Soul Of America




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August Wilson, one of Pittsburgh's legendary playwrights


    Few views of cities are more dramatic than emerging from the Penn-Lincoln Parkway Tunnel into downtown. Geography, vision and luck are the reasons. Three rivers neatly divide the city into the Northside, Southside, and Downtown and points east. A mountain range overlooks downtown. Unlike many old American cities, Pittsburgh residents never abandoned Downtown for suburban malls and office parks. Civic leaders, retailers and corporate bosses huddled together in the 1950s to remove small buildings and lower taxes for large corporations to expand, thereby keeping their headquarters downtown. Civic authorities kept the public transit system oriented to downtown.

    A fortunate twist to Pittsburgh’s meager freeway network is that it’s difficult for more than three suburban malls and office parks to draw workers from throughout the region, while downtown remains convenient. This combination of geography, coordinated self-interests, and dumb luck ensured a steady stream of residents to work, shop, dine and entertain downtown. It also gives Downtown Pittsburgh a dazzling trophy skyline best seen when you emerge from the Penn Lincoln Parkway Tunnel.

    Pittsburgh has successfully transitioned to one of the nation’s cleanest air cities and it showcases all the family and general attractions during the warmer months. Attractions begin with Point State Park, particularly during the spring arts festival. The beneficiary of substantial philanthropy, moribund movie palaces and shabby side buildings downtown have been transformed into a Cultural District that features Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Byham Theater, O’Reilly Theater, and Cabaret at Theater Square. These grand venues host the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Opera, Civic Light Opera, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Since Pittsburgh retained its major department stores downtown, you can easily find gifts, garments, and quality luggage without missing a beat at the nearby convention center. Also downtown, Heinz History Center has a wing hosting the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

    PNC Baseball Park, Heinz Field football stadium and Carnegie Science Center are nicely positioned on the North Side riverfront across from downtown. On the Southside riverfront across from downtown, Station Square, a train station re-imagined as an entertainment complex for a hotel, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, riverboat cruises, and a music pavilion. Also on the Southside, the Duquesne Incline and the Monongahela Incline transport you up and down a steep hill to Mount Washington. Views of downtown and the meeting of Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers are breathtaking. Sample the many overlook restaurants in Mount Washington, but make reservations well in advance.

    The Oakland District is home to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, which both have an ecosystem of cultural and dining attractions. A few things both share is glorious Schenley Park and its magnificent Phipps Conservatory, Carnegie Museum of Art presenting the works outstanding European artists, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which has one of the finest dinosaur collections in the world.

    African American attractions include the including the remarkable Kuntu Repertory Theatre performing a many plays, some before they hit Broadway. The region is also blessed with one of our nation’s most celebrated black newspapers, the Pittsburgh Courier. Steel Heritage Center recreates the experience of Pittsburgh’s industrial history, including the work of Black laborers and managers. August Wilson Center for African American Culture is the latest major addtion whose presense was long needed and whose future is bold. The Center features Pittsburgh’s contributions to African-American culture and include exhibitions about plays, jazz to Negro Leagues Baseball.

    A seamless blend of past and present, Pittsburgh is the jewel of Western Pennsylvania. With its riverfront setting, cultural and sports venues, shops, corporate headquarters downtown, and universities anchoring daily life, it has a well-earned reputation as a convention destination. Pittsburgh is also becoming a more attractive weekend getaway destination.


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