I’m grateful for many things the past nine months or so since Daria and I kicked off the moorings. Not the least of which are the opportunities we’ve had to see so many places we now love but had not given much thought to before. Let’s add Pittsburgh to the growing list.
We’ve come to understand we’re urbanites. Sure, I look at the possibilities that come with a rural place when we get around to buying property again. Daria, not so much – a city girl that one, through-and-through. We love living in a city center. A true city center. Not you Atlanta.
Pittsburgh. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Sure, you’re thinking, “isn’t Pittsburgh basically Detroit’s redheaded step child?” Perhaps. Yes, it’s seen better days. And yes, it’s on its way back.
Our last visit, we stayed on the 8th floor of a newly renovated Kaufmann’s – the original department store building built in 1877. From there we could see into the surrounding buildings. Virtually every one a Gilded Age monument. And virtually every one standing empty. Empty, except for the construction companies working hard to repurpose the buildings into modern office and residential spaces. Money is pouring into Pittsburgh’s downtown. It’s further on the path to recovery than Detroit by a long sight. Right now, the cost of living is a fraction of what you’ll see elsewhere. It won’t be that way for long.
I’ve written before of my joy of turn-of-the-twentieth-century architecture. Pittsburgh is such a place where this architecture is found everywhere. Not as grandiose as the New York boroughs but far more accessible. The Golden Triangle, Pittsburgh’s business district, is where the money was when this city made the steel that built the railroads that tamed the West and the skyscrapers that loom over Manhattan. Steel that propelled the U.S. through its industrial prime to where it is now in the world.
Here are pictures of the Union Trust Building. Every bit as beautiful as similar examples of the era you might find in Manhattan.
Pittsburghs rustic, working-class aesthetic is everywhere. I’m partial to this quick snap that I took while Daria walked to the city’s Strip District.
Pittsburgh is not what I would call a vacation city. Don’t book a week there looking for excitement. It’s incredibly livable but it doesn’t have the energy and diversity of places like New York, Chicago, or New Orleans. It’s a lower-key urban Americana with a downtown area that’s empty for now but ready for folks to move back in. The kind of place Daria and I have on our list for when we come to a landing.