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Sports, Rivers and Bridges Bring Downtown Pittsburgh to Life


By Marci DeWolf

Bridges are a great city's great connectors, and Pittsburgh is experiencing a River Renaissance, affirming an identity drawn from its famous bridges and rivers. These iconic structures connect the land mass to the downtown and riverfront.

The city's three Sister Bridges are a strategic way of connecting people. They strengthen existing neighborhoods and create new ones. More than 41,000 people live within a 15-minute walk of the riverfront's Allegheny Landing and Riverfront Park -- ideal locations for biking and walking.

Suspended over the Allegheny River, the Sister Bridges, the world's only identical trio of bridges, are named after famous natives: Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol and Rachel Carson. The rivers they span are the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio.

In Pittsburgh, the rivers and the bridges that connect them bring people together to make great achievements because the rivers belong to everyone. The magic happens when concerts, community events and outdoor activities attract families and visitors alike to these river rooms.

At night the bridges come to life, lighting up with 601,440 colored LED lights strung along the arches, enhancing the connection to the cultural district and Pop District on the north shore. A $150,000 public investment kicked off the rebirth, transforming decaying and abandoned spaces along the riverfront into 15 miles and 1,055 acres of nationally recognized parks, trails and green spaces.

There is plenty to do on the city's waterways, too. Riverboats, kayaking, pontoons and guided tours are all available. Bob Rush takes the wheel daytimes and for evening cruises for his Rush Hour Boat Charter. He also offers "sailgating" during riverfront concerts.

Pittsburgh has a thriving arts and culture destination centered in the 14-block Cultural District downtown that beckons visitors with rich offerings. The district is home to nine theatres that showcase the city's world-renowned symphony orchestra, opera, dance and plays that enliven the cultural scene.

The Grammy award-winning Pittsburgh Symphony performs in the elegant Heinz Hall, while the Ballet Theatre, Opera, Dance Council and PNC Broadway series take the stage at the beautifully restored Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. The highly acclaimed Andy Warhol Museum is a seven-story edifice that showcases the life and work of the Pittsburgh native, one of Pop Art's founding fathers. This is the most comprehensive single-artist museum in North America.

The Heinz History Center is a treasure-trove of fascinating exhibits, including the biggest collection of authentic items from the "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" television series, such as the original television set from the l950s.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a favorite with all ages. This 15-acre attraction has a historic 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct gardens. Another exhibit and worth a visit are the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh, where 30 rooms depict the city's ethnic heritage. The city's diversity is reflected in its 90 distinct neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh is a city built on innovation, and that extends to hard-working chefs whose creativity is capturing national attention. The city is home to a dozen or more James Beard Award semifinalists. The Novo Asian Food Hall recently opened in the Strip District. Yelp users voted Pita Land Middle Eastern Bakery and Restaurant one of the top l00 U.S restaurants in 2023. Pamela's P&G Diner earned a presidential seal of approval when President Barack Obama made a special trip due to his appetite for Pamela's crepe-style pancakes.


In 2021 Con Alma was voted one of Esquire Magazine's best 27 bars in America. This bar has a mission: Inspired by the city's rich jazz heritage, Con Alma is working to return jazz to its rightful place at the forefront of the city's music scene.

And a taste of Pittsburgh's fabulous ethnic food should be part of everyone's culinary choices. The Oyster House goes back 150 years as the city's oldest bar and restaurant and is one of the city's historic landmarks. The appeal for traditional culinary staples has not waned. Old favorites such as pierogies, stuffed cabbage and kielbasa are as popular as ever.

Aptly named the City of Champions, Pittsburgh is home to three major professional sports teams -- the Steelers, the Penguins and the Pirates. Each has its own dynamics, incredible moments and hall-of-fame players. The city hosts a wide array of sports events, such as the NCAA basketball championship that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center tells stories of Pittsburghers who became champions and champions who became Pittsburghers. The two-floor edifice houses hundreds of artifacts and exhibits that portray notable moments in sports history -- the controversial Immaculate Reception, for example. In l972 quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass ending in an unusual catch and game-winning touchdown, spurring the Steelers to win four Super Bowls in the l970s.

The Roberto Clemente Museum pays homage to a local baseball legend and humanitarian who made a lasting impact on generations of sports enthusiasts. The museum is located in a former 19th-century firehouse that is now an urban wine cellar developed by winemaker Duane Rieder.

It is worth noting that Pittsburgh benefits from a legacy of involvement and investment by industrial moguls and corporate leaders. Philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie, H.J. Heinz, Henry Clay Frick and a host of others built the foundation of the city's rich cultural environment.



For more information: www.visitpittsburgh.com


Marci DeWolf is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




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