5 Things I Will Always Remember About Pittsburgh

It's been one year since I visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I still have very vivid memories about this city, remarkable in many wa...

It's been one year since I visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I still have very vivid memories about this city, remarkable in many ways, and feel like I was there only yesterday. Great city indeed - glorious past, notable present and, clearly, a bright future. You can tell if a city is livable if you see people hanging out on weekday nights and weekends. The number of theatres, pubs, restaurants, galleries, museums and public art installations can also tell you something about the city and its residents. Speaking about the pubs - Pittsburg holds a world record for the highest number of pubs per capita. Unquestionably livable

1. Yellow Bridges.
If you're into bridges, like I am, you have to visit Pittsburgh. 
Old, new, steel, wooden, long, short, arch, suspension and beam bridges - there are 446 of them in the city in total. Pittsburg absolutely beat any possible record with the number of bridges, even Venice in Italy fell short. 
What's most noteworthy about some of those largest bridges is that they are all pained yellow. Well, more precisely, the colour is called "Aztec gold", it's just faded over the years to become yellow. 
The colour was chosen for a reason. All these bridges connect to the area in downtown Pittsburgh called "Golden Triangle" which apparently got its colour from the coat of arms of William Pitt from whom the city is bearing its name.
My absolute favourites are the "Three Sisters" - the bridges over the 6th, 7th and 9th streets. These suspension bridges spanning the Allegheny River somewhat resemble the Brooklyn Bridge in New York by style, but smaller and more delicate. 
However, they are actually the first self-anchored suspension bridges built in the US. According to Wikipedia, a self-anchored suspension bridge is a suspension bridge in which the main cables attach to the ends of the deck, rather than to the ground via large anchorages. The design is well-suited for construction atop elevated piers, or in areas of unstable soils where anchorages would be difficult to construct.

2. Steel.
Steel is both a blessing and a curse to Pittsburgh. A unique combination of its geography and richness on mineral resources resulted in Pittsburgh once becoming an epicenter of the world's steel industry. The steel from the city was used to build the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge and other famous landmarks.
Before the engineers built canals and railroads in the 19th century, rivers were the interstate highways and enabled commerce. The Ohio river through the Mississippi river to the Gulf of Mexico gave an easy access to the rest of the country and the world. Quite often, ships built in Pittsburgh were destined to Europe as traveling downriver was quick and smooth. 
When the railroads became a thing, Pittsburgh was ready to supply the highly requisite steel. 
If you think about the most polluted cities in the world, Beijing or Shanghai come to mind. Well, Pittsburgh circa 1945 was much much worse. Because of the steel production, the sky would often turn black by 9 o'clock in the morning. Living in the city became unbearable despite the money pouring like crazy. Luckily, it was the time when the city got its effective smog-control by-law and an imminent environmental catastrophe got diverted. 
But nothing "helped" Pittsburgh (and other glorified steel cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo) clear the sky more than the oil crisis of 1973 and the globalization. Steel was no longer in high demand as most of the steel manufacturing moved to emerging markets with cheaper labour.
The steel heritage is still visible across the city. The now trendy and hipster Strip District was once home to many factories and mills that got abandoned as the steel industry declined. 
My story would not be complete without mentioning Pittsburgh Steelers, an American football team that has won the most Super Bowls in the NFL. For those who don't know, Super Bowl is a kind of big deal in the US. By the way, a critically-acclaimed drama “Concussion” starring Will Smith and showing the other side of a coin was filmed in Pittsburgh. 

3. Hills and Steps.
Pittsburgh is a pretty hilly city. In fact, it has more hills that any other metropolitan area in the US.
If you think that the steepest street in the US is in San Francisco, you're wrong. It's right here - in Pittsburgh. Canton Street has a 37% grade (about 21 degrees). 
But if you combine the steepness with cobblestones or slick brick (which are plentiful in Pittsburgh), you're up to even more challenge, especially in winter.
Pittsburgh claims to have 712 sets of steps, twice as more than San Francisco. Cyclist love Pittsburgh for unlimited opportunities to challenge themselves and burn calories. 
One of the most iconic places in Pittsburgh is Duquesne Incline, a funicular that has been in operation since 1877. Old and slow, but very authentic. By the way, Fort Duquesne is an old French name of Pittsburgh, before it was conquered by the Americans in 1757.
At some point, Pittsburgh had as many as 17 inclines within the city limits. Only two remained today; the other one is called the Monongahela Incline.

4. Location and Weather.
Pittsburgh sits at the confluence of three rivers - Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. I already mentioned that before the engineers built canals and railroads in the 19th century, rivers were the interstate highways that drove trade and prosperity.
Well, guess what? Once built, the railroads and, later, interstate highways did bring this prosperity elsewhere, too. So here it is: Pittsburgh, in the middle of the Allegheny Mountain Range, far from other big cities.
To make things even more grim - it's raining or snowing for 151 days per year in Pittsburgh. The city gets on average 38 inches / 96 cm of rain annually, but 2018 and 2019 were even wetter than usual - with 50 inches / 127 cm of rain. More than in Seattle! 
I feel pretty lucky to have visited this city on such a sunny day.
Winters are not too cold, though mostly gloomy with gray skies. Not the best combination.

5. Art.
Crappy weather most certainly forced people to get inside and work on art.
Pittsburgh is on par with other big cities like New York or Chicago in terms of museums, galleries, theatres and gardens. 
The world's first museum of contemporary art, The Carnegie Museum of Art, calls Pittsburgh home.
Andy Warhol, the father of pop art (which is still a pretty popular mainstream art genre), was born and raised in Pittsburgh. 
First ever movie theatre in the US called Nickelodeon opened its doors in Pittsburgh. The list goes on and on.
We visited the Mattress Factory Museum, one of the city's most famous museums of modern art that, as they say, often pushes the boundaries of both an artist and a viewer. Pretty cool!
Don't miss out the Randyland, a place filled with brightly coloured, cheerful murals and odd artefacts.
Did you know that your favourite ketchup Heinz that holds 80% of the market share in Europe and 60% in the United States is headquartered in Pittsburgh? 

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