Situated on the strategically important Forks of the Ohio, Pittsburgh has played an important role in American history since the 18th century. This role is reflected in the many important landmarks found around the city. So, pack your bags and head out to Western Pennsylvania to explore this beautiful city. Here are just a few of Pittsburgh’s most popular landmarks.
#1. The Blockhouse
This small brick structure built in 1764 is the oldest building in Western Pennsylvania and the only surviving part of Fort Pitt. The main fort was constructed by the British between 1759 and 1761 to control the strategically important Forks of the Ohio during the French and Indian War. When Fort Pitt was demolished in 1792, this small part of the fort had already been converted into a house and so escaped destruction.
The Blockhouse is now part of Point State Park, which also contains a reconstructed bastion of the original fort that now houses the Fort Pitt Museum. And nearby, at the point where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers merge to form the Ohio River, stands a large fountain that shoots water 150 feet into the air erected in 1974. The fountain symbolizes the birth of the Ohio and also marks the terminus of the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trail.
Point State Park provides a green oasis in the center of the city, with views of all three rivers and the historic remains of both Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt. The family-friendly trails are paved and so suitable for biking, hiking, or riding a scooter. There are open areas where you can enjoy friendly games of soccer or basketball with your friends and family. The park also hosts major cultural events, such as the Three Rivers Regatta, Three Rivers Arts Festival, and the Venture Outdoors Festival.
#2. Point of View Statue
The Forks of the Ohio is forever associated with George Washington, who initiated the French and Indian War in 1754 when he ordered his men to open fire on a Canadian scouting party while on his way to the forks. In Point of View Park, a much later 1770 historic event is commemorated by a spectacular bronze sculpture named Point of View.
Point of View recreates the historic meeting between an Iroquois leader and George Washington, who was surveying the area for future settlement. The statue is positioned on the edge of Mount Washington. This location also provides visitors with breathtaking scenic views of Point State Park, the Forks of the Ohio, and Pittsburgh’s many bridges below. Point of View was created by James A. West in 2006.
#3. The Pittsburgh Inclines
Built in 1870, the Monongahela Incline is the oldest funicular in the nation. It has continuously provided transport from West Carson Street up to Grandview Avenue 369 feet above. At the top, you’ll find the Upper Incline Scenic Overlook.
However, more visitors head for the 1877 Duquesne Incline, which is located just to the northwest. This incline provides access to the Mount Washington neighborhood, which offers even better panoramic views of the Forks of the Ohio than the Monongahela Incline. This incline ascends 400 feet up the slope of Mount Washington. It boasts the original 1877 wooden cable cars that have recently been restored to their original appearance.
#4. Allegheny County Courthouse
In downtown Pittsburgh, you’ll discover a stunning complex of judicial buildings designed by H. H. Richardson. Constructed in the Romanesque Revival style in 1888, the Allegheny County Courthouse is recognized as one of the most iconic buildings in the US by the American Institute of Architects. It is linked by the Bridge of Sighs across Ross Street to the old Allegheny County Jail, built between 1884 and 1886.
The jail is noteworthy for its role in one of the most romantic jailbreaks in US history. In 1902, the warden’s wife assisted two convicted murderers to escape. She provided the Biddle brothers with tools and weapons then joined them on their flight because she had fallen in love with Ed Biddle. However, on the road to Canada, they were successfully ambushed by police officers.
#5. Impressive Churches
Pittsburgh boasts a selection of fine ecclesiastical structures that are well worth a visit. Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church in the Strip District is a beautiful building constructed in the Polish Cathedral style, a blend of Baroque and Romanesque with Byzantine influences. The church was consecrated in 1892 and features twin towers with seven large bells, one weighing 2,500 lbs. Saint Stanislaus contains some of the best German stained glass in the nation.
The campus of the University of Pittsburgh features 2 stunning church buildings. The Heinz Memorial Chapel is an interdenominational place of worship constructed between 1933 and 1938 in the neo-Gothic style. But the most impressive “church” in Pittsburgh is the Cathedral of Learning, constructed between 1926 and 1934. Although this magnificent, 42-story tower is built in the style of a Late Gothic Revival Cathedral, it isn’t a religious building at all. It is a university teaching block and administrative building designed to be a symbol of life and progress.
#6. Phipps Conservatory
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens were founded by Henry Phipps in 1893. The 13-room glasshouse hosts seasonal exhibits, including bonsai trees and orchids. Popular rooms include the Desert Room, the Japanese Garden, and the Tropical Forest Conservatory. Inside just one building, you can visit the whole world.
The gardens provide education about sustainable landscapes, water conservation, and energy use. The Discovery Garden, Treasure Island, and the Garden Railroad offer hands-on activities for kids. The Center for Sustainable Landscapes produces all its own energy and is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified.
#7. The Andy Warhol Museum
This is the biggest museum in North America focused on the work of a single artist. Inside you’ll find an extensive collection of archives and art relating to the Pittsburgh artist and pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol. The museum offers 17 galleries spread over 7 floors, with over 1,000 unique prints, 4,000 photographs, 900 paintings, 4,350 films, and 77 sculptures.
You’ll find the museum inside a carefully restored warehouse which is a work of art in itself. The museum showcases Warhol’s career as a magazine publisher, author, stage designer, record producer, filmmaker, and painter. The Andy Warhol Museum also hosts art classes and events.
So whether you’re a Pittsburgher taking a staycation here at home, or a visitor travelling to Pittsburgh for business or a weekend get-away… be sure to check out a couple of these great Pittsburgh landmarks while you’re in town!