“Steel City” has been transforming itself, over recent years, from its image as the quintessential industrial, sterile, urban landscape, into a center for the Arts and Culture. The city is also kept forever young by the presence of several colleges in the downtown area, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University. The many excellent museums and cultural entertainment venues testify to the success of this transformation. When you add to this the dramatic and picturesque location of the city, it is apparent why Pittsburgh has become a significant tourist destination.
My walk begins at Point State Park, occupying the triangle of land at the confluence of the three rivers, the Monongahela, the Allegheny, and the Ohio, which have always made the city an important inland port. This was the site of Fort Pitt, an important outpost, fought over by British, French, and Colonial American forces. The only reminder of this fort is the Blockhouse. Nearby is the Fort Pitt Museum, which documents these early times in the region’s history. The centerpiece of the park is the fountain, America’s largest, up to 200 feet high. It is attractively lit at night.
Leave the park by walking west on Boulevard of the Allies, to Smithfield Street. Turn right to cross the Monongahela, on the Smithfield Bridge. You will see Station Square, on your right, after crossing. Walk across the square and then across Carson Street, to reach the Monongahela Incline, a funicular which carries visitors to the top of Mount Washington, for great views of the Golden Triangle and the city’s skyline.
Return to the downtown area, and wander through the Bessemer Center at Station Square, which includes a riverwalk with reminders of the city’s industrial history, and a lovely fountain show, synchronized to music.
Now, backtrack across the river and turn right on 6th Avenue, after passing Mellon Park, and then turn left on Grant Street. You will see the Post Office and Federal Building, en route. Turn left on 11th Street, and right on Penn Avenue, to visit the fascinating Senator John Heinz History Center, on the left, on Smallman Street.
Next, reverse direction, and walk west on Penn Avenue. Here, you have two options.
- To end the walking tour, continue westward on Penn Avenue, noticing Heinz Hall, a lovely restored concert hall, as you proceed. Penn Avenue will eventually return you to Point State Park, where you began.
- To extend the walk, turn right, to cross the Allegheny River, on the 7th Street Bridge. A museum dedicated to native son, Andy Warhol, is ahead, on the left, at #117 Sandusky Street.
Next, walk westward on Gen. Robinson Street, and turn left on Mazeroski Street, then right on N Shore Drive, to Allegheny Avenue, home of the Carnegie Science Center, one of the finest museums of its kind in the United States.
After your visit, retrace your steps, back across the 7th Street Bridge, and then turn right on Penn Avenue to return to Point State Park. Note that many of Pittsburgh’s major attractions are outside the city center, on the Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh campuses, so make an effort to check them out before you conclude your visit to this All-American city.