Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the steel city (pittsburgh, pa)

I made it to Pittsburgh by two on Thursday afternoon. It was my second time in Pennsylvania since my first at the very beginning of my trip and knowing this fact weirded me out like none other. Nevertheless, I was excited to see a nearby city that I'd only ever heard about and meet two fabulous bloggers.
I'm not sure from which neighborhood I came, but I do know that I drove into the Central Business District :). Otherwise known as downtown.
The weather was cool with periods of rain and clouds so I gave drove around, slightly lost, on my quest for a café with wi-fi.
Somehow I made my way over to the Strip District. The first thing that stood out to me about Pittsburgh was about how positively industrial it was. Sure, most cities are, and I suppose I was aware of this city's nicknames, but seeing the factories and warehouses really elicited memories of it's blue collar past.
That's not to say, of course, that the areas weren't visually appealing though. Beautiful buildings, like this cathedral, are also scattered throughout. And in the area I was in, so were numerous boutiques and marketplaces.
Eventually, I made my way to 21st Street Coffee & Tea. The somewhat over-priced coffee shop is locally-owned, founded in 2006, and focuses on by-the-cup quality coffee and tea that is directly sourced.
I joyfully settled into an upstairs nook with my delectable soy latté and got to work.
At some point in between there, I had to use the restroom. Normally I don't share such unnecessary details, but I found this "wash your hands" sign so incredibly clever that I couldn't help taking a picture of it, and as such, feel the need to explain where and why. Read it and giggle, please.

Afterwards, I ventured into the Heinz History Center. I spent about three hours there,  although I could've easily spent longer. There was oh so much to learn!
So, I took notes on a few of the more interesting facts. For one, the Lewis & Clark expedition began in Pitt. If you'll notice on the map, their route was very similar to the one I took east, in the opposite direction.
Furthermore, many things began in Pittsburgh, for instance: miner safety precautions, the Jehovah Witnesses movement, the first "human" robot, the World Series, America's Dream Highway (I-76), the first polio vaccine, Dr. Rogers, Heinz ketchup, the Silent Spring, the Big Mac, Mr. Yuck Stickers and Rosie the Riveter (first published on what would become my birthday, May 29, 1943).
Other exhibits looked back at Pittsburgh's cultural pasts with focuses on the Polish, Slovak, Italian, Jewish, Irish, German, and African-American influences.
Randomly, yet all the while interesting, there was also an exhibit on the French-Indian-American War. The written displays were in French, as well as English, so I had fun translating (and quietly reading aloud to practice my accent).
And last but not least, the Sports Museum. It was awesome. According to the exhibit, sports are central to city's identity and Pittsburgh's athletic success has been unmatched. It sounds biased but they did have examples to back it up :).
I suppose there's a reason some call the place, the City of Champions. 
Please also note that although I have little football knowledge, I may have officially became a Steelers fan for the rest of my life. Oops.
Dangerous things like that happen when you go to the Heinz History Center ;).
Like I said though, I really would've stayed longer. I didn't though because of one very special person: Rose
Her and I have "known" each other for quite some time in the blogosphere but it was our first time actually meeting. And what a great time it was.
Following a short introduction, we made our way to The Church Brew Works. Another blogger, Susan, was wonderful enough to join us for the bloggie meal too. I wish I would've remembered to take a group picture!
I had a seasonal beer and a Pittsburgh salad with salmon. Usually they come with grilled chicken, but they are always served with fries. It was news to me that you could opt for almost any salad to be topped with french fries in the city of Pittsburgh. Crazy cool and just one of the many things I learned that night. Dining with bloggers, especially local ones, is amazing.
After saying goodbye to Susan, Rose gave me a driving tour of the city that ended atop Mount Washington.
There were such beautiful views of the city! How we got there exactly, I have no idea, but I do know that we made our way through Lawrenceville and Oakland. The latter is where U.Pitt and many other colleges are located. For daylight photos, I suggest looking at Caitlin's visit to her alma mater :).
Then we had a drink at Brillobox, an artsy East Village-like bar, before heading to Belvedere's for their infamous 80's night. I had an absolute blast!
And yet I still woke up early the next morning to say goodbye to Rose, a lovely person, host, and blogging friend, and hit the road. Syracuse was my next and last road trip stop. It was time for homecoming...


  1. It was great getting to meet you! I'm glad you were able to get a little taste of Pittsburgh : )

  2. I was born in Pittsburgh, and from what i can remember, it was a great place to be!

  3. So glad you stayed! I had a blast when you were here. You took such great photos of the city too! :) And thank goodness I don't look too entirely sweaty in that pic :)

  4. BroccoliHut: Lucky you, I agree!

    Rose: I'm so glad. Thanks so much! And I told you so :). Hope to see you again sometime soon!

  5. You did so many wonderful Pittsburgh things! I have yet to go to Brillobox or that adorable cafe, but I'll definitely plan some mini expeditions soon. I love how you need a tourist to come to your city to remind you how many amazing things are on just about every street corner.

    And that downtown shot from the bridge is probably my favorite view ever. There's nothing like coming in from the airport and seeing that. It's when you know you're home.

  6. lookthroughspecs: I'm glad you think so! I totally know what you mean about discovering your home town with a tourist. And, I love that feeling :).


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