Pittsburgh USA – The Renaissance City

Peter Morrell reports on its transition from industrial powerhouse to high tech hub

Blue sky over Pittsburgh

Blue sky over Pittsburgh

New Warhol Exterior (c)The Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh Entrance Photo Abby Warhola

New Warhol Exterior (c)The Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh Entrance Photo Abby Warhola

Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington with Duquesne Incline Station.

Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington with Duquesne Incline Station (c)Richard Nowitz

North Shore Nights Panorama (c)jp_diroll_photography

North Shore Nights Panorama (c)jp diroll photography

Sunday Morning On The River (c)Jim Whetstone2

Sunday Morning On The River (c)Jim Whetstone

Like many cities across the world Pittsburgh suffered from the decline in heavy industries in the late 20th century. The city had thrived as Andrew Carnegie built the steel plants that supplied America’s manufacturers but time moves on and it has gone through a dramatic high tech re-birth. Carnegie sold out in 1901 and spent the last 18 years of his life on philanthropic projects. One of his achievements, the founding of the city’s Carnegie University (now Carnegie Mellon), has been one of the key drivers in the emerging technology industry. For example the University’s Robotics Institute has been at the forefront of automation. Another two sons of the city who continue to exert great influence are Henry John Heinz and Andy Warhol.

As young talent has flooded into the city the demand for good food, culture and entertainment has been a step change that now sees Pittsburgh ranked as the U.S. Mainland’s most livable city. For UK travellers it is a relatively unknown destination, so here is a summary of what there is to see and do.


The Pittsburgh Cultural District has a cornucopia of attractions, the vibrant 14 block area plays host to the world renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performing in its elegant Heinz Hall home and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Dance Council and PNC Broadway Series all performing at the beautifully restored Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. From contemporary and classical plays performed at the O’Reilly Theatre to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.


For art lovers, there is a plethora of museums and galleries, among which is the highly acclaimed Andy Warhol Museum. The “art that dares” museum celebrates the life and work of one of Pop Art’s founding fathers. The Mattress Factory, hailed as one of the world’s best facilities for installation art, is always a surprise, whilst the Carnegie Museum of Art houses an outstanding collection of contemporary art, including film and video works,

European and American art from the seventeenth century to present and French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Furthermore, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s renovation houses the third largest collection of authentic dinosaur bones in the world.

Other outstanding collections include the Frick Art + Historical Center (once the residence of industrialist Henry Clay Frick), the Senator John Heinz History Center, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh (where 30 rooms depict Pittsburgh’s ethnic heritage) and a host of other museums.


Just outside of Pittsburgh are stunning examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s amazing architecture (including Fallingwater), the House on Kentuck Knob, and the Duncan House (one of six Wright-designed homes where it is actually possible to spend the night).

Food and Entertainment

Pittsburgh now is being called one of the United States’ top food cities and was named the No. 1 Food City in the U.S. by Zagat. In the Strip District, the clubs are hot, the food is spicy and dance floors pulse to the sounds of rock, blues, jazz and swing. The Strip is home to a plethora of fine dining and classic Pittsburgh cuisine is featured at numerous restaurants. By day, the Strip is alive with street vendors and shoppers who come out to buy the freshest breads, pastries, cheeses, coffees and ethnic specialties.

Ten Extra Things to Do in Pittsburgh
  1. Ride the 135-plus-year-old Duquesne Incline to the top of Mt. Washington; better yet, do it at night so you can admire the view, rated one of America’s most beautiful vistas.
  2. Spend some quiet time in Heinz Chapel amidst many of the tallest Tiffany stained-glass windows in the world.
  3. Check out the beautifully restored fountain at Point State Park, the only state park located in an urban environment.
  4. Marvel at the history of photography at the Photo Antiquities Museum on the North Side.
  5. Sip high tea in the lobby of the beautiful Omni William Penn Hotel, downtown Pittsburgh, or experience life in the 1920’s in the hotel’s Speakeasy.
  6. Trundle Manor, the headquarters of the Secret Society of Odd Acquisition, houses the finest and most insane collection of frightening and weird items on display in Pennsylvania.
  7. Stroll or stop to fish along 24 miles of downtown riverfront along Pittsburgh’s three rivers.
  8. Look up at art deco era artist Maxo Vanka’s murals painted on the walls of the St. Nicholas Croatian Church in Millvale.
  9. St. Anthony’s Chapel features a collection of the most religious relics outside of the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Located in Troy Hill/North Side.
  10. Bicycle Heaven boasts the largest collection of bikes and parts in the USA and features vintage bikes. It sits along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and caters to all bicycler’s needs.
Useful Facts

Fly from the UK on daily services via Detroit or Chicago

For more information go to www.visitpittsburgh.com