Visiting a city like Pittsburgh is a very tangible experience. The exposure this place rubs off on anyone visiting there is a wee bit special. Riding a Greyhound bus into the city on 376, one enters a tunnel in a suburban area and exit it right into the middle of Downtown Pittsburgh. The effect is quite astounding really. The city's architecture is classic America: a slew of artistic skyscrapers clustered into the middle of a financial district downtown, a hotch-potch of boulevards swathed with restaurants of varying levels of fanciness, suburban residential neighborhoods, and a vintage University or two. This makes it one of several truly original destinations in the USA for folks who would like to experience an old fashioned American city.
My visit was in Summer 2014, sort of my first self-sponsored one after I'd started Graduate school in Ohio. Strolling through Downtown Pittsburgh, one can stumble upon some thoroughly interesting architecture, harking back to the days when steel-heavy construction that essentially gunned for majesty was in vogue. This can also be seen in the several bridges that span the rivers flowing through here. Amidst these Concrete and Steel behemoths, one can find charming and funny street art ranging from murals to sculptures and everything in between. It probably helps that the legendary Andy Warhol hails from this city; throwing enough inspiration onto the several artists who call this city home. There's also a Museum in his honor, which I didn't quite have the time in my itinerary to visit.
Check out more pictures from my visit at 500px.
Hopping on to a bus elsewhere into town, we found ourselves on the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Mellon University. Where one ends and the other begins is hard to discern for the unsuspecting tourist; both campuses are swathed by buildings featuring a quaint mix of classic and modern architectural styles. The centerpiece of it all though, is the magnificent Cathedral of Learning standing tall and proud in the middle of the University of Pittsburgh. The structure, with its sand stone style facades, almost feels like a painting adorning the backdrop against clear blue skies, no matter where you stand in the two campuses. The structure also surprises with Hogwarts reminiscent chambers and hallways in the lower levels.
To gain some perspective of all this, the city's hilly terrain offers for some pretty catchy vantage points - such as the one from Mt. Washington. One could drive to the several restaurants or pubs in the region and catch a gorgeous view of Downtown Pittsburgh and the rivers Allegheny and Monongahela joining to form the Ohio river. But the more charming way to climb uphill is to take the rickety old train/tram that runs up the Duquesne Incline. We finished our day's visit to this intriguing city at the Point State Park, reflecting on what other layers this city had to offer during future visits. Because, although Pittsburgh today might seem mostly a remnant of past glories, but at the seems and beneath them, there's a lot more going for it than one visit can unearth.