Pittsburgh, PA: The View from Mount Washington


I decided to begin this trip in one of my favorite towns, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  And one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh is Mount Washington.

The view from atop the mountain is simply beautiful, and may come as a surprise to anyone who pictures the ‘burgh as a soot-covered steel town.  At one time (perhaps 50 years ago), that image was accurate, but the city has cleaned itself up quite nicely.

All that steel makes for some beautiful buildings, but Pittsburgh’s bridges are even more distinctive.  Since the city’s downtown is wedged between the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, numerous steel spans are a necessity.

Mt. Washington gives visitors a unique view of a city skyline.  While in most cities, you must be content to look upat the skyline, here you can look out and down upon it.  There are even a pair of concrete observation decks that hang over the edge of the hillside, providing an unobstructed view.

Reaching Mt. Washington can be either complicated or easy, depending on how you choose to get there. For the easy way, cross the Monongahela River and park at Station Square. This shopping complex also offers access to one of the city’s two inclines–railroads that take you straight up the side of the mountain. Now here’s the more difficult route. From I-279, take the last exit before the tunnel (US 19 Truck Rte.). Turn Left on Woodruff Street, then veer to the left on Merrimac Street. As you crest the hill, take a right on Grandview Avenue and start hunting for a parking spot!

Pittsburgh converted its fleet of mid-20th century streetcars to a modern system, that runs on the surface in the suburbs, and underground in the city.  If you take the Monongahela Incline from Mt. Washington to Station Square, you’ll be able to hop onto one of the railcars for a quick ride downtown.

Pittsburgh’s rail system is known to locals as the “T”.  If you want to navigate the system like a native of the ‘burgh, you may want to read up on it, by visiting the Port Authority’s website.

I tried to be a little creative, while riding at the rear of the “T”.  Rush hour wasn’t the best time, though: I received plenty of stares.

Take the “T” all the way to the end of the line, and you’re just a few blocks away from Point State Park, the place where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers converge, to form the Ohio.

Cloudy weather left me less than inspired to take photographs here.  However, the point can be a beautiful place to visit on a sunny day, especially when the large fountain is flowing.

I took these pictures during a visit to Pittsburgh a few years ago.  If you’re wondering why there’s a red plastic mug in the shots, then you’ll have to visit my other website, www.bigredmug.com

There are plenty more places you shouldn’t miss in Pittsburgh.  If you love classic theme parks, be sure to visit Kennywood.  Several communities along the “T” route are a real treat to visit, like Mount Lebanon.  And if you want a good pizza, drive to downtown Bridgeville (south of the city on I-79) and place your order at Burgh’s Pizza and Wing House.

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.

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