Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Top Destination Goes on the Rise
by Barbara Barton Sloane
Once a smoky city of heavy industry where the skies were darkened with soot at midday, Pittsburgh has emerged as a post-industrial city committed to sustainability, green building, and new urbanism. Creative Pittsburghers have redefined the city’s economy through technology, design, and adaptive reuse.
Known both as “Steel City” for its more than 300 steel-related businesses and as “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges, today art and culture are engines of change in Pittsburgh. The city’s commitment to the arts, paired with internationally-acknowledged sustainable practices, are among the reasons Pittsburgh is recognized as one of the world’s best places to live and visit. In fact, Travel + Leisure has named the city one of the best places to travel in 2016, Zagat has rated it the nation’s No. #1 food city, and TripAdvisor calls it one of the top destinations on the rise. Worth checking out, I’d say.
Among this city’s biggest draws: outstanding Attractions, Amenities, Award-winning restaurants, world-class Accommodations, and Affordability. Ooops – one more – Andy! (Warhol, that is), Pittsburgh’s very own son, famous for way more than just 15 minutes.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Warhol’s unorthodox and unique style of art, the Andy Warhol Museum merits a visit. It is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and on its seven floors there are drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture, film and video, as well as an extensive archive of ephemera, source material, and other documents from the artist’s life.
The Warhol Museum also features work by other artists, performances, special exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, and concerts. I was glad to have the chance to see the much talked-about exhibit, Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei , developed in conjunction with the National Gallery of Victoria. With the participation of Mr. Ai, it explores the significant influence of these two artists on modern and contemporary life, focusing on the parallels and points of difference between their works. Warhol represents 20th century modernity and the “American century,” while Ai Weiwei represents life in the 21st century and what has been called the “Chinese century” to come.
These Shoes Are Made For Gawkin’
Another museum with a provocative exhibit is The Frick Pittsburgh. The fashionista in me was crestfallen to have missed Killer Heels (The art of the high-heeled shoe) when it opened at the Brooklyn Museum but, happy day, I was able to catch it at the Frick. The exhibit is an astonishing selection of nearly 150 historic and contemporary heels on loan from designers, the Brooklyn’s costume collection, the Bata Shoe Museum, and others.
Among the many designers represented were Manolo Blahnik, Dior, Fendi, and even Zaha Hadid. I was enchanted by the 18th century Italian shoes with the then popular curved “Louis” heel named for Louis XV and a tiny 19th century cotton and silk embroidered Manchu platform shoe from China. Celine’s mink-covered pump was a hoot and the black leather platform bootie with an 8-inch heel designed by Rem Koolhaas for Lady Gaga was….well….beyond.
Following on the (high) heels of the Frick exhibit, it was entirely appropriate that I next visited the towering, elevated site of the Duquesne Incline that boasts “139 years and climbing.” At the top of Mt. Washington there’s a cable car station with finely restored cars used by commuters since 1877. At this lofty perch one can experience the impressive Pittsburgh skyline and then smoothly descend to earth – up close and personal with the bustle and beauty of Pittsburgh today.
Gilt & Glamour of Yesteryear
However, the Pittsburgh of early 20th century was pretty darn awe-inspiring, as well. The Frick Art & Historical Center is located on five acres of beautifully landscaped lawns and gardens. I toured Clayton, the meticulously restored home of the Henry Clay Frick family, with an inside view of day-to-day life at the turn of the 20th century and a stunning array of decorative arts, of which more than 90% are original! A superb way to enjoy the grounds of the Frick is at one of their Summer Fridays. Through September 2 there are free performances in the gardens with such diverse programs as Ballet, Food Trucks, a Dance Party and the rapper Shad Ali. Isn’t summer swell?
Pittsburgh is Kidsburgh!
There are a host of fun-filled attractions in this city to make Kidsburgh the ultimate destination for family adventure. You’ll have plenty of options to entertain kids; here are just a few:
At the Carnegie Science Center, the kids can become a human yo-yo ( Highmark SportsWorks); and they can make it ‘rain’ in the water table or journey to the stars (Buhl Planetarium.)
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the kids (and you) can ink your own silkscreen in The Studio and build and tinker with old and new technologies, and in Waterplay, pump and move water in all directions. Featuring 7 theme areas of fun, including storybook Forest and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,Idlewild & SoakZone Park has been voted “Best Kids’ Park in the World” by Amusement Today Magazine and “Best Park for Families” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. The Zone has something for everyone.
If You Go
Embassy Sites by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown, www.embassysuites3.hilton.com
Andy Warhol Museum, www.warhol.org
Whitfield Restaurant, www.whitfieldpgh.com
The Frick Art Museum, www.thefrickpittsburgh.org
Tako Restaurant, www.takopgh.com
Duquesne Incline, www.duquesneincline.org
Carnegie Science Center, www.carnegiesciencecenter.org
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, www.pittsburghkids.org
Idlewild & Soakzone, www.laurelhighlands.org/idlewild