Some of the most famous millionaires to call this area home included Henry W. Oliver, William Penn Snyder, Harmar Denny, and Alexander M. Byers. Henry W. Oliver was an Irish immigrant and Civil War veteran before forming the Oliver Iron and Steel Company. William Penn Snyder founded the Shenango Furnace Company in 1906. Harmar Denny was a congressman in the 1820s and 1830s, then a railroad magnate in the 1840s and 1850s. Alexander M. Byers made his fortune in steel after founding the AM Byers Company.
Way off the beaten path - Shanksville/Flight 93
On September 11th 2001, after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center Buildings in New York, then another slammed into the side of the Pentagon next to Washington, DC, a fourth plane was also in the hands of terrorists. The plane was a scheduled flight from Newark, NJ to San Francisco and had 44 people on board including the pilots, flight crew, passengers, and terrorists. The hijackers' most likely destination for this aircraft was the White House or the US Capitol Building where a joint session of Congress was underway. When the passengers learned from their loved ones on the ground about the fate of the other three aircraft and the thousands that were killed, they decided to not let the same happen to their airplane. After saying their goodbyes to their families, they decided to overrun the four terrorists in the cockpit and either kill them and land the plane, or force the plane into the ground. After they charged the cockpit and began to break down the door plane plane crashed at a high rate of speed in a field near Shanksville in south central PA.
A temporary memorial sits near the crash site. This area hosts 140,000 visitors a year who can view the crash site, look at photos of the deceased, leave trinkets or letters, or talk to the National Park Service guide in the small building. A permanent memorial is planned, and it should be opened on September 11th 2011.
I arrived on a cold day in November 2008. The wind was blowing very hard and the day's rain had turned to sleet, pelting my face and stinging my eyes. After wandering around the benches, plaques, and memorabilia, the security guard invited me into the small visitors center where the NPS guide spoke to me for about 45 minutes, mostly about the people who were on board the plane, the calls they made, and their families.
From Pittsburgh take the PA Turnpike East. From the PA Turnpike take US Rt 219 north, US 30 east, then Lambertsville Road south. The entrance is at Lambertsville Road and Skyline Road, near Shanksville PA. The route is well marked.
Historic Mexican War Streets & Old Allegheny City
Today the area known as the Mexican War Streets Historic District is located in Central Northside near West Park just uphill from PNC Park. A drive around these streets with names like Monterey, Buena Vista, and Palo Alto, reveals an older, poorer neighborhood sprinkled with some great historic architecture and funky buildings.
After the Mexican War, General William Robinson, Jr, returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh. His family owned farming land north of the Allegheny River across from the city, and in 1848 Robinson laid out the first streets here, then subdivided his land. In heroic commemoration of the recently finished war, Robinson named many of the new streets after battles (Resaca, Monterry, Palo Alto, and Buena Vista) as well as a significant hero of the war (Zachary Taylor). This new city just across from Pittsburgh was called Allegheny City and William Robinson became its mayor.
Most of the homes in this neighborhood were constructed in the 1850s and 1860s. The architecture styles here include Greek Revival, Italianate, French Second Empire, Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Classical Revival. By the 1920s many of the neighborhoods wealthier residents had begun to move to newer, more fashionable neighborhoods, and by the 1960s the decline of the neighborhood was so pronounced, it was considered for demolition. Fortunately neighborhood owners and residents rallied to save this historic community.
Screenworks 14 - Dollar Movie
If you love movies but don't want to spend too much money by going to a theater - this is a great place - Screenworks 14 is a relativly new theater (it was closed after renovation and later reopened as a Dollar-Movie-Theater) - they show movies that were just shown in "normal" movie theaters (meaning they're not older than 2 months) but only charge you 1 or 2 dollars!
If you come on I-79 it'll be EXIT Bridgeville, the movie theater will be on your right (Hickory Grade Road)
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