Elsewhere in Pittsburgh

A Pittsburgh Primer-Part 2

Although you’ll want to take advantage of the breakfast offered at the hotel, for a day it’s okay to skip it just so long as you eat at one of Pittsburgh’s two most raved about breakfast spots, Pamela’s Diner and De Luca’s Restaurant. Although weekend mornings in the Strip are always busy and brimming with activity, De Luca’s is a true testament to this, as there is usually a line out the door of patrons waiting to get seated. Featuring such irresistible, yet there goes your entire calorie allotment for the year such as stuffed omelettes, ice cream sundae pancakes, and Italian raisin French bread toast, anything you order at De Luca’s will make you want to move to the ‘burgh just so that you can have a De Luca’s breakfast every Saturday. Pamela’s Diner has multiple locations around the city including Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, a neighborhood adjacent to Shadyside that is the center of Jewish life in Pittsburgh. However, I feel its location in the Strip is the far superior one. It features typical breakfast diner foods, but it’s the flapjacks that have received rave reviews from customers, including President Obama. When campaigning in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, Mr. Obama stopped and had breakfast at Pamela’s and hasn’t stopped talking about their flapjacks ever since. He even invited the diner’s owners, Gail Kilingensmith and Pamela Cohen, to come to the White House for Memorial Day 2009 so that they could make breakfast for him, his wife, and eighty veterans. So you can say that the flapjacks at Pamela’s have approval from the president.

            If the Heinz History Center made you interested in learning more about Pittsburgh’s gloried past, the Frick Art and Historical Center should be your next stop. Located in the Point Breeze section of the city, Clayton is a turn of the 20th century Victorian mansion that was once the home of Henry Clay Frick, noted American industrialist or robber baron, whichever title you feel is more appropriate. Frick lived at Clayton with his wife and children from 1882 until 1905 when the family moved to New York City. In his heyday, Frick was known as a ruthless villain, especially with his anti-union policy. His memory would be forever tarnished by his violent suppression of the Homestead Labor Strike in 1892. History aside, Clayton is a stunning, eleven room Italianate-style home complete with ornate furnishings and decorative arts of the famed Gilded Age, 90% of which belonged to the family. Also on the grounds of Clayton are the Car and Carriage Museum, a collection of Frick’s automobiles and carriages including his 1914 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Touring car, and the Frick Art Museum, which houses the former collection of Frick’s daughter, Helen Clay Frick. Helen inherited her father’s billions upon his death in 1919, but proved to be extremely generous and giving until her death in the 1990s.

          In addition to its designation as the Three Rivers City (the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela all run through it), Pittsburgh is also known as the “City of Bridges.” There are a total of 446 bridges in the city. My personal favorite is the Sixth Street Bridge (or the Roberto Clemente Bridge as it is also known, which connects the downtown with the North Shore, home to the Pirates’ and Steelers’ stadiums, along with the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center.The bridge is closed to motor traffic on days when the Pirates and Steelers are playing home games, acting as a green initiative on part of the city as well as the perfect opportunity to take in the city’s magnificent skyline. Pittsburgh also has approximately 700 sets of stairs comprising 44,645 treads and 24,090 vertical feet, so the next time you hear someone make the remark that San Francisco is the city of hills, they obviously haven’t been to Pittsburgh.

            One final memorable activity before you bid adieu to the ‘burgh is taking a ride on the incline up the side of Mt. Washington. You have the option of riding up on either the Monongahela or Duquesne Inclines, which first began service in 1870 and enabled people to live 600 feet above the city. Both operations are run by the Port Authority of Allegheny County so the roundtrip ride only costs $4 and $2 for children. Although there are a variety of restaurants atop Mt. Washington that offer fine dining experiences, I feel that the food is nowhere near as spectacular as the views. All of Pittsburgh is in front of you including the famed Golden Triangle (the downtown district) which gets its name from the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers as they flow into the Ohio River.

            For two years in a row, Pittsburgh has been named the most livable city by Forbes and Yahoo!. If you come to visit, it’s easy to see why it’s been awarded this distinction. It has many of the attractions and offerings that a big city does, without being too overly crazy or hectic. Although it may not have as many museums as Paris and cabs don’t cruise here, so if you need one you can’t simply hail one so you must call ahead. It still has a little bit of something for everyone. So stop procrastinating already and come visit this hidden gem of a city. All of my family and friends were pleasantly surprised by the beauty and uniqueness of the city when they came for my wedding. Why don’t you let yourself be enchanted too?

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