A drive through the city via Just Ducky amphibious boat turned out to be very informative, something we could not have achieved on our own. While the commentary by the guide gives many more less known facts, here are some details of the major attractions we were able to see:
Picture 1: Trinity Church dates back to the Penn's land grants of 1787 the church consists of Trinity Cathedral and Trinity Churchyard.
Picture 2: PNC Park is the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the city's Major League Baseball team. The ballpark is sponsored by the locally-based PNC Financial Services, which purchased the naming rights in 1998. PNC Park features a natural grass playing surface and seats 38,496 people for baseball. Funded in conjunction with Heinz Field, the $216 million park stands along the Allegheny River, on the North Shore of Pittsburgh with a view of Downtown Pittsburgh.
Picture 3: The Carnegie Science Center opened in 1991. It is the most visited museum in Pittsburgh. The attractions include the newly constructed Buhl Digital Dome, the Rangos Omnimax Theater, the Miniature Railroad & Village, the USS Requin (a World War II submarine) and roboworld™, touted as "the world's largest permanent robotics exhibit".
Picture 4: Heinz Field serves as the home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers American football teams. The stadium opened in 2001 and is named for locally based H. J. Heinz Company. The stadium stands along the Ohio River, on the Northside of Pittsburgh. The stadium was designed with the city of Pittsburgh's history of steel production in mind, which led to the inclusion of 12,000 tons of steel into the design.
Picture 5: Architectural beauty of the city include this man-made waterfall.
One of America's Top 10 Catholic Universities, Duquesne originally opened its doors in 1878. The campus is located on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Monongahela and the city, but its steep streets probably give drivers lots of trouble in the winter...
The 49 acre campus has 10,000 students, plus it has a campus in Harrisburg, PA, and another in Rome, Italy.
We reached the lower station of the Monongahela Incline, which is located near the Smithfield Street Bridge, by walking from Station Square.
Well, Monongahela is like a cable car that does not travel over the valleys horizontally, but that goes up the Mount Washington at an incline. And it is a three compartment three level cable car. The ten of us took the lowest level compartment to have the views of downtown Pittsburgh from all the height variations.
The Mon, as it is called by the locals, opened in 1870. It is the oldest and steepest incline in the United States, as well as the nation's oldest cable car operation.
The Monongahela Incline was consolidated into Port Authority of Allegheny County operations in 1964 and declared a historic structure by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in 1970. At present, it offers rides to tourists like us who wanted to just experience this new thing and also offers a convenient way for residents of Mt. Washington to get to downtown Pittsburgh.
Cash fares, passes and tickets are accepted as payment on the Monongahela incline.
$2.00 cash fare each way (roundtrip $2.50 with transfer valid for three hours)
$1.00 Child (age 6-11) or Disabled, cash fare each way (roundtrip $1.25, with transfer valid for three hours)
Monday through Saturday 5:30 a.m. to 12:45 a.m.
Sundays and Holidays 8:45 a.m. to Midnight
Our first visit at the Station Square was to the Fountain at Bessemer Court, next to the river. The fountain show enthralls the visitors with hundreds of multi-colored water jets soaring up to 40 feet in the air in a pattern that is choreographed to music. To us, it was dancing water, the like of which we had seen only once before - in Dubai during its shopping festival.
Unfortunately, due to rain, we were unable to see the Fountains in all their glory.
Close to the Fountains, there were kiosks selling stuff that could come handy anytime. The younger lot bought some stuff and fooled around the others.
Toronto has its Harbour Front, New York has South Street Seaport, Chicago has Navy Pier, and Pittsburgh has Station Square. But there are many more tourist attractions in and around Station Square than at any other places mentioned above.
We, an entourage of 10, reached Station Square's 52-acre riverfront complex after a difficult drive where we went off the directed route several times, primarily because the city's road climb up and down the hills a lot making the drive rather hard. The complex provided us with many activities to enjoy - Fountain at Bessemer Court (picture 1), the Grand Concourse where we dined (picture 2), Just Ducky Tours that we availed to learn about various attractions of Pittsburgh (picture 3), shopping that boasted old world charm in the setting of two restored railroad buildings (picture 4), and the 'Inclines' going up to Mt. Washington from just across the street (picture 5).
The Mattress Factory is a modern art museum in which the art is actually constructed and put together on site in the museum. The permanent interactive piece by Yayoi Kusama is a favorite of most visitors. Getting to walk into the art is so much fun!
Because the exhibits change often, there are sometimes features that are not very interesting and other times they have art that is truly spectacular! It's a good idea to check the website to see what will be showing when you arrive.
Don't forget that there is another building just a short walk away that is part of the museum! The exhibits here are often really interesting, and you certainly should get your money's worth!
Entry is $10 for adults and $7 for students.
The National Aviary is the largest aviary in the United States, home to birds from every continent! While there are exhibits of caged birds, many of the exhibits are open so that you are actually in the room among the animals! It is a fun experience! One of the highlights of the aviary is getting the chance to feed bugs to some of the birds, which is free! Feeding the lories is fun, too, but that costs extra. Demonstrations, feedings, and other interaction and informative events occur everyday throughout the day, and they are all well worth making the effort to attend! It is evident that a lot of thought was put into the design and organization of the aviary, and they have definitely succeeded at maximizing interactiveness and creating great habitats for the birds!
Entrance is $12 for adults.
The Senator John Heinz History Center is a great place to learn about Pittsburgh and some of the important figures, inventions, and icons from Pittsburgh, such as Mister Rogers, Mr. Yuck, and the local dialect "Pittsburghese". It is in association with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., so the changing exhibits are always great!
