Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has transformed itself from a steel town to one of the US’s most cultured cities – twice voted most liveable city in America.
Served by US Airways and located halfway between New York and Chicago, Pittsburgh is accessible to visitors too.
The city’s many theatres, libraries, classic art collections and museum attractions were left to it by famous philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, Henry Phipps and Andrew Mellon, and local boy Andy Warhol also has a presence here.
Beyond the culture and history clients will find ample (tax-free) shopping and dining opportunities.
Trace the history of the home-grown Heinz empire at the Smithsonian-affiliated History Center, housed in a historic building. Don’t miss the guided Heinz 57 tour of strangely alluring memorabilia.
The museum also features extensive exhibits on the founding of western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh’s steel and glass industries and the state’s multi-ethnic heritage. There are also life-sized period homes and vintage vehicles to explore.
Around the corner are the so-called Saints in the Strip – two of Pittsburgh’s most historic churches. St Patrick’s has a beautiful garden and a piece of the Blarney Stone in its tower.
St Stanislaus Kostka, a legacy of Polish settlers, blends Romanesque, baroque and Byzantine influences. Its famous stained-glass windows were produced in Munich by the Bavarian Art Institute at today’s equivalent of $1 million.
Finally, visit the mile-long Strip District, where former steel mill and warehouse spaces have been reclaimed to support a bohemian street market.
From Warhol to Monet, from the Old Masters to the installations at the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh is flush with art.
Point Breeze, the magnificent 19th-century mansion of Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick, is now home to the Frick Art and Historical Centre – a five-and-a-half acre complex of museums and grounds.
The Warhol Museum houses almost 2,000 paintings, photos, prints and film clips. Among the archives are Andy Warhol’s ‘time capsules’ – boxed records of the artist’s day-to-day art dealings.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s work is also in evidence here – a scenic drive into the Laurel Highlands will bring you to his Fallingwater house, named Building of the Century by the American Institute of Architects.
Eating and drinking
Pittsburgh is home to the Big Mac – it was invented by franchisee Jim Delligatti in 1967. But don’t come for that. Instead, try Pierogies, delicious stuffed dumplings cooked in butter.
For diner-style food, try De Luca’s on the Strip, where queues snake around the block at the weekends. Go to the Caribbean-look Leaf and Bean cafe for great coffee or a spicy banana latte.
During the day a smorgasbord of fresh, ethnic produce spills onto the sidewalks of the Strip District. To sample it head to Bloomfield, dubbed Little Italy, or neighbouring Lawrenceville and Polish Hill – a melee of Italian, Irish and Polish restaurants.
Beer drinkers will love the Pittsburgh Brewing Company – one of the country’s oldest breweries – which has run tours since 1861.
For cosy bars, cafes, boutiques, dance clubs and music stores visit East Carson Street in trendy Southside. At the Monongahela River end is South Side Works, a 34-acre steel mill reborn as a retail, dining and entertainment complex.
Pittsburgh is one of America’s most child-friendly cities. Downtown is compact and served by a free trolley bus and there’s even a Children’s Museum, packed with interactive exhibits.
Kids can climb onboard a submarine at the Carnegie Science Centre and UPMC SportsWorks. They will also love the giant T-Rex at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Dinosaur Hall. A new Dinosaurs in their World exhibit opens in November.
Children are encouraged to run through the popular fountain at riverfront Bessemer Court. Popular chain restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe are also here, with plenty of al fresco seating.
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