PPG Place

One more entry from Pittsburgh. Take a visit to PPG Place in downtown Pittsburgh. 
From the Smith Street Bridge - PPG Place is recognizable by the glass gothic influenced towers

From the Smithfield Street Bridge - PPG Place is recognizable by the glass gothic influenced towers

 
Pittsburgh Plate Glass

Pittsburgh Plate Glass

 PPG Place in Pittsburgh is home to six similar buildings, all constructed of glass.  I felt like I was in Gotham or some imaginary land, particuarly because all of the buildings reflect each other and it’s feels like you are in the center of a fortress.  I strolled around on a Saturday and found most everything to be closed, but the PPG website indicates that there is a skating rink in the winter and a fountain (where swimming is allowed!) in the summer.  Due to the lack of activity, I spent my time looking up and taking photographs.

A fortress, really.

A fortress, really.

These buildings are not historic, but the PPG Place website includes architectural information, if you are interested. True to Pittsburgh fashion, this neogothic collection of buildings is next to typically historic masonry buildings. One last juxtaposition because they are my favorite:
Glass & Masonry in Pittsburgh

Glass & Masonry in Pittsburgh

Monongahela Incline

Mount Washington sits right behind the hotel that is hosting the OHA 2008. To get to the top of Mount Washington, tourists and residents alike take the Monongahela Incline or the Duquesne Incline.  The history goes, as you can read in one of those links or on the signs in the incline station, workers in the coal industry lived on Mount Washington, “Coal Hill,” and had to travel up and down the mountain in order to get to and from work. However, the mountain lacked suitable roads, so they had to climb steep stairs. In 1870, the Monongahela Incline opened and now they could travel up and down in these rail cars.  The inclines fell into disrepair in the mid to late 1900s, but have since been refurbished and are now a part of every day life for some Pittsburgh residents. Yesterday, my colleague and I traveled up the incline ($2.50 round trip each) to take in the view of the Pittsburgh skyline at dusk. Here is the view:
Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

Pittsburgh from Mount Washington, another view

Pittsburgh from Mount Washington, another view

Downtown Pittsburgh Architecture

As I mentioned in yeserday’s post, the architecture of downtown Pittsburgh seems to contrast while complimenting itself. 
Grant Street

Grant Street

Downtown Pittsburgh

Downtown Pittsburgh

The oral history conference has been busy, interesting, and educational so far. There is so much to write about, but for now just enjoy a few photographs.  I’ll get back to you shortly with oral hisory conference highlights!

I looked up and wow!

I looked up and wow!

Pittsburgh First Impressions

Having never been to Pittsburgh, I didn’t know what to expect.  With a name like Pittsburgh, you can’t really blame me for not thinking about it. Granted, it’s not Pittsburgh’s fault that it has its name. The same can be said for other towns like Hicksville, NY (Long Island.)  However, I knew that the National Trust hosted its annual conference here a few years ago and the American Planning Association is also here this year.  With so many conferences in this city, I figured that it must be promising.
 

Flying into Pittsburgh provided quite the sight: all of a sudden the skyline appeared surrounded by beautiful fall colors and three rivers converging.  Immediately I was excited for Pittsburgh and a new city to explore; it’s been a while since I traveled to a city (as small town as that makes me sound.)

Pittsburgh skyline from Station Square

Pittsburgh skyline from Station Square

Since the conference does not begin until bright and early tomorrow morning, my colleague and I had some time to explore on foot.  So far we have found Pittsburgh to be an extremely walkable city.  It’s small enough to spend an afternoon walking, but big enough that your feet hurt by the end. 

The architecture in Pittsburgh offers a view into many periods of history.  From the beautiful Romanesque architecture up to obvious examples of urban renewal, which hit Pittsburgh in the mid 20th century, examples span all of history.  Urban renewal, in brief, was a mid 20th century process of redeveloping urban land, which often involved the demolition of many city blocks and neighborhoods.  More complicated than that, it’s important to know that it reshaped cities across the United States, with mixed results. The contrast of historic and urban renewal in Pittsburgh is unmistakable, yet complimentary in a architectural thought provoking way. 

We strolled around looking at the architecture and found the classic Pittsburgh lunch at Primanti Bros. in Market Square.  Chalk this up to culture because a restaurant isn’t exactly historic preservation, save for the fact that the restaurant began in 1934.  Little did we know that a Primanti sandwich is served with fries and cole slaw ON the sandwich.  It was the biggest/tallest sandwich that we have ever seen and would not fit in a normal human’s mouth. I extricated the fries before eating the sandwich (Rajin’ Cajun, which was delicious.)

Rajin' Cajun Sandwich

Rajin' Cajun Sandwich

 

Afterwards we crossed the Sixth Street Bridge to see PNC Park, where the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball.  

PNC Park

PNC Park

We continued on to the Andy Warhol Museum, which was recommended to us as a must-see.   We arrived with an hour and a half before the museum closed, which the guides told us was the “perfect” amount of time to spend in the museum.  The recommended visit begins in the introductory gallery and then heads to the seventh floor, from which you then head down to the sixth floor and so on.  We have all heard of Andy Warhol, but I never really knew much about him. The museum’s exhibits allowed for studying his artwork, reading about his life, or just perusing his artwork and related exhibits.

The walk to the Andy Warhol Museum

The walk to the Andy Warhol Museum

My favorite exhibit of Warhol’s artwork is called the Silver Clouds, which is on the fourth floor. The art is silver metallized plastic film pillow shaped balloons filled with helium that move about the room by the breeze created by fans.  Walking into art, almost living art, felt like walking into a playground in the sky. Of course, it’s all up for interpretation. It is truly something to see.

Pittsburgh is great. I’ve only seen a bit of it so far, and even with my tired feet, I like this city.  Walkable, diverse, friendly – I bet it just keeps getting better.  Tomorrow the oral history conference begins with a workshop in the morning. 

Oral History Association

Readers, lucky for you, I will be attending the Oral History Association Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA this week, beginning on Wednesday. Each day I’ll feature an interesting lecture I attended, a travel bit about Pittsburgh, or just something fun! If anyone else will be there, let me know!

-Kaitlin

p.s. this is post # 100. I feel like someone should get a prize. I’ll come up with a contest soon, by the way. Sneak peak: start thinking of a good slogan or catch phrase for Preservation in Pink … or something fun like that. Save your ideas for now!