The museum takes you through the history of the area from the Native Americans, to the settlers, its days as a steel town, and on to the modern times. One of my favorite exhibits, and the one the museum is named after, is the Heinz exhibit on the 5th floor, which features old Heinz Ketchup ads, memorabilia, and Heinz ads from other countries!
The museum is also connected to the Sport Museum, which is interesting for those who love sports.
Entrance is $10 for adults and $5 for students with IDs.
The American Cancer Society will be holding its 4th annual Bike-A-Thon on Sunday, August 8, 2010. There are 5, 25, 40, and 75-mile routes available, all beginnig and ending at SouthSide Works--Town Square. Participants can register in teams and ride together.
The event is a wonderful way to celebrate cancer survivors or remember victims by riding in their name. SouthSide Works is a great gatering place for the endpoint celebration, where participants can come together and celebrate their accomplishment.
Pittsburgh is the home of the National Aviary, a zoo devoted exclusiely to birds. It is housed in a complex of buildings that was originally Pittsburgh's plant conservatory. In 1952, birds were added to the conservatory. A number of years later, the conservatory moved to a new, larger facility, and the old facility was scheduled to be shut down and demolished. However, a number of local citizens and businesses raised enough money to keep the former conservatory site open as an aviary.
The Aviary has two large main halls, in which the birds fly freely, as well as a number of smaller exhibits featuring specific bird species. A large number of bird species is represented , including birds from every continent but Antarctica (they have penguins, but from Africa). There are a number of interactive presentations throughout the day that are very educational and kid-friendly.
In addition to its tourist business, the Aviary also participates in breeding programs to sustain endangered bird species. It currently has eight endangered species among its population of birds.
Trundle Manor, convienently located right off the Parkway in Swissvale, is the home of the Secret Society of Odd Acquisition, as well as a Wunderkammer/House of Oddities. A fun, quirky "tourist trap" destination, you will find one of the most bizarre collections in the country featuring dead things in jars, vintage taxidermy, antique medical devices, rusty cleavers and other weaponry, coffins, Steampunk sculptures, various types of artwork, and even a Singing Tumor and Dancing Midget! You won't want to miss this!
Also an artists' residence, tours are by appointment only. Call 412-916-5544.
Tours are free, but the owner/collector/head of the SSOA, Mr. ARM, asks for a donation (which could include dead or weird things!)
First of all, No, The Mattress Factory does not sell mattresses. The Mattress Factory (MF) is a museum of contemporary art, though that doesn't even come close to describing this one-of-a-kind museum. Some of the exhibits take up entire rooms, making it literally "Art You Can Get Into." Even before you get into the museum, there are exhibits outside that you won't even know you are walking through! Everyone should definitely give MF a try, even if you don't like contemporary art.
Some of my favorite exhibits: a completely dark room - you have to sit in it for 15 minutes to actually see the exhibit; a room covered in mirrors, as seen in my first photo; and so many more!
The museum is closed on Mondays, and closes at 5pm every day. Be wary of that. Also a good tip for foursquare users - if you show that you've checked in at MF, they'll give you a dollar off admission!
While in Pittsburgh its fun to take a ride on one or two of its inclined railroads. There is a charge of $2.00 which is used to fund the private owned historic railroads. You get an excellent view of the city while climbing the hillside inside the wooden railroad cars. The cars date back to the 1870 and have been historically restored. Take a step back in time and ride the inclined railroads while in Pittsburgh.
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the History Center is the largest history museum in Pennsylvania. The 275,000 sq. ft. museum features six floors of long-term and changing exhibition space, including the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, a dynamic museum-within-a-museum, and the Library & Archives, an extensive scholarly resource documenting 250 years of life in Western Pennsylvania.
The History Center presents the most compelling stories from American history with a Western Pennsylvania connection, all in an interactive environment perfect for visitors of every age!
The History Center's exhibits and Museum Shop are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The History Center is closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
The Library & Archives, located on the History Center's sixth floor, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Other hours are by appointment.
Senior Citizens (62+): $9.00
Students with a valid school ID: $5.00
Children ages 4-17: $5.00
Children age 3 and under: Free
History Center Members: Free
All rates include admission to the History Center, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, and the Library & Archives.
Admission to the Library & Archives is free for researchers with valid school ID including: students, teachers, and staff.
The Mexican War Street neighborhood hosts a Garden House Tour each September that welcomes the public to this Victorian-era district. I had the pleasure of touring these homes several times and highly recommend it to those living nearby or visiting the city at this time.
This area was first plotted out by General William Robinson, Jr. following the Mexican American War. In light of the military connection, streets were named after the war's battles: Buena Vista, Monterey, Resaca, Palo Alto and after it's military leaders, Taylor, Sherman and Jackson. This land was originally given to his father, in lieu of payment for services rendered during the Revolutionary War.
At first this area was used as 'outlots' on which to graze horses, raise pigs, chickens or cows. When the homeowners received their deeds, they acquired the grazing rights to Allegheny Commons.
Tenants maintaining the livestock built the first homes in the alleys of this neighborhood. As the district developed, the Italianate, Gothic Revival, Richardson Romanesque, Empire and Queen Anne style of architecture appeared.
As the car became a popular mode of transportation in the 1920's, residents began moving out of the city. Soon the single family homes became rooming houses or apartments and the area declined.
Then in the 1960's, some residents along with the Pittsburgh Historical & Landmark Foundation and The Mexican War Street Society began a drive to restore the area. For more info. on the history of this area or on the House Tour, go to www.mexicanwarstreets.org.
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